CXTech Week 49 2023 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 49 2023 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:

  • TADSummit Innovators, Ken Herron, UIB
  • Its official! vCon is now an IETF Working Group!
  • Podcast 15: Truth in Telecoms. Booyah! A line in the sand.
  • Call for Sponsors and Partners, TADHack Open 2024, 23/24 March, weekend before EC24
  • Apple iMessage may reportedly escape ‘gatekeeper’ status in EU
  • Twilio is being hampered by Wall Street
  • The CTO intro guide to Budgets
  • New KT chief warns ‘comfy’ execs
  • UCaaS Experts ‘Puzzled’ by Renewed Zoom-Five9 Talk
  • Gerry Christensen: F³A and the Future of Trusted Communications
  • People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

TADSummit Innovators, Ken Herron, UIB

I’ve known UIB since its founding when I met Toby Ruckert in Singapore back in 2014. Back then Toby was talking about the importance and challenges of omnichannel communications and bots. Today UIB’s time has come, they are the archetype CPaaSAI company.

I’ve kept in touch Toby, always reminding him about the TADSummit and TADHack plans for that year  In 2021 Toby introduced me to Ken, and Ken has delivered world-class presentations and insights since:

Ken reviews the essence of UIB’s success, that is being human in building highly successful channel relationships (a world-class strength in my opinion) and in implementing bots tuned to the local market or application specific needs (check out the above TADSummit videos).

Because UIB has been working in this space for nearly 10 years they have a powerful platform that makes it easy to integrate into an existing environment, with an extensive body of intellectual property (patents, integrations, and experience).

I’ve learned much from Ken on how powerful bots can become when built on the right platform, focused on the specific customer needs and situation. For example, Hannah the city concierge for City of Schwäbisch Gmünd in Germany.

They’re looking for investors / buyers, and I’m sure will not be on the market long. Johnny is also looking to make them an offer!

Its official! vCon is now an IETF Working Group! 

vCon is intended to ease integration between communication systems of all sorts (SMS, email, messaging, phone calls, and video conferences), with the data consumer, transcription and analysis (e.g. ML and generative AI) services and CRM systems by defining a standard data exchange for communications data.

It’s a fundamental building block of #CPaaSAI.

To find out more: the first and best step is to sign up for the vCon mailing list => They are also putting together a site for the open source software they’re putting together =>

Podcast 15: Truth in Telecoms. Booyah! A line in the sand

Johnny is either lucky or prescient or perhaps a bit of both. He’s been highlighting the importance of Swifties on social issues. Spam SMS and robocalling have become a critical social issue in the US due to ineffective action and messaging monopolies within the Telecom ecosystem. And Time Magazine’s woman of the year is Taylor Swift! What I thought was a wishful idea on effecting change, may prove right.

For those that discount the Breitbart article on bias in political messaging because of its source. There’s also the Real Clear Policy article from the other side of the political spectrum. They drawn the same conclusion on bias, and hence lack of trust in the Messaging Monopolies.

We appear to be sleepwalking into a firestorm on political messaging, and A2P messaging in general, through 2024 and beyond. While the FCC is having its end of year parties with the CTIA and other messaging monopolies, they need to skip the parties and get to urgently clearing up the mess the US finds itself in on spam SMS and robocalling. It’s a national disgrace!

In this podcast we review Twilio’s most recent layoffs precipitated by Wall Street, Booyah! The success of many TADSummit Innovators over the past couple of months, especially after they do a TADSummit Innovators podcast 🙂 And Tata Communications continuing where Kaleyra left off on the TCR and mistreatment of Bill Peters.

Given how Wall Street is talking Twilio up/down depending on the target audience, and Twilio has another infection of Activist Investors. A round of layoffs was unfortunately possible, though I was hoping against hope they would resist. After we’d finished recording this podcast Wall Street was talking Twilio up.

Cutting from the division building Twilio’s future, Data and Applications, is my greatest concern. CDP (Customer Data Platform), LLMs (Large Language Models, aka AI), and integration into Twilio’s Customer Dashboard is the future for many in the programmable comms / CPaaSAI industry. Twilio’s stock is up, close to $70, but at what cost to its future?

As an industry we can not simply standby and continue with the current situation on SMS span, robocalling, messaging monopolies, TCR, abuse of Bill Peters for simply doing his job. We MUST draw a line in the sand, and fight for Truth in Telecoms.

Call for Sponsors and Partners, TADHack Open 2024, 23/24 March, weekend before EC24

TADHack is the largest global hackathon focused on programmable communications / telecoms since 2014. Consistency and credibility are key to TADHack’s continued success and large following. In addition to our no-BS approach, we stand up for developers and innovators, check out the TADSummit Podcast, and Alan Quayle’s blog.

This credibility is unmatched, see all the TADHacks over the Years. There are thousands of hacks, we’ve helped tens of new companies be formed, and helped hundreds if not thousands of people achieve more in their careers. Marketing events do not have credibility with developers.

