Monday, May 24, 2010

Mobile VoIP Webinar Archive Posted

Just a quick note to say that the replay for last week's mobile VoIP webinar is posted now on the USTA website. In case you missed it, the webinar was focused on new ARPU opportunities for mobile operators using VoIP and HD.

I shared the presentation with Media5, and GIPS was cited as the lead sponsor. They were supposed to present as well, but with last week's acquisition news, things changed, and they had to take a lower profile.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Launch News Item #2 -

Switching hats, I was involved in a second launch today! This one is for, where I'm an Adviser, and I've been posting about them here off and on. There's also a lot of Twitter activity supporting the portal, so it's not hard to pick up on what we're doing there. It's a pretty exciting opportunity, and I'm very happy to be part of it.

Anyhow, the main details about the launch are in the press release. The fun part is their launch party tonight, but San Fran is kinda far from Toronto, so I'll miss it - dang. Next best thing is to follow the Twitter feed, which is pretty steady right now - you can pick it up using the hashtag "#FocusLaunch".

Launch News Item #1 - Smart Grid Summit

Things are moving quickly today, so this post will be short. This afternoon, the program and first round of confirmed speakers was announced for the Smart Grid Summit. Not many speaking spots left already, and I know we're going to have a first-rate program. You can read more about it here, along with a full outline of the agenda on our website. Gotta go...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Interactive Intelligence Extends Their CaaS Platform

I've followed and written about Interactive Intelligence for some time - both here and for the UC Strategies portal. They're a very interesting company, and it's great to see them doing so well in this weak economy. Today they announced some enhancements to their CaaS platform - Communications as a Service - and while most of this is focused on the contact center, I see them as a great example of how cloud communications is evolving - and that's a good thing.

There's a lot to consider here, and I explored this a bit further in an article that was posted this morning on the UC Strategies portal. If this space is of interest, I'd love it if you gave this a read and then to share your thoughts.

Google Acquires Global IP Solutions!

This may not be news to you by now, but for the record, Global IP Solutions is being acquired by Google for $68.2 million. I got wind of this first from here, courtesy of GIPS's on-the-ball PR agency, HighTech PR.

The deal isn't that large, but it sure is a big story in the voice business. GIPS is truly a pioneer, and have long been the standard for IP voice and video codecs. Their roots go back to Skype's beginnings, and it's not all friendly. The main implication is that Google adds a really important piece to their voice portfolio, and by extension, takes GIPS out of the market for their competitors. If any of the IM/Web portals can truly take a run at Skype, it's Google, and that storyline just got stronger today.

There's a sidebar to this story that I just have to add. I've known about this since early this morning, and I Tweeted about it then. Not long after followed many Twitter posts from everyone else catching up on the news, and you don't have to look far to get a dozen or two reactions to the news.

I very much wanted to blog about this ASAP, but ironically, I'm presenting on webinar hosted by GIPS on Thursday, and we had to work through the draft early this morning. With the Google news, GIPS has had to alter their plans for the webinar, so things have been a bit hectic here, and I haven't had a chance to post until now.

The story has been Tweeted to death by now, and it really makes me wonder why we blog sometimes! Blogging definitely has its place, and many of my Tweets simply point back to my posts here, where I can actually write some thoughts beyond 140 characters. Anyhow, when it comes to news that you want to talk about, blogging now seems so painfully slow compared to the near immediacy of Twitter. I'm sure I'm not alone among bloggers who are struggling to figure out when and how best to use each tool. Never a dull moment....

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mobile VoIP ARPU Solutions Webinar - May 20

Just a quick shout-out about our webinar this week. It's being sponsored by GIPS - Global IP Soluions - and I'll be presenting along with Media5.

It's a hot topic, and should be of interest to any mobile operator or developer with big ideas about how to drive revenues with mobile VoIP. In short, the webinar is this Thursday from 1 - 2pm EST, and you can get all the details here. Hope you can join us.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Shaw Communications - Getting Convergence Right

Earlier this week, I was on BNN TV talking about Shaw Communications and their pending acquisition of CanWest. Add to this their planned entry in to the mobile market, and Shaw is anything but a regional cable operator.

The more I thought about this, the more threads I saw related to the broader service provider landscape. Convergence has had more misses than hits, but with Shaw, I think the stars are lining up in their favor. I've explored these themes a bit further in my current Service Provider Views column on TMCnet. There's certainly a lot more to talk about, and I just might do that in future columns. For now, though, I'll leave you with this column, which is running now on their website. I'm all ears for some dialog around this, so please chime in if you like.

Thursday, May 13, 2010 Launch Coming Next Week

There are many industry portals out there, some of which I've been supporting for a while. is one of these, and I've been working with them for a few months now. Their site has been in beta mode until recently, and the current iteration is pretty much market-ready.

