SkySwitch Announces Integration with ConnectWise Manage

TAMPA, FLA.  JUNE 13, 2019

This new Invent certified integration provides MSPs and VARs with streamlined UCaaS client management.

SkySwitch, provider of the ultimate white label platform for hosted telecom resellers, has officially announced the launch of their integration with ConnectWise, a software company that connects teams with the platform and solutions that deliver technology as a service to the world. The integration with ConnectWise Manage will simplify UCaaS client management for users by offering a suite of productivity-boosting features. The core benefits of the integration are positioned around two major components: the SkySwitch pod and the embedded SkySwitch Reseller dashboard.

The SkySwitch pod, which can be arranged on any company or customer page within ConnectWise Manage, updates in real-time with vital statistics. These statistics include information such as users, registered devices, phone numbers, calls and minutes of use, giving ConnectWise users a thorough run-down of their UCaaS clients at a glance.

In addition, ConnectWise users will have the ability to access and utilize the SkySwitch Reseller dashboard without ever needing to leave the ConnectWise environment. Once the integration is installed, the SkySwitch Reseller dashboard will be embedded in a SkySwitch-dedicated tab in ConnectWise Manage.

SkySwitch chose to implement the ConnectWise integration in response to demand from its resellers. The features included in the initial release were based on feedback from a questionnaire that asked Resellers what they would like to see in a future integration with ConnectWise.

After giving questionnaire participants an early view of the integration one respondent, Bob Savage, President of Savage Consulting, said, “I have never had another vendor work so hard to please its clients.”

“ConnectWise is delighted that SkySwitch has joined our great group of integrators,” said Travis Vigneau, Director of Solution Partner Strategy at ConnectWise. “Adding SkySwitch to the ConnectWise Marketplace and the Invent program represents business growth opportunities for many MSPs and VARs.”

According to the SkySwitch President and Founder, Eric Hernaez, “As the leading PSA platform, ConnectWise enables MSPs around the world to manage and automate their business. Demand for white label UCaaS service is growing rapidly among MSPs, as they discover that selling UCaaS can be a very profitable addition to their existing practice. Partnering with ConnectWise through their Invent program was an obvious way to satisfy the SkySwitch resellers that rely on ConnectWise today, as well as a way to reach other MSPs through the ConnectWise Marketplace.”

To learn more about SkySwitch you can visit the ConnectWise Marketplace. In the coming months, SkySwitch plans to release enhancements, such as synchronization with ConnectWise agreements and support for billing with telecom taxation.

About SkySwitch 
SkySwitch (http://www.skyswitch.com) is a US-based, next-generation communications platform provider. SkySwitch delivers a comprehensive white label communication service and back office support to our resellers. This enables our resellers – communication, telecom, IT service providers – to offer a branded, cloud-based, Hosted PBX Service and unified communications and collaboration services (UCCaaS) to their subscribers without the requirement to invest in or manage the platform from which the service is offered. The SkySwitch platform includes not only the infrastructure to deliver feature-rich voice, video, text and fax communications, but also all operational and business support systems necessary for a reseller to experience rapid growth and profitability. This includes billing, carrier services, DID porting services, and regulatory compliance.

About ConnectWise 
ConnectWise is a software company that connects teams with the platform and solutions that deliver technology as a service to the world. Our award-winning business management platform automates the full lifecycle of technology service delivery, from sales and service to project tracking and back-office functions, for more than 25,000 partners in more than 65 countries. We believe in an open ecosystem, the power of choice, and providing a single pane of glass view. With more than 35 years of experience, ConnectWise delivers the software solutions and support companies want at each step of their business journey. For more information, visit ConnectWise.com.

Interested in Attending Vectors 2019? Use Our Justification Toolkit to Get Approval

If you’re interested in attending Vectors 2019 but feel uncertain about how to make a strong case to your supervisor, we’ve just made that easier for you. Below, you’ll find our Justification Toolkit, which provides you with everything you need to justify your case for attending this year’s highly anticipated conference. Registration is now live and early-bird pricing is good until August 15th, 2019.

