Enterprise Connect and My Views from Afar

I just read pal and uber analyst Dean Bubley's recap on the first day of the 2015 Enterprise Connect that's being held in Orlando. I have to admit, that the lack of excitement in Dean's post came through, further underscoring a feeling I have about events, conferences and summits being less and less about the news and really coming back to being what trade shows were created for. To sell.

That makes it far less interesting to people like Dean and I, who are looking for the next big thing and how to propel it. You see, today, you don't need a trade show to launch a service or product. Apple and Google prove that all the time, as the media and analyst are all so connected these days that a good story gets told and retold regardless of where it's announced. 

Dean's comments about WebRTC are very much also in line with mine, and I'd go one step farther. At a conference like Enterprise Connect the news or solutions we're going to hear about are those that solve the problems that the enterprise has, not the ones that mobile operators or ISP's have. Save those angles for other events that are more targeted.

To go farther, I'm not surprised that the WebRTC angles are all around Skype replacements and VoIP parallels when in reality there's so much more that can be done with WebRTC and things that are far more exciting like sensors, beacons, IoT and Wearables to me. But, those are not yet ready for Enterprise Connect, but give it a few years.

 

 


Honored and Humbled-IT Expo 20 Years of VoIP Pioneers Panel

I have been both honored and humbled at the same time. Two days ago, TMC's Rich Tehrani presented some of my closest friends in world, some who are or have been clients and I with an award.

That award is all about our contributions that made us Pioneers in VoIP by helping make the industry what it is today. For me, it was about as emotionally charged as the day I graduated Temple University, my wedding in Montpeyroux, when I produced the retirement night of the Flyers' hero and longtime captain Bobby Clarke, or the night I brought him out of retirement in 1988 to play against the Celebrity All Star Hockey Team. 

Being up on stage with Jeff Pulver (Von, Vonage), Craig Walker (GrandCentral, Switch, UberConference, DialPad), Andy Voss (NeuEra, Sansay), Mike Tribolet (Vonage, Dialpad, YipTV), Alon Cohen (VocalTec, Phone.com) and Danny Windham of Digium was a rush.

It was a rush because when I first started VoIPWatch, back in 2003, I did it for four reasons:

  1. To be asked by media about the subject and to be an authority about it.
  2. To speak at conferences
  3. To attract new clients
  4. To make new friends

I can safely say those goals were met and continue to be met every day. 

It was also great to see Rich start the IT Expo Hall of Fame and induct friends Alon Cohen and Jeff Pulver. I'm happy to have contributed my part in making that possible too. So if there's one more guy who belongs up on that list of Pioneers. It's Rich himself. He's done as much as anyone to help propel the industry, so while he moderated, he just as easily could have been one of us.

As for whom else could be on that list of pioneers, I've got a few in my mind who can't be overlooked at all.

  • Erik Lagerway for XTEN and what is now Counterpath, as well as many other VoIP based businesses.
  • Dr. Ed Guy and James Tagg, for their work with Mobile VoIP at Truphone
  • Alec Saunders who created iotum and what is now Calliflower
  • Ben Lilienthal of HiDef Conferencing for bringing us HD before its time
  • Jeff Bonforte and Michael Robertson for giving us SIPPhone and Gizmo Project
  • Nicklas and Janus for giving us Skype
  • Om Malik for BroadBandits and the start of GigaOm the first mainline publication to give a SIP about VoIP plus for his willingness to give me "link love" when I needed it back at the start of this journey.

You see, there are many pioneers, so to be singled out on the first panel, and part of the first ballot inductees into what really is the Pioneers of VoIP Club is truly a big honor for me.

Thanks TMC. Thanks Rich. And thanks to all the people I was there on stage with. To be honored along with each of you is to be truly humbled.

 


Citrix Wants To Be In the Phone Business with Convoi

Citrix, best known to many readers here for GoToMeeting and many other enterprise services is getting in the phone business. The are quietly inviting GoToMeeting users into a soft launch for Convoi and they are aiming it to be your second line on your mobile phone, but with features that are geared around business, all based on an Over The Top (OTT) approach.

