Kelly Fitzsimmons

Why I love Prediction #9

The business of prediction is a murky one at best.  We are too often fooled by randomness.   One look at the dismal record of the average pundit whose accuracy is well less than chance, and we are wise to take predictions with more than a healthy grain of salt.

And then there are people like Elliot Gold, founder of Telespan, who has an extraordinary record of predicting the future of the teleconferencing industry.  For over 20 years, Gold can boast a 70% accuracy rate.   In a world scrambling to make sense of rapid-fire change and disruption, Gold’s consistent insight has been helpful for Wall Street analysts and industry operators alike.

What is the difference between a good prediction and a lucky guess?    A good prediction isn’t really a prediction.  As well-regarded futurist Richard Thieme is quick to clarify, he cannot predict the future.   He’s just looking at the current reality while most are obsessing about the past. 

Elliot’s “magic” is that he is a pragmatist looking at reality and asking the deceptively simple question:  What does this mean for teleconferencing?

TeleSpan’s Prediction #9

Of Gold’s top teleconferencing predictions,  #9 is near and dear to me:

“Call recording & indexing becomes the most popular feature of conference calls by 2016, adding value to calls & revenues to conference service providers (CSPs)”

The consistent erosion of the price per minute of voice conference calls has now entered into a full-on free fall.  To discuss what’s next, Gold has been hosting TeleSpan’s Future of Conferencing Workshop for the last eight years.  The conference mashes together existing conference service providers (CSPs) with the industry upstarts and conceptual game-changers.

By stacking the presentations with industry outsiders and actual end-users with real problems to solve, Gold works to unveil the messy reality outside the CSPs’ ivory towers and walled gardens. 

While preparing for this year’s Telespan conference, held March 7-8 in Las Vegas, Gold became convinced that the CSPs who embrace valuable and profitable add-ons such as Hypervoice  will be able to turn-around the profitability of the voice conference call market by 2016.   To show the way, Gold invited Martin Geddes, Tracy Isacke (Head of the Silicon Valley Office & VP of Investments and Business Development, Telefonica Digital) and me to present this emergent reality and spotlight use cases.  What we discovered to our happy surprise was that nascent Hypervoice examples were already present at the conference.  New players such as VoiceBase and Zip DX that fit within the Hypervoice model are already adding new value to conference calls – right now!

Telespan keynote Bob Johansen, co-founder of the Institute of the Future, was happy to remind us of William Gibson’s cyberpunk mantra:   “The future is already here — it's just not evenly distributed.”