The History of Modern Business Communication

Modern business communication and the technology that facilitates it are all vital parts of a business. Infact, your technology and methods of communication are so important to the level of service that you offer, how your business operates, how your teams collaborate and, ultimately, the amount of money you make. In other words, the power of technology and modern business communication is not to be underestimated!

We completely understand this – technology and communication can make or break a business. That’s why we’re passionate about providing bespoke packages – built on a foundation of technology, communication and customer service – to help businesses grow and succeed. Whether you’re interested in our telephone answering services, our Virtual Receptionist package or our Outsourced Call Centre solution, you can rest assured that your customer interactions are being handled to a fabulous standard!

We’d love to hear about your business and how we can help you to succeed! To find out more about how our packages can help you, get in touch with our team by calling 0345 056 8888. We’ll answer any questions you may have and are always happy to provide any additional information you need!

But first, we think that to truly appreciate the importance of modern business communication and technology, it’s important to understand how fast things change, evolve and develop. That’s why we’ve produced this overview of the history of modern business communication…

The history and evolution of modern business communication…

Methods of communication and technology are always evolving and changing the way that we work and communicate with each other. If you’re a business owner, you’ll be even more familiar with these changes – you constantly have to keep up with the latest technology and trends to ensure that you’re ahead of the game and providing a top-quality product or service to your consumers.

Obviously, before modern business communication and the recent influential developments, there were all sorts of ways that people would communicate in business. We’re talking secretaries or stenographers operating typewriters, the invention of the fax machine in 1843, semaphore lines and carrier pigeons (yes – they were really a thing)! And of course, the introduction of television in the 1920s, which is one of the most influential developments to date.

There are so many things that we could discuss on the subject of business communication and how it’s evolved over the years, so that’s exactly why we’re keeping it focused on modern business communications and the most influential developments. Here’s our overview of the history and evolution of modern business communication…

Humble beginnings: emails and fax machines

In its earlier days, the fax was also known as a ‘telecopy’ or ‘telefax’. It was the Xerox company that created the first recognisable version of telephone fax in 1964, but it was Alexander Baine in 1843 that got the ball rolling for this development. He invented the electric printing telegraph, which created a 2D image on paper. Whilst his invention wasn’t really put to the test at the time, it was a catalyst for future developments that gave us the fax machines we know today. 

Whilst the fax machine used to be a stand-alone machine, it’s now often incorporated into printer and scanner technology. It works by sending both graphic and text messages from a scanner, through a phone line and to a printer. This then prints out the message for the recipient.

As for email, this is one of the most key developments in business communication and is used by millions of businesses across the world today to communicate internally and externally. The first version of what we now know as an email was invented as part of the Compatible Time-Sharing System at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965. This was used to share files and messages on a central desk, whilst logging in remotely.

It was then, arguably, Ray Tomlinson – a computer programmer from the USA – that invented the email in 1971 – he introduced the @ sign, allowing the messages to target specific users. In 1973, more developments took place including the introduction of to and from fields and the ‘forward email’ function. Emails soon became commonplace in business as a method of communication, but with this increased surge of emails came a rise in spam, in around 1990. The email then went mobile in 2007, making it easier than ever to communicate in this way for both businesses and casual users!

The trusty telephone

The history of the telephone starts in 1876 with Alexander Graham Bell. After trying to find a way to electronically transmit speech, the telephone was invented. In the years that followed, Bell worked in a lab, looking at ways to improve his invention. Here, he created a photophone – a device that could send sound on a beam of light. In 1915, Bell made the first coast-to-coast call, making history.

Since the initial invention, the telephone has evolved significantly through the centuries. In 1983, Motorola released the first mobile phone, nicknamed ‘The Brick’, with just one hour of talk time. The first text message was sent in 1992 and the first smartphone soon followed in 1993. In 2003, technology was developed to allow the transmission of phone calls over Internet protocols. 

