Insider Report June 2023
The Most Important Enterprise Communications News
June was a surprisingly busy month: #NICEi23, #CiscoLive, #VerintEngage, #InfoComm23, Genesys #Xperience23, #AvayaEngage, and #CiscoCollaborationDevices. Somehow, I managed to attend most of these events. Let’s look at what's occurred in enterprise comms and what was important.
The Twitter Debacle: The genius appears to be a fool. He’s certainly egotistical and brilliant. I concluded that Musk had destroyed Twitter, but still, I find myself using it no differently than before.
He uses the free speech angle like the Google Boys used “Don’t be evil.” And every time he stifles speech, hundreds of people say, “Aha!” His supposed position wasn’t about a commitment to operations but a strategy to control the narrative via headlines.
The demise of Twitter is unlike anything I’ve ever seen — and it doesn’t stop. Earlier in the month, Musk told us, “Almost all advertisers have come back.” But Twitter’s U.S. advertising revenue for the five weeks from April 1 to the first week of May was down 59% YoY.
In June, there were countless stories (likely by design). Musk loves to troll his critics and once again disabled one critic’s accounts. This time it was Aaron Greenspan, the founder of PlainSite, which tracks court filings of Twitter (and Tesla, Meta, and GM).
As a major user of Twitter, I find the mess disheartening, but I must admit my usage has remained largely unchanged. At least until this last stunt that broke Tweetdeck — that may indeed be the proverbial straw. I am putting more effort into LinkedIn and finding more engagement there — especially on videos.
The problem is that the world needs Twitter, but there are not any viable alternatives. Meta is about to launch Threads. I avoid Facebook apps due to their tracking practices, but even I’m rooting for Zuck. I am finding WhatsApp hard to live without in Europe, and Fisker, an EV car brand I follow, won’t use Twitter because Musk is a competitor. With Meta now publishing data on how its algorithm fills timelines, it might be time to log in again.
The Internet Is Closing: A few months ago, when large language models (LLMs) were new, the idea of using the whole internet for AI training seemed brilliant. It leveraged the power of openness, particularly when contrasted with China, which doesn’t have open internet. Today, attitudes are shifting against this approach. Now everyone wants compensation for providing training data. TalkingPointz.com is certainly a treasure trove of training data for AI brilliance.
We are seeing this play out over and over. Organizations are closing or limiting their APIs to protect their data — and in doing so they are shooting themselves in the foot. Reddit limited its free APIs, which is impacting or closing many of its related apps. Users have been revolting for weeks to no avail. Even if the decision is ultimately rolled back, it’s a moment that has forever shifted the culture of Reddit (and the internet). It’s a similar story with Twitter, whose API limits have caused its own Tweetdeck app to fail. Artists, too, have put down their brushes. Will future LLMs be trained on 2023 and earlier data? Maybe.
Unrelated to LLMs, the U.S. government is on a path to shut down crypto innovation in the U.S. Not to mention Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined Meta $1.3B last May for Facebook’s transfer of European data to the U.S. While most regions have been unable to recreate their own Facebook or Google, it does seem a lot of countries can replicate and localize Uber. The internet is indeed closing.
Apple Vision: The name Apple doesn’t suggest anything like a Metaverse, but perhaps there’s more to this future-holographic world than a brand name. Apple didn’t use any of the terms we know and love, including AR, VR, or metaverse — evidently, those things don’t matter.
Instead, Apple talked about a spatial computer that one wears over their eyes. While Meta is selling a destination, Apple is doing what it does best: selling computers. This spatial computer, like other computers, runs an OS and apps. It’s a new pane of glass that someday might have new apps. I like big screens and looking people in the eyes — can the Apple Vision reverse that? Unlikely, but I’ve bet against Apple before — and lost.
Apple has no idea what this device might be — and that’s OK. Apple had no plans for the App Store when it launched the iPhone, and it had delusions that its watch would be a fashion hit before fitness freaks hijacked it. The Vision is a $3,500 Field of Dreams to see what apps people build.
