How Has Technology Made Communication Better?

By Elizabeth Smith

Cell phones allow easy communication.
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For people who remember a time before cell phones and tablets, it can be mind-boggling to consider how communication has changed. In less than two decades, the development of technology like wireless Internet, text messaging and smartphones have wildly transformed the way people connect with each other. Whether or not you embrace the multitude of new communication devices on the market, there is no getting around the fact that technology has made communication better.

Overcoming Barriers

In a world where people are increasingly physically isolated from friends and family due to finances, distance or a packed schedule, technology makes it easier to stay in touch. Instead of taking the time to write and mail a letter, you can touch base with a simple Facebook comment. Chances are, a significant percent of your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances are on Facebook; as of October 2012, the site had one billion monthly active users. According to the Pew Research Center, social networking among people between the ages of 18 and 29 has increased from nine percent in 2005 to 92 percent in 2012. Since 2006, the numbers have been rising steadily for all age groups, making it increasingly easier to communicate.

Wide Access

With modern communication technology, it is possible to reach hundreds of people instantly. With a single tweet or Facebook post, you can get the opinions of all of your friends and followers. Whether you're looking for an opinion on a first date outfit or wondering about which logo works better for your new business, technology allows you to crowdsource opinions. The scope of crowdsourcing goes far beyond personal opinion. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a crowdsourcing platform called CloudFlower was used to help translate the emergency text messages coming in from stranded, injured and trapped citizens. Volunteers and workers translated the messages and provided accurate location information. As a result, relief workers and emergency personnel were better able to prioritize and respond to distress calls. Before the widespread Internet availability, such a task would have been impossible to achieve in such a short time and with such accuracy.

Facilitate Face-to-Face Contact

With communication technology, you can improve the content and quality of in-person contact. Cell phones, text messages and email make it easy and quick to arrange meetings, even at the last minute. There's no need to sit at home waiting for the phone to ring or worry about missing a call – with a single text, you can find a friend nearby and arrange a get-together. Once you're in the same place, you can get right down to serious matters instead of wasting time on the mundane details of day-to-day life. Although some may worry about texting taking over actual communication, a study by the Pew Research Center found that the use of text messages and phone calls has leveled out among adult users. The average number of daily text messages and phone calls stayed the same between 2010 and 2012. The Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that approximately 85 percent of American adults had mobile phones as of December 2012.

Customer Service

In an era when time is money, technology helps businesses improve communication with customers and cut customer service costs. In most cases, customers no longer have to trek to a store or spend hours on hold to get an answer to a question or complaint. Instead, they can send an email, search an online database or exchange instant messages with an employee. According to Inc. magazine, technology like customer relationship management software also helps with data management and analytics, so companies of all sizes can tailor their communication approach. Social media technology is particularly useful for customer service, both for business owners and consumers. When a customer posts a question or complaint on a company's Facebook page or Twitter account, the correct employee can respond quickly. Both parties save time and money on long phone calls, and other online users can see the conversation in real time. The visibility and transparency of social media pressure a company to improve its response time and communication style, which improves the customer experience.