In 2008, the popularity of applications, or ‘apps’, started to surge as the iTunes store and Android market were available to smartphone users. In 2010, the first 4G mobile was released, meaning that users could access data at record speeds. These apps gave businesses another way to communicate with consumers and another format for products and services. Quite often, apps are an integral part of the service that businesses offer – take our Virtual Office app as a fine example! 

What about switchboards?

Given that remote switchboard services are a key part of some of our packages, it’s only right that we give the switchboard a mention! When people think of switchboards, they usually think of the ‘hello girls’ – switchboards were commonly manned by an all-woman workforce. The Post Office, which ran the telephone service here in the UK, believed women were best for the job given their reliability, concentration and interpersonal skills.

Due to the increase in demand for telephone connection, this presented a problem to many businesses and telephone companies. More phone lines meant that there was a need for more switchboard operators which, of course, comes at a cost. As a result, and to ensure an enjoyable customer service experience, developers began to look for automated methods of handling switching.

It’s fair to say that, since they were invented, switchboards have significantly evolved. Now, some don’t even require any hardware and the automated system is usually monitored by a team of specialists. With remote switchboards, just like ours, businesses can outsource the job of monitoring a switchboard, which is great for flexible and remote working. Switchboard operators are responsible for handling incoming calls, both external and internal – they will answer the calls and route them to the correct department or person.

From chatbots to virtual assistants

Many people assume that chatbots are a modern invention, given that they are such a buzzword at the moment. However, chatbots have been around since the development of computers. In 1966, in the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Joseph Weizenbaum founded the first-ever chatbot, before the launch of personal computers. This chatbot, named Eliza, operated by examining keywords that were received as input. The triggered output was then determined by a set of rules. Numerous chatbots still use this method today.

Nowadays, chatbots are used as a software application to conduct conversation online via text, text-to-speech and other various live chats, prior to providing the user with human contact. Their main purposes are for customer services and information gathering. Besides using the method that was described earlier – with keywords from a library or database – other chatbots also function by using impressive artificial intelligence, word-classification processes and natural language processors.

Following the development of chatbots was virtual assistants. Apple was the first to introduce theirs, commonly known as Siri, and Google soon followed with their Google Assistant for Android and Microsoft with their creation of Cortana. Following this, smart speakers were created, with the likes of Alexa and Google Nest as common features in households. These speakers represent a completely different kind of conversational UI. Who knows what the next development will look like?

Does human interaction still matter? 

For many businesses, investing in a chatbot or the latest interactive voice response (IVR) systems may seem like a great idea. After all, it could save you time and effort and still provides answers to your potential and existing customers, right? If you think it’s a wise idea – think again! 

Of course, it’s important that businesses move with the times and invest in the latest technology, especially if it’s going to improve their efficiency, products or services. However, those investments and evolutions shouldn’t hinder their customer service or the customer experience. Research shows that many people still enjoy talking to a human when it comes to customer service and needing assistance – a significant amount of people do not like IVR systems and talking to a chatbot. 

So, investing in these technologies might do your business more harm than good. After all, if a customer is left feeling frustrated by an IVR system or a chatbot and one of your competitors doesn’t use these technologies, they might take their business elsewhere. 

Whilst it’s all well and good trying to create more time for yourself and your employees, we wouldn’t recommend investing in IVR systems and chatbots that completely remove the need for human interaction. There are other ways to save time without hindering your amazing customer service. What if we told you that we could take care of all your customer interactions, giving your customers that human interaction they want and giving you time to get on with the things that matter most to you? Doesn’t it sound amazing? Amongst our range of packages might be the ideal solution for you!

Cloud computing and communications

Cloud computing seems like a relatively new concept, but it was actually invented by Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider back in the 1960s, during his work on ARPANET, with the aim of connecting people and data in any place at any time. Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over the Internet (which, in this case, is ‘the cloud’). These services can include servers, storage, analytics, intelligence, software and networking.
There are many benefits to using cloud computing and as many organisations recognise these benefits, they’re making the switch to this method of computing.

