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Posts from November 2016

Talk Or Not-The UC vs. Messaging War Wages On

Long time Unified Communications watcher Dave Michels authored a presentation at the UC Summit 2016 on the entitled "Did You Get The Message?" He cites the rise of Slack (slide 13), which in many ways is Unified Communications 2.0 vs. the more traditional version. On slide 14 he compares UC 1.0 and what I am calling 2.0.

The difference in my opinion is older work teams still work in the traditional office environment and have both UC 1.0 as their primary modes of communications. That means, a PBX, desk phones, find me follow me that rings their mobile phone, video conferencing and video calling, plus internal texting. Some companies have added on Slack or Hipchat, but largely to communicate with the nerds and geeks in IT, product development and other "engineering" or "support" functions.

The companies that never had a PBX, grew up on mobile devices, had their teams texting, using Skype as a way to stay in touch, largely matured in a text, share files, and then huddle room mentality. And, if you look at the high growth tech companies most of them arrived without thinking about a UC based, PBX centric approach. That is what led to the rise of Slack, Hipchat and others, and which has spawned the new services Dave highlights in his blog post of November 23rd.

To me, the decision to go 1.0, 2.0 or take a hybrid approach in how teams communicate has more to do with how much time people need to actually talk. I would say that with Ottspot, Yodel, Zoom, GoToMeeting, UberConference, Appear.In, that voice and video are actually there in Slack, and with the ability to use RSS, Zapier integrations and more, that Slack is actually today far more unified than the newly minted "Work_____" services coming from Microsoft, Broadsoft and Mitel at this time.

Perhaps that will change and UC will then hit 3.0, but for now, enterprise scale communications is clearly divided by those that talk a lot, and those that don't.

GoGo is Sometimes SlowSlow

Runway Girl, a rather respected travel blogger who publishes some really good stuff about the business of travel posted recently about GoGo and T-Mobile. Two brands who love to tease the media and generate hype about what they offer. Her coverage of trying out the enhanced 2KU band in flight satellite Wi-Fi being used on Delta and provided by GoGo is a funny read.

First it's funny because here's T-Mobile which tries on one hand to talk about how fast their mobile network is, only to have their customers put in the slow lane by GoGo. The second funny thing is that Runway Girl could have gotten a media comp from GoGo and had a really fast experience, but the she chose to take the true consumer approach and see what's really happening, and in turn she slams GoGo for throttling, another big no-no with the high speed elite.

Lastly, this impacts Delta, the airline which already gets maligned for being high priced, stingy on it's points program and not always the most customer friendly even though its getting more profitable.

Runway Girl's real exposure though is the fact that even the best CMO's fail when it comes to brand synergy. If it was me, I wouldn't let GoGo go it's Delta's planes and passengers.

Thanks Runway nailed it.

"Alexa Text My Friend" --Amazon Echo to now text via AT&T

In a move that I would have thought would have come from any carrier  but AT&T (T-Mobile comes first to mind) , the mobile operator and Amazon have teamed up to make it possible to send a text message to any one of ten of your contacts using the Echo voice controlled device.

My take is this was an Amazon driven idea to get more retail distribution for the hot selling Echo devices and for AT&T it was a fit to create more stickiness for their wireless customers by bringing the sexiness of the connected home closer to their mobile universe. Had AT&T tied the Echo into their big push effort surrounding Direct TV and made it possible to toggle on recording of television programs, enabled the reading out loud what TV programming scheduled, told you what movies or sporting events are scheduled or airing in real time, and went one step farther and dove into the meta data of the program line up, it might even have been possible for a customer to ask Alexa to "tell me when the Flyers hockey game is on tv" or "let me know what tonight's NCIS episode is about" or "record this weekend's Rams game." If AT&T and Amazon would have done that, I would be impressed, as it would have shown that AT&T was really thinking about integrating the services that they are counting on to bring in bigger dollars. 

Known as the AT&T Send Message skill the effort is part of AT&T's move to be more integrated into the idea of the "connected home," the market they used to dominate in their heyday of the landline.  The effort with Alexa is part of a sales partnership between AT&T and Amazon where the different Echo devices will be sold through AT&T online web site and in their many retail locations. The way it works is very easy. First users of AT&T wireless need to have an Echo. Once in hand, they download the iOS or Android Alexa app onto their smartphone or tablet, enable the Send Text Message Skill, add or manage their ten contacts  and then speak to the Echo saying "Alexa, ask AT&T to text message <contact> where contact is one of the ten names on the contact list. Alexa then will prompt the user for the message.

