TalkingPointz Insider April 2022
The Most Important Enterprise Communications News from April 2022
This may be be the shortest Insider yet (6 pages). It seems the news pipe was drained last month at Enterprise Connect. Funny what happens after an annual event takes place after three years. Zeus and I were ready to start Real-Time, Recorded, but there just hasn't been enough news.
It was a pretty light enterprise communication news month. Most of the change in the couch fell out during Enterprise Connect last month.
Two new TalkingPointz Research notes were recently published, available to full subscribers only: a look at Conversational AI Platforms and CCaaS and A deep dive on EC22. Look for an upcoming report on UCaaS Mobility 2022.
Elon Buys Twitter: Clearly, this month’s big story is Elon buying Twitter for $44B. I’ve been hesitant to write about it because the story keeps changing. Let’s see, in about a week, we went from Elon buying some Twitter, to becoming a board member, to not becoming a board member, to buying all of Twitter.
It seems everyone has an opinion on Elon and Twitter’s future — including me. I will start with the widespread consensus that Twitter could be better. Considering Twitter seems to work well for Elon. I did work well and perhaps well work well again for Trump. So I have to wonder how people want to make it better.
Improving Twitter has lots of interpretations. Certainly, there are ways to make it more profitable. There are some fascinating discussions on how Twitter can foster or stifle free speech. Elon hasn’t indicated his vision for Twitter or exactly what he might do to make it better. It may not matter. Elon will change Twitter in unknown ways. He does seem talented at running companies, but then again he doesn’t intend to run Twitter.
I hate to sound like an old man (get off my lawn), but someone needs to say that Twitter actually works pretty well the way it is. In other words, perhaps it doesn’t need to be improved. Twitter didn’t get caught up in all the Facebook hate regarding abusive user surveillance and manipulation.
That said, I do have a suggestion for Elon on how to make Twitter better: Focus on messaging. Twitter is mostly associated with its one-to-many sharing core feature. However, messaging, or what Twitter calls Direct Messaging (DMs), is where it’s at. Facebook Messenger, Apple iMessage, WhatsApp, and so many more have built empires on private messaging. I would love to see Twitter become more useful as a messaging app by making its DMs searchable, encrypted, and better at managing harassment. Maybe even add support for read receipts and typing indicators.
Twitter is unique in its being best for people you don’t know. For other platforms, knowing your connections is a rule or requirement. Facebook and LinkedIn are really about people you know (or knew in junior high). Twitter allows people who don’t really know each other to interact. I am pretty quick with my follow-backs (which enable DMs), but I am also quick to unfollow anyone who spams me.
I do share concerns that Twitter is too powerful to be owned by such an attention-seeking egomaniac. The fact that he is a vindictive genius makes it even more troublesome. I am generally concerned about the privatization of the internet, which has done very well under a distributed, decentralized model. An emerging model with even more decentralization and zero trust is on the horizon.
This very month, Elon’s Boring tunn eling company raised $675M at a $5.7B valuation. That’s a lot of money for a boring company that uses the same tech as other boring companies. Elon has the touch or schtick that will certainly increase Twitter’s valuation. The question is who will benefit from it — clearly not the current stockholders.
General Industry News
Leadership Changes: The changes I heard about this month include Venkat Nagaswamy as the new CMO at Mitel. Marc Hebner became the Head of Enterprise BU in the Americas at NEC. Dialpad announced a trio of new executives: John Finch as SVP, Solutions, Customer, and Product Marketing; Homero Salinas as SVP, Global Commercial Sales; and Sangeeta Walsh as VP, Partnerships and App Ecosystem. Mavenir appointed Erin Mulligan Nelson to its Board of Directors as an Independent Director. VoIP.ms announced that David Rouleau has been appointed as CEO.
Most Trustworthy Companies: Newsweek and Statista presented their first annual ranking of America's Most Trustworthy Companies. It looked at publicly traded corporations with +$500M in annual revenue. Rankings were obtained via surveys of 50K US residents. The survey asked which companies treat their customers fairly, treat their employees fairly, and would be good long-term investments. The result was a list of 400 companies in 22 industries. Within the Software and Communications industry, there were 30 companies, including Microsoft, 6; Slack, 12; RingCentral, 13; Lumen, 14; Vonage, 24; and Cincinnati Bell, 28.
Q1 Buybacks are In: If you haven’t noticed, a lot of valuations have dropped, and there are some bargains out there. At least that’s what I’m told. I keep seeing these bargains becoming better bargains. Of course, no one’s baby is ugly, so lots of corporations are buying back their own stock. Low stock prices plus plenty of cash on hand equals stock buybacks.
