An Insider’s Guide to Enterprise Communications News – September 2019
Here is the enterprise communications news you need to know from September, 2019:
Huawei Connect: Huawei’s annual enterprise event took place this month in Shanghai. The emphasis was on AI and enterprise networking solutions. Two big surprises: I could not find any UC in the exhibit hall, but did discover WeLink, the company’s workstream collaboration solution.
Evidently, Huawei has made a quick exit from UC. It was just a few years ago that I was treated to a comprehensive overview of Huawei’s UC and video solutions. Huawei opted not to exhibit at EC19, but I had assumed that move was related to its declining North American business.
WeLink looked pretty good, but it’s still mostly associated with China and internal use at Huawei. Unlike Teams and Slack, it’s a mobile-first implementation. The desktop client is very limited. It also makes heavy use of QR codes, as does WeChat, to simplify data entry. That’s important when keyboards don’t conform to native language. Video post.
Huawei’s bigger news this month, the launch of its new (consumer) Android phones, was not featured at Huawei Connect. These new phones have everything you might want, except Google.
Mitel Summit: Mitel hosted an update for analysts and consultants in Dallas this month. The company’s portfolio breadth is staggering, excruciatingly highlighted by a one-day event that barely scratched the surface. I think Mitel has the broadest and most diverse portfolio in the industry, Mitel offers include UC, UCaaS, team collaboration, meeting, hardware endpoints, CC, CCaaS, IoT, and more — all with multiple solutions and go-to-markets within each category. There’s heavy focus on contact center, meetings, and team working solutions.
Mitel is clearly prioritizing its move to cloud-delivered services. I got my first glimpse into its new UCaaS division headed by Searchlight’s planted executive Daniel Farrar. This division leverages the bigger Mitel for endpoints and some applications, but is set up as an independent SaaS play. Also, there appears to be more to the Google partnership than AI for CC and GCP hosting. Video Post.
Mitel is still communicating its intent to acquire more companies. So far, Mitel has mostly expressed interest in undervalued, distressed companies. There’s nothing wrong with that strategy financially, but I’d like to see Mitel make some strategic acquisitions to fill some portfolio gaps.
MQ for Meetings Solutions: Gartner issued its annual Magic Quadrant report for Meetings Solutions. This year’s report featured 16 providers, of which four were identified as Leaders: Cisco, Goto (LogMeIn), Microsoft, and Zoom. Consistent with the UCaaS MQ (and Forrester Wave), Gartner again prioritized owned-and-controlled software stacks. In fact, there are quite a few similarities between these two MQs, and it would not surprise me if these two reports merge into one over the next few years. There are four providers currently in both reports: Cisco, Google, Goto (LogMeIn), and Microsoft. However, noth reports feature companies expanding into the other space. The UCaaS report included 8x8, Fuze, Dialpad, and Mitel.
8x8 Meetings: We got a sneak peek with 8x8 Express (see July Report), but 8x8 Video Meetings has now arrived for all of its customers. The new meetings solution is based on Jitsi WebRTC. 8x8 acquired the Jitsi team from Atlassian last October. 8x8 previously offered video services via a partnership with Vidyo. The new solution is fully integrated with the 8x8 all-in-one X-Series applications. 8x8 also announced “early access” to 8x8 Meeting Rooms. Both Fuze and 8x8 have replaced their Vidyo powered solutions with their own WebRTC services. See more on video trends in this NoJitter post.
Zoom Gets Blocked: Zoom joined the (growing) list of US internet services blocked in China. The list includes Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many more. Some customers are migrating to a Chinese version of Zoom. The obvious reason China blocks so many sites is to better control information within China.
However, another big benefit is the innovation that occurs to fill the gaps (Baidu, WeChat, etc.). Chinese video companies include Shenzhen-listed BizConf Telecom and XYLink among others. Zoom does not earn significant revenue from the Chinese market, but the lack of availability will presumably impact its western customers. The good news for Zoom is that this will distance its relationship with China. The company previously reported it has data centers and more than 500 engineers in China.