Perhaps most interesting about this breakthrough product is that it doesn’t do anything new. It’s way better than my Google Cardboard, but the basic concepts, like high-res screens, eye-tracking, and a see-thru mode, were all already invented. (Don’t underestimate form-factor and execution, though.) The iPad didn’t introduce any new tech that the iPhone didn’t already have.
I do believe the so-called metaverse is real. It just won’t arrive anytime soon, at least not to the general population. It will arrive first to facilitate special use cases with no problem with the high price. Specialized forms of collaboration will be among them.
Cortana Exits: Cortana was a response to Siri, and neither amounted to much. Microsoft told us they would discontinue Cortana and did. Its taskbar successor is Copilot. A similar ready-fire-aim adjustment is occurring with the Teams client. Microsoft intends to remove its built-in Teams client in Windows 11. Those that want Teams for chat will have to install the app.
Meetings and Messaging
InfoComm23: Fantastic show. You can see my highlights reel here and eight booth video tours here. The industry has quickly embraced Android-based room bars with several recent additions. Other big hits are AI-enhanced sound and video (auto PTZ), desk-booking solutions, and multi-camera meeting solutions.
The multi-cam solutions are heading for a showdown. The equipment vendors feel multi-cam is best addressed with edge technology, and the meetings providers believe it’s a platform feature. Another point of contention is control over the Android OS on the bar systems.
I do like the multi-camera solutions, but they should not be cited as a benefit of returning to the office. Multiple cameras really do not affect in-room participants. Actually, the center-of-table solutions could have a negative effect as in-room participants may feel surveilled. It’s remote participants who truly benefit from multi-cam technology; thus, if anything, the tech provides a reason to stay at home.
The Android OS on the collaboration bars is a slow-motion collision. Many room bar vendors have developed their own room operating systems and consider them both differentiators and platforms for innovation. Microsoft is concerned that some implementations may not be secure. Microsoft wants its partners to standardize on an Android build developed and controlled by Microsoft. Many partners believe this will stifle innovation and differentiation. Partners will yield (we all know what the M in MTR stands for), and innovation will likely slow (Polycom innovation created the Android-based MTR). Cisco has an advantage with its RoomOS. It runs Android in a Linux shell and can easily accommodate Microsoft’s version without compromising its platform.
#CiscoCollaborationDevices: An event at Cisco Oslo (SnorresBorg) was like a trip to Wonka’s factory. The best room was where we got to torture devices (destructive testing). It was a collaborative smörgåsbord with ‘laks’ of info to digest. Appropriately, it was a hybrid event, with cameos from remote executives.
I didn’t expect to learn much because Cisco updates analysts monthly, posts regularly on the Webex blog, and is active on social. Yet I did learn a lot. I will start with my conclusions: HP Poly will likely win on price/mass market. Cisco and Crestron will compete on portfolio. Vendors with smaller portfolios are in for a fight. A lot more goes into these devices than one might guess.
Let’s start with change and adaptation. We often talk about how the pandemic changed expectations and awareness, but it also changed Cisco. Few organizations changed more than the Cisco Webex team during the pandemic. Many have noted the pandemic timing was perfect for Microsoft (and Zoom), as Teams was well poised. The timing was terrible for Webex. Almost the entire leadership changed during the pandemic, and Cisco’s Spark was extinguished.
Javed Khan was the third leader in a short period and formed a new leadership team, ingested four acquisitions, expanded cloud-delivered services, improved the hardware and expanded to desktops, and Webex turned over some new leaves. Namely, interop went from low to high, and Teams became a partner.
One of the surprising portfolio stars is the admin portal Webex Control Hub. It went beyond basic administration of the expanding Webex Suite to include more devices, cellular services, carbon reporting, and other Cisco apps (ThousandEyes and Spaces) and is now opening up to third parties. The new API integration capability positions Control Hub for products such as Shure microphones and even room control products such as blinds.
