CXTech Week 20 2024 News and Analysis

The purpose of this CXTech Week 20 2024 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:

  • Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier announces its first customer of its Programmable Services, virtualQ
  • Podcast 68: TADSummit Innovators, Matthew Smith, Industry4.0
  • Three UK has blocked more than 173 million spam texts for its customers
  • What’s the Plan?
  • Verint buys Fonolo
  • TADHack winner, Suraj Shivakumar, will be an intern over the summer adding vCon to jambonz.
  • People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier announces its first customer of its Programmable Services, virtualQ

Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier is the international wholesale group of DT, focused on intercarrier, wholesale, and international businesses. This week they announced their first customer of their Digital Services, VirtualQ, who were Germany’s biggest Twilio customer, one of the biggest in Europe. Twilio should be worried, a carrier has got its act together in programmable telecoms, finally.

VirtualIQ provide intelligent callback solutions and contact center optimization in Europe, its like Fonolo who were bought by Verint this week. More on that later. virtualQ utilizes Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier’s CPaaS because of the reliable access to Deutsche Telekom’s high-quality and reliable network that guarantees the exceptional quality of service that virtualQ aims to provide to its customers.

An important point is because they are using SignalWire’s platform (see all the laml in the documentation, and Rolf thanking Anthony from SignalWire), it runs in Germany on DT’s compute infrastructure, unlike Vonage/Ericson which runs on AWS somewhere in the cloud. We’ve discussed the importance of this in the Unifonic TADSummit podcast on how it creates an in-country moat.

The positioning is interesting, Global Carrier Digital Services portfolio contains not only services for direct consumption by wholesale customers, but also enables them to provide offers to enterprise customers in their respective markets. Enterprises benefit from the new portfolio by not just receiving service access, but also a branded experience, as well as features such as price management, enterprise billing enablement and – in the future – even invoice generation. Given the programmable platform is SignalWire, and given some of the automations they have in place, the customer portal has the potential to be a big differentiator.

The nomenclature used is rather ‘CPast’ with ‘Digital Services’ and ‘CPaaS’, but it’s DT marketing, so that’s not a surprise. However, the business model, focus, vendors (Signalwire) and architecture are good.

Within DT in Germany there’s the Magenta APIs, announced last year and based on Vonage/Ericsson. I commented on the announcement here, and they set up MACE (Magenta API Capability Exposure) to ensure it replicates the errors of OneAPI one decade ago.

Points I’d like to highlight on why Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier approach to programmable telecoms is worth watching:

  • Their announcement was squarely service and customer focused. No rambling about standard APIs, or capability exposure (such a OneAPI term), or mentioning industry bodies that are irrelevant to most customers. Rather they won VirtualIQ as a customer.
  • They won against Twilio, VirtualIQ is Twilio’s biggest customer in Germany, and likely one of its biggest in Europe. This is big, they are competitive.
  • They have a defensible moat – platform runs in DT, in-country. See Unifonic TADSummit podcast on why that matters.

Back to MACE, it’s a different business model, Magneta APIs are co-branded with Vonage . That implies to me revenue share. Given the thin margins in for example SMS, 10-20%, that’s going to be tough. Once the businesses are operating, and the pricing is known, it’s going to be interesting to estimate margins.

MACE is unfortunately copying the technology led API focus of OneAPI. But I’ve said my peace, on the cluster that is GSMA, Camara, and that awful McKinsey report on market size. John Olivier did a piece on how bad McKinsey is, their analysis delivers what the client asked for, not what the client needed. Remember this is an industry that spent $650B globally on 5G to realize there’s no new revenues, 5G FWA is substitutive of DSL and cable revenues. There where loads of independent experts pointing out 4G was good enough, and 5G is a phallocentric standard!

But why do they have 2 CPaaS?

They’re covered their options, winning VirtualIQ away from Twilio is big, both financially and demonstrating the value proposition of Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier offer in programmable communications. They should launch SWAIG (SignalWire AI Gateway) as well, we showed its power at TADHack Open this year, and check out all the podcasts from the hackers, there’s lots of hacker love for SWAIG.

My bet is in later 2025, definitely by 2026, when the gap in performance between Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier’s programmable platform and MACE becomes large enough that the DT executive team notice. They’ll merge and transition MACE customers from Vonage to SignalWire. Spinning it all as a success, and stopping the bleed of cash from MACE.

Podcast 68: TADSummit Innovators, Matthew Smith, Industry4.0

Short on the key #vCon point

Full Podcast

At the TADSummit event later this year we’ll have a theme on Industry4.0. TADSummit has always included programmable Industrial IoT (Internet of Things), with presenters from Twilio and Stacuity.