When I was in China this month I used Highfive. It’s a WebRTC, browser-based solution that worked well on my Chromebook.
Highfive Winning Video Race to Zero: The industry has seen a steady decline in video-related revenue. What once required expensive equipment transitioned into cloud-delivered services with no upfront costs. Price have also been dropping. Consumer apps are free, and Zoom shook up the space with a freemium model.
This month, Highfive announced a new pricing model that includes unlimited user licenses (desktop and mobile) for its room system customers. Highfive is whitelisting the email domains of its room system customers in order to enable any employee to host Highfive meetings. Theoretically, a company as large as GE can buy just one room system from Highfive to give every employee their own conferencing account (that may or may not use a room system). I’m not clear on the business logic here, but it’s an impressive deal.
Faster Webex Meetings: Cisco released several enhancements to Webex Meetings. Faster join means faster starts. The Meetings app also has improved Outlook integration. There were improvements made for web browser users, especially Safari. Webex Meetings desktop app also has a new dynamic local pair and screen share capability on Webex devices.
The meetings space is really heating up. Last year the pressure came from Microsoft and Zoom, but this year many providers are launching high quality and inexpensive meeting services. Cisco will need to regularly innovate to protect its leadership.
Facebook Expands Portal: Facebook expanded its line of consumer room systems or “home video-calling devices” with three new models: Portal, Portal Mini, and Portal TV. The products are also expanding from the US and Canada to include UK, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand. Portal Mini is $129, Portal is $179, and Portal TV is $149.
Security updates include a tap-to-disable feature and a physical lens cover. Oddly, the red light next to the lens indicates when the unit is off. Facebook is also integrating Portal with WhatsApp, which will feature end-to-end encrypted calls. Smart Camera and Smart Sound run locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers. After the portal detects “Hey Portal,” it sends the following phrase to Facebook servers: “Human teams may monitor for training purposes.”
I’m surprised to see the Portal expanding. I figured its single purpose had limited appeal, but evidently Facebook is happy with the results. I wonder if/when it will appear on Workplace by Facebook.
Teams Updates: Microsoft continues to improve Teams. This month Microsoft announced ad-hoc meetings are now supported. Also, IE, Safari, and Firefox got “light-weight” support for meetings.
Highfive Interop: The new Highfive Meeting Connector connects Highfive room users directly with third-party video conferencing platforms such as BlueJeans, Webex, Zoom, and others. This is actually pretty obvious, yet clever. It leverages provider APIs, WebRTC, and SIP to simplify interoperability to a single touch. Meeting Connector requires no special configuration and serves as a bridge between SIP-enabled meeting systems.
I’ve been writing about video interop challenges for over two decades. Despite clear demands from customers, services such as Teams and Zoom still restrict interop. This creates a perpetual innovation window seized by smaller companies such as BlueJeans and Highfive.
Avaya Strategic Alternatives: In August, Avaya confirmed that it was considering various strategic alternatives, and would update us all in September. The update was: ‘still under review.’ Actually, “Avaya confirmed “that its review of a range of strategic alternatives is ongoing and it remains in advanced discussions.”
Thirty days is a short window. It suggested either an imminent deal or wishful thinking. Seems like we have been going through this on a near-annual basis for some time. The buzz around Mitel-Avaya seems to have subsided. Rumors around RingCentral acquiring parts of Avaya persist. It ain’t over 'til the fat lady sings, and it’s not really over even then.
Avaya Expands IX CC Portfolio: Avaya enhanced Avaya IX Contact Center portfolio with Teamspace, Dashboard, and Agent Scripting. Teamspace is a rich text-messaging app for agents to communicate and collaborate with back-office staff. This is the latest incarnation of Zang Spaces. There are so many permutations of Team Chat that specialization is inevitable. I think a solution optimized for contact centers makes a lot of sense.
Dashboard is designed for CX managers. It offers a modular dashboard with customer journey and CC analytics. Agent Scripting is a browser-based call flow tool that can integrate with CRM or other data to provide agents on-screen guidance for improved interactions.