Convoi

Key highlights include a second number, voice calls and text. Much like Line2, FLYP or the original pioneers in this space Truphone and TalkPlus (both at times Comunicano clients). What's interesting is that Citrix's Convoi is how they upfront are linking it to conference calling, something I'm waiting for Switch to do with their sister UberConference as a native service.

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Will Convoi go where others before it haven't? Maybe. And that's because they have likely leveraged the Citrix network, lots of experience at building scalable technology, are adding WebRTC smarts from their free three party GoToMeeting service and just sheer marketing muscle.

 


Will AliBaba Do With DingTalk What eBay Didn't With Skype?

AliBaba, the Chinese eCommerce giant has launched a social business communications service called DingTalk in Beta (Translation required) bringing back memories of what eBay hoped to and failed to do with Skype.  The dream back when Skype was acquired by the online marketplace pioneer was to connect the business to business ecosystem that powered it and the customers who shop. That's exactly what AliBaba is trying to do today with DingTalk.

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The Chinese market is rapidly expanding, and today, DingTalk is only available in Mandarin. But already AliBaba is claiming their multiple ecommerce platforms have 8.5 million users, so they could have a running start with users and the key features that delivers Over The Top services that bypass the telcos just like Skype:

  • Free messaging
  • Free multi-party calling
  • A business contacts directory that links the eco-system and customers
  • Message Read/Unread status

DingTalk, designed to be a mobile service first, offers voice communications, messaging and team collaboration and already has a downloadable app for Macs and mobile apps in the Apple iOS App store and Android Play Store.

Another Wrinkle

Ironically, there's another wrinkle with DingTalk. It's the fact that Apple has allowed a BETA service app in the App Store. Perhaps something got lost in translation (Apple techs only use Safari not Chrome which auto translates) or Apple has softened their stance on allowing Beta services in the App Store now.

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A bit of Deja Vu

Long before Skype became part of Microsoft, it was acquired by eBay because then CEO Meg Whitman (now at H-P) and her team thought that Skype would be a great way to connect those buyers and sellers together too. Unfortunately, that wasn't what eBay's ecosystem wanted, or maybe Meg and her team were just too early, as today we're seeing a shift in how buyers and sellers interact with services like Amazon's MayDay. and WebRTC.


Marriott Says No More Blocking of Wi-Fi

Marriott Hotels has reversed its position on Wi-Fi and will no longer pursue their lobbying efforts with the FCC when it comes to blocking.

For travelers who use Mi-Fi's this is good news, but more importantly, it shows that Marriott is beginning to rethink their digital strategy, and are beginning to listen to the public and influencers. This may also mean that other member hotels who joined up with Marriott who are members of the American Hotel & Lodging Association will likely take the same perspective but continue to lobby the FCC for clarification. SKIFT has more on this.

Marriott faced lots of pressure from Google and Microsoft, who beyond being influential with their lobbyists in D.C. also have thousands of executives every day who travel and likely were having to also rethink where their executives were staying on the road.


2015-The Year of WebRTC

WebRTC is alive and well, and in reality all the AT&T announcement did this past week was move it from the world of early stage and forward looking companies like Citrix with their free version of GoToMeeting, to Switch.co, Talko, Wire, iotum with Calliflower and a cadre of collaboration service providers like appear.in who all see what it means for them and their customers.

At the same time Cisco, Ericsson, Firefox are sticking more than their toes in the water, each finding ways to want to swing their weight, while emerging companies like client Temasys, Telefonica Digital’s TokBox and Acision all are really making things possible by providing platforms that are making WebRTC really work.

What AT&T is doing is basically saying “people call from their computers. We’ll make it possible to move the call from the computer to their AT&T mobile phone.” That’s what Switch is already doing. If AT&T was thinking about changing the game, they would enable that to happen so a call could be “switched” to an iPad or any device as mobile phones are so yesterday.

The real power of WebRTC is only now starting to be seen. The reality is that the new worlds of Internet of Things and Wearables are where the future resides making voice, video, file and screen sharing simply table stakes. You have to do that, and with WebRTC any developer can. It’s what they do beyond the basics that makes WebRTC interesting and game changing down the road.

