Thursday, September 24, 2009

VON - Final Day/Skype Keynote - Seeking Channel Partners

Yesterday was a transition day here, with VON running til early afternoon, and then the focus shifted to the Channel Partners event. It was a bit strange seeing all the signage, etc. for VON in the morning, then disappearing and being replaced by Channel Partners. Am sure some people came for both events, but it was hard to tell.

I moderated one of the morning sessions - it was on mobile applications for the enterprise. We had Nancy Colwell from Divitas, Thomas Monopoli from MetaSwitch, and Tom Howe from - well you know Tom, right? I thought it was a very balanced panel, and Tom did a great job filling in for Voxeo who was a last minute scratch. The biggest surprise of the session was discovering that most of the people in the audience were Engineers, so it didn't take much for the conversations to get technical, and that was a good thing. It's pretty clear that mobile apps are new to this crowd, but I think we did a good job showing them what is possible, especially with the success stories that Nancy cited.

The highlight of the day, though - and the event in my view - was the Skype keynote to close out the event - which was very well attended. Christopher Dean is Skype's CSO - Chief Strategy Officer - and the fact that someone from Skype actually has a title like this says a lot about how much the company has matured.

Most of Christopher's presentation reviewed major trends in communications and as they align, how well things line up for Skype. He did a nice job citing data points to show the rapid growth of things like smartphones, 4G, mobile VoIP, broadband adoption, UC, cloud computing, FMC, etc. Nothing new there, but he then outlined how Skype is addressing these opportunities, especially for the business market.

Most of us know this is a top priority for Skype, and the most newsworthy item from the keynote was their new focus on channels, which of course ties in nicely with both events here - VON and Channel Partners. The main idea here is that Skype will be launching a service provider VAR program later this year. Christopher provided a URL about the program for reference, but as you'll see, there's not much there yet.

So, in the course of a few minutes, the audience heard about how Skype is looking to cross the chasm and partner with service providers. That creates all kinds of interesting scenarios, and Christopher pointed out how this is part of their bigger vision to be more open and partner-friendly in the post-eBay world. On that note, he didn't have much to say about the Extras program other than they understand how important it is, and are overhauling it now. So, it's not quite dead yet....

Lots more to talk about, and I'm saving that for my next Service Provider Views article, which should be out early next week. I hope you give that a read.

Virgo's Richard Martin introducing the keynote. Kudos to Rick, btw, for pulling this event together and giving VON a second life, so to speak...

VON's over - time to wander a bit. A few shots here from Lincoln Road. Going back to Toronto today, and this was pretty much my last shot at enjoying the weather - wouldn't you have done the same?

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