Genesys Enables Free Trials for Partners: Genesys enabled free trials for PureCloud “Premium Applications” within its AppFoundry. The program, similar to a Talkdesk solution, allows customers to easily conduct software trials. Customers in general are moving toward self-discovery and vendor-free research. There are several barriers preventing this in enterprise software so it’s nice to see programs like this. More in this post.
Cisco Connects CCaaS to Webex: Cisco integrated Webex calling to its Webex Contact Center. Of course, every CCaaS offer has some degree of telephony services, so what’s compelling here is bundle economics. The integration means simplified purchasing and implementation, increased (global) scalability, and a single admin/management portal (Webex Hub). With this news, Cisco also took the training wheels off Webex Contact Center, and is now advertising support for up to 3000 agents.
Genesys Clouds Its Organizational Structure: Tony Bates became CEO of Genesys last April (announced last May). This month we can see his first visible change with a reorganization and leadership change. Genesys is now organized into two business units: Core and Cloud. The Core unit, focused on legacy Genesys (Pure Engage) and PureConnect, will be led by Barry O’Sullivan. The Cloud unit, representing PureCloud and WEM, will be led by Olivier Jouve (previously VP of PureCloud).
What lured O’Sullivan back into operational management is unknown. He briefly joined Genesys leadership in 2018 after it acquired his Altocloud company. Both Mitel and Genesys have more formerly separated its cloud divisions. Though Genesys surprises me because it has been working hard to blur the lines of PureEngage and PureCloud. Just this summer, the company announced “Genesys Cloud” with the vision that it will touch all of its customers. Core is a better term than Legacy, but isn’t cloud a core strategy?
To be fair, I think the CCaaS sector as a whole has cloud-washed CC. There’s no indication that large enterprises will move their contact centers to public cloud services. The prem side has a long tail ahead of it. Customers need to carefully evaluate their goals with cloud, particularly as opex is now an option with private cloud and premises-based implementations.
ReadyNow Now Ready in Europe: Avaya expanded its private cloud solution, ReadyNow, to new Avaya and partner-hosted data centers in EMEA and APAC regions. ReadyNow is ready now with preconfigured UC and CC solutions available on a per-seat consumption model. It offers existing customers a seamless migration as it uses the same applications as premises-based solutions. With this expansion, ReadyNow is available in 34 countries under a single global delivery model, and includes local data security compliance in the UK and Germany.
LogMeIn GoesTo Europe: LogMeIn announced the GA of the GoTo Suite in the UK, Germany, and Ireland. There’s a lot of names to track here: LogMeIn is the parent, GoTo is the UCC brand, UCC is UCaaS + Meetings. GoTo Suite includes GoToConnect and GoToRoom. And it’s all now available in Europe. To hear these brands explained first-hand, check out the latest TalkingHeadz Podcast with Mark Strassman, SVP GoTo. LogMeIn and GoTo came out of nowhere, but will make a dent in this sector.
Verizon Nets UCaaS Upgrades: Verizon announced two significant upgrades to its Virtual Communications Express (VCE) cloud-calling service available in the Asian, European, and US markets. SD-WAN is now supported offering lower costs and enabling free on-net long distance to other Verizon customers. VCE plus Cisco Webex is allowing Verizon to claim it is the first provider with MPLS connected Webex Calling. That may be true, or may be a certification issue. Cisco intends to certify more providers. Regardless, it appears Verizon is ahead on this offer.
New From Poly: Poly continues its announcement spree. This month it launched a new DECT phone and headset and the Trio 8300 conference phone. It also expanded its device-as-a-service (DaaS) program for providers.
Poly introduced the VVX D230 DECT IP handset. Polycom has a checkered past with DECT phones, but this one looks promising. The new Savi 8200 Office and UC Series headsets include a “close conversation” feature for noise mitigation. The 8220 also has ANC. IMO DECT is better than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity because of its longer range, resistance to interference, and low power requirements. Also, the Elara 60 series mobile-first Teams desktop base became GA in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The Trio 8300 is the most affordable Trio and the only one with (retro) buttons. Like the other Trios, it can be expanded for video duty with processor and camera accessories. Poly already offered a DaaS program for IP phones, so adding headsets is a natural expansion. Most of Poly’s phones and non-consumer headsets are DaaS eligible (to NA SPs).
