Jaan Tallinn on the Future of Business Communications

Last week we had a great opportunity to interview Jaan Tallinn, one of the co-founders of Skype and an investor in Fleep, about the future of business communications. Check out the video or read what he had to say from the transcript below.

Hi Jaan and welcome, first of all I’d like to thank you for finding time for this interview.
Thanks for having me… :)

Skype was launched 12 years ago. What do you think has changed within the communication industry during those years and what are the areas that haven’t been disrupted yet?
So I think the main change, as everybody has noticed, is the introduction to smartphones and the raise in the importance of data communications.

12 years ago when we did Skype computers were firmly plugged to the wall therefore you didn’t have to worry about things like battery. Also as a side effect of having a lot of the communications happen on mobile there is an expectation now that your content is kept in the cloud so you can access the content from different devices in parallel. This is also something new.

Now, things that haven’t changed yet… I would say that still there’s a lot of power that cellphone operators have. For example I remember when I did my first trip abroad with my iPhone, that trip actually cost me more than the iPhone in data charges alone. So I think there’s still a fair amount of space left to distrupt things there.

Jaan, today we are surrounded by multiple channels and services for communication – what do you think, will they merge one day into one universal solution or we will continue using multiple tools for different types of communication?
I do think that while there is probably always going to be one or two dominant communication platforms there never will be like just single communication platform and the reason for that is that underlying technological environment keeps on changing therefore creating new opportunities for new solutions and new tools to join the game sort of speak.

How do you think businesses can improve their internal and external communication, how much can technology help there and how many cultural and behavioral changes are needed.
So for business internal communications one simple kind of change there that everybody can do is to just switch away from email and start using new kinds of more modern platforms. However for external communications there actually isn’t that many solutions out there because email has still remained this lowest common denominator that people fall back to when they don’t know what the other end is using. And I think there Fleep can actually make a difference because Fleep is designed to be compatible with email.

If it’s not too personal of a question, how do you manage your own communication, which tools are you using and how do you organize your communication between them?
Yes, so I use right now three or four different communication tools. I do use Fleep for a lot of my communications, I do use Skype for video calls. Then I use Gmail for sort of official emails… for less official emails I use Fleep. And then finally I use my mobile phone for voice calls and for occasional text messages.

As an early investor in Fleep – can you share a little bit with us why did you invest and why do you believe in the future of Fleep?
There are several reasons why I invested in Fleep. For example, I do believe in the vision of the company and I do believe that sort of the lowest common denominator for external communication, which is email, although there has been bunch of innovation there in form of Gmail for example, I think there’s still a lot of room left there to improve the experience that people are having.

Second, I really like Fleep’s team! Fleep really got some of the best engineers in Skype as founders and the third reason is that within Skype the IM/chat part was always sort my baby and I spent a lot of time thinking about it and sort of directing the features and ideology that went into Skype IM. So when Henn (CEO of Fleep) came to me with the idea to start Fleep I immediately jumped on this because I saw it as an opportunity to continue my input into this asynchronous communication world.

And my last question today. What do you think about Fleep’s role in disrupting the business communication market.
I do think that Fleep’s main opportunity is trying to improve the external facing communications of businesses and people because there are a lot of great tools for internal team communications out there but for external communications people and businesses still fall back to this common denominator which is email.

Hope you liked the interview and feel free to like and share this article and leave your thoughts about the future of business communication on our social channels (Twitter, Facebook). We’re keen to know what you think about this!

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