Microsoft limits differentiation among solutions in Teams meeting rooms, so portfolio matters. The Cisco/Webex line includes webcams, headsets, phones, desktop video endpoints, boards, and a broad portfolio of room meeting solutions — all containing similar design elements and common management.
Note that Cisco reconsidered its branding of devices and reverted from Webex to Cisco. Many Teams admins love Cisco devices but have no room in their hearts for Webex.
Slack Targeted for Lack of Encryption: A coalition of over 90 organizations staged a protest outside Slack’s HQ, urging the company to implement end-to-end encryption and add blocking and reporting features. Oddly, consumer apps have better encryption than enterprise apps.
While the issue at Slack had to do with abortion rights, the key issue is whether employees should have a reasonable expectation of privacy on enterprise chat apps. Slack is not the only non-encrypted messaging app. This is going to get a lot worse as enterprises turn to AI. Slack did not respond to requests regarding encryption.
Google Meet PIP: Google enhanced the PIP in Meet. They really added windows to Meet, but they can’t say that. Users can now perform various Meet functions while working in other desktop windows. Functions include hand raising and text chatting. Google also added better window resizing and improved layout controls. The features will be available when using Google Meet via its Chrome browser.
Twitter Evicted: It’s just a little comical here that the genius that insists employees return to the office doesn’t want to pay rent. Twitter owes three months’ rent to its Boulder, Colorado, landlord, and a judge has signed off on evicting the tech giant from its office there. I’ve been to that office. I wonder if Musk also stopped paying for the kombucha on tap.
HP Poly News: At Infocomm, HP Poly announced the Studio X52 bar and the Voyager Surround 80 UC boomless headset. There’s no shortage of devices in these categories. The X52 expands Poly’s Studio lineup to accommodate larger rooms. Features include better sound and DirectorAI Perimeter. It works with Teams, Zoom, and Meet today and expects certification with RingCentral, BlueJeans by Verizon, and GoTo (hello, 8x8 and Vonage?). There were several other updates across the portfolio.
New From Neat: Neat has an ecosystem plan and a new smaller board. The Neat App Hub will offer a range of business apps that can run on Neat devices. The apps can be shared into a Zoom or Teams meeting with “patent-pending” capability. The Neat Board 50 offers a 50” touchscreen and retails for $5,990, with expected availability this fall.
Cisco Live: The Collaboration Team made several announcements this year at Cisco Live. The Room Bar Pro offers ultra-high-definition (UHD) video, support for three screens, and of course, native support for Webex and Teams. This is the first of a new generation of products coming from Cisco. Cisco also announced an expansion of Webex Go. This new version uses the AT&T cellular network (see UCaaS Section below).
AI was, of course, a major topic, too. Cisco is using a lot of AI in the Webex stack, such as noise removal and speaker tracking. Announcements at Live included generative AI-powered summarization capabilities such as meeting Catch Me Up, Conversations and Vidcast summaries.
Teams Updates: Previously covered Teams Premium is now available. It’s an odd collection of features that further weakens the “Teams is free” myth. Its features include personalized AI-generated meeting notes, recommended tasks, and a “your name here” detector. It also notes when you joined and left the meeting. Some features won’t be available internationally until next month. Cloud IntelliFrame is a new poor man’s multicam solution for Windows MTRs without intelligent cameras. It uses AI to divide the room’s single video feed into video tiles for each participant.
The CCaaS sector has gone all-in on AI. Forget about all those other things like ACD, the cloud, or digital transformation. Nvidia's exceptional quarter makes things worse. Any AI-related stock has surged, and the CCaaS providers say, “Hey, that’s us!” OpenAI and generative AI are the catalysts driving valuations and priorities across tech, and specifically in the contact center. While generative AI is certainly good at summarization, most of the AI in the contact center is not so new. This is like restaurants seeking differentiation by serving Coke. Eventually, the AI hype wave will settle, and providers better have a Plan B to sell on their trucks. The key to AI is really in the data, and here is where NICE and Five9 stand out: They have a strong ability to leverage the data.