Here are some of the reasons why cloud computing is increasing in popularity…

Cost – Cloud computing eliminates the need to invest in hardware, software and the setting up and running of data centres.

A global scale – Cloud computing is completely scalable to business needs. In other words, the right amount of IT resources can be provided whenever needed and from the right location.

Increased security – Many cloud providers have tight security thanks to different controls, technologies and policies. This can help to protect your data from threats.

Speed – Cloud computing services provide businesses with a great deal of flexibility due to their speed. A huge amount of resources can be provisioned in minutes with cloud computing.

Reliability – Data can be mirrored across different sites on the provider’s network, meaning that data backup is easy and cost-effective. This puts business continuity at the heart of the service.

Productivity – When all of your business applications and communications solutions are in one place on the same platform, they are incredibly easy to use. Because they are all on one user interface and easily accessible, this can help to maximise productivity.

What is cloud communication?

As a part of cloud computing, cloud communications is now a popular method of modern business communication. This method allows users to communicate using internet connections rather than a standard PSTN. As a result, every conversation that’s held using cloud communications is hosted on cloud technology. Methods of communication that take place via cloud technology include voice messages, texting and video conferencing.

The development of CRMs

CRMs were actually introduced back in the 1980s by Robert and Kate Kestnbaum, who looked at ways to create database marketing. This was a type of direct marketing designed to conduct analysis of a customer database, looking at statistics to see which customers would most likely react to a marketing campaign.

CRMs are now an integral part of many businesses. They help to manage customer data, insights, lead management, file sharing, instant messages between employees and useful integrations with the likes of social media and email. It allows the sharing of key data and information with colleagues, to determine the outcome of customer-based decisions and to aid the management of customer relationships. Many CRM systems are now also cloud-based, meaning that they can be accessed anywhere, at any time, giving users complete mobility and access to a range of bespoke applications whenever they need them.

Ultimately, a CRM helps businesses to understand their customers better. By tracking customer contact details and interactions, every new interaction should be relevant and personalised to that individual. By understanding the customer better, this can also create up-selling opportunities, helping businesses to gain new business from their existing customers.

If businesses don’t have a CRM, these finer details can become lost or forgotten – this leads to missed opportunities. As a result, choosing the right leads to focus on becomes guesswork rather than based on clear facts. A CRM also ensures that every employee has access to key customer information and knowledge of their interactions. It avoids the instance where one employee holds all of this knowledge. If they were to leave the business and take this information with them, the business would be left without it, hindering their standard of customer service and the delivery of their services and products.

Social media for communications and marketing

Social media has evolved considerably over recent decades. Back in 1999, the first recognisable social media site was created – this was called Six Degrees and it enabled users to make friends with other users, following the upload of a personal profile. Soon after, in around 1999, blogging sites began to gain popularity. Whilst mainly used for personal interactions and as a personal hobby, blogging is still extremely popular today but amongst businesses too. For companies, publishing blog content is one of their key marketing strategies.

Following the introduction of blogging, there was a surge in popularity for social media platforms. LinkedIn and MySpace were some of the earliest platforms to be created in the early 2000s. Then, online photo sharing platforms, such as Flickr, were created, providing users with a new way of sharing content.

YouTube then followed in 2005, allowing users to share and watch videos whenever they wanted, from anywhere in the world. Soon after was the creation of popular sites Facebook and Twitter in 2006, which were quickly followed by other platforms such as Tumblr and Pinterest.

Today, there is a vast number of social networking sites that allow businesses to communicate with their target audiences through advertisements and other forms of content. On these sites, businesses can build a relationship with their consumers and potential customers, building trust and credibility between them and users through the content that they share. Many businesses also use social media as a customer service tool to handle enquiries, bookings and much more. When you use our Virtual Receptionist package or our Outsourced Call Centre package, we can take care of these interactions for you, to save you loads of time and effort!