UC-One Got Webexified: Cisco quickly combined Webex calling and Webex Meetings and this month addressed UC-One, the UC client associated with BroadSoft’s BroadWorks. UC-One SaaS allows providers to combine their hosted BroadWorks services with back-end services from Cisco-hosted Webex Teams. A new UC-One client looks similar to Webex Teams. Eventually, I expect Webex Teams will replace UC-One.
Dialpad adds Video: Dialpad announced updates to UberConference including AI-powered, automated notes, transcripts, and action items. Also, Dialpad expands into WebRTC video conferencing.
I’m a big fan of automated transcription. It’s a powerful UCaaS feature, and it alone validates Dialpad’s acquisition of TalkIQ just over a year ago. It does not appear that the laws that limit call recording apply to automated transcripts — although I’m sure that will be tested in courts. I am not convinced that the current generation of AI technology will prove automated notes and action items to be useful. Dialpad’s UberConference has always been very strong technically, but its lack of video support has limited its appeal.
Teams UCaaS: Microsoft announced support for secondary ringers to allow headset users to hear incoming calls should they remove their headset. Users can now transfer calls directly to voicemail. CallerID is now supported on incoming PSTN calls, and Teams offers improved notifications when a call is a meeting. Chrome is now supported for calling. Team is impressive in many ways, but I always get nervous when they announce a basic feature like transfer to voicemail.
Panasonic and Blueface: Panasonic discovers UCaaS with its new UC-Line solution, starting with a rollout in France and Spain through the Panasonic partner network. Panasonic developed the offer in close partnership with Blueface, a StarBlue UcaaS provider. The collaboration is built on top of an existing partnership that began in 2018. A similar offering is expected in NA. “Two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl, year after year.”
Microsoft’s Secret Portable Speaker: We learned this month that Microsoft filed a patent for a portable speaker that can send, receive, and mute phone calls. The device was co-created by a designer for Teams. The filing suggests Microsoft has plans for new Teams-specific meetings hardware. To date, Teams (and its predecessor applications), has relied on partners such as Poly, Logitech, and Yealink for hardware. Perhaps we will learn more in October at Microsoft’s Surface event or in November at Microsoft Ignite.
3CX Leadership: Stefan Walther was named the new CEO of 3CX. Nick Galea, founder and former CEO, will be the CTO. Galea commented that after founding and building 3CX to 250K customers, it’s time for some new perspectives. Stefan Walther has been a part of the company’s success from day one according to Galea.
Fuze and Slack: This month Fuze announced an integration for Slack that allows users to easily toggle between a Slack conversation and a Fuze call or meeting. Fuze having a decent alternative to Slack hasn’t prevented it from embracing its competitor.
Slack and Four Nines: Sometimes competitive pressures do not benefit customers. Slack has watered down one of the best SLAs in the industry to be more competitive with Microsoft Teams. Microsoft repeatedly proves the world wants mediocrity.
Slack reported that it paid out $8.2M last quarter in SLA penalties. The fix: it reworked its SLA to be less generous. Slack is still targeting four nines (most providers target three), but will pay less when it misses its 99.99% uptime goal. It also reduced its penalty to 10 times cost (from 100), and expanded its uptime measurement timespan to quarterly (instead of monthly). Slack proactively pays these credits to all customers, even though only 1-3% were affected. The changes impact Plus and Enterprise Grid subscriptions.
Slack said the outages stemmed from unforeseen technology limitations as it scales its service to larger numbers of users. Uptime is hard, and generally lower than perceived. Often, SLAs are more aspirational than realistic. Talkdesk offers a 100% SLA, and Five9 is a brand, not an SLA.
Cisco Bundles Security and Compliance: Cisco is bundling DLP and antivirus software to its Webex customers. Cisco Cloudlock and ClamAV antivirus software are now available as add-ons to Webex Teams subscriptions in the Cisco Webex Control Hub Extended Security Pack. Cisco acquired Cloudlock for $293M in 2016. Cloudlock lets businesses set content compliance policies. ClamAV is open-source software maintained by Cisco's Talos cybersecurity group. When linked to Webex Teams, it scans URLs and files for viruses and malware.
