Insider Lite May 2024

by Dave Michels

Avaya Acquires Edify

Today, Avaya announced the acquisition of the strategic assets of Edify.CX.

Edify did not come up at the Avaya analyst conference last month (see Avaya Musings video). It is rare that acquisitions get discussed before completion, even among private companies. However, it’s not really a surprise. It was clear that Avaya leadership was holding a few things back. It’s nice the acquisition closed, as it provides a topic to cover at the annual Avaya International User Group meeting next week. 

Avaya’s priority is to build out the Avaya Experience Platform, or AXP. This is key to its “innovation without disruption” theme, and it brings cloud-delivered capabilities to its large customer base. AXP already has many components in place but also has a significant roadmap. Edify will significantly accelerate AXP. 

Edify is a small, young company, so let me briefly introduce them. It was created by co-founders Cameron Weeks and Bracken Fields in 2018. They previously created Sharpen.CX, and set out at Edify to reimagine how conversations could float between customers, agents, bots, and employees. Conversations across channels that could include multiple modalities. The Edify team is distributed and is formally based in Santa Monica, California. 

Edify was making impressive progress. Google recognized them last year for their innovative approaches with Chrome, and they were one of the few providers at EC23 (15 months ago) with a working demonstration of generative AI (an assistant named Hammond). 

Avaya and Edify started talking about working together last year. However, 2023 was a rough year for Edify. Both Weeks and Fields would leave the company before the end of the year, and Edify went quiet. The acquisition announcement is the first post on its company blog since Septemeber 2023. 

This is Avaya’s first acquisition under its current leadership. It was championed by Avaya Chief Product Officer Omar Javaid. It appears to be a great fit for Avaya. In addition to a state-of-the-art, cloud-native platform for orchestration, Avaya is retaining approximately 25 cloud-native developers savvy in contact center. Terms were not disclosed. 

THIS IS INSIDER LITE, a free post/newsletter from TalkingPointz. The monthly Insider Report requires a paid subscription. Here are a few excerpts from the eight page Insider April Report, published the first week of May.

Teams Numbers: Microsoft announced that there are now more than 1M Teams Rooms. It is so exciting when Microsoft reveals stats, even totally new ones. That’s a lot of rooms. I am curious how many are dedicated. That would be a tougher number to figure out. Most Teams rooms can be rebooted to work with Zoom. (Cisco rooms can work with Webex without a reboot.) 

It’s interesting that this is the measure Microsoft chose to share. All this return-to-office nonsense buries the story that it only takes one remote participant to drive a meeting online, not to mention the impending real estate disaster caused by empty office buildings. 

Regardless, that’s a lot of MTRs, and it will likely continue to grow. At this point, there are really only four major solutions (Teams, Meet, Webex, and Zoom). Many options are disappearing (Poly and LifeSize). Lots of smaller players with good solutions remain, such as Dialpad and RingCentral. 

We also learned that Teams Phone now has 20M PSTN users (up 30% YoY). Microsoft did not share any figures on Teams Phone Mobile adoption—they are surprisingly quiet about that one. As of July 1, the Microsoft Teams Classic app will no longer be supported. 

Videobars, the Next Generation: Neat has released a new iteration of the Neat Bar that features a more streamlined design. It also sports a five-microphone array for voice pickup, four microphones for camera tracking, an advanced audio processing algorithm, a wide-angle 50MP camera, fast video … and, of course, AI. An updated TalkingPointz review and evaluation of the Neat Bar 2 with Neat Center is coming soon.

NEC Exiting Premises-Based UC: NEC will be exiting the premises-based PBX business in all markets except Japan. For the record, not a single PBX leader successfully made the transition to UCaaS without a major acquisition (Cisco and Microsoft). Most of the PBX leaders from 20 years ago are gone. That said, NEC’s 2024 exit from the space is odd. We are past the bloodbath, and Mitel and Avaya are back to growth. It’s especially odd, considering that NEC intends to continue in Japan. 

The primary benefactor is Intermedia — at least, that’s the intent. NEC partnered with Intermedia to create UNIVERGE BLUE. It’s proven to be a good partnership, and Intermedia will undoubtedly see a spike in interest. NEC is directing its customers to UNIVERGE BLUE. Of course, many other UCaaS providers will also target those customers globally. 

Some NEC customers will use this as an incentive to move to UCaaS, but as we’ve found with ALE, Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, and Mitel, many organizations have no intent to migrate to a cloud-delivered solution. NEC has not provided a migration path for these customers — though that can still happen. More in this NoJitter post.