A COVID world: the reliance on video conferencing

In a world forced to work from home, video conferencing became the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting families and businesses spread across cities, countries and the world. Whilst video conferencing may seem like a relatively new invention, it was first introduced in 1964 at the World Fair in New York, by AT&T. The system used two closed-circuit television systems, connected together by a cable. This system is still often used by television stations when reporting live or conducting interviews with guests in another location. 

When it was first introduced, video conferencing was considered to be extremely futuristic. However, developments soon followed and advancements such as Network Video Protocol (NVP) in 1976 and Packet Video Protocol (PVP) in 1981 allowed the technology to become more universal, allowed the technology to become more universal, expanding its reach to more than just the likes of the military and NASA.

In 1982, IBM Japan even created a link between themselves and their US counterparts, allowing them to host weekly business meetings via video conferencing.

Whilst these developments were vital for the reach of video conferencing, it was still an expensive investment for businesses that were looking to change their ways of communicating. In 1991, IBM introduced a PC-based system for video calls. This was called PicTel – this black and white system cost less than old systems, but the hardware and software that was required was still a hefty cost, at around £20,000.

Beyond business, commercial video calls began to take off in the early 90s, with the introduction of Apple Macintosh’s CU-SeeMe in 1992. This was the best development to date and in 1994, sound was added to the video conferencing solution. Since then, technological developments such as fibre optics and high-speed broadband have revolutionised the way that we use video conferencing, helping businesses to host meetings with colleagues and clients alike!

The benefits of modern technology in business

Investing in modern technology for your business can pay dividends. Many of the benefits will be specific to your business model, but here are some of the general benefits of modern technology in business and communications…

Customer service

Modern technology in business and investments into your methods of communication are essential for maintaining an amazing standard of customer service, or even improving it. Technologies that allow a great customer service experience usually tend to be of the highest quality – whether that’s sound or video – and provide a human-to-human interaction, based on the findings that consumers prefer humans dealing with their enquiries, rather than chatbots. This can increase customer loyalty, lead to further sales and help you to establish a strong, positive reputation. Better still, this can help you to stand out amongst your competitors!

Collaboration

There are now so many technological tools available to help businesses collaborate, either colleague to colleague, department to department or business to business. These tools have been in the making for years, but their importance has been recognised more than ever during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses have had no choice but to adapt and change the way that they collaborate. The businesses that have continued to be successful and work well together have been those that have made investments in their business communication technology.

Increased productivity
 
We know just how much businesses – whether it’s business owners or their employees – have to deal with. Finding ways to increase your productivity is essential. One of the ways to aid your productivity and increase business efficiency is to invest in technology that allows you to do so.

Whether that’s by improving your sales processes or your administrative systems, investing in modern business technology and methods of communication can help to speed things up, giving you more time to focus on more tasks and improve your productivity. Because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love the satisfaction of ticking off the entirety of a to-do list?

Increased security

No one can underestimate the power of hackers when it comes to the effect that they can have on your business. That’s why it’s essential that you protect it. Investing in modern technology – such as effective security systems – is the main way to do this, to protect your digital space from external threats. Threats, like data breaches, unfortunately, are now extremely common – you only have to take a look at the news to realise this. 

In events like this or similar circumstances, customers quickly lose trust in the business. After all, they’ve placed their trust in the business to protect their details and information. Not only does it put you in danger of losing current customers, but it puts you in jeopardy of losing future leads as these events can create a bad reputation! As such, investing in security systems is a worthwhile investment.

Flexible & remote working

In a world post-COVID, it looks like many businesses will embrace flexible and remote working. Thanks to modern technology, this has been possible throughout the pandemic and will continue to be. With developments such as cloud-powered applications and video conferencing, employees can work from wherever they want, whenever they want. As a business owner, you can check business-related matters from wherever you are whether you’re in an important meeting, working from home, or you’re sitting on a beach enjoying some relaxation! With many companies now emphasising the importance of a work-life balance, it’s no surprise that many are welcoming this way of working.