You can download the PDF here for easy viewing at your convenience.


 

 

 

SkySwitch Business SMS Is Now Integrated With Rocket.Chat

SkySwitch has integrated Business SMS services with Rocket.Chat, a leading open-source web chat application.

Business SMS is a huge differentiator for resellers in the UCaaS industry—which is why we’ve written so much about how it will soon trump email and become a necessary component to any organizations’ communication strategy.

This upward trend we’ve predicted has pushed our team’s initiatives to create more Business SMS usability options. As a result, our latest tech development is the integration of Rocket.Chat for SkySwitch Business SMS.

Why Integrate Business SMS With Rocket.Chat?

The demand for real-time online collaboration is increasing at a rapid rate, just as much as the demand for Business SMS. Many companies already utilize a form of web chat, whether it be Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Workplace by Facebook, or of course, Rocket.Chat. Being able to send business text messages directly through a familiar, intuitive interface is a fantastic feature.

 

Rocket.Chat is an open-source application that offers greater customization and security options than their top competitors. Since it’s open-source, users can download the software and run it on their own server, putting them in control of where chat data is stored. The greater autonomy of security settings, roles and permissions make Rocket.Chat a prime interface to integrate Business SMS with (especially if the SMS data exchanged between the business and consumer is sensitive).

How Does the Rocket.Chat Integration Work?

In order to utilize this new integration, the user must have a Rocket.Chat domain. From there, SkySwitch resellers will configure the end user’s Rocket.Chat application, which is detailed in the instructions provided by SkySwitch. The configuration process includes obtaining a Rocket.Chat authorization token, creating an incoming and outgoing webhook and configuring ReachUC SMS routing.

 

Once configured, end users will be able to send and receive text messages within a designated channel on Rocket.Chat.

 

 

How to Effectively Position This Integration In the Sales Process

For your customers that already use Rocket.Chat, it’s a given that the convenience of utilizing SMS through the same interface they use every day is a plus. However, how do you pitch the benefits of this integration to a customer who isn’t a current user?

 

One major advantage we’d like to highlight is that the Rocket.Chat integration allows an entire team to easily collaborate in real-time on a conversation. The ability to collaborate in this fashion creates the potential to drastically increase efficiency.

 

For example, let’s say your client is using SMS as a customer support option. When the customer support team receives an SMS through Rocket.Chat, the entire team has visibility to that message. So, if an employee assigned to a customer support ticket needs to step out, or cannot resolve an issue on their own, another employee can jump into the conversation with full visibility of all previous messages in that SMS thread. This cuts down on wait time, elevating the reputation of your client’s business.

 

The SkySwitch team plans to continue developing more SMS options within Rocket.Chat, as well as integrating with other systems, so make sure to stay tuned for updates.

SkySwitch to Exhibit at Channel Partners 2019

Channel Partners is one of the largest channel events for agents, MSPs, VARs, consultants, integrators and service providers. And this year, you can expect to find SkySwitch there.

Taking place from April 9th to April 12th at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, this conference provides a space for attendees to network with over 6,200 channel pros, learn from the best in business and explore the hottest innovations.

 

SkySwitch will be exhibiting for 3 days at the Expo Hall, where you can meet with some of our team and learn more about our leading-edge solutions in the UCaaS industry. We are excited to learn more about you and would be happy to talk about how our solutions may be advantageous for your business. (Like our rich Business SMS services complete with an intelligent keyword responder to our top-tier huddle rooms that showcase the best in telepresence technology.)

 

If you’d like to schedule a personal one-on-one meeting while you’re at Channel Partners, Jayson Jones, VP of Sales and Business Development, and Sean Breeden, Northeast Regional Sales Manager, will both be available. If you’d like dedicated time with one of our staff, make sure to request a meeting time as soon as possible.

 

 

 

SkySwitch Resellers Should Capitalize on Nomorobo—Here’s How and Why

If there’s one thing everyone can agree that needs to go away ASAP, it’s robocalls. This is a widely discussed issue that Eric Hernaez, Founder and President of SkySwitch, has addressed at a recent panel discussion at IT Expo 2019. Audience members at that panel asked about solutions for robocalls because they are simply becoming out of control—not only on personal cell phones, but even at the workplace.