Amazon bought back $2.66B shares last quarter. Twitter bought $2.1B of its own stock (good move). Apple purchased $22.6B of its stock, Microsoft repurchased $8.8B, Meta bought $9.5B of its stock, and Alphabet snagged $13.3B of its shares.
NSA Cloud: Surprise! AWS was re-awarded a $10B contract from the NSA. Microsoft appealed the “Wild and Stormy” contract win, but the Government Accountability Office couldn’t find a president to sway the outcome. The NSA’s original selection stands.
Fidelity’s Cryptic Message: Fidelity announced that it will enable customers to invest their 401(k) funds into Bitcoin later this year. Nothing to do with enterprise comms, but it’s exciting news nonetheless.
Meetings and Messaging
Zoom Whiteboard: Zoom joins the virtual whiteboard party along with Microsoft, Cisco, and RingCentral. Miro and Mural cracked the code with the concept that whiteboards are better when not tied to a meeting or meeting application (the same is true for meeting chats, IMO).
The whiteboard is the last analog technology in the meeting room, and it has been very stubborn. The new board apps offer numerous advantages, including infinite canvas, support for multiple and remote contributors, and tricks like smart shapes and photo support.
The advantage of solutions from the meetings vendors is hardware support, too. Zoom’s whiteboard launched with a DTEN ONboard as both a standalone appliance and a companion device. ONboard has a 4K 55” display with a 10-point capacitive touch screen.
Microsoft Connect Accelerator: Microsoft launched Operator Connect Accelerator to help carriers get approved and onboarded. Operator Connect Accelerator will pair carriers and service providers with certified partners for accreditation. Operator Connect is an ambitious program to API-ify carrier OSS and BSS functions.
The goal is to simplify and accelerate carrier services via the Teams console. It also reduces the need for customers to interact with their providers. Microsoft’s Operator Connect is an alternative to Direct Routing. Launch partners of the accelerator include Ribbon, AudioCodes, NUWAVE, SIPPIO, and of course, Microsoft itself through Azure for Operators with Metaswitch.
AVI-SPL CaaS: AVI-SPL announced the expanded release of its Collaboration as a Service offering. It was first piloted in the UK last fall. AVI-SPL Collaboration as a Service helps organizations outfit or refresh meeting rooms under a subscription-based model. It supports the bundling of hardware, software, installation, adoption services, cloud and on-site managed services, and analytics to optimize user experience with collaboration technology. You know, Bell required customers to rent their phones for decades. Hard to get too excited about rental programs.
LIfesize InterOp+: Video conferencing and CCaaS provider now offers Lifesize Connect Plus+, an interoperability feature for its 4K Lifesize Cloud Room hardware. Currently, Lifesize Connect is an interoperability service that allows enterprises to connect meetings from different vendors with existing Lifesize hardware. Now with Lifesize Connect Plus+, users can join a Microsoft Teams or Zoom meeting directly from one of the Lifesize Icon 300/500/700 series of meeting room conferencing devices. Another WebRTC company has discovered the power of WebRTC. Editor’s note: I don’t like + in product names.
Pexip Engage: Pexip announced that it has launched Pexip Engage, which leverages its acquisition of Skedify. Pexip Engage combines the former Skedify product with Pexip video to create an intuitive, customer-facing scheduling interface with Pexip video meetings. Pexip is doubling down on three areas: Secure Spaces, Video Innovation, and Connected Spaces.
Zoom IQ for Sales: At its second Work Transformation Summit, which featured highly reputed industry analysts, Zoom IQ for Sales was unveiled. It is a conversation intelligence add-on for Zoom Meetings that turns customer interactions into actionable insights. The solution automatically provides assistance with next steps and risk assessments, and it’s integrated into Salesforce and calendars. Zoom IQ for Sales also works with Webinars.
Customer Engagement and CPaaS
8x8 and Genesys: There is some magic to the UCaaS + CCaaS recipe. Just ask 8x8 or any UCaaS provider, for that matter. There are still a handful of CCaaS pure-plays, but there are no UCaaS plays without a CCaaS anymore. The line between partner and competitor is a bit fuzzy, but Genesys is willing to bet on 8x8. Its previous partners, Zoom and Microsoft, now have their own plans for the UCaaS + CCaaS Ball. NICE has RingCentral.
Chime SDK for Any CC: Amazon Chime SDK is a CPaaS that offers telephony services as well as integrations with AWS Lambda and ML-powered Lex, Voice Focus, and Polly services. The SDK can be used with Amazon Connect or whatever contact center you might have. Amazon Lex natively integrates with Amazon Polly to provide TTS capabilities. Amazon Voice Focus can reduce background noise on phone calls. AWS provides documented source code samples.