Microsoft and Google have turned communications into a game of bundles. Cisco is expanding its bundles and leveraging its reputation in security. A slew of new features for Webex Teams simplifies compliance management. Webex Teams has an architectural advantage in security and multi-company collaboration, so compliance tools make a lot of sense.
MS Teams Controls Noise: This month Microsoft announced improved granular controls in noisy rooms by enabling notifications in hidden channels.
Workplace Updates: Workplace trickles updates to its application. This month Workplace expanded group chats to support up to 250 members. Users can now report content to admins, whether a chat, post, or comment. The app also now offers a simple way to flag content for followup called saved messages.
There were several new features to accommodate frontline employees, including the ability to log in with access codes (as many don’t have a corporate email account), and granular controls on access and working hours.
CUCM in the Cloud: To facilitate a migration to cloud and opex, Cisco is now offering a certified hosted version of Cisco Unified Communications Manager. This is a private cloud offering that can be combined with its public cloud offering: Webex Calling.
Penny (or Less) for Your Chats: Stellar Development Foundation (SDF), the non-profit organization behind the Stellar blockchain network, is giving away 2B Stellar lumens (XLM) tokens (about $121M), to users of Keybase, an encrypted messaging app. My initial assumption was this giveaway was to attract new users, but new users are actually excluded. That might run afoul of the primitive crypto regulations. The motivation to give away the funds has more to do with giving Stellar a boost as a useable cryptocurrency, but I love that they chose messaging as the vehicle.
Keybase is a free, encrypted group messaging and file transfer service that happens to have a built-in crypto wallet. Keybase combines strong cryptography, messaging, identity, and cryptographic transactions — as easy as a social interaction. Curiously, Stellar is also being used by MobiePay which intends to bring crypto to POS retail. Unrelated, WeChat unveiled a face-recognition point-of-sale that lets people use Alipay payment using only their faces.
There’s an obvious fit for consumer apps and payments, but does this apply to enterprise messaging apps? Possibly. Just as some enterprises do self-insurance, some will embrace self-banking. There are currently a lot of hands in the financial pot, so potentially organizations could save costs and increase efficiencies with their own crypto wallets — possibly tied into messaging apps. For example, could an enterprise eliminate corporate credits and streamline expense reports with its own crypto-wallet? It won’t work if every employer solved this on their own, but could they build it as an extension to Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Cisco Webex?
Hmm. In other news: Teampay, a startup that helps companies manage employee expenses, raised $12M in series A this month. Teampay acts as a collaboration layer on top of the card infrastructure so a company can better manage spending.
Slack 101: Slack launched Slack 101, a free online classroom to teach newbies the basics. It goes beyond the in-app tutorials, and is aimed at people unfamiliar with Team Chat apps (the majority of the world). Software providers are slowly discovering the importance of driving user adoption. Several companies are now focusing on techniques and support that drive adoption.
NextPlane: NextPlane announced federation support for Cisco Webex Teams. Last month the provider announced similar support for Microsoft Teams. Yes, interoperability is an add-on.
In Google We Antitrust: 50 attorneys general from US states and territories signed on to an antitrust investigation into Google. The probe focuses primarily on its advertising and search businesses, but this will expand. California and Alabama are the only two state attorneys general staying out of the probe.
At the same time, the FTC is probing Google and Facebook for stifling competition. Separately, New York’s Attorney General, Letitia James, announced a similar investigation last Friday into whether Facebook “endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising.” Her coalition includes attorneys general from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and DC.
Regardless of merit, these actions will slow down these companies. Though that’s hard to imagine regarding Google. It seems many companies are zooming past Google in terms of speed to market and innovation. It’s been 1.5 years since Google announced CC for AI and Google Voice, RCS crawls, and Google Hangouts Chat was pushed from this year to next.
