The Power of a Telephone
It is instructive to watch, in the wake of the disaster in Haiti, the humble telephone emerge as the planet’s ultimate tool.
In the very first minute after the earthquake, 106 people filed status updates with the word “earth” in them. In the first three minutes, that number jumped to over 700. Since then, updates with the word “Haiti” have been coming at the rate of 1,500 a minute, according to the Mobile Giving Foundation.
But not only are texting, Tweeting survivors alerting the world to their plight, many of us on the receiving end are responding with our keypads, too. Springing from text-giving inroads dug after the South Asian tsunami in 2004, the cellphone is rapidly becoming the most popular means of pledging financial help to charitable initiatives.
The Mobile Giving Foundation, the company that pioneered the technology behind “text-to-give” campaigns, reported this week that Haitian donations are arriving at a rate of US$50,000 an hour.
On January 20, the Canadian Red Cross set up a text-messaging campaign that lets cellphone users donate $5 to the Haiti Earthquake Fund by texting “redcross” to 30333. After users respond to a confirmation message, a $5 charge is tacked on their phone bill.
In the U.S., the American Red Cross has raised more than US$22 million in cellphone-administered donations since the January 12 quake.
But there’s more in store for this modest instrument of interaction.
The phone is gaining new prominence as the unwitting central character in an unfolding drama that will ultimately send up an across-the-board revised definition for this critical instrument of modern life.
It’s why, more than ever, managers need to be mindful of the communications infrastructure inside which they organize their companies, and with the corporate partners with whom they align themselves in pursuit of same.
But there are limitations to these sharp new methods of communication, especially when messages are too wordy or complex for such bite-sized dissemination. It’s why attaching voice integration to data-based devices is more important than ever.
Indeed, this concept of “unified communication” is gaining ground for its usefulness in corporate environments where workers increasingly recognize the value of the marriage between computer and phone, and its promise of speedy and reliable communication.
Devices that can accommodate the dual demands of voice and data, business and personal, media consumption and individual interaction, are the current darlings of the buzzing telecommunications world.
Managers considering a commitment to a new communications system in 2010 need to select one that addresses all of their requirements—old school and new age alike.