The purpose of this CXTech Week 5 2020 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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Comcast Acquires Blueface; Global Provider of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to Complement Comcast Business Solutions
Update: Just discovered this deal unravels the merger of Blueface and Star2Star. So Comcast has bought Blueface only, while US focused Star2Star is now independent. My assumption is Comcast plan to bring the the European focused UC provider’s technology into the US. This has the smell of a deal that fell through, and a last-minute compromise was found to at least deliver on Comcast’s need to own the UC technology. Likely Star2Star’s valuation was too high if Comcast was going to use Blueface’s tech in preference. Perhaps Star2Star has another deal in the pipeline?
When Blueface bought/merged with Star2star it sort of made sense to accelerate their North American market position. But Blueface’s product is more advanced than Star2star. Blueface with a great channel VP could build market share organically. I’ll discuss the race for the enterprise channel later in this newsletter.
Comcast has focused on SMB for a few decades, packaging up offers like multi-line voice and a range of business focused bundles. They’re Business VoiceEdge Service was a resell from what I remember, like most telcos. BUT given the competitive enterprise communications market, there simply isn’t room for multiple margins anymore.
The OEM margin, sometimes a channel/agent margin, and the telco taking a margin in the middle. It ends up either overpriced, or payback periods for customer acquisition that stretch to 3-5 years. To deliver enterprise communication services today you must own the technology, not resell.
For all the UC providers this is an interesting time, will Comcast be the beginning of an acquisition spree by the larger telcos wanting to build out a more profitable enterprise communications business by owning the technology? Unfortunately telcos do not have a great track record in making such acquisitions work. As discussed on this weblog, the smaller company is ‘meetinged’ to death. Or will telcos continue on the current path of writing off telecoms as commoditized, and focus on butterflies like edge compute and magical 5G services (4G is good enough).
This is a trend I’ve highlighted in several newsletters including Week 4’s with Aircall partnership with CNSG (Converged Network Services Group). We’re seeing a race for the channel as enterprise communication vendors chase after all the enterprise technology solution providers that range from big ones like CNSG, MTM Technologies, DYNTEK, Trace3 with hundreds of millions in revenues, through to mom and pop businesses focused on a city or a region in a state making a few million a year.
Many businesses want someone local, someone they know, someone who will turn up and solve any problems they have, when selecting someone to provide the IT and telecoms for their business. The complexity is increasingly real, it’s so much more than just a phone on a desk, check out the focused offers from Weave, across Dentists, Optometrists, Vets, and Doctor’s.
Star2Star and Blueface are back in competition, with Comcast owning Blueface’s technology.
I’m not a fan of Jim Cramer’s analysis, too much opinion, not enough detailed numbers-based analysis. The devil is always in the details, not the story spun to or by analysts. However, he is a fan of Twilio, and continues to talk them up.
In Week 4’s post I noted the mistake some analysts are making in assuming Twilio is defined by CPaaS. I’m not going to rant about the dopey term CPaaS. Twilio is using programmable telecoms / communications to build out a soup-to-nuts enterprise communications offer. The category is enterprise communications, not CPaaS.
So while this analysis in the link above makes a the category error in what Twilio is. CPaaS is a fashionable word, so people use it without understanding what it means. Here is a CPaaS segmentation I did to try and help people understand the term better.
CM.com is a business messaging provider, I include them in the CXTech marketing sizing and landscape. They’re opening a US office in LA. I see quite a few CXTech businesses opening offices there. Telesign was founded there, they recently ran their SKO (Sales Kick-Off) meeting at their LA offices. And were promoting the event on social media, which I think is great in communicating to their customers, potential employees, and the broader market on what is going on with Telesign.
They position EnableX as a Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS), that is disrupting the Indian market by allowing application developers, enterprises and service providers to quickly and easily embed high-quality real-time communications into any website, mobile or native application. That’s really in-app communications, rather than CPaaS. Which is covered in the CXTech marketing sizing and landscape.
It’s a hackathon about using the Avaya and Google Dialogflow resources to solve problems in Education, Healthcare, Energy / Environment, and St. Mary’s Food Bank.
Anyone who’s interested, web dev skills will help.
To showcase the power of Avaya OneCloud CPaaS and Google Dialogflow, network with great people, and possibly win some of the $15k in prizes + other goodies.
People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff
Congratulations to Anne Woollett, who is now Marketing Communications Manager at Tollring. I’ve known Anne since her days at ipcortex.
Congratulations to Ben Levy who is now Vice President Applications at Enghouse Interactive. Enghouse bought the remaining bit of Dialogic, which Ben was part of, after Sangoma bought the Converged Communications Division, as discussed in the first CXTech newsletter of 2020. Ben was the CEO of Apex Communications, a sponsor of TADSummit, and is based in LA. See, the cool kids in CXTech hang out in LA not the Bay Area 😉
Congratulations to Alex Hunte, who is now Senior Lead Digital Experience at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. His co-founder, Igor Pavlov, from their start-up LyteSpark was mentioned in Week 2 2020 newsletter.
Magdalena Domagalik, is now Manager International Business Support Desk at KPN
Sobish Mahajan Graduate Teaching Assistant at Illinois Institute of Technology
Chris Mayer is now the Technical Committee Chair-Elect at IEEE Communications Quality & Reliability
Well done to UniVoIP for their Scholarship Program, an initiative designed to support the next generation of technology professionals, is proud to announce its first scholarship winner, Paige Fugger, an Industrial Engineering Major at the University of Illinois.