Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Metaswitch Forum 2012 - Photos and Quick Thoughts

Just have time for a quick post about Metaswitch Forum 2012. I was only there for 1 full day, and am now enroute to ITExpo in Austin, where I'll be speaking on a panel in a few hours.
Normally, I get to attend the entire Forum, and it's too bad, as this event is always solid from start to finish. It keeps getter bigger, which speaks well to their growing customer base, but more importantly, they do a great job sharing their vision and roadmap. This is one company that usually gets things right, and have built a strong portfolio that gives carriers a lot of flexibility in figuring out how to stay competitive.
This is particularly challenging for their core customer base, many of whom have not really lived in a competitive world until the past few years. Most are still migrating from TDM, so there are a lot of transitional issues that need to be addressed. It's important to note that Metaswitch also has leading edge customers, so there's a lot more going on here than helping RLECs and Tier 3 operators adopt VoIP.
A lot of my time is spent in the UC world, where collaboration, video, social media, tablets, etc. are part of the everyday conversation. There was hardly any reference to this at the Forum, but that's not to say these things aren't important. Metaswitch is focused more on infrastructure than applications, and by getting the foundation right, operators are in a much better position to make the big trends like cloud and mobility work in their favor.
That's one way to look at things, but the main theme this year is innovation - we're all in the Innovation Race to win customers and make money, but it's not about being the fastest. There were many clever analogies during the morning keynotes, and a key idea was that speed + direction = velocity. Simple but effective. Anyone can move quickly, but without a clear direction, who cares. What matters is having purpose - adding that to speed yields velocity, and that produces better and more sustainable results.
Another good discussion from Steve Gleave came around invention vs. innovation. It's easy to equate the two, but here's the difference. Invention is about using money to create ideas - which is fine - but innovation is about turning ideas into money - much better. With that in mind, Metaswitch has done a great job this year getting attendees stoked about the importance of innovation to give them a better future in a business that is not easy to make money in these days. Building on that, of course, their offerings provide the tools that support innovation and give carriers the confidence to try new things.
There's a lot more I could say, but not today - gotta get on a plane. I'll revisit the Forum again soon, but for now, will add a few photos from the morning sessions. All of these should be familiar to Metaswitch followers - except the last one. They had a very inspiring keynote speaker this year - U.S. Olympic decathalon winner, Ashton Eaton. Really impressive hearing his story about an ever changing training regimen and disappointments along the way, but finally resulting in his Gold Medal win in London. Great vibe in the room for celebrating USA, but equal kudos to Metaswitch's ever-so-British sensibilities to bring him to the Forum. He may not know an SBC from a media gateway, but Ashton sure knows about how innovation helps in the pursuit of excellence, and he's got the gold to prove it.

Steve Gleave, aka GleavieBoy - @gleavieboy
CEO John Lazar
Martin Taylor
Ashton Eaton - awesome!

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