eComm 2009: An Outstanding Primer in Emerging Communications

Over the past three days there has been a continuous stream of presentations that provide insight into a wide range of issues, opportunities and perspectives in the IP-based communications space going forward. While there will be more posts covering individual presentations, it’s worth taking time to mention a few highlights:

  • Most innovative, outside-the-box, presentation: Ge Wang of SMULE (Sonic Mule) and his presentation including recordings of the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra (MoPhO). Become your own iPhone musician by breathing gently into the iPhone’s mic using their Ocarina iPhone application (warning: small fee $0.99).
  • Most outstanding announcements: three offerings that open up new user experience opportunities in a Voice 2.0 world (Yes, I already blogged about these but they still stand out as winners for both the service providers and end users.)
    • Voxeo: opens up the Voxeo platform,  previously limited to the small population of voice developers, to hundreds of thousands of web developers.
    • Skype: making the superwideband SILK codec available royalty-free to any relevant hardware or software vendor that wants to bring new user experiences to voice calling.
    • Jaduka: the appointment of Thomas Howe as CEO will accelerate the adoption of voice into existing business processes, eliminating the error-prone mundane while opening up new standards for applications such as healthcare procedures, customer satisfaction and service deployment.
  • Other presentations of note:
    • Martin Geddes, Head of Strategy, BT: there is value in addressing issues of efficiency and effectiveness inherent to business processes. Martin proposes that the key business model is to satisfy the needs of parties who want to interact with customers; for instance, improve the productivity of call center employees
    • Shai Berger, Fonolo, whose deep dialing service has now mapped out the IVR trees of over 500 companies and presents new opportunities for customer service operations.
    • Mobivox, expanding their voice-activated mobile services platform with their CRM for Voice business tools.
    • iNum, announcing support for IM and presence, initially with Google Talk
    • Alan Duric continues to see ongoing profitability and success at Norwegian service provider Telio. Why? a continuous stream of innovation and new value-added services.
  • Some themes and issues across multiple presentations:
    • Spectrum 2.0: several presentations and a panel covering issues related to (the lack of) spectrum management and “white space”. In major markets over 90% of available spectrum remains unutilized.
    • Regulatory issues: the challenge of creating and executing a user-oriented regulatory framework under “the first technology administration”. Network neutrality: is it more a “buzz phrase” than a real issue? Seeding the policy makers with players who understand regulatory issues from both an innovation and business opportunity orientation as opposed to supporting monopolies or duopolies. Aligning regulation with the application potential of emerging communications technology.
    • JayPhillips.Adhearsion Tutorial.04-03-09API’s: several presentations from vendors who provide free API’s that support third party developers in writing applications that are then hosted by the vendor: IfByPhone, Voxeo, Jaduka, Ribbit, Adhearsion (whose Jay Phillips, right, provided a tutorial incorporating programming to Skype for Asterisk),

One note: there were a lot of innovators and forward thinking people amongst both the speakers and the audience. Most interesting was that there were at least six attendees from carriers who were asking the questions about how carriers can adapt to this emerging communications world: SaskTel (2), T-Mobile US, Rogers, NTT. eComm’s biggest challenge for next year will be to attract a larger audience of carrier personnel. In personal conversations I learned a lot about their issues that may work its way into future commentary.

Overall, eComm 2009 once again provided a primer in a wide range of aspects of the emerging communications space. With Thomas Howe leading Jaduka’s CEBP charge into larger enterprises, Voxeo addressing a huge community of web developers, Skype offering new levels of call quality to the entire communications hardware and software community, Fonolo solving that PITA known as punching your way through company IVR systems and Calliflower offering new user experiences in conference calls, the next few months will prove most interesting. Most challenging to observe will be how these technologies and services assist business and personal issues in times of a most challenging overall economy.

Timothy Hay, Wall Street Journal wrote up Jon Arnold’s panel on “New Ways to Monetize Voice” : VoIP Start-Ups Scramble To Find Niche (subscription may be required)

Alec Saunders: eComm – strong stuff

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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