While AI is certainly exciting, it’s also threatening. AI is a new skill set with disruptive potential. It requires different skills and will attract bigger competitors (the hypervisors are circling). The bots will automate more calls, so their business model of agents/month is also at risk. If all goes well, agent seats will decline, offset by 1) higher pricing for AI/automation features and 2) expanded CX opportunities outside the CC. Not all firms will make this pivot.
NICE Interactions: NICE Interactions was a customer/partner event that included an investor day for financial analysts. The dominant theme was AI and how NICE can help its customers capitalize on digitalization and AI-zation trends. CEO Barak Eilam, once again, raised the bar on how to do a keynote where he also introduced three new AI solutions: Enlighten Actions (optimization), Enlighten Copilot (agent assistance), and Enlighten Autopilot (virtual agents). The key to AI is data, and NICE has an impressive repertoire of data across different types of interactions. NICE also expanded the free tier of its ElevateAI transcription service (see post).
AI will be an amplifier for some CCaaS providers and a disruptor for others. NICE is well positioned for the next generation of CX, broader than the contact center. The company has a CCaaS leadership position, wide-ranging digital capabilities, and strong AI and automation solutions across the customer journey. NICE expects AI to drive growth from existing customers, net new accounts, and even its base of legacy WEM customers. The company set some ambitious goals for revenue, gross margins, increased TAM, and profitability.
NICE continues to hold its pole position in the CCaaS race, and the gap between the other so-called Leaders is widening. Talkdesk (and Twilio) has the unprofitable blues in a tough economy that demands profitability. The rules changed last year, making fundraising very difficult (especially after its 2021 round with a $10B valuation), so instead, Talkdesk has been doing massive cost-cutting. It cannot keep up with NICE regarding investment or attracting/retaining talent.
Genesys also has its share of problems. Genesys is presumably profitable and was likely headed for an IPO when Tony Bates killed off its “multicloud” solution. That move angered a lot of customers and threw Avaya a lifesaver while also restructuring costs (layoffs and other cuts) — right when NICE is doubling down. Factor in some executive turnover. Meanwhile, NICE, AWS, and Five9 have the wind in their sails/sales.
#VerintEngage: Twenty years ago, there were two separate, complementary sectors: Contact Center and WFO. Both have migrated to SaaS and expanded into each other’s sectors. The vast majority of these expansions are CCaaS providers expanding into WEM. NICE expanded into CCaaS when it acquired inContact in 2016.
Verint has a problem. While it hasn’t expanded into CCaaS, its partners have expanded into WEM. Consider Google: Last March, it announced its own WEM solution (UJET acquired Authority Software) and an ecosystem partnership with Verint. Is the Verint piece there because Google wants to build its Verint business or facilitate migrations to its own WEM?
It seems reasonable that Verint might consider expanding into CCaaS, especially since that strategy worked so well for NICE. Instead of doing that, it announced “Open CCaaS.” It’s a reminder (and differentiator) that Verint depends on partner openness — it always has! BYO ACD is not new for Verint. Open CCaaS may also be a warning shot to partners that Verint intends to expand into CCaaS. I can see a merger with Avaya — they both address each others’ gaps. Or perhaps Verint will acquire a cloud ACD; several providers come to mind.
Verint has three paths for growth: continued focus on WEM, a potential expansion into CCaaS, and the fact that many of its partners are reporting significant growth. I will also note that the visions presented at NICE Interactions and Verint Engage were surprisingly similar, considering their different situations. NICE is a full (partners-optional) stack, while Verint requires partnerships.
ObserveAI LLM: Observe.AI introduced Contact Center LLM and a new Generative AI Suite for boosting agent performance. Observe.AI’s proprietary LLM is trained on domain-specific datasets of hundreds of millions of customer interactions. This enables it to support diverse AI-based tasks particular to contact center teams.
