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Posts from June 2011

Broadcasting LIVE From eComm at 7:45am Pacific TODAY

Emerging Communications America 2011

Want to know what is going on at eComm, the "Emerging Communications Conference" this week in San Francisco?

In about 75 minutes, at 7:45am US Pacific, I'll be joining Andy Abramson for a one-hour live broadcast on the VoIP Users Conference (VUC) audio and video bridge.

Details to join are found on the VUC site ... but basically involve connecting to using either Skype, H.323 or GTalk. You also can simply call in and listen via either:

We[1] are doing this all three days of eComm and are planning to somewhat randomly pull in speakers and others that we see in the eComm breakfast area, but Andy tells me that this morning (Monday), we've already lined up:

Not entirely sure what we'll cover, but you can be sure that Alec and I will probably get into my response about what's wrong with his Voice 3.0 piece :-)

It should be fun, regardless...

We'll also have the IRC backchannel active at #vuc on Freenode. More info on how to connect, including a web IRC interface, can again be found on the VUC site.

As I mentioned, we'll be broadcasting live every morning at 7:45am Pacific. Stay tuned for more info.... and if you are at eComm and want to participate... find us!

[1] Where "we" equals some combination of us... I'm actually now flying home on Wednesday so I will not be part of the Wednesday morning broadcast.

P.S. In contrast to what I wrote previously, I'm now speaking today (Monday) due to a need to travel home on Wednesday.

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The 2 Big, Glaring Failures of the "Voice 3.0" Manifesto

Voice30Today Alec Saunders posted a truly brilliant piece: Voice 3.0: The Emergence of the Voice Web. It's a much-needed update to his 2005 "Voice 2.0 Manifesto" and very nicely brings together much of the thinking about telecom today. (And yes, I had a chance to review it and provided feedback before it went live.)

It's brilliant. It's long. You really need to go and read it. It includes many of the themes we'll be talking about next week at eComm. It's right about so many things.


The document as written has two big, glaring omissions.

Voice Doesn't Matter... As Much

First off... the piece is all about voice. Which is great. But here's a reality check:

People do NOT want to communicate by ONLY voice.

I spend my day communicating with people all over the world... in pretty much constant "real-time" communication. But almost NONE of it is by voice.

Instead it is by IM... by Twitter... by Facebook... by SMS... even by email. All text-based mediums.

No voice.

Now occasionally I do actually speak with someone - and usually get startled when my phone or Skype actually rings. But the majority of my communication happens outside of voice.

I wrote about this evolution of communication four years ago ... and it has only continued to evolve to a situation where voice is only one of the available communication channels... and not even the primary communication channel.

I'd argue this trend is only going to continue. Voxeo commissioned some research by Opus Research a year ago where they surveyed consumer preference. The demographic shift is pretty clear in charts like this one:


Look at the purple bar for consumers aged 45-54 ... then look at the blue bar for consumers aged 18-24.

See the "wave"?

We live in a world of ubiquitous mobility ... a world where we use mobile devices accessing cloud-based services and interacting with social networks and other similar services.

Sometimes by voice.

So to Alec's three "Defining Themes", I would add a fourth theme of Voice 3.0, which is the rise of multi-channel communication and the evolution of voice to "just another channel".

In the new world of communication, it is about:

Enabling customers to connect with you in the channel of their choice.

All that Alec wrote about the other themes of Voice 3.0 will be true ... but merged into a broader context in which voice is simply one of the available communication channels. Alec writes:

The service package will include not just voice, but detailed statistics, group management controls, and more. And it will bristle with API’s that will enable an ecosystem of other players to be built around it.

I would argue that it is better stated:

The service package will include not just voice, but the ability to communicate across a wide variety of channels, supported by detailed statistics, group management controls, and more. And it will bristle with API’s that will enable an ecosystem of other players to be built around it.

Don't get me wrong... I'm not arguing that voice telephony will go away. It will be here with us probably forever. And there are certainly times when we need and want to use voice. But not always - and maybe not primarily.

"Voice 3.0" needs to recognize this evolution.

