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The future of voice: challenges and opportunities

What are the challenges threatening the future of voice, and where are there untapped opportunities? How can carriers cement the voice call as the cornerstone of modern communications, even as new technologies threaten to splinter how we communicate?

Those were some of the questions answered during a panel discussion at Hiya’s 2023 State of the Call Summit in New York City. Speakers included: 

  • Andy Walker, Global Communications and Media Lead for Accenture

  • James Lau, Chief Product Officer at Hiya

  • Isaac Jacobson, SVP of Strategic Partnerships and Services at Gabb Wireless

  • Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail

The discussion was moderated by Jason Young, Founder and Managing Partner at Campanile Partners. As a former executive at T-Mobile, Young advises tech and telecom companies. Young set the stage for discussion with this thought:

“Trends suggest that there will be many more voice calls — and more ways to make calls — in 10 years than there are today, and that innovation in voice can bring us more enriched and satisfying ways to connect. The other side of this trajectory suggests that the voice call will be under increasing attack, which means the opportunity to innovate the future of voice is a fantastic one that’s here now.”


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The panel discussion included (from left to right) Jason Young, Alex Quilici, Andy Walker, Isaac Jacobson, and James Lau. 

Watch a recording of the panel discussion, The Future of Voice 

Young posed three questions to the panel of speakers. Below are the questions and a sampling of answers from the panelists.

#1. How real is AI today in your business and in businesses you touch?

Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail, talked about the use of AI by both the good guys and the bad guys. “For us, AI is a really big deal in detecting bad call traffic. So in the short term, it has been good for the good guys, and the bad guys haven’t really needed it,” he said. “But when the good guys get better and better, that’s when we’ll see the bad guys start using it. And that’s where it gets scary because it doesn’t require a lot of sophistication beyond what’s there now.” 

Quilici asked the audience how many have a personal voicemail greeting set at their office. When most raised their hands, he noted that the average voice greeting is six seconds, but voice cloning software only requires three seconds of audio. “All the bad guys have to do is clone your voice, spoof your phone number, and they’re you. That’s what keeps me up at night,” he said. 

Hiya’s Chief Product Officer, James Lau, was asked about some of the positive aspects of AI. “Gen AI is really just a tool and, like any other tool, can be used for both good and bad,” he said, giving examples of AI-powered software he worked on in his previous role at Microsoft. “More and more, we’re going to see AI deeply integrated into every piece of software,” Lau said. “In five to ten years, it will be commonplace and just be a part of every software and service.  

#2. Where do you think the future of voice is going in terms of all the different ways people can connect? 

Isaac Jacobson of Gabb Wireless explained how Gabb’s customers are parents looking for phone service and devices that are safe for their children. Generally, the child will start with a voice-activated watch, and as they grow, they move up to a handheld phone that allows calls and text messages but not internet or social media access. Later, they grew into a handheld device that included certain curated apps. “What we’ll see in the future is that once a child gets a phone, they keep the watch, which is still their primary device,” he said. “So voice is very, very important to our consumer group.”

Andy Walker of Accenture pointed out that even beyond different devices are the different apps that people use to communicate. “If you look at millennials and Gen Zers in general, their behavior around devices and apps is really different from Gen X or boomers,” he said. He notices that older consumers prefer making phone calls, whereas younger consumers want to communicate through apps. “They may even use different apps for different friend groups. Maybe they’re connected with these friends on Instagram, these friends on TikTok, and these friends on Fortnite,” he said. 

#3. What are the biggest opportunities in that future of voice?

Accenture’s Andy said that in India, 70% of voice calls are made through applications, such as WhatsApp, and he sees the same thing in other countries as he travels. “You wonder, why haven’t the telcos created something like that?” he said. “ I think we're going to see applications playing a greater role in the future. With 5G, as we continue to create faster and better networks, I think the software layer is where the innovation will occur.”

YouMail’s Alex Auilici agreed. “I think the biggest thing for me would be to see the telcos open up so all the app makers and all the services out there have a better chance of being really successful because they're deeply integrated through APIs and have access to the network. They can do things like WhatsApp but do it in a better way. That’s the challenge.”

Watch State of the Call Summit 2023 presentations on demand

Author Andrea Moreno

Carrier Customer Marketing Manager