 

In fact, according to an article by USA Today, Americans received 3.36 billion robocalls in April of 2018 alone. This equates to 1,297 robocalls every second. And if you look at the numbers, the amount of robocalls continue to climb. Not to mention, robocallers have gotten even smarter.

 

Nowadays, robocallers use “neighbor spoofing” technology, where they will use a local area code to encourage recipients to answer. Other than being a huge nuisance, the amount of money that fraudulent unwanted robocalls cost consumers is even more staggering. The Federal Trade Commission estimates this amount to be $9.95 billion annually.

 

What You Can Do to Take Action Against Robocalls Now

In a press release distributed in October of 2018, SkySwitch announced integration with Nomorobo, a spam filtering service. As stated in the release, Aaron Foss, Founder of Nomorobo, said, “While many residential landline telephone providers have implemented robocall blocking recently, this feature is not usually offered on business telephone systems. But we all know that businesses are not immune to robocalls, and we are very excited to see SkySwitch offer Nomorobo to its network of UCaaS providers.”

 

Robocall protection for workplaces isn’t yet very common—in fact, during the panel discussion aforementioned at IT Expo 2019, the audience members expressed that while they were familiar with solutions for personal use, they were interested in learning about what offerings white label UCaaS providers had for this problem.

 

At the panel discussion, Eric Hernaez explained that at this time, Nomorobo is the best way to combat robocalls and that SkySwitch is a provider that is integrated with their service.

 

How Does Nomorobo Work?

So first, let’s address why SkySwitch chose to integrate with Nomorobo. Nomorobo is a top-leading solution that has, to date, stopped over 900 million robocalls. And, their service has received the recognition of being the FTC Robocall Challenge winner as well as receiving the PCMag’s Editor Choice award.

 

At the enterprise level, Nomorobo offers a specialized data service that allows telecom network operators to identify a potential robocall before it rings the end user’s phone. Since SkySwitch is integrated with Nomorobo, SkySwitch is able to alert business telephone users that a call is potentially from a telemarketer and then let them choose how to handle it. The system can be configured to answer the call, send it to voicemail or just hang-up without disrupting users.

 

As explained in an article about Nomorobo by PCMag, not many carriers have integrated with Nomorobo, which means that many end users interested in using Nomorobo may not be able to take advantage of the service. This is why SkySwitch resellers should take full advantage of the Nomorobo integration.

Resolutions in the Pipeline for Robocalls

While we’re on the topic of robocalls, we can’t leave out the big-picture solutions that are in the works, such as a new senate bill that would hit robocallers with a $10,000 fine per call.

 

The proposed solution that has really stirred a lot of excitement is STIR/SHAKEN. In theory, this method would essentially require that every phone have a certificate of authenticity attached to it. A policy administrator overseen by the FCC would be in charge of handing out the certificates.

 

So, as NYMag sums up in simple terms how STIR/SHAKEN would work: if a user places an outbound phone call, the call would contain a certificate that verifies that the actual phone number lines up with the phone number it claims to be. Then, the phone call would be passed to the incoming carrier that is responsible for verifying the certificate’s public key against an encrypted private key.

 

While the authentication process sounds like a great idea, there are a few caveats to it:

  1. This method will only work in the U.S. as it’s currently envisioned today.
  2. STIR/SHAKEN will most likely add overhead to phone companies.
  3. Most importantly, the method has largely been in a testing phase with multiple unknown variables about how it would actually work in the real world. There’s no sure say in when, or even if, the solution will come into fruition.

How to Leverage Nomorobo’s Brand Recognition for Robocalls

It’s clear that for the time being, Nomorobo is the best solution available. If you’re a SkySwitch reseller, we recommend that you leverage the existing brand recognition of Nomorobo. It’s a top leader in the industry, so it works to any reseller’s advantage to proudly display the Nomorobo name rather than renaming or rephrasing it into something generic, like “spam filtering service”.