It’s a nice claim, but suspicious. Dialpad made a similar claim recently. That might be true. The questions are: Where did the LLM come from? What constitutes large? What does domain-specific mean (CX or specific verticals)? It seems unlikely that any LLM will reasonably solve vertical-specific use cases this year.
Avaya Engage: Avaya’s core customers are big, and big customers don’t move quickly. Avaya changed its leadership team and went in and out of Chapter 11 in less than a year. It suddenly finds itself with a strategy that makes sense, the financial structure to do it (it lost most of its debt and raised new capital investment), and a proven leadership team with cloud-comms experience.
Avaya’s customer base remains huge. Its position and strength were aided and abetted by two external factors: Its primary competitor gave up on “multicloud,” and it’s becoming clear that large contact centers may never go all cloud. The first point is Genesys exiting its Multicloud business — a perfectly understandable decision with inexplicable timing. Large enterprises seem to like private cloud solutions, so Avaya intends to enhance its core products with cloud-delivered enhancements.
Avaya Engage is actually its user group meeting that the company co-opted as its coming-out celebration. I haven’t seen this much confidence from Avaya since the last time it emerged from Chapter 11. Discard old assumptions about Avaya. Even things like its partnership with RingCentral are now different (and more compelling). The basic problem that Avaya has right now is a lack of innovation. That’s what happens when you go broke. The company has three strategies to fill the void. First is internal development — R&D funds are back. Second, they have some strong partners, such as Cognigy (Leader in Conversational AI MQ) and Journey, wanting increased visibility and exposure. Third, Avaya will likely make some acquisitions.
The company does have key assets up its sleeve. The Avaya Experience Platform (AXP) is its nascent CCaaS offer that lives on Azure. AXP, plus its use/compatibility with Nuance, Windows, Dynamics, and Teams, got a Microsoft CVP in the opening keynotes. Other key partners include Google Cloud, Nvidia, Cognigy, and Verint.
The Avaya Enterprise Cloud (AEC) offers a dedicated instance of its Elite and Aura solutions on Azure, with private cloud and hybrid cloud models. Dedicated single instances are not that different than dedicated single-tenant implementations from various CCaaS providers. TalkingPointz will publish a new research note on this and other trends in CX infrastructure.
Genesys #Xperience23: Bates and Genesys are sticking to its empathy pitch, which just doesn’t resonate. Bates also declared that “AI is at the middle of it all,” which is different than, say, NICE, Five9, and Verint, which are surrounding their products with AI. Bates also presented Sir Richard Branson with a copy of his book on empathy (the co-author wasn’t there as she was terminated last year). In the roadmap session, Genesys reassured attendees that [its] AI won’t replace agents.
The cloud-only provider announced a new Experience Index. The press release talks about it being an alternative to NPS, but it’s about internal-facing metrics such as employee sentiment and satisfaction, and it uses proprietary Genesys algorithms. The new service also comes with advisors to make sense of the analysis.
The problem with proprietary scores like these is that enterprises turn valuable data into mystery scores. Yes, a simple score is easier to understand, but comparing it to peers, competitors, or internally over time becomes difficult because the algorithms evolve. Key benefits of NPS are that it’s easy to understand, free to implement, and facilitates comparisons. See this recent post on why NPS matters.
Genesys Cloud reached the $1B ARR milestone. On the one hand, it’s taken four years since Genesys reported the $100M ARR milestone. On the other hand, it took longer than many of us expected. It does seem like Genesys is preparing for an IPO. (Similarly, Dialpad and Td are likely waiting for IPO conditions to improve.) Genesys also provided an ESG update without any environmental metrics.
UJET Mobile: UJET Introduced a Contact Center Agent Mobile App for agents and on-the-go employees. The world is going mobile, and that includes contact center agents and supervisors. Mobile, remote, and field agents can now WFA with mobile freedom. We have already seen a significant transition from agents working on PC desktops to Chromebooks. The increased portability of solutions for Android and iOS will appeal to a variety of workers, including gig workers and employees who prioritize flexibility.
