CXTech Week 24, News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 24 newsletter is to highlight, with commentary, some of the news stories in CXTech this week. What is CXTech?  The C stands for Connectivity, Communications, Collaboration, Conversation, Customer; X for Experience because that’s what matters; and Tech because the focus is enablers.

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Zoom Video’s Earnings Call

In its first quarterly report since going public in April, Zoom’s quarterly revenue grew 103% to $122 million. On the call Eric stated, “We believe the growth opportunity for Zoom is significant. Based on IDC estimates, the … TAM [total addressable market] is huge, $43 billion market by 2022. But we believe that it is even larger than that, as we are in the early stages of video becoming the new voice.” They’re definitely chasing the broader collaboration and enterprise communications business.

I wonder if Dialogic are claiming royalties on their trademark of “video is the new voice.” Video isn’t the new voice, but it’s much easier than it was in the past. If anything messaging is the new voice (most common communication channel), voice remains voice just its now programmable, and screen share still dominates over video.

 

Mio: The enterprise messaging wars are only just beginning

Diversity will always reign in messaging. The OS aggregates apps across the many conversations and groups we’re involved in. There is no one conversation, so there will be no one messaging app. I use Slack, Skype for people not business, SMS, Matrix / Riot, WhatsApp, Wire, Telegram, etc. The only one I’ve stopped using recently is Webex as my free trial ended so there was no need to use it anymore. I’ve even used Glip in the past!

 

New Intel Unite Cloud Service Makes Enterprise Collaboration Accessible for Organizations of All Sizes

With Jason Goecke now Vice President & General Manager at Intel Unite; I’m taking a little more notice of where Unite goes. Intel is quite a large software company, its spent about $10B over the past decade buying software companies, and is in the top 10 software companies globally. Its vision is end to end solutions across all industry verticals, not just chips. So communications is core to its strategy.

 

MTN Group launches Africa’s first artificial intelligence service for mobile money

It’s really a chatbot, not AI. The interesting bit is the service will also be included in MTN’s newly released advanced instant messaging service “Ayoba”. Which we’re hoping will be available for hacking at TADHack Global Joberg, fingers crossed.

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TADHack Chicago to be hosted at Illinois Tech’s Kaplan Institute

TADHack Chicago has been part of TADHack Global since its founding in 2014, thanks to the support of the Illinois Institute of Technology Real Time Communication Labs. We’re delighted to announce for 2019 TADHack Chicago will run at the Ed Kaplan Family Institute For Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, the new innovation hub on the campus of Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago.

TADHack is a series of hackathons that run around the world to help people learn about the latest Internet, IT, and Telecoms technologies; and most importantly use those technologies to solve problems that matter to them. It’s one of the largest global hackathons in the world, running in over 40 countries, with 12k registrations, helping people launch new businesses and services.

The video below, and this weblog, share some of TADHack’s achievements in the past 5 years, since the first TADHack Global in June 2014 to the recent massive TADHack Global 2018.

 

Amazon Chime adds Business Calling and Voice Connector

Amazon is simply following the consumer path for its business customers. It’s a physical goods supplier into many businesses (paper, printers, desks, badge holders, coffee, you name it), it’s growing in services: IT supply with AWS, and on the back of that Communications with Amazon Chime. Chime started back in 2017. I dip in and out of Chime to see its status, at launch it missed some basics and was clunky. But with the addition of business calling and voice connector and incremental improvements over the past 2 years, it’s getting towards being a UCaaS contender.

For those of us in the US-East (N. Virginia) we now have access to Business Calling and Amazon Voice Connector. These two services address significant costs in voice communications for enterprise customers.

Voice Connector enables a business with lots of private branch exchanges to connect to the PSTN using an Internet connection or AWS Direct. If a business’s voice infrastructure is hosted in a data center provider like Equinix, it’s a simple public Direct Connect to the Chime service and then Amazon will route calls regardless of what the capacity needs are on a pay-as-you-go pay per minute basis. Amazon claim they save customers between 40 to 50 percent from a total cost of ownership perspective. From the few interviews I’ve had with Amazon Chime customers, that’s about right.

Business Calling is enabling PSTN calling directly from the Amazon Chime app. Chime focuses on 3 main use cases: 1) place and receive a call, 2) voicemail, 3) send and receive SMS text messages from their business identity. It’s a straightforward requirement, but to do this, IT administrators are paying monthly subscription fees regardless of use. Since Amazon Chime already have a consumption-based billing model, customers only pay for what they use – on a per minute basis to deliver calls to or from the PSTN. They also have APIs and provisioning services to make it ease to connect to an existing employee on-boarding workflow.

The basic service is free, and there is a monthly fee per seat for the pro-features ($15 per month per seat, or $3 per day per seat) that includes scheduling meetings, which from the people I’ve talked to seems to work out at an average of $10 pm per month per seat. Not everyone needs pro, and you’re only charged pro fees if you use pro services, else you’re on the free basic service. As enterprise communications becomes further commoditized, Amazon and this consumption model will become more and more relevant.