 

Consider adding a blurb about Nomorobo integration to your website’s services or features section and emphasize the mark that Nomorobo has made in the quest of stopping robocalls. Robocalls are a universal nuisance and chances are your customers have heard about Nomorobo.

 

Brand recognition is huge for developing trust with a potential client. By establishing that level of trust, it becomes easier to incite a prospect’s interest to listen in on all the benefits of switching to VoIP, and more specifically, switching to you as their VoIP provider.

RCS Is the Advanced Evolution of SMS and SkySwitch Plans to Support It

What is RCS?

Rich Communication Services (RCS) is the next-generation replacement for SMS. RCS offers upgraded features that users have come to expect, like higher-resolution images and video, Wi-Fi messaging, typing indicators, read-receipts and better group chats.

 

SMS has been around since the 90s and hasn’t reached the capabilities other third-party messaging services (like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger) utilize. And although those third-party applications have greater capabilities, communication is still problematic because these third-party applications are not as universal as SMS. This means users are hunting down the best way to communicate with friends and installing multiple applications.

 

Instead of chasing down new applications to communicate with friends and family, RCS flips the script by creating a new golden standard that works with your existing phone number. RCS is a solution that takes traditional voice and SMS, and enhances these functions across devices on any network to enable new, richer communication experiences.

 

Related Blog Post: IT Expo 2019 Recap: Building a Next-Gen Carrier

What Are the Major Benefits of RCS?

In addition to text-messaging, RCS makes it easy to send GIFs, high-resolution photos and videos, view typing in real-time, display when users have joined a group chat and send out read-receipts – similar to how iMessage operates.

 

But, it doesn’t stop there. RCS will make it easier for businesses to interact with customers and provide an intuitive user experience.

 

For example, let’s say you’re texting a friend about where to meet in the afternoon. You send over a business page link of Sally’s Cafe to let them know that’s where everyone is meeting. With RCS, businesses have a new way to encourage customers to engage with their websites. RCS will create helpful auto-populated suggestions that pertain to the business. So, after you send a link to a business page, like Sally’s Cafe, suggestions will appear for viewing the menu, ordering your meal online or getting directions.

 

Watch the trailer below to see how it works in action:

 

RCS elevates the user-experience, but it’s also an incredibly advantageous tool for businesses. RCS gives businesses the ability to provide a more intuitive, personalized experience for their customers by being able to insert their branding, rich media messages, suggested replies and more into their customers’ everyday messaging app.

 

Which Carriers Are Supporting RCS?

RCS has experienced a lot of buzz lately. There’s certainly a lot of potential to transform the way we communicate and right now, we’re just touching on the surface on what RCS can do.

 

Google has recently announced it’s roll-out of RCS Chat on the Google Fi network. Sprint, US Cellular and Verizon also support RCS, and other carriers that offer limited support at the time include T-Mobile and AT&T.

 

Staying up to date on the latest in tech, SkySwitch is working to support RCS as an integrated feature of its Business SMS (soon to be called Business Messaging services).  Keep an eye open for more on this topic.

What is Geo-Redundancy and Why Is It so Important in UCaaS?

Downtime—it’s the big, ugly word that no MSP or telecom reseller wants to hear. When you’re operating in the UCaaS industry, downtime should be measured in seconds because every minute of downtime will threaten the success of your business.

 

To prevent this, a strong geo-redundant network is essential. However, when you’re out comparing different UCaaS providers, you’ll quickly realize that most say they have a geo-redundant network when in reality, their network doesn’t provide a true solution for failover and customers still see hours of downtime. Sometimes this downtime can even extend in day-long periods. Watch the video below to hear how Dan Napolitano, CEO at Highbridge Communications, experienced multiple outages with a provider and was left in the dark.

 

If you’re ready to learn about geo-redundancy and how to determine whether a provider actually has a strong geo-redundant network, read on.

What is Geo-Redundancy?

As a UCaaS provider, data and service that is always available is essential to maintaining and increasing your clientele. Geo-redundancy refers to the physical separation of data centers that span multiple geographic locations.