 


Hotels Still Want to Manage Wireless Access

Re/Code is reporting how Marriott and other hotel operators want FCC approval to be able to effectively block the use of mobile hotspots.

If the hotels provided reliable WiFi so work can get done, the need for mobile hotspots wouldn't be necessary. But they don't. What's more this is really a "wolf in sheep's clothing" move by the hotel industry to use Wi-Fi and in essence mobile networks as an excuse to justify how they are no longer making money on:

  1. Phone calls-people use their cell phones

  2. Movie rentals-iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu

  3. Room service Delivery-Grubhub, Delivery.com, Amazon Fresh

  4. Gift shop necessities-Amazon Fresh

So the mobile hotspot becomes the target of attack but really this is all about hotels wanting to maximize revenue beyond the "free WiFi."

The irony here is when the speeds at San Diego International Airport for Wi-Fi got really slow some years back the suggestion of the IT Director was to use a mobile hotspot. Hotels could do the same and actually reduce the level of customer support calls, dissatisfaction with WiFi and guests opting to stay elsewhere as reliable WiFi is the third most wanted feature by hotel guests.

Hotels, guests, mobile networks can also all be working together. For starters, hotels can rent access to mobile operators, install DAS systems and improve their in building coverage. They can also boost their WiFi, improve the quality of broadband coming to the property and give the guests a work like experience, even if the guest has to pay a fair price for it. To me, paying for reliable WiFi, or paying a higher rate for a room that includes it, is far better than paying less, and getting less, and that's something the hotel industry hasn't quite figured out yet, in their race for profits, at the sake of guest dissatisfaction.




The Comunicano Daily for Thursday December 17, 2014

 
 
 
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Changes. Lots and lots of changes in mobile. T-Mobile rolls a stash of data. Doctors make video house calls. Sprint drops their sponsorship of Nascar. Those stories and more are all just below...So now onto the news..

 

 
 
 

T-Mobile Allows Subscribers to Hold on to Unused Mobile Data

 
  T-Mobile USA, the fourth largest wireless carrier in the United States, said on Tuesday that it would allow customers to roll their unused mobile Internet data into the next month's billing. Or, as John Legere, the company's chief executive, put it in a video broadcast: "What you don't use, you won't lose."  
 

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A Doc in Your Pocket: Doctor on Demand Gets Smarter

As you travel to your destination this holiday season, you may be bringing bags filled with presents - as well as runny noses, colds, flus, extra stress and high emotions. And there's a good chance that you'll see your primary-care doctor or psychologist before the year is out.
 
 

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T-Mobile US confirms 700MHz LTE network live in Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis and Washington DC

TeleGeography's free daily email summary of the world's top telecom news stories.
 
 

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You may wonder why Sprint is giving almost 15 months of notice to NASCAR that it's dropping its title sponsorship. The reason is simple. It will take a long time to find a sponsor ready pony up the kind of money it takes to sponsor and support such a massive sponsorship every week during the NASCAR season...

 

 
 
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Sprint to Drop Nascar Partnership After 2016 Season

Sprint has decided not to extend its Nascar title sponsorship for the Sprint Cup Series, citing the need to focus on its core business. After the 2016 season, the telecommunications giant will allow the partnership to expire. Nascar has partnered with Sprint for years.
 
 

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In light of the Sony hack encrypted email is going to be the rage. Obviously, with Gmail and Google Apps so widely used, Google is sending a message that they're getting ready to offer that to their users.

 

 
 
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Google's alpha-stage email encryption plugin lands on GitHub

Google has updated its experimental End-to-End email encryption plugin for Chrome and moved the project to GitHub. The firm said in a Tuesday blog post that it had "always believed strongly that End-To-End must be an open source project." The alpha-stage, OpenPGP-based extension now includes the first contributions from Yahoo's chief security officer, Alex Stamos....
 
 

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NBC wants to make sure you can watch their content. Anywhere. But they've put a few catches to insure that their cable subscribers only see it--for now.