Voice 3.0 Must Be Open

The second omission I see is perhaps more of a philosophical and personal one. I firmly believe that for voice to continue to be relevant and in fact to potentially grow in usage, Voice 3.0 must be based on open standards and not locking people in to specific services or providers.

Alec nails it with regard to the success of the Web (my emphasis added):

The web went from being a hyperlinked text library, to the largest programmable application on the planet, fuelled by open standards, lightweight communications infrastructure, standards which allowed content to be separated from logic and presentation, and an explosion of end-user devices, including today’s mobile devices.

He goes on to say:

Voice is on the cusp of the same revolution – a revolution that will be defined by letting the customer define the business logic of the application, not the service provider.

But then he doesn't quite bring it home. He says later again a similar thread (my emphasis added):

Ultimately, we’ll build systems where communications result in artefacts that can be consumed by services that have not been pre-specified. Think, for example, of the role that RSS played in the syndication of content, and imagine a similar world for voice. Tool chains will be created that will allow people to participate in building these services, and an explosion of new applications to consume these voice artefacts will be built.

The key here is that RSS is an open standard..

Alec in fact concludes with this (again, my emphasis added):

Network effects in the Voice 3.0 world become even more important. Will an open standard emerge? Although many die-hard networking folks would prefer that scenario, it’s hard to say. We may find ourselves in a world where a dominant proprietary player like Skype controls the platform, as a result of winning the race to build thriving developer ecosystems, and the applications that customers use and want.

Perhaps I am just part of the "die-hard networking folks", but I do believe that for voice to truly be integrated with the rest of the Web... for the "Voice Web" to emerge that Alec writes of in his title... for all the amazing new opportunities to emerge and "explode onto the scene"... for all of that to occur, Voice 3.0 needs to be based on open standards.

In fact, I would re-write his "web" paragraph with a voice spin:

Voice went from being an obscure medium locked up in proprietary/legacy telco control, to the largest programmable application on the planet, fueled by open standards, lightweight communications infrastructure, standards which allowed content to be separated from logic and presentation, and an explosion of end-user devices, including today’s mobile devices.

That is Voice 3.0.

And that is the fifth defining theme, being based on open standards that move control to the users and developers instead of the providers.

Again, you NEED to read Alec's full Voice 3.0 piece. It's an outstanding piece that is very well done.

Despite what I've written here, I do believe Alec's piece gets it right... subject to my modifications. :-)

And then please add your view on this. Do you agree with me about these additions? Do you think I'm wrong? Please leave comments here - or write your own piece and leave a link here in the comments. Comment on Alec's piece... comment on Twitter or Facebook... talk to us at eComm next week...

Where do you see "Voice 3.0" going?

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Is Skype for iPad Coming Soon? (Updated: YES!)

UPDATE: I've had multiple confirmations that this rumor about Skype for iPad is true... and CNET is running a story with screenshots that indicates Skype for iPad will be available in the AppStore on Tuesday.

UPDATE #2: There are a number of other stories now appearing up on Techmeme confirming the rumor.

If this video, reported by MacRumors, is true, this would truly ROCK! I hardly ever use Skype on my iPad2, because the iPhone app just doesn't work all that well on the iPad.

When is this coming, Skype? We want it! :-)

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Google TechTalk: A Brief Prehistory of Voice over IP

Want to understand the history of Voice over IP (VoIP)? To learn about the various protocols and standards efforts that got us to where we are today?

Shawn Merdinger recently posted to the VOIPSEC mailing list the link to this Google Tech Talk back in August 2010 about the history of VoIP. The video runs close to 2 hours but provides a really good background in terms of the protocols and efforts starting with ARPA work back in the 1970's and moving up to today... well worth a viewing if you want to gain some historical context for where we are today.

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eComm Starts June 27 - The Event Showcasing Emerging Communications

Emerging Communications America 2011

Will you be out in San Francisco next week for eComm, the "Emerging Communications Conference & Awards"? If so, I'll see you there, as I'm speaking on Wednesday. If not... are you interested in going? I still have a pass or two available as a speaker. (Drop me a note... quickly!)