The reasoning behind building out a large, geographical network, is that it provides resiliency against natural disasters, catastrophic events or glitches that cause network outages. By physically separating servers in geographically diverse data centers, you can ensure that even if one center goes down, data and service can failover and utilize another operational data center.

Not All Geo-Redundant Networks Are Created Equal

Just because a provider says that they have a geo-redundant network, it doesn’t mean that their system is actually built to minimize downtime as promised.

There are two main, commonly used strategies for geo-redundant networks: distributed systems and hot standbys.

Related Blog Post: UCaaS Redundancy: Active-Active vs. Active-Spare

Redundant Hot Standby Method

If you’re questioning your provider about how the redundancy of their platform works and you realize that they’re utilizing a hot standby method, you probably want to consider other providers. This is because the hot standby method isn’t ideal for true geo-redundancy.  

Carriers that implement a hot standby method begin by selecting a Switch and then implement that into a Data Center. In order to ensure backup of data in case of a natural disaster or accident, call traffic is redirected to a backup system – in this instance, the backup system is known as a Hot Standby. The Host Standby is an exact copy of the original softswitch.


The next detail really tells all. If the carrier is taking a proactive approach, that hot standby will be installed in a second datacenter. However, most carriers do not, resulting in a single point of failure if that data center goes down. So that means if the interconnect goes down, the connection to the data center is disabled and boots customers offline.

Geo-Redundant Distributed Systems Method

The distributed systems method tackles the core issue of the hot standby method by implementing multiple data centers that simultaneously run with the same functionality. So in the same scenario, if a user’s primary data center goes down, the service that is normally tied to that center will connect to a secondary data center.

For example, with SkySwitch’s geo-redundant network, any phone can utilize service from any of our three data centers. All SIP clients are provisioned with a primary and secondary data center (although all SIP clients can actually utilize the third data center if needed – nothing prohibits that).

If you dig deeper into how we’ve built redundancy into our platform, you’ll see that there are multiple power supplies, diverse IP connectivities and diverse geo-location – all to ensure that you have leading-class service uptime.

If you’d like to learn more about the physical and software architecture we’ve built into our platform, watch the video below that concisely encapsulates why SkySwitch resellers all back up our 99.99% uptime guarantee:

Branded Store Portals For SkySwitch Resellers Will Be Rolling Out Soon

User-experience is going to be a huge driver in what separates successful resellers from those falling behind (as we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts). This is why the SkySwitch team has been working hard to roll out a branded store portal. This portal can be customized to fit your company’s needs and directs your end users to buy pre-provisioned phones.

Branded Store Portals Speeds Up the Ordering Process

Instead of receiving order requests from your customers and then placing the order yourself through the SkySwitch store, we’ve eliminated a step in the process. With the branded store portals, it will be possible to let your end users purchase phones directly, with their own credit cards, from the SkySwitch store through a portal that is branded for you. These purchased items will also be able to be configured by the end user, meaning that the MAC address of the device can be linked to the PBX extension in the PBX.

The Branded Store Portals Give Control to SkySwitch Resellers

This new branded store portal helps cut down a step in the ordering process, but it also means that as a SkySwitch reseller, you now have more control. You can decide what devices are available from your branded store, the selling price of devices offered and you can create discount codes for your branded store portal. If you decide to mark up the prices of items in your branded store portal, any amount in excess of the published price from SkySwitch will be paid to you.

How Each Transaction Through the Branded Store Portal Works

From a logistics standpoint, devices that end users purchase through the branded store portal will be fulfilled by one of our distribution partners (888VoiP, Jenne or Teledynamics). The purchases made will appear on the end user’s credit card statement with “PAYG” as the merchant. Since the purchases are technically made between the end-user and SkySwitch, SkySwitch will be responsible for sales tax on all purchases made through the branded store portals.

When SkySwitch Resellers Can Expect the GA Release

We had 20 resellers complete a beta trial of this new feature and are making developments based on the feedback we received.  Updates and taxation processes are currently in the works and we anticipate an official announcement for the general audience release of the branded store portals in March this year.

