CXTech Week 14 2020 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 14 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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The ‘S’ in Zoom, Stands for Security

I’ve talked about the challenges Zoom has with security in these newsletters, e.g. CXTech Week 28. I also posted on Linkedin that on my Mac when I fire up Zoom or join a Zoom meeting, it occasionally asks for the Mac password to sort out an audio problem in connecting to the machine’s mic. I pointed out how this causes some people to not join the meeting. Eric even responded directly to my post asking for more specifics.

This article is worth the read to understand in more detail the two (local) security issues affecting Zoom’s macOS application.

First, how unprivileged attackers or malware may be able to exploit Zoom’s installer to gain root privileges.

Following this, due to an ‘exception’ entitlement, they showed how to inject a malicious library into Zoom’s trusted process context. This affords malware the ability to record all Zoom meetings, or, simply spawn Zoom in the background to access the mic and webcam at arbitrary times!

Zoom’s been caught out multiple times on these issues. There are many conferencing app alternatives, and it may find people drawing a line on where understanding has been pushed too far. I’ll be using Zoom on my Chromebook from now.

Introducing Mio Universal Channels: The Future of Intercompany Collaboration

Mio just launched Mio Universal Channels. They are like Slack’s shared channels, but cross-platform.

If you use Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Webex Teams, then you can create a Mio Universal Channel and invite your external business contacts to join the channel by sending them a link.

You can stay in your preferred team collaboration app, and they can stay in theirs.

This is an interesting development. Analogous to the vision of Matrix.org in federating different communication platforms. Similar visions, just different architecture; API federation vs open source defacto federation standards.

These approaches may segment along market lines, that is, large corporates taking an API federation approach and the rest of the market following the open source track. It’s going to be interesting to follow. Regardless, Mio is helping the broader market understand the value of federation.

Sinch buys Wavy for €60 million, will grow customer engagement platform across Latin America

Continuing its buying spree Sinch bough Wavy, the second-largest messaging provider in Brazil with services in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Paraguay.

Wavy is in the Business Messaging category in the CXTech landscape. The aggregation business is increasingly commoditized. Its the pre-packaged services (higher margin than SMS aggregation) across the customer lifecycle that enabled Wavy to have a broad base of enterprise customers.

TADHack Orlando Online Results 

Firstly, thank you to everyone who took part and supported TADHack Orlando online. I know many were busy because of the current situation helping customers, businesses, friends, neighbors and family manage the transition to WFH (Work From Home). Especially with everything that breaks now people are no longer in the office, “But it worked last week…” – well last week you were in the office.

Thank you to the sponsors for demonstrating your commitment to developers and programmable communications in not pulling out and providing excellent online support throughout. Namely IntelePeer, Sangoma (their technologies: Apidaze (VoIP Innovations) and Asterisk) and Simwood. Here are a few weblogs that summarize the results:

Over the past 7 years we’ve run 17 TADHack events across 100+ locations and received hundreds of remote / online entries. TADHack Orlando Online this weekend got me thinking, given the amazing results produced.

The quality and breadth of the hacks was better than ever. Chad Hart who took part this year after a break of several years with SMB reschedule using Simwood, commented on the quality being far greater than he remembered.

The quality improvement reflects a couple of developments:

  • the programmable communications stacks are maturing, making them easier to mash-up;
  • the heady days of developer marketing have passed into a more honest cooperation of joint learning, networking, and business development. And in my opinion most importantly bringing new blood in the ecosystem, programmable communications / telecoms has too high a gray haired old man ratio (yes I am one of them).

Over half the hacks included intelligent agents (bots), generally using Google Dialogflow, which is now just part of the programmable communications stack. Shout-out to Dan Miller from Opus Research for his support. Asterisk (open source TAS for processing calls) was mashed-up with Simwood (telco making the calls and messaging happen), as well as Apidaze and Intelepeer (both CPaaS). It’s a software stack web-centric developers understand, can mash-up, and build upon to solve problems important to them. Check out the pitches, as well as the slides to see the complex stacks built in about 24 hours over last weekend.