I've always enjoyed eComm as it truly is a gathering of the thought leaders of the communications space... whether those people are working with VoIP or mobile or unified communications or whatever. It's where the "alpha geeks" of comms go to hang out... to network... to listen and learn as they share with each other what they are working on truly out there on the bleeding edge of communications.

Some people have called eComm the "TED of Telecom" and in many ways that's an apt comparison... quick, focused presentations to a high quality audience.

Check out the schedule and the long list of speakers... some truly great people will be there. I expect to be learning a good bit.

My own talk on Wednesday will be on the IPv6 theme I've been on lately. I titled it "How IPv6 Will Kill Telecom - And What We Need To Do About It". I'll be talking about many of the IPv6 issues I've blogged about or spoken about lately... but bringing that all together into a concise presentation. Should be a good bit of fun.

I'm also teaming up with Andy Abramson and Michael Graves to produce a series of daily audio interviews of speakers for the VoIP Users Conference (VUC). We'll be broadcasting live every morning at 7:45am Pacific. Stay tuned for more info.

eComm 2011 looks to be a great show again and I'm psyched to be heading out there to be part of it. If you're going, see you there!

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What Should You Consider When Choosing A Cloud Communications Platform? Join this June 22 session

What factors should you consider when considering moving your communications applications to the "cloud"? What are the advantages of hosting in the cloud? The disadvantages? How can the cloud help you scale your applications? How can the cloud connect you to other communication channels beyond voice?

Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 22, 2011, at 1:00pm US Eastern, I'll be speaking in an online webinar on this topic called:

"Taking Customer Service to the Cloud"

The session will begin with industry analyst Daniel Hong from Ovum discussing what he found in his new 2011 research report, "Decision Matrix: Selecting a Provider of Cloud-based Speech Self-Service Solutions in North America." I will then follow discussing what you need to consider when choosing a hosted provider (such as that of my employer, Voxeo). Next Debbie Diersch from Chrysalis will discuss factors to consider when choosing an application developer... and then we'll throw it open to questions.

Daniel's got some great data and Debbie and I are both aiming to provide some solid educational material (i.e. it's not just sales pitches), so if the topic is of interest, the hour will be a good use of your time.

You can register to join for free. The session will be recorded for later viewing, but if you register you will also get a copy of the soon-to-be-released Ovum report (a $2,500 value).

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Skype Fires 8 Executives: Pre-Acquisition Cleanup? Or Investor Payout?

SkypelogoOver the past couple of weeks, those of us watching Skype have become increasingly puzzled by the whack of terminations of senior executives at Skype. David Gurlé, a very public face of Skype, was perhaps the most prominent departure for those of us in the VoIP/telecom space, but the list includes a good number of prominent folks (source:Skype Journal):
  • David Gurlé, VP and General Manager of Skype for Business
  • Doug Bewsher, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Anne Gillespie, Global HR Director
  • Russ Shaw, VP and General Manager (focused on telecom)
  • Don Albert, VP and General Manager for Americas and Advertising
  • Christopher Dean, Head of Consumer Market Business Development
  • Ramu Sunkara, Executive VP for Carrier Relations for Qik
  • Allyson Campa, Senior VP for Marketing for Qik

Why? And why now?

Phil Wolff over at Skype Journal started writing about the issue last week and is out today with a longer post today, "Why did Skype fire 8 execs? Why them? Why now?", where he dives into potential reasons at great depth.

His primary suggestion is "Microsoft has better teams/talent in those departments" although he also has an interesting theory around a potential for buy-back of stock by investors.

Business Week also weighed in on the story with the suggestion that this is a move to save money on payouts to execs when the Microsoft acquisition occurs:

The timing of the dismissals means stock options will be worth less than if the executives stayed until the closing of the $8.5 billion deal, the people said.

However, I have to think that execs at this level would have the appropriate clauses in their contracts to still receive their payouts when an acquisition occurs.

UPDATE, June 21: Multiple sites, including TechCrunch and GigaOm, reached out to Skype investors and others and are stating clearly that the investors were not involved and that these cuts were made by Skype CEO Tony Bates.