 

 
 
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NBC to roll out live streaming - but not so fast, cord cutters

Saturday Night Live isn't live streaming just yet. NBC has announced plans to begin live streaming its network shows, but cord cutters won't have access to the new service. The peacock network will start streaming to mobile and desktop devices on Tuesday, but viewers will need to provide a login tied to a cable subscription to gain access.
 
 

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Google Ventures is moving big time into healthcare. 

 

 
 
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Google Ventures Shifts Focus to Health Care

Google 's venture-capital arm is moving strongly into health care and life-sciences startups, mirroring shifts at the Internet giant. More than one-third of the money Google Ventures invested in 2014 went to health care and life-sciences companies, up from 9% each of the prior two years.
 
 

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While Marriott and Sheraton have already stated their no-key required, no check-in approaches, along comes Hilton with their own claims.

 

 
 
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Hilton's digital check-in and room selection rolled out worldwide

17 Dec 2014 | Get Free Access to Breaking Hospitality News Here [News, Information Technology] Hilton Worldwide has announced that its pioneering digital check-in and room selection technology is now live across more than 4,100 hotels spanning 11 brands worldwide. This includes more than 260 hotels across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
 
 

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Comunicano client PixiePath's CEO Bryan Field-Elliot was was interviewed on That Drone Show this morning. You can hear via YouTube just what PixiePath is all about.

 

 
 
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PixiePath CEO On Drone Fleet Management Platform

You can watch PixiePath CEO Bryan Field-Elliot talk all about Camera Drones, Quadcopters, Multirotors and more Video Podcasts at ThatDroneShow.com

 
 

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The next set of stories are all about drones. How they get used, where they can and can't and what may keep them from transforming business and privacy as we know it today.

 

 
 
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The Future of HealthTech - Ambulance Drones

In December 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos caused quite a stir with the announcement of his company's plans to offer 30-minute product deliveries via unmanned aerial vehicles (more commonly referred to as "drones"). Drones have been deployed by the U.S.
 
 

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Drone Shows L.A.'s Expo Line Route from a Bird's-Eye View (VIDEO)

L.A. has become a drone development center, in part because of Hollywood's desire for great aerial shots, and in part because of the tech explosion in Silicon Beach and Downtown L.A. A journalist can pick up a phone and find out if any of the city's hottest drone companies has...
 
 

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New York City's Drone Ban Would Be the Strictest in the Country

​A New York City council member is introducing legislation that would ban drones in the city, according to draft legislation obtained by Motherboard. The bill would amend the city's existing administrative code on aviation to severely restrict drones within city limits, essentially banning them except under very specific circumstances.
 
 

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Flying a drone in the UK: What you need to know

Drones of all shapes and sizes will be popular Christmas presents this year, but while some of the most dramatic videos are shot by flying over skyscrapers and famous landmarks, few pilots are aware of the laws preventing drone flying in built up areas.
 
 

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The Comunicano Daily for Tuesday December 16, 2014

 
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Apple Pay is rolling along.  And like iTunes and the iPhone, more and more people and more retailers are using it. What's funny is Google had Wallet long before Apple Pay, yet the attention being given to Wallet vs. Apple Pay is small while Apple gets the attention.

 

 
 
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Dozens More Companies Sign Up for Apple Pay

The list of companies working with Apple Pay continues to grow. On Tuesday, Apple announced that in recent weeks the company had signed up dozens more banks, retail stores and start-ups to adopt Apple Pay, the company's new e-commerce product, which allows customers to buy things with little more than a wave of their iPhone.
 
 

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Drones continue to be in the news.  Two stories today of note.

 

 
 
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Why our drone future is for real -- someday

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wants to ship goods using unmanned aircraft. Some are skeptical, others nervous, but drones already are improving the way we live. In 2002, a stroke-like event turned Henry Evans into a quadriplegic, depriving him of almost all ability to move.

 
 

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Drone-Hunting Blimp To Launch Over Washington, DC

On Friday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, will launch a giant drone-hunting blimp over Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Grounds just east of Washington D.C. The system includes a 242-foot balloon (technically called an aerostat because it's connected to the ground) that can stay up for a month at a time and a radar to detect - among other potential threats- drones.
 
 

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Ever wonder which companies protect your data, and which may not?  This story may make you think twice.