 

How to Collect Opt-Ins for WhatsApp Business

According to tyntec, 9 out of 10 consumers prefer using messaging to communicate with businesses and 56 percent would rather message customer service than speak on the phone (see tyntec’s infographic), chat apps are becoming an important communication channel. And WhatsApp, the world’s largest chat app, has become the leader in powering these interactions with its Business API.

Like with SMS opt-ins, your website is the first place you should add opt-ins. You can add opt-in invites to various webpages, including your homepage, your contact page and any pages where your WhatsApp service is connected with specific products or use cases.

You can also use a pop-up screen, for example on your homepage, to draw attention and collect the opt-ins right away. Clearly state what your WhatsApp channel is for, e.g. shipping notifications or customer service.

Landing pages are a great place to promote your WhatsApp channel and share more information about this new service and how your customers can use it. Your webpages / landing pages should be responsive, so that opt-ins can be collected on every device that your customers use. Social media channels and email newsletters are also great channels for this purpose.

Another thing to be sure to do is to confirm that opt-ins have been successful with a thank you page or widget. To simplify this process, the WhatsApp widget can be easily integrated into your brand’s communication channels, allowing users to select their country and insert their phone number. The technical implementation for this requires only a few lines of code.

Check out WhatsApp’s brand guidelines before you create opt-ins to make sure all your communications are in accordance with WhatsApp’s guidelines. They’re a monopoly, so will behave like one!

But most of all, relevance is critical, if it’s not relevant people will not use the channel.

 

Twilio Stock Could Be Hurt by Increased Competition

Analysts are often right and wrong in their analysis. Cisco is not a comparable to Twilio, they closed down Tropo and most of its people have left. Jason at Intel Unite, see above. Jose at Twilio. John and Harold at VoIP Innovations. Frank at Mio. All mentioned in previous CXTech newsletters.

 

UCaaS Takes Backseat to IP PBX as Future Enterprise Platform

Sad but mostly true, the old guard of enterprise PBX providers may not get off the hook yet, the legacy issue is going to be around for a while. The majority of large enterprises with more than 1,000 employees will continue to use premises PBXs for most of their business communications through 2024, and possibly longer. Change happens slowly in medium to large enterprises. That’s why small to medium businesses and new enterprises are important for UCaaS.

 

Gamma GX Summit ‘19

At the Gamma event the enterprise call to action for UCaaS is based on the anticipated death of TDM in 2025 when support for ISDN is ceased in the UK! See, enterprises move slowly on communications.

Gamma is a Broadsoft reseller (now Cisco). I’m surprised to see given the size of Gamma no move away to a platform with higher margins, as we’ve seen with some other resellers in Europe. But this is a long-run game, and change happens slowly, even the closure of ISDN 😉

 

Get Your UCaaS Into Gear says Mitel’s Rami Houbby

A focus for Mitel in Europe is growing their UCaaS business in the UK. Channel partners have two options. They can either continue what they’re doing, building the infrastructure for their clients, dealing with sales, marketing, and provisioning and all of those other requirements, or they can take a more simple approach. Mitel is offering an opportunity for channel partners to do all the relationship building on their side, then hand the customer over to the Mitel team for provisioning, billing and customer success.

For some channels this may work, especially those looking to break into the enterprise communications segment, coming more from the IT than CT (Communications Technology) side. For more established ICT players given UCaaS is increasingly part of a integrated ICT offer, with vertical specific integrations; it will be interesting to see how they react. One thing I’ve learned with channels over the years is ‘its complex’.

 

Lack of visibility and IT staff availability: The main challenges of enterprise decentralization

The elephant in the room for UCaaS is visibility for problem resolution. In the survey I did last year, some UCaaS providers had built tools / guides to help customers solve such issues. This could become a driver for ICT solution providers, who can have deeper network visibility to solve these increasingly complex problems.

 

10 Things About VoIP You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know

We may scoff at people thinking VoIP is new. I’ve been working on it for 20+ years. But we’re the exceptions. For most businesses, VoIP is brand new. And complex because of all the devices, features, and even headsets required. This is a good down to earth review on the costs a business faces in moving to VoIP. And helps explain why channel matters, beyond the importance of the trusted personal relationship (see the SMB survey from 2012).

 

Serenova Strengthens Channel Program Through Partnership with Telarus

For CCaaS channel is also critical.

 

How the channel saved Avaya Partner ecosystem “crucial” in keeping customers on-board

Another example on the importance of the enterprise channel, as regardless what happened to Avaya, your local provider is there – trust is an important criteria, as shown in this SMB survey from all the way back in 2012!

 

RapidAPI raises $25M

I’m interested in people’s experiences with RapidAPI. Its getting lots of investor hype, however, I’m not seeing that much developer engagement in discussions with people at TADHack, and API provider take-up appears patchy / inconsistent across CXTech. What are you seeing?

 

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Kevin Nethercott is now Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at Telestax

Arjun Madan celebrated 3 years as a Software Developer at Bandwidth.com. He was a winner from TADHack Rayleigh 2015 (run by Bandwidth.com). Since presenting at TADHack-mini Orlando 2019 on all the people we’ve help find jobs, I’ve been contacted by 40+ people sharing the help being part of TADHack had for them. I need to update the numbers on what we’ve achieved with TADhack…

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