The creator of Lotus Notes launched a new communication app this week.
Former Lotus, IBM and Microsoft executive Ray Ozzie, as well as Matt Pope and Eric Patey, released an iOS app called Talko.
The app is revolutionary because it replaces not only conference calls, not only meetings themselves, but phone calls.
Business communication falls into two very separate temporal categories: Real-time (phone calls and texting) and asynchronous (voice-mail and email).
It also can be divided into two archival categories: Namely, recorded and searchable (email and chat) and not usually recorded and not searchable (phone calls, hallway conversations).
What’s interesting about Talko is that it’s both real time and asynchronous, and it’s also archival. Oh, and it’s also ambient.
Let’s talk about why Talko is revolutionary.
Talko of the Town
Talko is real-time and asynchronous, but it also makes communication ambient.
The way Talko is being described is that it’s an app that functions like text, VoIP calls, push-to-talk, group chat and picture sharing. But suggesting that it offers a list of communication options misses the entire point.
It doesn’t have each of these media, and you have to choose one. It’s all of them at the same time in the same conversation!
Let me take you on an epic journey of business communication to demonstrate the incredible power and flexibility of Talko — a complete conversation lifecycle.
John is a designer, working on a contract basis with the marketing department of a medium-size travel company. He has a question about the direction of a marketing campaign. He would normally call, but instead he calls using Talko. John taps the profile picture of his main contact, Janet. They’re connected like a phone call, and have a brief conversation that involves text, a couple of pictures John took of his progress, and the spoken conversation.
Janet can’t answer the question, though, so she adds her team in the same way John added her, by tapping on an icon — in this case, a group she created on Talko. It’s a five-member team, but only two team members are available to talk. They don’t know the answer. So everyone on the team presses the big microphone button on their Talko apps, which keeps the call “live,” but mutes their mics — and they go on working.
One of the team members, Rafe, actually knows the answer to the question. And he knows the question, too. The reason is that, after his meeting, Talko notifies him of the conversation. He opens the app, and listens to the conversation, which is displayed along with the text and photos, just as if he were part of the live conversation. He presses his microphone and gives the answer, and also proposes a creative idea, then goes into another meeting while all others on the call are notified and presented with the recording of his comments.
The next day, having attempted to solve the problem, John returns to the conversation. He types in the words that will go with the campaign, and uses Talko to take a picture of a sketch he’s working on for the imagery. They all get it instantly. Those available reply. Everyone else will see it later. They move on with the project, creating and developing different conversations.
At some points in the process, John makes the conversation ambient, meaning that it’s there on a push-to-talk basis. Every once in a while, he simply asks a question. And whoever is listening can choose to chime in with input. The interaction is just like it would be if they were working in the same room.
One year later, John is collecting a design award for his work on the project. Before he goes up on stage, he realizes he wants to thank the person whose brilliant idea early in the project lead to his stellar work. So he quickly searches Talko, finds the conversation and the part where Rafe suggested the idea.
This hypothetical example represents a very basic, minimal use of Talko. Yet it illustrates a single, sustained conversation over a single project that’s both real-time and asynchronous, as well as ambient and which is useful and useable long after the conversation is over.
The conversation would have replaced countless phone calls, meetings, texting emails, and didn’t involve any of the normal wasted time. A complete record is available to all.
So How Does All This Work?
When you first install Talko (it’s available for iOS only, but Android and Web versions are coming), you’re invited to point Talko at your contacts, which it mines for Talko users. Once identified, they show up in your list of potential conversationalists.
Once a user or group of users is selected, you’re presented with buttons for talking, taking pictures and typing. The talking button can be toggled for conference call and push-to-talk modes. Any picture taken or words typed are instantly conveyed.
The pictures and text can be taken and instantly inserted into the conversation while the talking continues. It all shows in place in a kind of timeline. A controller at the bottom lets you go back and re-listen to or see any part of the conversation as often as you like, even while a conversation is still in progress.
Talko calls are by default recorded (stored in the cloud) but you can delete them.
Better still, conversations can be tagged with topic keywords, and specific parts of conversations can be bookmarked.
Why Talko is Revolutionary
Talko may or may not take off in popularity. If it does, its central concept will be copied, no doubt. That concept is the combination of all forms of communication into a single, searchable timeline.
This approach is vastly superior to having phone calls, chat, picture sharing and text all in separate apps or functions and not connected to each other.
The Talko approach is simply how communication should work.
The separate-app approach is clearly flawed and obsolete. These are time-wasting, ineffective approaches to business communication that used to be necessary, but no longer are.
It’s time to kill the phone call, kill the conference call, kill the meeting, kill the phone call.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.