By letting developers work on what matters to them we had a good diversity of hacks:

Programmable communications is evolving, the stack is getting easier to use by many more people. Programmable comms hackathons have become an honest cooperation of joint learning, networking, business development, and bringing vital new blood into the industry. Its all about building sustainable businesses together, not evangelist BS!

tyntec Podcast: Digital consumer insights from Omdia’s global survey

You know I have to say it; there is no such thing as a digital consumer. The term is marketing BS. There are consumers of many difference kinds reachable through many different media and devices. My parents in their 70s are online, it’s how they remain in contact with their children and grandkids. So drop the dopey digital term when 70 year olds are connected.

After the obligatory mentions of 5G and RCS, <sigh>. The conversation between Jean Shin (tyntec) and Pamela Clark-Dickson (Omdia) gets down to some interesting discussions around the use of platforms like WeChat, LINE, and all the followers like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

NTT Docomo pulls its NB-IoT service after less than a year

I’ll share a dirty little industrial secret, most telcos’ IoT divisions are struggling to make money. Selling a SIM for $10 with a lifetime of 10 years, doesn’t even cover the costs. The benefits of NB-IoT are really only relevant to the telco, not the end customer.

The self-focused nature of telcos’ strikes again. You’ve got to stop trusting your strategic suppliers and their complicit ‘analysts and consultants’ on what your strategy should be, they just want you to continue spending $$$ on network equipment.

Microsoft acquires virtualized mobile network startup Affirmed Networks

I feel history repeating itself here; a Boston start-up building telecoms solutions being bought by a larger provider that’s struggling to have competitive telecom solutions. Like we’ve seen in the ’90s, ’00s and ’10s. Though this time it’s different. Its a cloud provider buying the platform and skills to help it run telcos’ core networks.

I’ve talked about this previously in the value Telestax has in helping Amazon, Microsoft and Google acquire the open source telecom stacks and expertise to migrate the legacy mess in telcos onto their cloud infrastructure.

Telcos are struggling to hire and retain cloud expertise, and their strategic vendors are trapped in a cost model telcos can no longer afford to support. Like when Verizon closed the door on CDMA and moved over the the GSM world. This acquisition shows the cloud providers are getting serious about taking over their core. We just need to see a telco go all-in, rather than today’s piecemeal, toe-in-the-water approach.

Here’s a nice post from Javier Carrion on what he achieved at TADHack Orlando

TADHack-mini Orlando online was a great success 🙌. Congrats to Alan Quayle! I was able to participate a little and learned the art of wireframing with Figma & I worked on a prototype. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I was not able to submit my project.

Editor: and that’s OK, we have lots of people come, learn and not quite get things working. The key is the learning. Well done Javier!

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Congratulations to Alex Doyle who is now Executive Director, Advanced Communications Products at Verizon. It’s great to see a good person moving up the ranks in Verizon, rather than a politician. But watch out Alex, in my experience Exec Director is normally when the good people are shown the door when VZ implements yet another pointless re-organization based on some half-witted management consultancy’s advice 😉

Congratulations to Ivelin Ivanov starting a new position as Founder & CEO at Ambianic.ai. Previously Ivelin was the co-founder and CEO of Telestax. Telestax represents a good example of the dangers in accepting the VC’s coin. Telestax has a vast repository of open source telecom software stacks. And the skills to understand the issues hidden underneath, its a geeky unfashionable business, not a high growth business. With the VC’s coin they had to transform their business into something fashionable from being an open source software guardian and implementor into a CPaaS enabler / provider. It required significant development work, and significant changes in operations / culture / market position, which is still ongoing. My personal view is with the original business model an exit to Google or Amazon would have been possible once telcos realize its far cheaper having Google or Amazon run their core networks. See Affirmed Network’s acquisition above.

Congratulations to Mark White who is now Vice President, Southeast Asia Technology M&A, Corum Group Ltd. He’s now wearing a shirt and tie – though in today’s virtual world, I’m unsure as to what he’s wearing below the desk-line.

Well done Conor Carroll, who is now Regional Director, Northern Europe, Vodafone Global Enterprise at Vodafone. Previously Pareteum (I covered them last year in the CXTech newletters).

André Gunnberg is now Vice President of Sales Europe at MATRIXX Software.

Bjørn Remseth is now a Senior Research Scientist at Telenor

Teodora Topalović is now a Business Enablement Associate at TeleSign

Federico Descalzo is now as Sviluppo Alleanze Mercato (Development of Market Alliances) at Netalia (Italian cloud provider). Previous he was with Italtel.

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