CXTech Week 12 2022 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 12 2022 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:

  • Voxist and VXT join WG2’s Marketplace
  • Kids Speech Labs voices a therapy solution
  • Subspace add a New Interface, Global Load Balancer
  • Cresta, real-time intelligence for contact centers, raises $80M on $1.6B valuation
  • Oxio Raises $40M to Bring Tokenized Telco Model to US and Brazil
  • Google packages up its Contact Center bits and pieces into a solution for integrators large and small to deploy
  • Not smart but clever? The return of ‘dumbphones’
  • Where Does Low Code Make Sense?
  • The Web as the Ultimate Tool of Resilience
  • What’s Holding 5G Back?
  • Telefonica buys Incremental
  • People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Voxist and VXT join WG2’s Marketplace

Voxist emerged from a hack created at TADHack Paris 2015 by Federico Cabiddu, Giacomo Vacca, Marco Barre, and Karel Bourgois, the pitch is shown below. Voxist are also the organizers of TADHack France, part of TADHack Global 2022.

The Working Group Two marketplace is an integrated part of the company’s ambition to deliver value for operators, product developers, and mobile customers alike. Working Group Two’s cloud-native mobile network brings radical simplification, cost efficiency and a platform to leverage a developer community – to drive innovation and capitalize on disruptive technologies.

Kids Speech Labs voices a therapy solution

This is a great review of how Shona D’Arcy is addressing the need for timely provision of speech therapy for children across Ireland and the UK through her business Kids Speech Labs.

Below is the presentation Shona gave last year at TADSummit 2021 on Voice Technology in Healthcare. Speech Recognition is often seen as the holy grail for healthcare, imagine removing all the form filling that is currently taking up clinicians valuable time. In this talk Shona answered a few pertinent questions:

  • Why aren’t all hospitals completely voice enabled?
  • What are examples of interactive voice applications that are working in healthcare and delivering value?
  • What does the future hold for interactive voice applications in healthcare?

Subspace add a New Interface, Global Load Balancer

Global Load Balancer or “GLB” is a new service by Subspace that can distribute Internet traffic amongst a large number of servers that are globally dispersed, even across different cloud providers. GLB includes all the benefits of Subspace, including always-on DDOS protection, global pathfinding, reliability (100% uptime!) and reduced latency. They’re looking for beta testers.

Cresta, real-time intelligence for contact centers, raises $80M on $1.6B valuation.

Cresta, real-time intelligence for contact centers, announced $80 million Series C financing round, a $1.6 billion post-money valuation, quadrupling its value in a year.

Cresta has three solutions:

  • Agent Assist takes the best practices of top performers and amplifies those across the entire team with real-time, AI-driven assistance and coaching. This includes identifying emotion, hints, smart responses, knowledge base look-ups and automatic note taking.
  • Cresta Director provides managers with unprecedented real-time visibility of agent performance and behavior. This includes alerting as well as enabling real-time online coaching and workflow optimization, which are critical to help work-from-home (WFH) agents improve their customer interactions.
  • Cresta Insights delivers executive-level customer and agent insights on overall contact center interactions and performance, identifying hot topics, sentiment, and competitive issues at scale, enabling a smarter and more responsive customer experience.

Oxio Raises $40M to Bring Tokenized Telco Model to US and Brazil

OXIO allows any brand to serve as a mobile operator. It’s already working with Grupo Bimbo and other big brands in Mexico.

Oxio, a telecom-as-a-service (TAAS) platform that turns mobile data into blockchain-based digital assets, raised $40 million in a Series B funding round that was led by ParaFi Capital.

The company now has 15 clients in Mexico, including Grupo Bimbo, the country’s largest bread maker, and Rappi, a leading food delivery app in the region that uses Oxio to provide internet service to its riders.

In November 2020, Oxio raised $13 million in a Series A funding round that was led by Brazilian venture capital firms Monashees and Atlantico Capital. To date, the firm has raised a total of $65 million.

Google packages up its Contact Center bits and pieces into a solution for integrators large and small to deploy

Google moves beyond developer platforms into integrator solutions. Packaging up a number of capabilities such as Dialogflow, and partnership, e.g. with Salesforce.com to integrate Contact Center AI with Service Cloud Voice to deliver a unified Service Cloud agent.

It’s not a prepackaged CCaaS like Twilio Flex, where just configuration is required by a local integration. But enough that for a business that’s already using a number of Google products its an obvious one to investigate.

Google’s trajectory here is the more interesting thing to speculate on. Give the $$$ and growth in CCaaS, and its ability to do the global voice and messaging, when will Google become a one stop CCaaS shop?

Not smart but clever? The return of ‘dumbphones’

I am seeing this as a trend, especially amongst those cutting the cord from social media.

The numbers in the article surprised me. “One report said that global purchases of dumbphones were due to hit one billion units last year, up from 400 million in 2019. This compares to worldwide sales of 1.4 billion smart phones last year, following a 12.5% decline in 2020.

There are many cheap ‘smartphones’ on sale in developing markets, so I’m not sure who is buying all those dumb phones. However, as the mobile market matures, we’ll see a small segment focus on using mobile for communications, voice and messaging, not social media because some people find it addictive and that makes them unhappy.

Proving the ROI of Community at Salesforce

Excellent piece on how Erica Kuhl, Senior Director of Community at Salesforce, moved community to the product team, where they now have a defining impact on the Salesforce product. It answers these questions:

  • How do you get a community program started in a large company?
  • How do you prove the business value that community drives for marketing, support and product?
  • How do you keep fighting so you can’t be ignored?

