Protect What You Have, Invest In The Future

June 2nd, 2015
David Walsh, President and Chief Executive Officer of GENBAND

This is no ordinary time in the real-time communications industry. I go way back in the “telecommunications” world, with a career spanning over three decades. I’ve been fortunate to be part of the continual transformation – from TDM to IP, from fixed to mobile, from cellular to WiFi, from premise to cloud, and everything in between.

One idea has served the companies I’ve been investing in and leading: “make money through the transition.”

In order to do so, it’s important to stay ahead of the trends, and to understand the value of strategic and elegant transformations.

Last month in Orlando, at our Perspectives 15 conference bringing together hundreds of our customers, partners and industry leaders from the media and analyst communities – my theme was “Protect What You Have – Invest In The Future.” In short, how can Communications Service Providers keep their embedded base happy, while reducing the costs associated with running old networks, developing all-IP networks, and then delivering attractive IP and OTT services to their customers, rather than ceding them to the “challengers” and taking the low road as “dumb pipe” providers.

This week, I’m honored to be presenting a keynote address in Toronto, Canada to hundreds of the top leaders in the real-time communications industry, and this week I’ll be focusing on what we see as the massive benefit of transforming to all-IP, “software everywhere” networks – embedded communications.

Some people call this “in-app” RTC, some refer to this as applications enabled by “WebRTC,” some talk about “Telco APIs” but everybody agrees – when we add messaging, voice, video and collaboration into the stream of contextual communications, we change the game.

This is not to say that more traditional “voice calls” are going away anytime soon. In fact, the voice and VoIP worlds are still thriving. After the leveling off of the fixed-line voice decline, in contrast with the ongoing, dramatic growth of mobile services, what we are seeing is VoIP intersecting with mobile, as VoLTE services are rolled out.

We’re seeing any number of network technologies coming together, giving consumers choices on how they initiate contact, and service providers’ choices on how they deliver services to their customers.

Consumers are programmed to call phone numbers, however those numbers are becoming less visible as directories replace numbers with names. (When was the last time you memorized a phone number?)

With embedded communications, there is no need for a “phone number” –ever.

With embedded communications, the very moment you wish to connect with another human – to talk about your health, to choose a toy for your nephew, to ask your banker about a payment you don’t recognize – you simply “touch” to initiate a real-time session.

The opportunities to create better experiences for consumers – while exponentially reducing the costs of running, for example, an “800 number” contact center – are profound.

I’m personally enjoying applications including OpenTable for instant reservations, Uber for instant transportation, Peloton for instant cycling classes, while watching my teenage kids closely as they find friends instantly on Tinder. One of my kids, Steven, uses Khan Academy when he needs instant tutoring from volunteers giving courses in everything from mathematics and science to art and literature.

While we continue to fund the important PSTN to make sure everybody has basic communications, there are ways for us to do so with huge economic benefits when we transform from “power hungry” networks and data centers to energy efficient infrastructure that not only saves money, but creates the platform for IP services, including those being delivered over WiFi networks which are growing explosively.  The cost of water and power is going up – “Moore’s Law” doesn’t help real estate, support and power costs. Our industry has the opportunity to slash billions in expense through network transformation which in turn unleashes the potential for billions in new revenues.

In other words, transformation more than pays for itself and in fact subsidizes the costs to develop and roll out new services – including “embedded.”

I look forward to seeing those who will be with us in Toronto today, I’ll be sharing lots of examples of cool “embedded” applications built on our Platform-as-a-Service – Kandy. I’ll start out with work we’ve been doing with SAP, including their Cloud for Customer application which is enriched with RTC and went live last month. We’re also working with SAP on enriching their HANA, JAM and HYBRIS applications – making it simple and seamless to connect with another human being in the mode of choice with one touch – inside each application.

I’ll also share a fantastic story about one of our favorite customers, Go Daddy, a company that is supporting over 59 million domains. There’s no company better positioned to change the way commerce happens online.

I’ll also be sharing applications developed by entrepreneurs, smaller developers who are leveraging Kandy to create applications that improve life, make communicating easier and more fun, and are impacting industries from e-commerce to healthcare, from social network to banking, from travel and transportation to logistics and industrial productivity.

Finally, I’ll be sharing an update on one of GENBAND’s most exciting initiatives – the fring Alliance. We acquired fring a year and a half ago, then rebuilt the application on our own Kandy Paas. We have worked with half a dozen large service providers to roll out OTT solutions that are better than “WhatsApp” – “Facebook Messenger” – “Viber” – “Skype” – and other over-the top challengers. Why? Because the fring solution, which is being white-labeled by services providers to serve their specific markets and consumers – is integrated with existing services including the still very valuable “phone number.”

After 18 months of traveling the world and meeting with fring customers and prospects, what my team and I have learned is that on their own, it would be difficult for individual services providers to create a community with the same size and scale as WhatsApp, acquired by Facebook for $19B because they had 450M subscribers.

By combining efforts through an Alliance we are extremely well positioned to build the largest OTT community in the world.

This is what the fring Alliance is all about –Metcalf’s Law. “N Squared.”

I look forward to seeing those who will be with us in Toronto today, and to sharing with those who cannot join my presentation and videos in a future post. You can reach me on Twitter @walshgenband – to set up a time to meet and to share your ideas, your vision for the contextual real-time communications future.

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