CXTech Week 26 2022 News and Analysis

We’re half way through the year!

The purpose of this CXTech Week 26 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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Following advice, I’m including a small pitch for my consulting services in this newsletter, many readers are unaware I consult. I’m an Engineer who’s been independently consulting for a couple of decades, “I know stuff and people” 😉 My work is often ahead of the curve. I was providing feedback to the Telecom Ecosystem blog on the role of POC (Proof of Concept) and I referenced back to one of the first hacks created at TADHack in 2014, IMS in Minutes.

Covered this week:

  • RTCSec Newsletter and Open Source Telecom Survey
  • Speechmatics raises $62M
  • Webio Tops Two ‘Best Use in Technology Categories’ at Credit Awards
  • POC or Hack?
  • Zendesk Acquired by Investor Group
  • Aircall becomes a Centaur, Exceeds $100 Million in Annual Recurring Revenue
  • People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

RTCSec Newsletter and Open Source Telecom Survey

Another excellent installment of the RTC Security News from Sandro. With lots of juicy insights and news across WhatsApp, Discord, Mitel, Syniverse, FreeSWITCH, VitalPBX, Jitsi and more.

Experimental SIPVicious PRO build now includes STIR/SHAKEN support. In the open source telecom survey we have some questions on STIR/SHAKEN. And I’m seeing STIR/SHAKEN being discussed outside North America, particularly in Asia.

Sandro will be involved at TADSummit 2022, yeah! He’ll be presenting on “How to bring down your own RTC platform. Running DDoS simulations on your own.” And facilitating the DDoS workshop.

In CXTech Week 40 2021 we covered Syniverse’s admission of being hacked. Vodafone also recently reported the hack, hence it re-entered the news cycle. Syniverse had it buried deep in the Preliminary Proxy Statement:

“in May 2021, Syniverse became aware of unauthorized access”

“The results of the investigation revealed that the unauthorized access began in May 2016. Syniverse’s investigation revealed that the individual or organization gained unauthorized access to databases within its network on several occasions, and that login information allowing access to or from its Electronic Data Transfer (“EDT”) environment was compromised for approximately 235 of its customers. All EDT customers have been notified and have had their credentials reset or inactivated, even if their credentials were not impacted by the incident. All customers whose credentials were impacted have been notified of that circumstance.”

If you’ve not already done so please complete the Open Source Telecom Software Survey by Wednesday 6th July, thank you.

Speechmatics raises $62M

Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) is still very much in development. Talk with contact center managers on the success rates with ASR, there’s still a gap. We’ve talked about the importance of training and focusing on your specific application over the years at TADSummit. Search David Curran on the TADSummit blog.

Founded in 2006, Speechmatics has built one of the most accurate and inclusive speech-to-text. It aims to understand every voice regardless of the speakers’ demographic, age, gender, accent, dialect, or location. Though voice over the PSTN or 3G phones is a stretch objective for many ASR.

Their focus is on non-English languages, dramatically reducing both AI bias and errors in speech recognition. This is also a focus for Le Voice Labs, who are running TADHack France in October and presenting at TADSummit in November. Le Voice Labs’ ASR has been measured by customers as being 30% better than Google and 10% better than Microsoft. Being good is not necessarily about lots of training, that can defocus ASR. Rathering focus helps to create an ASR fit for the customer’s purpose.

Webio Tops Two ‘Best Use in Technology Categories’ at Credit Awards

Webio have been in the news a fair bit of late, raising another round of $4M in CXTech Week 24 2022, and this week Webio has won two awards at this year’s Credit Awards: Best Technology Provider–Customer Service, Collections & Recoveries; and Best Use of Technology–Partnership with their customer DCBL.

Competition included Debt Register, DebtStream, Firstsource, Aryza, EQ Credit Services, FICO, Hometrack, and Zilch. Mark Oppermann, Co-Founder and Head of Sales and Marketing commented “We are absolutely delighted and are very proud to receive these awards. It’s recognition of the efforts from all the Webio team in delivering huge value daily to our customers who are a pleasure to work and partner with”.

POC or Hack?

I was reading on the Telecom Ecosystem Blog, “Innovation – Where Proof of Concepts Go Wrong” and that got me thinking about hacking and POCs (Proof of Concept). Peter provides a nice frank review of the challenges many POCs face.

I remember the VP of a vendor rolling their eyes and saying, “I’m sorry Alan, I know there’s nothing you can do about this. But when is “the carrier” going to stop talking, kicking the tires, and actually buy something.” POCs leave many vendors frustrated and are a great way to kill start-ups as they invest in a great POC only to find the route to cash remains years away.

As Peter Willis points out, “Proof of concepts (PoCs) are a common means to demonstrate, test and introduce new technologies into telcos.” It’s not about product market fit, it’s about technology demonstration. Many of the backend systems are not touched in a POC, there’s a multi-year waiting list there. So which is better a PoC or a hack?

My recommendation is the Telecom Ecosystem Blog should evaluate hacking, it’s working well for many businesses large and small. I’ve run TADHack, the largest global hackathon focused on programmable communications since 2014. Here’s a demonstration of a hack “IMS in Minutes” shown all the way back in 2014. Hacking works in telecoms, in the core infrastructure.

Zendesk Acquired by Investor Group

Zendesk recently announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an investor group led by leading global investment firms Permira and Hellman & Friedman LLC in an all-cash transaction that values Zendesk at approximately $10.2 billion.

Zendesk turned down a $17 billion acquisition in February believing it was worth more. The whole SaaS market has shifted dramatically over the last few months, and Zendesk has been caught in the middle of the drama.

Adobe was rumored as a potential acquirer. I’m seeing ecosystems formed around contact centers, messaging providers, and customer service SaaS. Zendesk also acquired Montreal-based Smooch, as reported in CXTech Week 22 2019.

But what’s different with these ecosystems is the focus on SME / mid-market and onboarding for a average person. For example, Sakari does business text messaging, how can they survive given all the much larger competition? Really easy and professional onboarding, and Sakari plays nice with Aircall, see below.

Aircall becomes a Centaur, Exceeds $100 Million in Annual Recurring Revenue

One year after reaching a $1bn valuation and six years after its 1st million dollar ARR, Aircall reaches centaur status with $100m ARR. Key success factors include: strengthened partnerships, global expansion, acceleration towards mid-market customers, and investing in R&D. Large customers contributed the most to this acceleration with a +107% YoY growth of this segment.

Now, whether Aircall follows Talkdesk’s path in moving off Twilio to lower its cost base will be interesting to see. Aircall is a business phone system. A cloud-based voice platform that integrates with popular productivity and help desk tools such as Salesforce, HubSpot, Slack, and many others.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Nadav Kadosh is now Chief Product Officer at fintastic, financial planning.

Holly Baldwin is now Client Manager at Engineering Education Australia

When I saw this post from James Brown, I immediately thought of TADHackers Steven Goodwin and Lily Madar 🙂

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