A close-up of a person's hands, using a smartphone.

Business phone systems have changed dramatically thanks to smartphone technology.

What would your daily life be like without technology? Adding a meeting to your calendar, ordering pizza, emailing your boss and checking your social feed: nearly everything you do uses technology. An entire day — Jan. 6 — has even been set aside officially as National Technology Day. So, it’s the ideal time to consider the massive, major changes business phone systems have seen as technology has made everything faster, easier, and more automated.

From Party Line to Mobile Phone

At the center of this technology explosion is the telephone. Just a few generations ago, the telephone didn’t even exist. When it was invented, households had to use a party line shared with other people, meaning that others could (and often did) listen to conversations. Soon, the party line evolved into private lines, but the phones were attached to the wall with a cord. If you wanted to make a private call in your house, you had to snake the telephone cord under a nearby door. And to make a call, you had to turn a rotary dial, which is where the expression “dialing a number” came from.

Fast-forward to the next evolution of telephones: cordless phones, push-button dialing, and then mobile phones. All three became popular at about the same time. However, first-generation mobile phones looked very little like today’s versions, as they were up to two feet long and weighed as much as 40 pounds. Over time, they thankfully shrank in size and weight until we had the flip phone, which was smaller, mobile, but only made– you guessed it– phone calls. You know the rest: flip phones ultimately gave way to the smartphones we know and love today.

Smartphones: A Changing Way of Life

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the invention of the smartphone changed life as we know it. The smartphone changed how people conduct both their personal and work lives. Today, you’re reachable anytime, anywhere, not only by phone but also via video call, email and texting. Even more than that, this palm-sized device has become a hub for everything, including finding directions, checking the weather, taking photos, and posting on social media. It isn’t just a phone — it’s a control center for your life.

And the significance of this smartphone goes far beyond these uses. It sparked the invention of other technological tools like the tablet, the smart watch, fitness trackers, Google glass… What’s more, the smartphone has become such an important tool in today’s culture that many people who previously were resistant to using tech tools have become more technologically proficient and even depend on them in their daily lives.

Business Phone Systems Innovations

On the business side, smartphones have changed consumer expectations. Companies are using apps to communicate with customers and conduct transactions. They’re creating experiences that work across devices for both employees and consumers. Employees can also seamlessly manage their connections with customers, regardless of the device, thanks to cloud-based CRM integrations. And business phone systems were influenced, too: new, advanced features have innovated in workplaces so that employees have the same excellent functionality and seamless experiences they’ve grown to expect from their personal devices. Modern business phone systems offer features like virtual receptionists, paperless fax, and voicemail transcription, enabling employees to work they way they want.

Without the invention of the telephone, today’s culture would look very different. Thankfully, you don’t have to imagine a reality without this vital piece of technology (you could just watch the Walking Dead).

Just for kicks, celebrate National Technology Day by counting every time you use a device related to the telephone. You might surprise yourself.

For more information on how a sophisticated business phone system can help your team, contact a Vonage Business representative.

About Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a technology freelance writer specializing in B2B and telecommunications topics. She has written for national brands including IBM, Samsung, ADTRAN, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Verizon, Costco and American Express. One of her superpowers is being able to translate technical speak from the experts that make products work into language everyone else can understand. Jennifer has a master’s degree in technical communication and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

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