Conversational AI That Keeps Its Lips Sealed: Gridspace announced it received Certified Status for information security and compliance from the Health Information Trust (HITRUST). The HITRUST certification covers Gridspace's full stack (including Gridspace Grace virtual agent and Gridspace Sift for real-time voice observability). Learn more about Gridspace in the TalkingHeadz podcast.
Transparency in CX: Five9 joins Twilio on the Transparency 100 Index by Transparency Global. After an independent analysis, Transparency Global awards this certification to companies that meet the highest levels of organizational transparency, as measured by six Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Transparency Standards, Terms, Total Accountability, Transparent Cost, Truth, and Trust.
Genesys FedRAMP: Genesys received the US Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program’s (FedRAMP) In Process designation for the Genesys Cloud CX platform for government. The company is working toward achieving FedRAMP authority to operate at the moderate impact level. Makes sense. FedRMAP is one of the footholds premises-based systems still enjoy.
Five9 and Deloitte: Five9 announced an enhanced strategic agreement with Deloitte Canada to expand its international footprint. Deloitte Canada will feature the Five9 Intelligent Cloud Contact Center as part of its Future of Service Practice, providing end-to-end contact center solutions and services across strategy, architecture, and implementation. Big CCaaS implementations take big SIs, so this is good in every way. But I’d like to see similar expansion activities in more non-English-speaking countries.
Zoom and Verint: Verint announced the availability of its new compliance recording integration with Zoom Phone and Zoom Meetings.
Rowan Trollope on Five9 Q1-22 Results: “After competing with all of the players in our industry, we signed one of the largest companies in the world, a health care conglomerate with retail, pharmacy, health insurance along with many other divisions and brands. This customer will be rolling out tens of thousands of seats with Five9 starting towards the latter part of this year and throughout next year, bringing their anticipated ARR to Five9 to over $40 million in software subscription alone.” If this keeps up, Five9 might have to increase its “enterprise” definition higher than $1M ARR.
Salesforce: Analyze This: Salesforce renamed its low-code/no-code Tableau analytics platform to Salesforce CRM Analytics. In other words, Tableau has been reimagined as a native-developed toolset. With the name change comes more features: vertical-specific integrations, Slack tools, and a new search analytics tool. This is a smart, strategic move on the part of Salesforce. CCaaS next?
Mitel Endpoints: Mitel expanded the range of its DECT handsets built with plastics protected with BioCote antimicrobial technology. For some reason, bacteria are getting more attention these days. The BioCote coating is attractive to all, but especially users in hospitals, hospitality, manufacturing, and other infested environments. DECT products are more popular in Europe, but they have many advantages over the North American preferred Wi-Fi and Bluetooth alternatives.
Mitel also announced that its flagship Mitel 6900 IP Phones are now officially certified with RingCentral. This makes it even easier for RingCentral to migrate Mitel’s customers to its MVP cloud communications platform. The two companies formed a GTM partnership about five months ago. RingCentral has never before certified a partner’s endpoints so quickly. RingCentral’s integration with the Mitel phones includes advanced features such as assisted provisioning integration, Busy Lamp Field (BLF), call recording, common phone (hot desking), analytics, and many more.
Poly Sync 10: Poly launched the Sync 10 USB speaker, expanding the Sync lineup (20, 40, and 60) with a newer, smaller option for personal/home use. The main difference with the Sync 20 is that the 10 doesn’t have a battery. It’s intended for regular use at home. It will work with most UCaaS apps and is certified for use with Teams and Zoom. It has a two-microphone array, touch-sensitive controls, and the same cool lights for call status.
Switchvox 7.9: This new version includes changes to voicemail as well as other feature enhancements and numerous bug fixes.
Helium Open-Source Crypto 5G Network: Helium is a grassroots network of local wireless access points that use a tech called LoRaWAN, which is low power and low bandwidth and designed for IoT. It’s particularly unusual because it uses a blockchain to manage the incentive structure. Helium raised $200M, and its users can deploy FreedomFi’s 5G hotspots. In theory, your 5G phone could roam onto these.
The Helium Network launched nearly three years ago in Austin, Texas. Today, the Helium Network (aka “The People’s Network”) consists of more than 682,000 hotspots built and operated by third parties. Helium 5G is the second major wireless protocol approved by the community, which will enable support for an entirely new class of devices such as phones.
Replicant Bots: Replicant announced it has closed its Series B funding of $78M, bringing its total funding to more than $110M. The round was led by Stripes with participation from Salesforce Ventures, IronGrey, and Omega Venture Partners, along with returning investor Norwest and founding investor Atomic. Replicant was launched in 2019.
