banner james carlini - Carlini's CornerBy James Carlini

Who said Jihad? Who is talking about the Tea Party? Who said Benghazi or NSA? We can search ALL phone conversations down to the specific word and bring up ALL calls that have those keywords (or whatever we type in). We HAVE technology to do that. In fact, we can go back almost a decade and find that voice analytics technology was available to the market back then.

Back in 2004, I was a speaker at the International Call Center Management Conference in Chicago and I was also a judge on innovative call center products for call centers that included brokerage houses.

The innovative product I selected was the Verint system that recorded all phone calls coming into and going out of the call center for brokerage houses. The capabilities of this system were mind-boggling. It could record all conversations and be able to data mine into each call any spoken word that you selected. It was built for brokerage houses to be more compliant with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that wanted better reporting of corporate management for SEC compliance.

It was already in use at several brokerage houses so it was proven technology, it was not experimental or in a prototype stage. It was being used in the market nine years ago and focused on the new issues of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and compliance

From a compliance standpoint, a scenario might be something where a stock got traded up based on some insider trading and calls for “hot tips”. The SEC would want to investigate this abuse and could go in and audit a firm. If you had this system in place, you could easily look back into all the phone calls and search out single words and phrases that were spoken.

So if you had some problems people overselling Apple, GM or any other company, you could go in and request ALL phone conversations that included the word Apple or GM or General Motors and pinpoint all the calls as well as who made them. At that point, you could already do that with Emails and search for written words, but to go into stored phone calls and search voice conversations – that was really hot technology. Voice analytics were making a big splash in the industry.


If the technology was already out about a decade ago, the capabilities of searching tens of thousands of phone calls existed for companies years ago. Creating a larger machine or a server farm of these machines to handle all the phone calls in the United States is not impossible.

In fact, it would be the natural progression of the product that once it was perfected for an enterprise application, like Merrill Lynch or Chase, it could be used for other broader applications and it would the perfect product where you want to capture all calls in the United States and sift through them later looking for words and expressions germane to what you are trying to uncover.


Of course we have this system in government. If companies were using the technology back 10 years ago, the technology has been perfected and its scalability has been perfected to cover all phone calls in the United States, if not the world. You need a huge amount of storage, but let’s face it – storage is cheap. You need a super-server, more likely a server farm that has 50-150 of these systems as data-mining machines to go after every phone conversation on ANY word or phrase.

So from an anti-terrorist approach, we can look for keywords in conversation like “the Taliban”, “Jihad”, and other key phrases to seek out terrorist cells. The problem is that we can also aim that technology into searching for other keywords or phrases like “gun control”, “Tea party”, “Benghazi” or any other word that ignites a reaction to those who could abuse this capability for their own political gains.

Let’s put an end to the question of whether or not the government could do this. From a technology perspective, they can. No four-star general or anyone in Congress is going to tell me different or tell me that the capability is classified. The capability has been out for almost a decade and based on my understanding of network technology, to grow this into a system to cover all phone calls is like growing from a 727 into a 747. Add on more storage and horsepower – and you have the machine that can cover the United States.

CARLINI-ISM : Sometimes tools that were made to help analyze and solve business problems can be twisted into tools that promote, protect or penalize political agendas.

Copyright 2013 – James Carlini


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