Apple iPhone 11 and More: I could have easily written this update before the event because (as usual) there were no surprises. Apple announced new phones, and like most new phones, they look nice and offer incremental improvements. The days of dramatic innovation are behind us. Except of course for phone photography which continues to defy physics. I do think it is notable that Apple had no surprises, and Samsung did (last month).
Apple introduced three new iPhones: 11, 11 Pro, and Pro Max. The Pro gets a new third camera with an ultra-wide lens. The new “A13 Bionic” chip has the usual promise of faster, better, and more energy efficient. I am intrigued by the new iPads which continue to improve as viable desktop replacements.
Quietly slipped into the announcements was evidence of Apple’s transition to a services company with device as a service options for both new and old phones. AppleCare+ is now available as a perpetual subscription. It’s a smart move considering phones are lasting longer, though I would rather see upgradeable devices than $1000 disposables.
Alleged Acquisitions: Acquisitions dramas heated up this month. Hedge fund Elliott Management unveiled a $3.2B stake in AT&T, and it’s upset about a history of questionable acquisitions. Elliott says DirecTV came at the “absolute peak” of the cable and satellite TV market, and AT&T has yet to offer a “clear strategic rationale” for last year’s purchase of Time Warner. We also saw drama regarding Oracle’s acquisition of NetSuite. The lawsuit was originally filed a couple of years ago, but an amended version was filed after months of discovery. The lawsuit alleges that Oracle's directors overpaid for NetSuite, serving Ellison's interests, not Oracle's. The all-cash deal put $4B of Oracle's cash into Ellison's pocket.
Shareholders are becoming suspicious of acquisitions. Even Elon Musk is being challenged on Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, and it seems everyone is opposed to Sprint and T-Mobile.
Secure This: There’s a privacy backlash growing. Suddenly, the public has become aware of how organizations profit from personal information. Credit card companies are among the worst profiteers. They are all the same, so the only question has been which offers the highest payment (discounts, miles, or other points). Now there’s a choice with Apple’s private credit card.
Privacy is becoming top of mind. Snowden, Facebook, and others have raised general sensitivity of information. Candidates are even campaigning on privacy (Sanders demanding state DMVs stop selling data). Data brokerage isn’t going to disappear overnight, but the trend may reflect an inflection point and opportunity. It may also put existential pressure on some business models.
The Forbes Cloud 100: Forbes published its Cloud 100 list. It recognizes the best private cloud companies in the world. Ranging from small startups to private-equity-backed giants. The companies on the Cloud 100 stand out for their growth, sales, valuation, and culture, as well as a reputation score derived from consultation with 40 CEO judges. Notable rankings from within enterprise communications and collaboration include: Pindrop (49), Monday (50), Talkdesk (66), Fuze (71), Zoho (84), and Dialpad (92).
Salesforce Quip Gets EKM: Enterprise Key Management (EKM) is a confusing topic. There’s encryption of all data vs data at rest or data in transit. Total and absolute control over data is still important to enterprises and a barrier to adopting cloud services. Providers want access to content to enable certain features, but such access creates vulnerabilities (hackers, curious admins, and subpoenas).
EKM ideally means the enterprise controls the encryption keys, and the provider doesn’t have any access to the data. Cisco offers this; Slack and Microsoft don’t. Salesforce just announced it for its collaborative document experiment called Quip. They are also offering granular access controls and immutable audit logs.
Our Fractured Global Society: The Internet has reversed. It’s no longer tearing down borders, but erecting new ones. The Great Chinese Firewall is no longer the exception, but the model of the future. There’s data sovereignty, a US/Mexico wall, Brexit, ridiculous streaming rules, the US/Google ban on Huawei, restrictive VoIP/PSTN rules, and many more national boundaries. Read more in this post.
Fortnite Chat: Epic added voice chat to its Fortnite game. Now Fortnite players can talk even if they aren’t actually playing the game. The feature works on PCs and game consoles. This is very similar to the functionality in Houseparty, a video chat app that Epic acquired last June. It’s becoming less reasonable to think of voice as a separate app.