VOSS Automate: VOSS Solutions announced the general availability of VOSS Automate 21.3. This latest generation of automation management technology from VOSS comprises a wealth of value-added features, with a specific focus on Cisco Call Manager and Microsoft Teams Phone System integration. VOSS Automate 21.3 delivers key multi-vendor and hybrid innovations: consolidated view of subscribers, integrated dial plan, Microsoft license reporting, and more.
Barracuda goes with PE: Private equity KKR intends to acquire Barracuda Networks. The goal is to “accelerate growth” by further pushing the company into key security markets such as managed detection and response, extended detection and response, and secure access service edge (SASE) technology. Barracuda focuses on serving small- and medium-sized enterprises with a broad suite of cybersecurity offerings, including email protection, application security, network security, and data protection.
CallTower and OneStream: UCaaS solutions provider CallTower announced its acquisition of Rochester-based OneStream Networks. The acquisition is intended to build on CallTower’s existing Microsoft and Cisco offerings, integrating OneStream Networks’ global cloud-connected and premises-based SIP voice services that include Cisco Cloud Connected PSTN (with Webex Calling, Cisco Unified Communication Manager [UCM] Cloud, Webex Dedicated Instance and Webex Contact Center), Zoom, Avaya, Genesys, NICE CXone, and Microsoft Direct Routing.
This Month’s Goodreads
- Telco Meets AWS Cloud: Deploying DISH’s 5G Network in AWS Cloud The big difference between 5G and 4G is that 5G is software-based. This AWS essay addresses the cloud that runs the new wireless cloud.
- Why our politicians can’t fix the internet The trouble is, when you connect society, you connect all of society’s problems and all of our own worst instincts, reflexes, and cognitive biases — all expressed, channeled, and amplified in new ways that we don’t really understand.
- Fed-up managers declare WFH is over About 77% of managers said they’d be willing to implement “severe consequences” for those who refuse to return to the office.
- How to Organize Your Life as a Couple Sometimes all you need to make peace with your partner is some helpful tech and a collaborative approach.
- Elon Musk Demonstrates How Little He Understands About Content Moderation Free speech and content moderation are very complex topics. Simply saying that moderation should follow the law generally shows that one has never actually tried to moderate anything.
- What if the future of work is exactly the same? For many, the gains in worker pay and power during the pandemic are fading fast — if they even saw them at all.
- Feds Uncover a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ for Hacking Industrial Control Systems The malware toolkit known as Pipedream is perhaps the most versatile tool ever made to target critical infrastructure.
- Delta confirms ‘exploratory’ Starlink tests Internet on planes is no longer just a nice-to-have. Whether planes connect up to space or down to ground largely depends on the course, but lower satellites are an interesting option.
- Why it’s so damn hard to make AI fair and unbiased For starters, we cannot agree on what “bias” and “fairness” even mean.
- Pricey AI Apps Drive Up Cloud-Computing Spending Gartner predicts that global corporate spending on cloud computing in 2022 will grow 20% YoY to $494.7B, and cloud platform services will grow 26% to $109.6B.
- AWS sharpens focus on modern data strategies with an array of new products A priority for AWS in 2022 will be automation at scale, allowing customers to bolster the security of their cloud environments.
- Save America’s Patent System Innovation, the very thing that patents were meant to foster, is undermined as corporations game the patent system.
- Ukraine Sounds Alarm on Chinese Drones Ukrainian officials have called for limiting the use of DJI drones, saying technical glitches in the company’s products may have been created intentionally by DJI to sabotage the country’s defense.
- How to Overcome Multitasking Madness Toggling between devices and apps is leading to shortened attention spans, errors, and memory problems. There are remedies.
- Twitter Accepts Elon Musk’s Offer to Buy Company in $44B Deal The takeover, if it goes through, would mark one of the biggest acquisitions of a tech company and will likely affect the direction of social media. Mr. Musk will bring a commitment to a more hands-off approach on speech moderation to a company that has struggled to reconcile freewheeling conversations with content that appeals to advertisers.
- Who’s to Blame for All the Spam Calls? I do like to blame Ajit Pai (and his mug) for most things.
- Annual Reviews Are a Terrible Way to Evaluate Employees “Look, we would like to have given you a 2,” her manager said. “But we’ve run out of 2s.” It’s a forced curve, she was told, so while they said she deserved a 2, they just didn’t have any left.
The TalkingHeadz Podcasts are interviews with the movers and shakers of enterprise communications — plus we have some interesting guests. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app. We strive for two episodes a month.
- Brian Beutler, CEO and Co-Founder Alianza Great introduction to the SLC Sleeper, Alianza. Unrelated to the podcast, but check out Lumen’s new cloud services, powered by Alianza on NoJitter.
- Giving Every Employee a Voice: Gideon from Workvivo The CMO of Workvivo talks about employee engagement apps.
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