However, the role of programmable communications in Industry 4.0 is so much greater than IoT. This became apparent last year in the side conversations between all the mavericks and independent experts exploring the problems they are solving. The reason we’re folding this into TADSummit is because innovation comes from the outsiders. More on this later.

In this podcast we explore what is meant by Industry4.0, the changes that are happening in manufacturing, and the opportunity in applying programmable communications to avoid telecoms being considered ‘just’ a utility pipe.

Matthew explained the term’s origin, from the Hanover Trade Show (Messe) in 2008, and the German industrial machine positioned the evolution of its manufacturing prowess. The term The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be considered similar, though the hype is perhaps excessive. However, there are some principles in bringing manufacturing into the 21st century that demonstrate the important role programmable communications can play.

The 3 other industrial revolutions are:

  • First: 18th century, steam power and mechanisation of production
  • Second: 19th century, electricity and assembly line production
  • Third: ’70s in the 20th century through automation using programmable logic controller (PLCs, operations technology)

Industry 4.0 has become a grab bag of trendy technologies, hopes and dreams. It’s in danger of going the same way Digital Transformation, an overused term that means whatever you want it to mean. However, there are some core principles:

  • Integration of Operations Technology (OT, automation) and Information Technology (IT, computerization) using data to create a real-time view of the company.
  • A data strategy is critical to implementing Industry 4.0. Here Tesla and Amazon are used as leading examples of using data to accelerate production, insights, predictions, employee productivity, and customer focus. Here’s the link to the Walker Reynold’s presentation on Industry4.0 mentioned in the podcast.
  • Matthew highlighted the importance of building on a solid foundation, and here is the danger of listening to the big vendor marketing. They’ll position buying their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software as the answer. Tesla built its own platform, warp, as the existing solutions where inadequate. Warp is a real-time, collaborative, and synced operations for a seamless workflow across Tesla production and staff functions. Here’s a great video explaining warp.

On the warp video you’ll hear about the importance of customer feedback, in real-time, back into the organization. And this is a critical role programmable communications plays in Industry4.0. Part of the Data Strategy for every Industry 4.0 implementation should include vCon, the PDF for conversations. Every customer, partner, and internal conversation should be available as vCons to understand the customer experience, their expectations, and where the market is going. Customer feedback drives the product process.

In the discussion with Matthew I made an error in pointing out the product is king in production. Matthew corrected me, it’s the customer experience, as without a winning experience, the company may not be around for long. So chatbots, vCons, conversations are critical parts on Industry4.0. Yet we’re not communicating that to the manufacturing industry, hence why an Industry4.0 theme at TADSummit. As well as a chance for the mavericks and independent experts to cut through the BS and focus on reality.

What’s the Plan?

Quite a few people are asking me, what’s the plan? TADSummit has caused a stir on a number of fronts by holding a few organizations / individuals accountable for what they say and do, using publicly available documents and information. There are no fictions in the work, only facts and solid analysis. If someone claims they can not tell facts from fictions in the analysis, it is simply a lazy attempt to discredit the work.

The plan

  1. Demonstrate the current lack of accountability of a few people / corporations / industry bodies for their claims.
  2. Explain how the undue reverence afforded to these few people / corporations / industry bodies is part of the problem. Hence the irreverence Johnny displays to them.
  3. We are independent ‘little people’ highlighting accountability by explaining how the current reality and poor telecoms experience has come about through nonsense claims.

Why does it matter?

By NOT holding a few organizations accountable some of the problems we face are:

  1. Wholesale spamming and robocalling, the crapification of the PSTN.
  2. TCR (The Campaign Registry) is not stopping SMS spam and leaving brands, CSPs (Campaign Service Providers), UCaaS (Unified Communications providers), CCaaS (Contact Center providers), and enterprises frustrated. Yet, oo one is held accountable.
  3. Decline in international A2P SMS through fraud and a vicious circle between lower volumes and higher prices.
  4. 5G. Many independent experts pointed out years ago, 4G is good enough. Here we are today with carriers and vendors feeling the crunch as hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent for no significant new revenues. Most of the fixed 5G internet revenues are substitutive of existing DSL and cable internet revenues.
  5. OneAPI’s failure was swept under the carpet, the learnings could not be applied to the current network API fashion. 

