CXTech Week 24 2020 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 24 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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Vonage Appoints Rory Read Chief Executive Officer

The previous CEO, Alan Maserak in his 6 year tenure transformed Vonage from a consumer VoIP service provider to a complete programmable communications service provider focused on enterprises across CPaaS, CCaaS, and UCaaS. And critically compared to most telcos out there, Vonage owns its technology, it’s not reselling. This is critical to profitability. Likely after 6 years Alan was ready for a change / rest; Vonage is entering a new phase, where focusing on the details of the numbers matters more than the game plan.

In CXTech week 22 2020 we discussed the challenges 8X8 faces, with growing revenues profitably. This too will be the challenge Vonage faces. It’s both an operational challenge, and a consolidation play. That is profitably growing revenues – managing the pennies. And buying up the competition to deliver greater economies of scale. Telcos have talked about this for decades, a few have acted, but the benefits have been slight, look at Vodafone. While in enterprise communications, which doesn’t have the same regulatory constraints, we may see a few global players dominate, beyond Cisco, Microsoft, Amazon and possibly Google.

We’re entering an interesting phase in the evolution of enterprise communications. It’s less a discipline in itself, rather part of enterprise IT. This is not a new concept, Telcos like BT have bought enterprise IT providers many times in its history. NTT Ltd is an example of global success, which in part is linked to the Japanese culture of Keiretsu, separate but cooperating business units. But that, like i-mode, seems to only works for the Japanese. Perhaps technology is now enabling a new cadre of enterprise ICT solution providers. Local channel / integrator strategy is going to be critical, hence why Twilio’s approach with FLEX could be a significant challenge to Vonage’s more traditional telecoms sales model. Though it does including channel sales as well, just in a more traditional form.

8×8 Launches Open Communications Platform

8×8 announced the availability of Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) programmable applications and APIs, including SMS and 8×8 Video, for organizations to extend and customize 8×8 and third-party applications and workflows, including 8×8 Voice for Microsoft Teams.

8X8 are consolidating their programmable communication assets, like Vonage did around its Nexmo platform. This enables a common platform (greater scale / lower cost / improved profitability). TADHack Global provides a great way for 8X8 to get those tools in the hands of people around the world. Nexmo did this in the past, it was one of our first sponsors of TADHack Global.

Zoom: Heading For A Post-COVID Unwind

WFH will remain in demand for all this year, and likely most of next year. The vaccine will hopefully be generally available mid-next year. People are not readily coming back to work given the uncertainty around the disease. Vaccine distribution will take time. This all adds up to a prolonged WFH phase, even when people are popping into the office a couple of times per week.

Some school districts are considering a hybrid model of in-class (testing) and online for the autumn. Zoom will not see demand fall as quickly as this article assumes. Google Meet is not as easy to use for non-geeks. Once a school district does its training on Zoom, that’s the lock-in point. And it’s been amazing how many schools and business are locked in. And because business X is successfully using Zoom, business Y follows suit.

8×8 Meetings vs. Zoom: Which is Best?

As you would think, the answer is it depends. Zoom has taken a consumerization of enterprise communications approach to break thought all the IT department barriers and tick sheets. It’s a classic Web2.0 playbook move.

For most businesses the phone system and collaboration system are different purchases. Often there are multiple collaboration services in use within the same business, as the geeks have different needs to marketing. So the integration of phone system and collaboration from the same vendor to exclusively access certain features can be a weakness.

Conversational Commerce Platform CM.com Acquires Chatbot Developer CX for $17.5M

Communications platform developer CM.com is acquiring enterprise chatbot developer CX Company for €15.5 million (about $17.5 million). CM.com is planning to adapt the chatbots for its own systems, which include voice and text-based AI.

There’s been a little too much hype around chatbots, at TADHack and TADSummit we’ve spent this year showing what is possible. And in particular with TADSummit Asia how to improve chatbots to achieve a 80% success rate in understanding what is being asked.

Insider Trading of Twilio Triples in Q1 2020

It’s always useful to check on what the exec team are doing with their stock. Most of the exec team have a regular stock selling plan approved by the board and major stock holders, as discussed in CXTech Week 46 2019.

Their Q1 2020 was good, and sometimes personal issues can force an acceleration in stock selling, e.g. divorce. Twilio did not provide guidance for the rest of 2020, which I think is wise, the uncertainties are still great. But the increased sell-off is worth noting, they could be anticipating things getting a little chopping in H2 2020.

MessageBird pivots from CPaaS to Business Messaging with launch of Omni-channel Chat Widget

Quoting the CEO, “As a CPaaS platform, MessageBird was opening up legacy communication channels by turning them into APIs for other companies to use… With the launch of this product, we have pivoted into building new omni-channel products on top of a fully integrated platform.”

Omnichannel Chat Widget integrates with e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce and Magento, and on-demand and logistics platforms.

The chat widget is built on top of the company’s “Flow Builder” platform so includes AI-powered chatbots, FAQ bots and third-party integrations. It also includes a channel-agnostic chat history for handovers.

OpenSIPS: Call management using the new Call API tool

The new Call API project consists of a standalone server able to service a set of API commands that can be used to control SIP calls (such as start a new call, put a call on hold, transfer it to a different destination, etc.).

In order to provide high performance throughput, the server has been developed in Go programming language, and provides a WebSocket interface that is able to handle JSON-RPC 2.0 requests and notifications.

A Slice of TADSummit: Innovator Interviews

In this series of weblogs, A Slice of TADSummit, we review a few of the themes from TADSummit Asia. Some of the most viewed videos came from this segment: Innovator Interviews. It was my favorite segment because of the focus on people, their experiences, their advice, and also the common threads across the interviews.

With no pre-planning, simply the people who said yes first when I asked for interviews. Three of the innovators have a current focus on education technology, EdTech. Which given the current pandemic is proving quite important. All had programmable telecoms / communication experience, and all had worked with me through TADHack, TADSummit or my consulting business.

Our current top viewed interview was with Devadas Krishnan, CEO of MySchoolPage™ an online live tutoring service for K-12 students across the world. They are revolutionizing the tutoring process through personalized lesson plans and schedules. Their academic experts ensure that the tutoring processes are tailor-made for your child in order to ensure academic success. Devadas noted the market is $120B with a CAGR of 16%.

Other interviews included:

SIMCON AWARD: Empowering the Next Generation

Thank you to Simwood eSMS Limited for the SIMCON Award “Empowering the next generation”

These awards are earned, not paid for. Recognition from the programmable telecoms community!

I’ve added the award logo to my website, blog, and the footer of TADHack

Other recipients in 2020 include:

  • Matthew Fredrickson – The Nicest Guy in VoIP, ever!;
  • Allison Smith – The Voice of the Uprising;
  • Tim Panton – The Geek Inspirer;
  • Olle Johansson – Pre-posthumous Legend;
  • Telavox – Ahead of their Time;
  • Elisja Van Niekerk – Leading by Example.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Congratulations to David A. Bryan, who is now Chief Technology Officer at Poly.

Ratan Sanjay is now Director & Head, Cloud ISV Business at Oracle. We
 first met back in 2009 when he was heading up CA’s comms sector for India / South Asia.

A beautiful post from TADHack regular Eric Good, see below. Quoting one of his powerful statements. “Learning to code was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made in my life. I would recommend anyone to learn something. It is not hard and will open your mind up to the possibilities of what you can do. “

With family and friends we took part in the Black Lives Matter March in Berkeley Heights on Sunday. 2000 people came to to express their deep concern about the rise of racism, police brutality, and fascism in the USA.

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