I'm posting now to help get the word out that their public launch will be next week. Part of this includes a launch party, which I'd love to attend, but it's just not practical for me to go to San Francisco right now.

I've recently become a Focus Adviser, so I'm fairly active in contributing content as well as supporting their online community. The portal really is a bottomless pit of insight from very engaged people across the full spectrum. While there is the odd vendor pitch amidst the commentary, the caliber of content is very high, and you can come away learning something on just about any aspect of IT or communications. If you haven't visited the portal, you really should do so, and it's a very safe bet to say that once you do, you be back often.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shaw Communications - More Canadian Wireless Disruption

I've written about the Canadian wireless market a fair bit, and the plot continues to thicken. The latest twist comes from Shaw Communications, the major cable operator serving Western Canada.

They have held off - wisely, in my view - coming to market with a wireless offering, following their spectrum acquisition from last year's AWS auction. The move is on now, though, and it comes during an interesting time in that they just made a $2 billion deal to acquire CanWest, one of our largest broadcast networks. If this sounds like another dreamy convergence play, you might be right - but I don't think so.

Lots of great story lines here, and I'll be writing more extensively about it this week. Until then, though, you can get visual version of these events from a television interview I did this morning on BNN TV - Business Network News. You can view the clip here during the next few days. It only runs on their site a short while, and if you miss it, I'll have an archived version shortly.

Friday, May 7, 2010

M5 - This is What Your Business Sounds Like

Last night I attended M5's 10th anniversary event. Very nicely done, and it was great to see such a strong turnout, especially among their customer base. The event had a very local feel, since M5 is based in NYC, as are many of their customers. CEO Dan Hoffman gave a stong presentation that covered all the bases. He talked about where the company has come from over their history, and how their vision hasn't changed. They had a nice video segment where various employees talked about their favorite customers, and it's clear they have a pretty loyal base on both fronts.

Dan also tied in the event to launch of their next phase of development. He had an iPad on display along with one of their standard Cisco IP phones, which is reference to their recent VoIP integration news with the iPad.

What really stood out for me in his presentation was M5's focus on voice, and how it's still so central to everyday business activities. When the company started, one of the disconnects he saw was how dis-integrated phone systems were to everything else at work. Phone systems were just too clunky, costly and inflexible for such an important function. He made a pretty strong case for the quality and flexibility that comes with hosted VoIP, and summed it up nicely by saying "this is what your business sounds like".

Being customer-centric is a big part of M5's success, and his point is when you put yourself in your customer's shoes, it's not hard to see - or hear - how the limitations of a legacy phone system can reflect poorly on how the outside world perceives your business. His examples showed how the intelligence that VoIP brings by tying in with business applications makes for a more productive and professional end user experience.

One that I particularly liked was the way you can set up new voice greetings on the fly that reflect near real-time situations. The Iceland volcano was used as an example, where callers would have a prompt option for those whose plans had been disrupted by this event. The key here is that businesses can now be very responsive to changing situations, and easily incorporate that into the front door of their business. Simply put, your business sounds much better to customers when your voice prompts refect their reality, and you can solve their problems first time around.

Dan spent a fait bit of time talking about their next iteration of hosted VoIP, which is more applications-centric and customer-centric. He's not calling it Unified Communications - which is fine, since M5 is still mostly about voice and telephony - but he's taking the hosted VoIP concept a bit further by making it more integral with other business applications.

I'm certainly a big fan of UC, but it's clear to me there's still a pretty large segment of the market - especially SMBs - who rely primarily on voice, and simply want a better way to do telephony. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, and with milestones like 10 years and 1,000+ customers, M5 must be doing something right, and I'm glad I could be there to see this first hand. Congrats, Dan and company on ten-oh, and just like making your first million is the hardest, I've got a feeling they're going to see the hockey stick ramp-up rate in the next few years.

Dan Hoffman

Literally, how cool is this? At the vodka bar, a Cisco phone embedded in ice.

The M5 house band - love it - these guys were great.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

M5's Turning 10

M5 Networks is a company I've followed for a long time, and their CEO, Dan Hoffman has been there since I started covering VoIP in 2001. They've been a pioneer in the SMB hosted VoIP space, and have been at the head of the pack ever since. M5 understands this space as well as anybody, and they've done a great job creating a locally-based model - New York City - and replicating coverage across the U.S., with well over 900 customers to date.

I'm writing about them because M5 is turning 10 now, and that's a pretty big number in our space. Most of the companies we think about as leaders today didn't exist back then, or were not that active in VoIP. Many, many others have come and gone, but M5 is going as strong as ever. I'll be attending their anniversary event on Thursday in NYC, and am really looking forward to sharing the experience and re-connecting with Dan. Photos and postings to come.