Webex CCaaS FedRAMP: Webex Contact Center Enterprise for Government has achieved FedRAMP® moderate authorization from the Joint Authorization Board (JAB). Webex for Government will expand to include Webex Calling, providing a FedRAMP-authorized single offer for calling, messaging, and meetings. TalkingPointz expects both Cisco and Avaya to benefit significantly from cloud-enhanced private contact center solutions.
At Cisco Live, Cisco announced generative AI-powered conversation summaries in its cloud Contact Center. Cisco is sharing with analysts significant growth in contact center as a result of product improvements, the acquisition of IMImobile (Webex Connect), Avaya’s bankruptcy, and Genesys’ abandonment of the Multicloud product. Cisco CC comes in cloud, prem, and hybrid. Agents can benefit from the Webex Suite or Teams and use PCs, Chromebooks, or phones.
Calabrio? Lots of changes occurring at Calabrio. The CEO changed in January. CMO Ross Daniels departed in March. Chief Experience Manager Jim Davies left this month. The company just notified customers that it’s turning to GlobalLogic to “improve services related to customer success, support, and product experience.” Competitors are circling.
|Upcoming TalkingPointz CCaaS Research Note: Does CCaaS Matter? TalkingPointz will soon be publishing a research note on the CCaaS market — a compilation of trends occurring in CX that diminish the term CCaaS. The sector is at an inflection point as the contact center moats of the past, namely ACD routing, and specialized hardware, disappear. This report concludes that CCaaS is no longer relevant as commonly defined. The report will likely publish to full subscribers in July.|
UCaaS and Cellular: I’ve been writing about UCaaS Mobility 3.0 (UCM3) for about a year now. I still consider it one of the biggest developments in UCaaS. While I contend that’s still true, adoption has been slower than expected. Steady but slow, largely due to awareness.
Cisco and Microsoft approached UCM3 in different ways. This month, both expanded their offers and now, each has a mobile network operator (MNO) and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) solution. Microsoft’s MNO offer is Teams Mobile, and it’s available from one major cellular provider in a handful of markets (Verizon in the U.S.). Microsoft announced a partnership with Tango Networks in June (see the newest for Teams on Tango) that will enable Direct Routing partners like NTT to create their own integrated MVNO solutions.
Webex Go was an MVNO offer and has now expanded with a partnership with AT&T for a direct MNO offer. The new AT&T solution will be sold by AT&T and its partners, while Cisco partners can sell the original Webex Go solution.
These approaches and acronyms are head-spinning, and it gets much worse — related terms include SIP, eSIMS, and BYOD. What’s really happening here is that cellular and UCaaS are converging. The benefits include a more intuitive and higher-quality mobile experience, increased TAM for both UCaaS and mobile, and more flexibility for admins. I believe every UCaaS solution still available in five years will have a UCM3 solution, so 8x8, Dialpad, Zoom, and others had better get this sorted out.
I expect the MVNO model will win, but it won’t be easy. The norm, especially in the U.S., is to buy cellular services directly from the MNOs. They have the plans and phones to make it easy. The MVNO model has a big benefit, too: It’s more UCaaS-partner friendly. With this Tango news, NTT will be able to design and sell the complete solution, including room system hardware; implement a comprehensive and global network, including a global dialplan; and provide training and support. Every provider of Direct Routing will soon be able to create their own MVNO.
VodafoneRC in Italy: Vodafone Business UC (VBUC) with RingCentral is now available in Germany, Portugal, Ireland, and now Italy. The MNO also offers multiple solutions for Direct Routing for Teams in 20 countries. VBUC is a UCM3 solution (see above).
The MNO and MVNO models each have their pros and cons. The MNO is more intuitive and familiar but still requires multiple vendors. The MVNO model is more elegant but has some limitations around SMS/RCS, 911, endpoint procurement, and pricing. VBUC attempts to offer the best of both approaches. It’s an overlay that combines Vodafone’s own native cellular voice with RingCentral’s non-voice services. It has some limitations, but an expanded integration with more features is coming.
