CXTech Week 16 2021 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 16 2021 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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Covered this week:

Wire Raises $21M

Wire, an end-to-end encrypted collaboration platform, announced last week it has closed a $21m Series B funding round led by UVC Partners, a Berlin-based early-stage venture capitalist. This investment comes after Wire’s 3x annual revenue growth in 2020, and a number of customer wins across energy, financial services and government sectors.

Back in 2017 Wire presented at TADSummit on their beta of teams, what has become their core product. Back in September 2017 Wire launched teams (beta) bring end-to-end encrypted chats, file sharing and calls to businesses everywhere. Wind the clock back to 2015 and then CEO and Co-founder of Wire, Jonathan Christensen, gave a keynote at TADHack Global. And we also had a keynote from Alan Duric, CTO and Co-founder of Wire.

Wire was one of the first to launch encrypted calls in late 2014, and the first one to launch full end-to-end encryption, working across multiple devices, for all communication, back in March 2016.

Back in 2019 they raised $8M, and changed ownership to a US entity to help with fundraising. They’re competitive with Matrix / Element, which in my opinion has the hearts and minds of open source developers. When they began, the focus was a clean and simple UI, given Skype had become a complex mess of a UI after Microsoft acquired them for $8.5 billion back in 2011.

And Discord is the next in Microsoft’s sights… Though what Microsoft has done with Minecraft is great, bought in the same year, 2011. Whenever my son and his friends are playing Minecraft, raucous is the word that comes to mind. It’s a cultural touch-point across elementary and middle schoolers, without the gloating, poser, style-over-content of Fortnite.

Two Belgians in California

An insightful and inspiring interview with Guillaume and Bart from TeleSign. Guillaume will be presenting at TADSummit Asia on “TeleSign’s Findings on the Future of Digital Identity“.

On what Guillaume misses from Belgium, “a great bottle of wine at a decent price.” I found my answer, Trader Joe’s (current favorite is Phigment red blend, $6); plus they have Belgian waffles from Belgium, and I just remembered we’re out of them, better go stock up!

Agile Content acquires Fon

Spanish digital TV and video delivery solutions provider Agile Content has announced the acquisition of Wi-Fi firm Fon Technology.

Fon’s technology is deployed mainly by ISPs including British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom Group, SFR, SoftBank, Telstra, KPN, Proximus, Vodafone, Virgin Media, and The Cloud. They have created a globally connected WiFi network.

Fon’s footprint is made up of over 23 million hotspots worldwide, by aggregating both residential and public WiFi footprints, as well as interconnection between WiFi services.

They began as a community WiFi project, where people could share their WiFi. But asking customers to do something, and the chicken and egg issue of customer-led coverage, meant ISPs were the best route to coverage.

In 2016 the company evolved to hospitality WiFi, such as airports, hotels, convention centers, public spaces, etc. in addition to residential networks. A proven revenue source.

Another interesting company in this space is Instabridge, founded by Niklas Agevik; which was sold to Degoo in 2019 (cloud storage with an algorithm to discover your best photo memories). Instabridge’s vision is to bring the internet to everyone. Their mission is to build a wifi sharing community on every city on the planet using their app. Think groups of friends, share WiFi once, and it just works after that whenever they visit. This way it avoided the coverage issue, rather focused on locations where you and your friends, family, and contacts need it.

In the beginning of Fon, mobile broadband was not good enough compared to WiFi. But then with 4G mobile broadband was good enough, and then pricing of mobile broadband became more reasonable. So the need for public WiFi when you’re mobile has diminished.

There are still lots of situations where public WiFi matters: if you’re at a location and mobile coverage is poor, or you’re on a limited data plan, or traveling and do not have a reasonable international mobile broadband roaming plan, or the mobile phone is running out of power while your laptop is full.