On the Roadmap

We have a lot of new and exciting development on features roadmap, including the ability for your end users to select and buy a DID, and even the ability to purchase new PBX extensions. Keep posted for new developments coming soon.

Huddle Room Demand Is Growing in 2019 and This is Why

The modern workplace is shifting and we are seeing increased demand for room-designated video conferencing systems. Understanding the key drivers and best practices of huddle rooms ensures your reputation as the knowledgeable, trusted advisor in cloud communications.

What Are Huddle Rooms?

Huddle rooms are small meeting spaces and conference areas that can accommodate several people. They are equipped with audio and video to become transformed into informal spaces that support interaction, ideation, and ultimately, agile collaboration.

large huddle room deployment

One of the major aspects of huddle room collaboration that differentiates it is the all-in-one, plug-and-play, easy-to-use interface. Successful huddle rooms are set up once and then always at the ready to start a meeting with the features of robust audio, intuitive content sharing, engaging video conferencing, interactive whiteboards and more.

Why Should VARs and MSPs Sell Huddle Rooms?

There’s no doubt that business owners are searching for collaborative workplace solutions this year in 2019. From workplace mobilization to work-from-home days becoming a common employee benefit, the modern office is anything but stationary.

And if you dive deeper into specific industries, you’ll discover that video conferencing deployment is becoming much more common across the board. Video conferencing has been used in public schools to keep at-risk students from dropping out and in the healthcare industry, where staff like doctors and nurses are always mobile, yet still, have a need for telepresence technology.

This means that business owners across a multitude of industries are shopping for real-time, collaborative solutions. Offering those cutting-edge features in addition to standard technology services will set you apart as the strongest fit with a streamlined solution.

How Huddle Rooms Play a Key Role in Video Conferencing 

Telepresence is huge for 2019 and by offering a huddle room appliance in your product suite, you are sure to pique interest. In fact, according to a Visual Communications and Collaboration Research Study, by the end of 2019 we can expect to see:

  • 35.8% of organizations increase large-room deployments
  • 29.4% of organizations add mid-size rooms
  • 25.9% of organizations add small rooms

A few of the key drivers (and great selling points) towards the increased demand for huddle rooms include:

  • External office meetings are easier to set up with simple scheduling, Outlook integration and superior performance. This is especially useful for remote teams that cannot physically meet at the same location.
  • Video conferencing can help provide transparency between teams and aid in making important decisions happen faster. A study by Frost & Sullivan reports that 86% of employees agree that video conferencing accelerates decision making.
  • Overall collaboration across teams, offices and external organizations/business partners becomes streamlined.
  • Video conferencing can help reduce travel expenses while simultaneously speeding up decision making
  • For teams spread out throughout the nation (or even internationally), training is more effective for new hires.

Choosing the Right Huddle Room Hardware

In order for a huddle room to deliver its fullest potential, users need to first choose the right video conferencing hardware for their needs.

As far as hardware goes, our Meeting Manager Huddle Room Solution (HRS) is great for creating an immersive experience. The HRS works in conjunction with a SIP conference phone registered to the PBX and through our Meeting Manager Client software. Other pieces of equipment needed include a webcam, wireless keyboard and television of your client’s choice.

Our team at SkySwitch has personally tested the following components and can recommend:

  • 1080p LCD display (up to two can be connected)
  • Logitech C930e 1080P HD Video Webcam
  • Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Touch TV Keyboard
  • Yealink CP960 Conference Phone

To learn more about how your business can benefit from adding huddle rooms to your product lineup, contact a SkySwitch sales representative for a demo.

IT Expo 2019 Recap: Building a Next-Gen Carrier

I attended IT Expo this year, and while I was there, I was able to sit in on the panel discussion DIY: Building a Next-Gen Carrier. SkySwitch’s Founder and President, Eric Hernaez, was a panelist in this discussion that brought to light interesting things carriers are currently doing, what we can expect to see in the future and what differentiates a successful carrier from one that isn’t.

