Digital assistants beyond voice calls and SMS
When is the last time you used the keys *# with some rather randomly selected digits to set up a group call or forward your mobile phone calls? Digital assistants and smart speakers are on the rise, so why not also use them to modernize some good old, but rarely used, *# telephony services? Experience an innovative demonstration using a combination of VoLTE and service exposure to make a digital assistant become your true phone assistant.
Do you even remember the good old *# telephony services?
In the next decade, we will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the invention of the telephone. This is a long time and many exciting things have happened in the meantime. Today the telephony services we use are vastly more advanced than connecting user A to user B with voice. For this blog entry, I would like to focus on the additional telephony services that we mobile telephony consumers have access to today but don’t use that often. I mean telephony services such as group calling, call forwarding, call barring, call diverting, and so on.
These services are part of most mobile telephony subscriptions but are not that commonly used. Not everyone knows how to make group calls or how to set call forwarding rules for various circumstances.
I would like to argue that this is due mostly to poor usability. I will try to explain why.
Let’s take an example. You want to divert your calls when your mobile phone is not reachable. In the GSM days, you would need to enter a code quite similar to **62*number*11# on your phone to enable this feature. Seriously! Even if you managed it once, you probably would immediately forget how to do it. Now with smartphones it is a bit easier, but you still need to navigate long menus to find exactly what you need. Expecting that the average consumer will be using this feature and similar features is a bit overoptimistic or even naïve.
I think poor usability is the main reason group calls have not taken off to the extent that they should have. Talking in groups is a basic human need, just as is talking one to one. But it has been so cumbersome to make a group call that most mobiles users just don’t do it.
Let digital assistant take care of a better *# telephony user experience
So how do we solve this? One good way to tackle this is by letting your digital assistant handle all of this, so you as a consumer don’t have to worry about it at all. Would it not be great if, for example, digital assistants could do the following:
- Alexa, set up a group call with the family on my mobile phone.
- Siri, activate call forwarding on my mobile phone.
- Hey Google, block the spammer that called my mobile phone just now.
- Hey Cortana, if my mobile phone is not reachable, divert all incoming calls to my home number.
Sounds easy. No more **62*number*11# or menu navigation.
Combine VoLTE with service exposure
In order for this to work technically, the operators need to expose their services from their VoLTE core network to the internet, so that cloud-based digital assistants, among other services, can consume them and make life easier for users. The easier it is to use the services, the more they will be used. The more operator services are used, the more they stay relevant to the customer base.
Would you like to see a demonstration of how this could work using a digital assistant?