I'm most inclined to agree with Phil's view on "realignment" before the acquistion.

The reality is that Skype staffed up to go through a public IPO.

They built their organization - and executive team - to create the kind of growth that would drive an organization to the point of a successful IPO. They staffed up to reach out into business and the enterprise. They staffed up to build out a global organization.

All of that no longer has the same urgency it once did now that the Microsoft acquisition of Skype has been approved. As Phil notes, Microsoft already has a ton of people in the other parts of the huge MS organization who could potentially cover the work of these execs.

Still, while these terminations may be an "expected" part of an acquisition, these were some very talented folks let go by Skype... I wish them all the best with whatever comes next for them.

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Free Webinar June 15th - Preparing Your Contact Center for the Rise of Social Media

Contactual voxeoHow can contact centers adjust to the rise in social media? What does the research actually show around the changes in consumer preferences? What solutions are out there?

On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, at 2pm US Eastern time, I will be representing Voxeo and joining with Wendell Black from Contactual to discuss these changes and solutions in a free webinar:

Preparing Your Contact Center for the Rise of Social Media

Registration is free and open to anyone to attend.

Here's the abstract from the site:

Social Media’s impacts to traditional methods of providing customer service cannot be ignored. More and more individuals are turning to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and similar forums to connect with businesses and organizations and this trend shows no signs of abating. In this session you will learn how to navigate the new world of the connected and sophisticated customer. What Attendees Will Learn:
  • Important trends in multichannel and social media customer interaction methods
  • How social media is impacting customer experience optimization efforts
  • How organizations are leveraging multichannel interaction to better service their customers
  • Benefits of an integrated approach to managing the proliferation of customer interaction touch points
  • Important steps organizations can take now to prepare for these new communication mediums
  • A glimpse into the future of customer contact as social media gains mainstream prominence

I'm looking forward to giving the session... and it's a neat chance to learn about Contactual if you aren't aware of them. They are doing some very cool things in the hosted contact center space. (And as you might guess, are a partner of Voxeo and we have some joint activity with them.)

Again, it's free to join the session and there will be time for questions at the end. We'd love to have you join us!

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Free Webinar Today - "How Do You Hear Me Now? The Power of Wideband (HD) Audio"

Developer Jam SessionYou know how great the audio quality can sound in a good Skype call? Almost like you are right there in the room with the other person?

That's possible because Skype uses what is called "wideband audio" (or "HD audio" by some).

In about 3 hours I'll be presenting a Voxeo Developer Jam Session on "The Power of Wideband Audio". The session is at:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

11:00 AM US Eastern, 8:00 AM US Pacific, 5:00 PM Central European

I'll be talking about why you should care about wideband audio, what you can do with it, and how you can get started. Here's the abstract:

What is “wideband” or “HD” audio? What are the benefits of wideband audio? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using wideband? With all the buzz out there, what does wideband or “HD” audio really do for you in a business setting?

In this Developer Jam Session, Dan York, Director of Conversations at Voxeo will explain the basics of wideband audio, discuss the various versions of wideband audio deployed in the industry, explain why it is important in terms of business value. Additionally, he will talk about how wideband audio is implemented in Voxeo’s Prophecy and PRISM products.

If you can't attend, the session will be recorded and available later from the jam session web page.

To me, wideband audio is one of the truly compelling advantages of voice-over-IP and I'm looking forward to sharing that passion with the attendees in a few hours... why not join us and listen in live?

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Skype Is Back For Me - But Only 2 Million Users Are Online (versus normal 25+ million)

skypelogo-shadow.pngSkype seems to be coming back up... s..l..o..w..l..y..

My Skype client just started working again, as the Skype Heartbeat blog post indicated, I did not have to login again or do anything else. Once in, though, my Skype client shows only a bit over 2 million users online:

Skype 2million 1

Considering that on a normal day there are usually 25+ million users online during the day (and often closer to 30 million), I would say that more than just "a small number" of users were affected!

As I wrote this post, though, the number of connected users dropped to 1.8 million... let's see how this recovery goes!

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