Send_Text_Messages_from_Amazon_Echo_with_AT_TWhile this is a great way to "send" the text message, it's only a half-baked solution. Replies are sent directly to your phone not received and shared to the Echo for Alexa to read out loud if you want it spoken to you. UPDATED-If messages could be spoken out loud, some discretion may be needed, a point made to me by super analyst Dean Bubley via a Twitter Chat.

AT&T also say users need to have a compatible plan and that other restrictions apply, but they have not listed those on their web site.



Just How Many Lines Does Broadsoft Really Have?

Broadsoft, in an announcement today, that's a pre-cursor to their annual "Connections Conference," highlighted the fact that they now have 41 percent of the Unified Communications market running over their cloud platform, trumpeting the fact that this number, which totals 15 million lines, represents more customers than Cisco or RingCentral have. This means, if one does some fast math, that there are roughly 40 million cloud communications customer lines on the various platforms, including Microsoft and Freeswitch that are using VoIP.

Given there are now over 3 billion connected Internet users worldwide, just how big is the 15 million number? It's a drop in the bucket as 40 percent of the world's population is now connected to the global network. In the USA alone at the end of 2015 there were 88 million high speed broadband customers placing the country second only to China.

Given cable companies are some of Broadsoft's larger customers it would appear that the Broadcloud product is not being fully deployed yet by them, and most likely the MSO's are running on Broadsoft's legacy switches, seeking to maximize their investment as they continue to have customers on at least the residential side, switch to their phone services from the incumbents.  The difference here, is the cable ops are running a more traditional hosted platform, for now, and likely will be the next to migrate to a cloud architecture, which places Broadsoft in a good position to capture a large portion of the cable connected callers who have not cut the cord. 

That said, given the cord-cutting with cable tv on the content side, and the rising never corder generation, this may not occur as richly as some would like to see. 

Why Are We Still Paying for Voicemail?

A few years ago the New York Times published a story about Voicemail usage being on the decline. If the wrote that same story today, my guess is that they would find that on the decline was an understatement. It's more than likely in free fall.

Basically, most of the people I know text before they call someone, or schedule calls for business. In my own case, I'll use a conference bridge vs. just calling someone at an agreed upon time in order to avoid the hassle of a call coming in just before the scheduled call is to occur on either side. A conference call is like an appointment, evidenced by the number of people who often say, "I'll have to cut this short, I have a call scheduled in a few minutes" or "I have a hard stop at...." Both are tells that your time is limited with them, and like the other people, you should have scheduled your call.

But voicemail as we know it is from the mobile operators is rather antiquated. You can't forward the message easily. The message can't be downloaded, usually. And the message is not usually transcribed. Those three functions have been around for a long time from third party service providers, but while those services have seen users stick with them, those same people are the ones who are not using voicemail from the mobile operator.

But the biggest deathblow voicemail has is it's own premise. Too many people don't like playing voicemail tag. That's the endless game of leaving a message to get a message back some hours later, only to have it lead to yet another message being left.

It's time to be able to turn off voice mail....I just wonder which mobile operator will offer that option first, and reduce your bill wouldn't that be an uncarrier move.....?

Is Broadsoft Competing With Their Customers?

Broadsoft announced the acquisition of VoIP Logic yesterday. When I looked over the web site of VoIP Logic all I could read from it is they provide a white label solution to others who want to be carriers. If that's the case, one of two directions are possible following the acquisition.

A) Broadsoft is going to deploy more tools to their customer base so they can do more, and take some pieces of the telephony stack away from others.


B) They are going to create an enterprise service in the cloud that any business could easily configure and cut out the service provider.

Given Broadsoft is working with telco giants like Verizon, it's likely that option A is the answer, but at the same time Broadsoft os assembling the pieces that takes them well beyond a switch and app server company, and more of a cloud communications hub that could sell businesses direct, much like Amazon has done with streaming, AWS and EC2..