RingCentral India: RingCentral announced that it has become the first global cloud provider to offer UCaaS in India. RingCentral services are now approved by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) India and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The approvals allow multinational organizations with a presence in India to use RingCentral UCaaS. Most UCaaS services do work in India, but without approval, and thus carry some risk.
ATT RCS: AT&T finally made the shift to support Google’s RCS. It had previously implemented its own version of RCS that was incompatible with everyone else. Google has been building toward enhancing RCS since its acquisition of Jibe Mobile in 2015. Its motivation is Android users being locked out of Apple’s iMessage.
RCS (Rich Communication Services) was designed to be a next-generation SMS, but that was over a decade ago. It offers many of the features users now expect from consumer messaging apps. The carriers, once again, completely missed the market. Dumb companies make dumb pipes.
I was speaking to a Gartner analyst about RCS, and he said no one uses it. I said that I see it surprisingly often in my text chats. I texted him, and sure enough, we had an RCS connection. It even had typing animations.
We are on a path to a point where all Android users will have RCS. Apple has no intention of supporting RCS on iPhones. If it’s possible, there’s an opportunity for a UCaaS provider to support it on their IOS apps as they do SMS today.
Networking and APIs
2600Hz Devices: 2600Hz UCaaS services now support devices from Vtech, Panasonic, and Avaya in its Advanced Provisioner application. Advanced Provisioner allows admins to remotely manage and provision devices globally with just a few clicks. It supports firmware updates, configuration changes, and provisioning templates that reduce the need for on-site support and enhance overall operational efficiency.
Lumen ExaSwitch: Lumen announced a new network interconnection ecosystem called ExaSwitch, created in collaboration with Google and Microsoft. This platform empowers organizations with high bandwidth needs to route their traffic dynamically and quickly between networks without third-party intervention.
Twilio CustomerAI: Twilio introduced CustomerAI that integrates generative AI into its Customer Engagement Platform. Insights are incorporated into Twilio Segment’s “Golden Profiles,” which store individual customers’ preferences, demographics, and behavioral data. The solution also plays well with Flex as CustomerAI can summarize customer interactions.
Brightspeed Speeds: Brightspeed (ILEC) selected Alianza to power its UCaaS and residential voice services. Turning to a cloud supplier enables Brightspeed to dramatically simplify its operations and accelerate deployment.
Twilio/Tania/Kore: Twilio agreed to sell its ValueFirst business to Tanla. Twilio acquired ValueFirst India in 2021 to try to accelerate growth opportunities in India. Not a bad idea, but the company needs some cash and focus. This news came after Kore closed on Twilio’s IoT unit.
Zendesk/Tymeshift: Zendesk acquired Tymeshift, an AI-powered WFM solution that was built for Zendesk. The company intends to integrate the predictive capabilities of Tymeshift into its portfolio.
Tata/Kaleyra: Tata Communications entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Kaleyra (NYSE: KLR) to offer personalized experiences to their customers. Kaleyra is a global omnichannel integrated communication services provider.
Vodafone/Three: The third- and fourth-largest mobile providers in the UK will soon be the largest. Vodafone and Three will merge their UK-based operations, giving them around 27M customers. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.
Volaris/DisplayNote: Volaris Group acquired DisplayNote Technologies, a wireless casting and video transmission provider for meeting rooms and learning spaces.
8x8 ended its search for a new CEO and gave the title to interim CEO Samuel Wilson. Effective May 26, 2023, the guy who’s been CEO since November remains CEO — at least for now. His predecessor seemed to be on a two-year clock, so time is ticking. Meet Wilson in this short video interview. Among the first things he did was name a new CRO, appointing Lisa Martin to the role. Martin has +15 years of CC and comms experience. She was most recently VP of Flex and VP of Sales at Twilio.