FoIP Upgrade: XMedius released XM Fax 9.0 that features configurable password policies, TLS 1.3 encryption at rest, IPv6 support, new mobile app capabilities, and SSO. Fax remains one of the most universal methods of document exchange. Fax technology remains entrenched in many industries, especially healthcare.
Amazon Devices Avalanche: Amazon announced an avalanche of new devices. The retailer previously announced it has sold 100M devices (with heavy promotion). I just don’t get why anyone (or any business) would want an Alexa (nor am I a fan of Prime). Amazon continues to double down on hardware, and the portfolio is becoming very broad with headsets, music speakers, glasses, cameras, and more. Of course, there’s no apparent interest in IP phones.
Google Tries to Improve Scheduling: Google updated its Working Hours in Google Calendar. When employees set their working hours in calendar settings, event creators are warned should they attempt to schedule outside those hours. Working Hours is not a new feature, but Google is now turning it on by default.
Yes, it’s an improvement, but several issues limit its usefulness. For me, the problem is it only has one range. I work a split shift (10-2 twice a day). Multiple shifts are increasingly common with teleworkers (take out the commute and there’s no reason to work a straight shift). Even at-office workers often leave for scheduled breaks — to pick up a child at daycare for example. Another limitation (though this could be more about free/busy) is it sees work as binary. I am often able to respond to messages even if I am unavailable for calls or meetings.
Politics and Tech: With the country so polarized, it’s a dangerous time to express personal political opinion. It’s fascinating to watch former UC luminary Gurdeep Pall, still a CVP at Microsoft, taking to Twitter to express political opinions. It may soon be impossible to keep politics, tech, and business separate. Certainly Amazon, Twitter, Google, and Facebook are regularly in political controversies.
Logitech Acquires Streamlabs: I don’t normally cover gaming, but these spaces are converging. I’ve covered several online games that are adding VoIP such as Fortnite above. This month hardware maker Logitech agreed to acquire Streamlabs, which makes software for live (game) streaming. Streamlabs also helps monetize broadcasts across platforms like Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, and Facebook.
Logitech video is experiencing rapid growth, and now with Rally and Tap, is increasing its revenue per room. Ongoing growth will require more products — and/or services. This acquisition shows Logitech is willing to get into services, change its business model, and do so via acquisition. Stay tuned.
Facebook Acquires Servicefriend: Servicefriend helps its clients build chatbots for customer service. The news broke before Facebook confirmed the acquisition. Although Facebook has not specified its motivation, the most obvious motivation relates to Calibra customer service.
This Month’s Goodreads
- Hong Kong Protestors Using Mesh Messaging App China Can't Block: Usage Up 3685%
- AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is officially under fire for questionable M&A decisions
- The biggest hacks of 2019 so far
- Amazon, Walmart among CEOs calling for a federal privacy law
- Facebook is betting the next big interface is conversation
- Pagers, Pay Phones, and Dialup: How We Communicated on 9/11
- The Complete Beginner’s Guide to TikTok
- China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide
- Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop service is now generally available
- Here’s what quantum supremacy does—and doesn’t—mean for computing
- Looking back at the Snowden revelations
October (*TalkingPointz will be there)
- RingCentral Analyst Day, San Francisco*
- GITEX, Dubai*
- NTT Analyst Summit, London
- Workplace by Facebook Flow, San Francisco
- Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago
- Poly Analyst Day, San Francisco*
- Zoomtopia, San Francisco*
- Talkdesk Analyst Summit, San Francisco
- Slack Frontiers, London
- Slack Spec, San Francisco*
- Vonage Analyst and User Conference, San Francisco*
- Collaboration Week, Silicon Valley*
- Vonage Analyst and User Conference, San Francisco*
- Microsoft Ignite, Orlando*
- Avaya Engage, Dubai*
- Mavenir AR event, Dallas
- Dreamforce, San Francisco
- SCTC Annual Conference, Chicago
This is a paid monthly newsletter on enterprise communications. Want your own copy? Click here.
Subscribe to the TalkingHeadz podcast on your favorite player. September guests were Sagi from Vonage and Mark from LogmeIn/GoTo.