I could list many more examples, the root cause is lack of accountability. A few corporations and industry bodies can say nonsense, the nonsense is treated with reverence, ‘they must understand what they are talking about’. Why is no one held accountable when the reality becomes apparent? Note, corporations sponsor the industry bodies, and they reinforce the nonsense.

I had someone I’ve known for a couple of decades point out there’s 2 sides to every story, when the MEF treated Puja Amin poorly, I summarized the treatment here. The person’s reaction when I shared the facts of the case was to go quiet, like a few individuals at the MEF. We are all held accountable for our actions everyday, yet a few seem to dodge that responsibility.

Why have you made it a mission?

  1. Logical fallacies. I’ve been shocked that my analysis, backed by data, is treated as equivalent to corporate spin hurling false accusations with no data to back up the positions.
  2. Intimidation. I had people hammering on my front door at 8PM on a Saturday to serve a subpoena to attend Bill Peters arbitration (this is a fact, not a fiction). I didn’t know Bill when he was employed by Kaleyra, hence, I am irrelevant to the employment arbitration. What is happening to my family is abuse funded by Tata Communications, and no one is held accountable.
  3. The gradual shift to repeating nonsense has become egregious. About one decade ago a non-western client asked me to present an inspirational keynote. At the event a presentation filled with nonsense was given to me. I refused, pointing to my body of work on the topic. They accepted the reality of the situation, as all I have is my reputation. Recently, a western vendor ask me to endorse something I’ve previously debunked.
  4. Bill Peters remains buried under legal proceedings for doing his job. He was framed for a cyber crime that was easily disproved. If corporations think they can abuse the father of SMS in the US, what hope is there for the rest of us? No industry bodies came to Bill’s defense, TADSummit did. Remember that when all the legal proceedings are over. Tata is now looking to sell TCR, and the VON coalition is asking the FCC to replace TCR. We all can make a difference by holding a few people accountable.
  5. Puja Amin’s treatment is shocking, I’ve seen victim blaming by a few people in the industry, they assume our industry would never behave in such ways. This is true of our industry in general, however, a few individuals would.

I apologize if holding a few people, corporations, industry bodies accountable makes you feel uncomfortable. The hard work is generating results and making our industry better, more accountable. Please support TADSummit / TADHack.

Three UK has blocked more than 173 million spam texts for its customers

Check out what Three UK does for its customers in blocking SMS spam using Mavenir,

Three UK has blocked more than 173 million spam texts, equivalent to 10,000 every hour of the day, in the last two years, as part of its efforts to protect its customers from rising online fraud.

UK receives about 50% of the spam texts per person that we do in the US given their numbers. Some still get through, but carrier efforts definitely do help.

I received my first potential phishing text over the weekend for ez-pass, well the URL was e-zpassnj for a query on a $4.26 charge. Carriers are in a far better position to catch these spam SMS, just like Google does with Gmail.

I’m in the industry and I was about to click on the link, then I thought, let’s use a different channel, my laptop.

Verint buys Fonolo

I’ve known Shai / Fonolo since 2008. We met at the Voice Peering Forum, back when we used the term Voice 2.0 to describe voice-centric companies built on Web 2.0 principles. We use the term programmable communications these days.

TADHack winner, Suraj Shivakumar, will be an intern over the summer adding vCon to jambonz

Congratulations to Suraj Shivakumar, he will be an intern over the summer adding vCon to jambonz. Thank you to Dave Horton for putting his faith in TADHack winners!

We still have a couple of interns available with skills across software engineering, data science; and in particular SWAIG (SignalWire AI Gateway) and vCon (STROLID, Inc).

You can meet the TADHack Open winners:

People, Gossip, and Frivolous Stuff

Anjana Fredricks is now Senior Data Engineer at Altria Consulting. He is a TADHack winner from 2020 with an RFID based transport ticketing by SKAT: Anjana Malindra Fredricks, Kasun Sudharaka, Chalithya Sangeeth, Thineth Athukorala. An RFID based transport ticketing system that used the IdeaMart APIs.

Shai Berger is now Senior Director at Verint. He is focused on integrating Fonolo’s call-back technology into the Verint platform.

Nga Phan is now Head of Product at bolt. I’ve known Nga for over one decade, since her time with Bain.

Alexia Froudkine is now Ecosystem Lead France at EIT Digital, the largest digital innovation ecosystem in Europe. I’ve known Alexia since her time in Orange.

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1 thought on “CXTech Week 20 2024 News and Analysis

  1. Pingback: Podcast 69: Truth in Telecoms. Non-GAAP = Not Real. - Blog @ Telecom Application Developer Summit (TADS)

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