If you claim to be in programmable comms / telecoms, that is use the acronyms / terms: CPaaS, CPaaSAI, CPaaS enabler, SMS aggregator, telecom / comms API, programmable UCaaS / CCaaS / IVR / Cloud Comms. And you do not have TADHacks, you have a credibility gap! The only company that gets a pass is Twilio, I’ve been asking them since 2014 (starting with James Parton, who I’ve known since his time at O2/Bluevia) to be a part of TADHack.

TADHack’s YouTube channel has 130k views and 3500 hours of viewing with some pitches viewed 3-4k times. On LinkedIn we have 6k+ followers and average 50k impressions per week, the TADHack email list is 10k (active), the CXTech newsletter has 2-5k weekly views. We use TADSummit to drive awareness across the industry for all of TADHack, some TADSummit Podcast episodes achieve 10k+ views on 100k impressions. We continue to build engagement and reach across developers and the industry because TADHack is credible, not marketing spin.

There is no other event that delivers the developer, industry, and enterprise reach and credibility. The separate yet related TADHack / TADSummit brands and Alan Quayle’s long-established credibility, bring new blood into the telecoms / communications industry and help everyone involved in the events.

TADHack Open Details

In conjunction with Enterprise Connect since 2017 we run the pre-conference hackathon, TADHack Open. Winners from TADHack Open present at Enterprise Connect at a slot dedicated to TADHack on the first day of Enterprise Connect. The session normally has 60-80 people attend, and provides excellent endorsement of the sponsors and a talking point throughout the event. The pitch videos are normally live by Monday, enabling the content to be promoted at the start of EC24.

TADHack Openworks with groups committed to increasing the influence that women have in building the technologies that shape our culture and change our world. At TADHack Open 2023 we achieved equal representation between women and men, a first for TADHack. We hope to continue to achieve this balance again in 2024.

The hub location is Valencia College in Orlando, we’ve run at this location since partnering with Enterprise Connect in 2017. We’ll accept remote hacks from around the world. Think of it as a mini-TADHack Global with a session to showcase your hacks at Enterprise Connect.

Apple iMessage may reportedly escape ‘gatekeeper’ status in EU

Apple’s iMessage service is likely to escape being regulated by the legislation after regulators found not enough business users use it, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Apple’s previous statement on supporting P2P RCS in iOS likely did the trick. Plus all the lobbying around the EU may have helped 😉

Likely RBM (RCS Business Messaging) on Apple will not happening anytime soon once Apple adds RCS P2P to iOS. It should not stop Apple adding RCS P2P as that improves the SMS/MMS experience for its customers. But one of the drivers for action could make the addition of RCS less urgent.

Twilio is being hampered by Wall Street

Twilio is being hampered by Wall Street from leading the industry

Given how Wall Street is talking Twilio up/down depending on the target audience, and Twilio has another infection of Activist Investors. A round of layoffs was unfortunately possible, though I was hoping against hope they would resist. We covered this on TADSummit Podcast 13,

Cutting from the division building Twilio’s future, Data and Applications, is my greatest concern. CDP (Customer Data Platform), LLMs (Large Language Models, aka AI), and integration into Twilio’s Customer Dashboard is the future for many in the programmable comms / CPaaSAI industry.

Unifonic shows #CPaaSAI / CDP works, see their keynote at TADSummit. As well as thought leadership from Rob PickeringPaul SweeneyWebio LtdAmeed JamousTelecomsXChange (TCXC)Karel BourgoisBorja SIXTO, and many more.

Simply, Wall Street forced this unnecessary short-term action. This will impact Twilio’s future. It’s up to the rest of the industry to build out CDP / LLMs into their offers, Twilio is being hampered by Wall Street from leading the industry.

The CTO intro guide to Budgets

A timely post from one of my favorite CTOs, João Camarate, Broadvoice and GoContact

Joao hits the nail on the head with the 2024 theme of “efficiency on growth.”

The gap between the business metrics (SaaS) and Engineering group’s metric are stark.

Business Metrics

  1. MRR/ARR (Monthly / Annual Recurring Revenue)
  2. EBITDA (ever more important)
  3. Gross Margin
  4. Net Revenue Retention (NRR)
  5. NPS (as a leading indicator to NRR) (Net Promoter Score)
  6. Monthly Active Users (MAU)

Engineering Metrics

  1. Platform Infrastructure (Cloud costs, Incorporated Software, Datacenter, etc)
  2. Operations/Maintenance (People, Monitoring Tools, CI/CD, etc)
  3. Research & Development (People, Development Tools, Training, Conferences, etc)

From my days at BT Labs, Engineering Metric #3 can be Capitalized. That’s fancy wording for saying that some of that cost can actually increasing your EBITDA in the short term, which might give your company a “looks good” boost in these troubling times, so when the CFO comes around you now have a bargain chip to cash in 🙂