On the numbers:

  • People who were active in the Salesforce community in the last 3 months spent 2x more than people who were not active. That is, the average order value (AOV) of a community member vs. a non-community member was double.
  • People who were active in the Salesforce community in the last 3 months had a 33% higher adoption rate than non-community members.

Where Does Low Code Make Sense?

I was looking at Appian’s pricing and wondered how they justify $75 per user per month? With a minimum of 100 users, $7.5k per month for an internal enterprise app with just 100 users is a little steep in my opinion. I’d seen a number of low-code business cases that were using this as a benchmark.

Low-code platform pricing is a halfway house between PaaS providers like Heroku where you generally just pay for the compute, and full blown SaaS applications where you pay per seat.

The challenge for low-code buyers is understanding the value across the different solutions. No low-code solution is alike. Many SaaS apps can be heavily customized. I make fun of Twilio FLEX, describing it as 99% of a CCaaS; however, It can be heavily configured. The line between SaaS and low-code is not clear.

Low-Code makes development easier, but you’re still running a development project.

And this lead to a fundamental question: are low-code tools to replace classic development of existing apps; or do they lower the bar so that stuff that currently doesn’t get built can be, e.g. greater automation.

Appian pricing is similar to its competition. Is low-code better suited to a SaaS model, to help automate workflows, rather than a general development category?

The Web as the Ultimate Tool of Resilience

Last week marked two anniversaries: the start of the COVID-19-imposed lockdown and the birthday of the World Wide Web.

It’s difficult to think of an industry that hasn’t been substantially aided by the web during the age of Covid. Video-conferencing service is a conspicuous example. Zoom, for one, saw a jump to more than 200 million daily meeting participants in March, 2020, up from approximately 10 million in December, 2019. The Web makes all that possible for workers across industries to interact if not perfectly, at least in a manner that allowed most to remain productive. Web access kept millions employed, no doubt preventing a full-on economic depression. 

Streaming services made long days and nights of confinement more bearable, delivering content to our devices with video streaming services reaching 1.1 billion global subscribers in 2020Netflix alone added 36 million subscribers.

The cultural, economic, and societal shifts of the past two years underscore the importance of web-based technology and services. They have cast light on the need for universally accepted technical specifications, guidelines, and web standards. The programmable communications / telecoms industry needs to be much more active in the W3C. It’s not just for web-people, it’s important for everyone.

What’s Holding 5G Back?

The WSJ ran an article asking, “What’s Holding 5G Back?”

My response was, nothing’s holding 5G back. The mobile industry should look over the fence at the fixed broadband industry, they’ll see most consumers do not buy the 1 gigabit fixed broadband offer. Check out this article as an example from Singapore, a mature 1Gbps+ broadband market: https://blog.seedly.sg/500mbps-vs-1gbps-singapore-broadband.

5G is not a driver for most consumers, 4G is good enough. The main driver is the new mobile phone that has 5G bundled for free. The 1 gigabit and 10 gigabit fixed broadband offers are more addressable to businesses. Fixed locations with lots of users at one address. Which is not a use case for mobile broadband, unless it’s being offered as a fixed broadband alternative (but buyer beware on Rayleigh fading in your area).

I’ve been saying this for a couple of decades now, it’s all about the services. Telcos can continue to segment the ISP demand curve to maximize ISP revenues. New revenues will only come from new or improved services provided directly or with partners. Currently telcos are ceding enterprise revenues, there are opportunities there. Also DT Global Carrier last week were describing other ways at their analyst briefing, https://alanquayle.com/2022/03/cxtech-week-11-2022/.

Telefonica buys Incremental

As if answering the above advice, Telefónica Tech acquires Incremental to strengthen its position as a leader in the UK market for IT services.

  • Telefónica Tech acquires Incremental, a digital transformation and data analytics company and Microsoft partner, for up to £175 million (approx. €209 million).
  • With this acquisition, Telefónica Tech UK&I increases its scale in the UK and its offering of Microsoft technologies, including 16 Gold Competencies and 5 Advanced Specialisations, consolidating its leading position in the UK market.
  • With the Incremental employees, Telefónica Tech UK&I continues to expand its human capital to around 1,000 highly qualified professionals. As a result, the UK subsidiary contributes almost 25% of Telefónica Tech’s total workforce.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Brent Bailey is now CTO and Co-Founder at Talkpath. And here’s Brent winning at TADHack-mini Orlando 2021 in December.

Chee Teoh is now founder and director of SIMPLICA, an intelligent Automation and Artificial Intelligence business for the mid-market. I first met Chee at Cable and Wireless in the UK. This is a great example of how the level of complexity and hype in AI has reached a point that companies that help cut through the crap to deliver solid business benefits exist.

Gee Rittenhouse is now Chief Executive Officer of Skyhigh Security. I’ve known Gee since his time at Bell Labs. Earlier this year he joined McAfee Enterprise as CEO, covered in CXTech Week 4 2022, which is now rebranded as Skyhigh Security. It’s about time the McAfee brand was dropped, though the name Skyhigh given what John McAfee got up to is a little perplexing.

Congratulations to Sacha Nacar, who has recently joined Theta Lake, covered in CXTech Week 43 2021. They just raised $50M to expanded their security and compliance solutions. That is ensuring conference calls in financial services are compliant with financial regulations. This has many more applications across industries, for example, whether any customer’s personal identifiable information was discussed on a call.

Antti Koskela is now Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer at WithSecure, formerly F-Secure Business. I’ve known Antti since his time at Comptel.

Sachin Hegde is now Director Of Engineering at Smartsheet. He represented Vidyo at TADHack.

Mark Nixon is now Worldwide Lead Telecommunications Industry Consulting at Teradata. We first met when he was working at Huawei’s Business Consulting in the Middle East.

Oliver Brason is now Senior Project Manager at TelcoSwitch

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