Dave Michels
Dave Michels is a Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz. His unique perspective on unified communications comes from a career involving telecommunications...
Read Full Bio >>

Dave Michels | August 11, 2011 |


Neglected Google Voice

Neglected Google Voice The company clearly has the resources to make Google Voice a more compelling offer, but Google seems preoccupied with other battles.

The company clearly has the resources to make Google Voice a more compelling offer, but Google seems preoccupied with other battles.

Google launched its Google Voice service in March 2009. The service was similar to that offered by Grand Central before Google acquired it in 2007. It was innovative--it was a voice service that actually required users to have voice service from one or more other carriers to use it. Google Voice is an overlay service, intended to be the "public" number that programmatically routes calls to one or more telephone numbers or voice mail.

The service sent shock waves across the enterprise voice sector. It was only a consumer service, but Google had previously transitioned its consumer Gmail to Apps services aimed at business, government, and education sectors. It was presumed Google Voice for business would come next. That spelled trouble as Google Voice included many features and capabilities that enterprise voice vendors could not easily match--such as ad-hoc conferencing, ad-hoc call recording, and SMS integration.

Sure it had a few annoyances, but all products do--we live in an age of "ready, fire, aim," and Google no doubt intended to improve the service. In fact, Google Voice was adopted by many business users despite its limitations, it was free, robust, and was expected to get better. But alas it is now August 2011, and although it has been integrated into Apps, it is still largely a consumer-grade service with few major improvements over the years.

During this period, enterprise communication solutions made huge improvements. Nearly all enterprise communication vendors now offer a single number solution with integrated applications for desktop and mobile productivity. The idea of using Google Voice for business users isn't as compelling as it was before, although Google Voice still holds a number of capabilities rarely found elsewhere. For example, the Google Voice mobile client initiates calls without requiring a callback.

Google's intentions with Google Voice remain unclear. Google Voice presumably runs at a loss, as its only visible revenue is associated with optional international long distance service (the core service and North American calling are free). Although Google rarely discusses product road maps in general, the company does consistently roll out improvements to its services. It is the lack of major enhancements to Google Voice that concerns me.

Without profit or ongoing improvements, one must question Google’s long term commitment to the service, which makes it more dubious as a business service. Neil McAlister points out in CIO that Google doesn’t have the best track record with new products.

Diversification could help the search giant reach new markets, but as much as Google insists that it won't shy away from innovative, risky projects, its track record for turning them into successful products is spotty at best. If a particular product fails to capture the public's imagination, Google is often quicker to pull the plug than to invest in making it a more attractive offering.

A few such aborted initiatives include Google Wave, a much-hyped messaging technology that we were told would reinvent Internet communications; Google Health, an ambitious effort to kick-start electronic medical records; PowerMeter, a tool for monitoring home energy consumption; Realtime Search, an aggregator of up-to-the-minute information from Twitter and other social networks; and Lively, a 3-D virtual world similar to Second Life. Still other ideas aren't quite dead, yet lumber along listlessly--remember iGoogle?

Google Voice seems much less compelling than it once was, and annoyances from 2009 have festered into frustrations for business users.

For various reasons, Google Voice provides an inconsistent user experience. This drives up support costs and increases frustration.

Click-to-Dial: Google Voice is not a desktop application, it is a website and browser plugin. This makes several features difficult and inconsistent. Traditionally, the various click-to-dial options resulted in a quick call to the selected device, and then a bridge to the dialed number. But then came Call Phones from Gmail--which only allows click-to-dial to work with the browser softphone plugin. Depending on the format of the number, sometimes it activates the softphone and other times the traditional plugin.

Call Recording: This was an ingenious concept, ad-hoc call recording available to all users on any device--something initially difficult for premises vendors to match. However, the feature is only available with incoming calls. There is no way to use Google Voice to record a call initiated from the service.

Voice Mail Transcription: Many poke fun at the inaccuracies of Google's transcription service, but it is actually fairly impressive. Generally when people leave a voice mail, they are not expecting transcription ,so they don't speak particularly clearly. Google is transcribing natural speech with a fair degree of accuracy, certainly enough to determine the topic and urgency of most messages. The inconsistency here isn't its accuracy, it is whether the transcription is provided at all. Sometimes, due to transcription delays, the email notification gets sent without it.

Can't Call All Numbers: Google Voice prevents some numbers from being dialed. The issue has to do with some abuses in the PSTN that use regular numbers as a means to gouge service providers. This seems almost reasonable as Google picks up the tab on the vast majority of calls it places, but the blocking creates an inconsistent user experience. Google simply blocks the call instead of providing an error message--so it takes a few attempts to sort out the problem. The only recourse is to bypass Google Voice to complete the call. Another option could allow the calls to go through for a fee (like international dialing).


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.