Logitech’s CEO of 10 years, Bracken Darrell, resigned and will be “departing the Company to pursue another opportunity.” Logi got caught up in the supply chain issues that plagued Poly for so long. The problem for most of the UC/UCaaS/Meetings ecosystem is that the whole sector has become focused on improving Teams, but Microsoft limits options to differentiate.
Just before Avaya Engage, Avaya named three new C-levels. These are the first executive appointments made by Alan Masarek since he started as CEO almost a year ago. Presumably, he needed to get the capital structure in place first. Amy O’Keefe was named CFO with experience from Weight Watchers and Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare. She replaced Becky Roof, who was Acting CFO. Roof is a Managing Director at AlixPartners, the restructuring firm Avaya retained during its reorganization. Roof replaced Kieran McGrath. Omar Javaid was named Chief Product Officer (CPO), and Josh Mueller was named CMO and GM of Hardware. Also, Sagi Dudai was named as a Board Advisor. The band is getting back together: Javaid, Mueller, and Dudai all worked with Masarek previously at Vonage (all of them left Vonage years ago).
Calabrio named Joel Martins as CTO. Rukmini Glanard was promoted to Chief Business Officer and Board Member at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise. She has been the EVP Global Sales, Services, and Marketing for 4.5 years. Dan DeLozier was named VP of Sales at Sangoma. Bobbie Grafeld was appointed as Chief Human Resources Officer at RingCentral. Cyara announced the appointment of Vikram “Vik” Verma as its first independent board member.
CMO Genefa Murphy moved from Five9 to Udemy. She arrived at Five9 from outside the industry in January 2021 and has made a big mark. The spin is an offer too good to pass up in an evolving space, but realistically, she had a lot of runway left at a leader in the fast-growing CCaaS sector. Perhaps it was the offer, perhaps it was the vesting schedule, or perhaps it was the recent CEO change. We may never know but do wish her the best. Earlier this year, Five9 retained former Avaya CMO Simon Harrison as an advisor.
Zoom named Xuedong (XD) Huang CTO. XD was Azure AI CTO and Technical Fellow. He founded Microsoft’s speech technology group in 1993 and held many other roles over his 30-year term at MS. He is the third recent senior executive to move from Microsoft to Zoom. Mu Han, Chief Development Officer, and Smita Hashim, Chief Product Officer, previously made the move.
- Wonking Out: Zooming and the Future of Cities Some work will still need to be done face-to-face, and that means many will still want to live in or near big cities.
- WeQuit: WeWork bonds sink after top executives resign from cash-burning company At its peak, WeWork was valued at $47 billion. CreditSights pegged its current value at about $1 billion, meaning it’s lost about 99% of its equity.
- We’re Now Finding Out the Damaging Results of the Mandated Return to Office — And It’s Worse Than We Thought A trio of compelling reports paint a stark picture of this brewing storm.
- The Homework Apocalypse Fall is going to be very different this year. Educators need to be ready.
- Reddit Won’t Be the Same. Neither Will the Internet The latest front in a labor battle between algorithms and the humans who feed them.
Other Recent Stuff
- NoJitter: NICE ElevateAI, Microsoft Tango and MVNOs, Why NPS, ChatGPT Hallucinations
- Real-Time Recorded LIVE: June 8, 2023 and June 21, 2023
- NICE Interactions Videos: Neeraj on ElevateAI, Greg Weber CTO Eventus, Kathy Sobus GTM ConvergeOne
- Verint Engage: Jaime Meritt CPO and Avaya Experience Platform on Verint
- Infocomm23: Highlight Reel, 8 Booth Tours Playlist, AV Nation Podcast, UCToday Video, and TR Reseller Post
- Avaya Engage: Conversation with Nidal
- Cisco Connected Devices: Conversation with Snorre and Conversation with Rich
- CXToday CCaaS Chat
- Getting the Message on Webex Connect With Jay Patel
- How Webex Fixed An Interview
2023 Insider Reports
- Jan 2023
- Jan Insider Lite
- Feb 2023
- Feb Insider Lite
- March 2023
- April 2023
- Insider Lite April
- Insider May