The really cool thing Joao shares is how to mash-up the metrics.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Infrastructure Cost per User (Total Infrastructure Cost / Total MAUs)
  • Operations Cost per User (Total Operations Cost / Total MAUs)
  • Cost per Story Point (Total R&D Cost / Total Monthly Story Points)

And then you can also drill into subsets that are still large enough to have an impact

  • Cost of fixing a bug (Total Operations + R&D cost on bug handling / Total Monthly Bugs)
  • QA Cost per Story Point (Total QA Cost / Total Monthly Points)
  • Database cost per User (Total Database Cost / Total MAUs)

Once you understand how your operational metrics relate to business metrics, 9 times out of 10 the necessary strategy to tackle cost and growth will pop-up in front of you!

The most important advice Joao provides is: compare your organization to itself, and only to itself, quarter over quarter and year over year. Sure, industry benchmarks might give you a warm fuzzy feeling if you are beating them, but they don’t tell you exactly what you need to do and how, that’s for you to find out. Additionally, most benchmarks are just a blackbox that you don’t know how it was put together, so they might as well just be wild guesses.

I’ve seen so many benchmarking exercises that were simply feel good exercises for the exec paying for the work. In life, you must always focus on improvement, else competitors will pass you with your customers.

New KT chief warns ‘comfy’ execs

“The existing practice in which core positions in KT Group companies were used as a retirement process for KT executives will be abolished, and personnel will be assigned with top priority given to expertise and capabilities that can create synergies from the KT Group perspective,” said KT.

We see through throughout the telco industry. Mistakes from the past are repeated and no one is held accountable. OneAPI failed, and because many of those that endorsed OneAPI have moved from VP to SVP in their telco; we see the same mistakes being repeated with CAMARA. Slowly the real world of accountability is being brought into telcos.

UCaaS Experts ‘Puzzled’ by Renewed Zoom-Five9 Talk

Five9 is looking for an exit as it sees the writing on the wall for CCaaS. The CX/CDP (Customer Experience / Customer Data Platforms) only need to add voice, for example Jambonz is a great project for that. Dave Horton discussed this in his TADSummit Innovator podcast and TADSummit keynote.

When a tie-up does not make sense for the people in the market, then it’s the people not in the market, the investors, that are pushing for it. Zoom has a similar stock price curve as Twilio. However, Zoom’s financials are stronger, so the noise around Zoom is not that great yet. Hence the Zoom-Five9 talk.

I think Zoom has done a great job building its UCaaS business from the ground up. It should investigate a CX/CDP acquisition and using Jambonz distrupt CCaaS, rather than buy into it.

Gerry Christensen: F³A and the Future of Trusted Communications

Great article from Gerry on 3 factor authentication and trusted communications.

Interest in creating a Trust Framework is largely due to the unintended consequences of consumer protection in the form of call blocking, diversion and labeling that all too often represents a type I error (also known as a “false positive”), adversely affecting legitimate B2C contact.

At the root of trust is identity, and at the core of identity is authentication and validation, which may be accomplished with the support of various technologies and solutions that rely upon related policies, processes and procedures. What is “identity”? In a digital identity sense, it is arguably an amalgamation of three things (1) Immutable Truths, (2) Attestations and (3) Behaviors, all of which should be subject to authentication and validation.

Before we define Three-Factor authentication (F³A), let’s first discuss 2FA or two-factor authentication. 2FA represents what one has and what one knows. As example of this is the use of text messaging or email to receive a dynamically assigned one-time passcode (“what you have“) challenge as a supplement more static credentials (“what you know“).

As the nomenclature implies, F³A provides a third dimension – third-party attestation of identity. This attribute, “what is attested” is orthogonal to the other two elements, meaning that it is independent to the others. Often used in statistics and linear algebra, orthogonal means that two systems do not interact to influence each other. They come together at one point or one juncture, but otherwise the one system does not influence the other.

Given the mess TCR finds itself, and the commonality of the problem of making a call. I’m tracking the work here, as the PSTN communications should have a common trusted framework.

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Stuart Mitchel is now  Senior VP of Strategy at eSIM Go. Check out Stuart’s TADSummit presentation, RCS is here! So why isn’t it taking off.

Jennifer Pierce has joined Mindtickle in their mission to improve and accelerate ‘Revenue Productivity’ for go-to-market teams. I’ve known Jennifer for over 15 years, since her time in Adobe.

John Murtagh is now the CTO of SMSHighway. I missed this one, as he’s been there for 6 months.

Jonathon Shepeard is now Vice President of Sales at Vexeo L.L.C.

Chirag Haldankar Customer Success team at Route Mobile Limited

Gary Mendel is now VP of Global Sales at Tag-N-Trac. I’ve known Gary since his time at Spime, over 15 years ago.

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