However, mobile broadband is the default, potentially avoiding privacy invading hospitality WiFi. Though most places I go provide clean, easy to use guest WiFi, with password protection. It’s a bit like toilets, clean and functional for your guests, with no spying on their ‘business’ 😉

Just a reminder, Amazon stopped doing MayDay live video in 2018

I mention as I still see Amazon MayDay being mentioned as justification for video in the contact center.

Live video, recorded video, pictures, and screen sharing all have roles in customer service. However, text and voice will remain dominant. Video is not some disruptive contact center revolution, it’s a useful addition to the armory of helping customers get to what they want as fast as possible.

The more important aspect is recognize it’s a smartphone, which has much more value that ‘just’ video. As discussed in my TADSummit Asia 2021 session: Programmable Communications Review.

It’s a similar argument for 5G, though the analogy is a bit of a stretch. For consumers 4G is good enough, with a few exceptions, like fixed 5G broadband where poor regulation has resulted in DSL-like services being charged at FTTH rates with little competition.

Don’t get me wrong consumers are going to adopt 5G, because it’s there in the latest phone along with the latest screen, camera, processor, etc. 5G is not driving an upgrade cycle like 4G; screen, camera, and processor matter more to consumers.

In the enterprise, 5G potentially expands potential vendors, so pricing gets interesting. It’s not a WiFi replacement, rather it fulfils a role for specific enterprise use cases.

On TETRA replacement with 5G, there are long-established relationships, and big budgets (think safety, security, police, fire, ambulance, and generational change). Change will happen but 6G is more likely to be the breakthrough in the TETRA market, once the people making the decisions were born in the ’90s, not the ’70s.

Which is a long way of saying, video has a role in the contact center, but its niche and generational. Plus there are bigger fish to fry in the contact center, like recognizing the fact it’s a smart phone with all the capabilities and contextual information that comes with it.

Talkdesk and Zoom partner to Unify Contact Center Collaboration

Following on from the above discussion on video in the contact center. Talkdesk and Zoom have announced a partnership. The focus is collaboration within the organization:

  • Provides integrated experience between unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS) platforms;
  • Brings Zoom Phone capabilities including calling, directory and presence to the Talkdesk AppConnect marketplace; and
  • Improves real-time collaboration to help enterprises drive productivity and increase customer satisfaction.

For those vendors focused on CCaaS, this avoids having to build out a UCaaS/collaboration offer to be competitive with the all-in-ones. It will be interesting to see how this plays out on whether focusing on the customer and the employee communication needs separately delivers better results.

Given the contact center is likely to evolve into the customer experience center, as discussed in my TADSummit Asia 2021 session: Programmable Communications Review. Its potentially on a different trajectory to employee communications. Though the underlying communications technology is the same. In the limit this separation will work for enterprises with a bias to online customer processes (web companies), while those with a more traditional business (car dealerships) will likely find an all-in-one adequate. Regardless, there’s room for both.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Marten Schoenherr is now also Founding Partner at the workin group, which covers all delivery steps in a complex IT project. He’s also a TADSummit and TADHack regular 🙂

Daniel Sendin is now Head Of Operations at Scayla AG. He’s presented at TADSummit several times about his innovations with NAKA Mobile. The MVNO market has proven tough as the price difference between wholesale and retail rates are small. In the US, with plans 2-3 times as expensive as the rest of the word there’s still room for MVNOs, e.g. Mint Mobile.

Shanaka Wickramaarachchi is now Specialist – Tech Evangelist at Dialog Axiata PLC.

Ashok Sankaran is now Director – Alliances and Partners at Genesys, previously uniphore.

Lanny O’Connell is now Enterprise Account Director at Prove, previously TeleSign.

Mohit Goel is now Technical Architect at HCL Technologies, previously Tech Mahindra.

Pasindu De Silva is now Senior Biz Lead – Community Engagement – Ideamart at Dialog Axiata PLC.

Carlos Pastor is now Director, Regional Marketing at Collibra.

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