 

 
 
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We Asked 29 Tech Companies If Their Employees Can Access Your Personal Data

Traditionally, privacy worries for consumers and tech companies have been limited to keeping information secure from third parties or hackers. But a series of internal abuses show that tech company employees often have universal access to user information, as well as reason - be it pure voyeuristic curiosity or, in the worst cases, a vendetta - to look at our whereabouts, spending, and of the most private corners of our lives.
 
 

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Changes in tax laws in the EU may have a major impact on services, pricing and availability.

 

 
 
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EU tax change is about to hammer small digital service providers

From the beginning of January, new EU tax rules will force many businesses offering online services across the Union to take on a load of new administrative responsibilities. The changes have caused particular consternation among micro-businesses providing such services - for a classic example, think about an individual who's making a small amount selling knitting...
 
 

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In the UK BT is looking more like they are getting back into the mobile business in a big way, buying up EE/Orange/T-Mobile UK.

 

 
 
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British Telecom Company BT Is in Exclusive Talks to Buy EE

LONDON - The British telecommunications company BT said on Monday that it had entered into exclusive talks to acquire the British mobile phone business of Orange of France and Deutsche Telekom of Germany. Orange and Deutsche Telekom confirmed last month that they were in early stage discussions to sell their joint venture EE to BT, Britain's former telecommunications monopoly.
 
 

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Friends. Enemies. It's hard to figure out what Bose and Apple are these days, but one things for certain, Bose is going from hardware into the services arena and wants to play in the Internet of Things. They have the devices, now they want to dance to the music.

 

 
 
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Bose May Be Working on Streaming Music Service

Apple's Beats Electronics and Bose already compete in the headphone and speaker markets, but it appears that Bose may be gearing up to compete with Beats in another area -- streaming music. A Bose job listing first noticed by (via VentureBeat ) seeks a Senior User Experience Designer to work on prototyping Bose's "next generation streaming music platform and ecosystem of products."
 
 

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For small business social media has lots of value, but that means paying attention to it. Yelp is now moving into the Attention Management business.

 

 
 
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Yelp Introduces New App For Business Owners With Push Notifications

Yelp is releasing a new app for business owners. Unsurprisingly called "Yelp for Business Owners," it's available for iOS and Android users in all countries and languages in which Yelp currently operates. Until today, business owners had to tolerate a less than optimal experience accessing their account information on a smartphone.
 
 

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Ever wonder why you see ads for web sites you've visited? Retargeting is the answer. And it seems to work very well.

 

 
 
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90% of marketers say retargeting now as good as search ads, email marketing

Over 90 percent of marketers say that retargeted ads are as good as or better than the gold standard in digital marketing, search ads, according to a recent survey by leading retargeter AdRoll. Why? Intent, says AdRoll president and CMO Adam Berke.
 
 

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Here's a great read on focus and getting things done.  Ask yourself if you're applying what's suggested or not.

 

 
 
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How to be the most productive person in your office - and still get home by 5:30 p.m.

Some days the to-do list seems bottomless. Just looking at it is exhausting. We all want to know how to stop being lazy and get more done. I certainly want the answer. So I decided to call a friend who manages to do this - and more.
 
 

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Conferencing Services Aligning With The Mobile Operators-All About Net Neutrality

This statement in the ComputerWorld article about Sprint and AT&T Mobile offering next generation conferencing services from UberConference and Cisco is really all about. Net neutrality and parity. 

Because of this over-the-top services debacle, the net neutrality debate takes on greater meaning. If carriers can offer their own content and services on their own networks, they don't have to worry as much about whether they are throttling somebody's else's third party service, and they don't have to levy a higher charge on that third party to give its service greater priority on a busy network.

What this also means is interconnection agreements between the carriers and the mobile operators also need to be honored. Thus if data traffic between Sprint and AT&T have to be treated the same as if they were on each other's owned and operated network, a call to Uber Conference from AT&T over the mobile app (if Uber offers this) would have to be as if it was ending up on AT&T and vice versa. This is a very important point and fact as we migrate from circuit switched voice to LTE Voice and VoLTE.