How we can help you to stay ahead of the game…

Because technology and business communications are always developing and evolving, you have to stay ahead of the game. We appreciate this and we understand that it can be crucial to the success of your business. That’s why we’re passionate about helping businesses to stay ahead and thrive in their industries. Here’s how we do it…

A 24/7 services, 365 days a year, delivered by humans

Consumers want human interaction, so that’s exactly what we provide. No matter what time your consumers get in touch, whether that’s by phone, email, live chat or social media, one of our PAs will always be on hand to deal with your customer interactions. We operate a 24/7 service as standard, 365 days a year. If you wanted to hire an in-house team to do this for you, it would cost a fortune! Our packages are an affordable alternative for fabulous customer service. 

Investments into modern technology

We’re passionate about helping businesses to thrive. One of the ways that we do this is by investing in the latest technology. We’ve invested £15m into our call-handling technology, across four different contact centres, to ensure business continuity in the event of a power cut. We’ve also created a Virtual Office app, helping our clients to stay informed about their customer interactions on the go! No matter where you are, you’ll have access to key call data and information, as well as invoices and messages between you and our team. You can also set your availability, so we know when you’re free to take forwarded calls and when we should take a message from the caller.

UK based with a global reach

We’re a UK company born and bred, which is a key part of our identity and our values. We know that some companies will outsource calls to call centres abroad, as a way of saving money. Here, we don’t cut corners and compromise quality. Our four contact centres are all UK based and always will be. Whilst we help local businesses, we can help global businesses to reach their full potential too! And because our service is 24/7, it means that your international consumers can always reach us – time zones are never an issue here.

A wide range of flexible packages


Telephone Answering Service

It’s surprising how much time answering phone calls can take, but it really does set you back sometimes! Whilst you might lack the time or the staff to deal with every inbound call, they certainly shouldn’t go unanswered as this can hinder your reputation and lead to missed business opportunities. With our telephone answering service, we can take care of your calls – your customers will always reach someone whenever they call you, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Virtual Receptionist

With our Virtual Receptionist package, you can enjoy all the services and benefits we provide in our Telephone Answering package and so much more! This includes remote switchboard services, call triaging and on-hold messages, diary management, customer service outsourcing and multiple staff availability to help keep your business running smoothly and successfully! With our services, you’ll have more time to deal with other aspects of your business and the things that matter most.

Outsourced Call Centre

With our most comprehensive package, the Outsourced Call Centre, you’ll have access to all the above and so much more! From bespoke CRM integration to email, live chat and social media management, white labelled customer services and much more, we’ll deliver a fabulous service to your customers to preserve your brilliant reputation and customer service standards! As with all of our packages, you’ll receive a tailored quote for this service. Our fair pricing structure ensures that you pay for exactly what you need and no more!

Ready to grow your business thanks to our modern technology, dedicated team and fabulous customer service? We’d love to hear from you!

As you can see, modern business technology is always evolving – just look at the developments and the progress that have been made in recent years! As a business, it’s vital that you keep up with these changes to provide effective customer service and an amazing experience for your consumers. That’s exactly where we can help! All of our packages combine effective, modern technology with brilliant customer service skills, thanks to our investments and our dedicated team of PAs. We have over 600 members of the alldayPA team, all of whom are equipped with the best skills in the industry!


We’re keen to help as many businesses as we can, from solo entrepreneurs to small enterprises and large corporations. So far, we’ve helped over 24,000 amazing clients with our services and you could be next! Want to know more about how we can help your business? Get in touch with our friendly team by calling 0345 056 8888 between 9am and 6pm on weekdays. We can’t wait for you to start your alldayPA journey!