 

The moderator of the panel was Peter Radizeski, President of RAD-INFO, and the other panelists speaking that day included McClain Roth, Director of Sales at Telnyx, Tom Phelan, CTO & VP of Technology at Unified Office, and Jason Byrne, VP of Product and Marketing at netsapiens.

 

Key Takeaways From the Discussion

Although only 45-minutes, the discussion was packed with valuable insights that I’d like to relay back to you. Here is a brief overview with my key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Automating the porting experience is huge and thought to become an increasingly powerful tool for MSPs to grow their business.
  • Voice control is something we need to embrace, primarily because there’s great prioritization in user experience. Carriers will win based on an overall user and customer experience they provide, which centers around functions that enhance ease of use, like voice control and zero-touch provisioning.
  • Robocalling is a huge issue and security concerns will drive innovation towards finding a better solution. The best solutions for enterprise at the time are databases and services like Nomorobo.
  • Service delivery will separate the successful and unsuccessful UCaaS providers. This doesn’t just apply to initial tasks like porting, but also in clear communication about next steps, discussions with users about features and more.
  • Tying different systems together with APIs and automation are the biggest trends we’ll see with leading carriers.
  • On the topic of phone numbers, we are seeing a slow, gradual shift away from it and instead, towards other unique identifiers.

 

What Are Carriers Doing Now That’s Cool?

Radizeski opened the discussion with this question.

 

McClain Roth said, “I think one of the things that carriers are doing right now, which is pretty cool and sexy, is finding ways to turn the porting experience into its own digitized, automated process that you can kinda off-load onto your customers. Actually giving your customers the ability to upload their own invoices, upload their own LOAs, activate their own ports, trigger their own activations. I think that is something that as we get a little better, especially with some of the new regulations around local number portability becoming national number portability, is gonna get more and more powerful for MSPs to grow their businesses and avoid what is usually the biggest pain point in growing revenue.”

 

He explained that bringing in new numbers is at the core of growing your business revenue, which inevitably means going through porting. By automating the process, it doesn’t just make life easier for the carrier, but it also enhances the end user’s experience.

 

Eric Hernaez answered the question by speaking about APIs being huge when it comes to the next generation of carrier. Hernaez said, “You really have to look at Twilio, who has a lot of momentum and a lot of buzz about what they’re doing as sort of the next-generation of carrier. It’s all about APIs, being able to tie different systems together and pretty much automating all the things that used to have to be manual processes. So, that’s happening and we see almost every carrier to varying levels of success or degree going down that same road.”

 

Tom Phelan agreed with looking to Twilio as being a big player. He added, “I think there’s a big shift towards workstream collaboration, like file-sharing, conferencing, contact center…there’s a shift towards additional feature sets – just to touch on the Twilio aspect. Applications are coming on strong and 5G is coming. That’s going to enable them and start to drive a lot more innovation in our space, away from this traditional phone service that we know.”

 

It’s All About Building a Better User-Experience

Peter Radizeski moved forward with how other products and services, like Amazon Alexa and Workplace by Facebook, are becoming increasingly popular. He posed the question of how this increased popularity might affect how carriers operate in their own space – especially since these new services are tremendously user-friendly and have the advantage of familiarity most users are already accustomed to (ie Facebook).   

 

In response, McClain Roth said, “I think one of the things that carriers are doing, and to Eric’s point, what Twilio kind of brought to the forefront is being more than just the transit layer or the IP layer, and trying to actually get into this application layer.”

 

Adding onto that point, Eric Hernaez said, “As APIs become more prevalent, anybody could be able to create an Alexa app that interacts with the phone system. At SkySwitch, we created an Alexa app two years ago that lets customers of our resellers place a phone call using their PBX account. And I’ve seen that many times since then with other carriers. But even beyond that, things like checking your bill or the status of your account…it’s starting to happen on the user-interface side when you’re talking about carriers that deal with end users.”

User-Adoption is a Hurdle We Face With UX Innovation

There was a lot of talk about innovation, and of course, this means there are inevitable hurdles to be faced. Radizeski brought up the difficulties that arise with user adoption. Whether it’s not getting proper training or feeling upset about having to relearn new processes, getting end users to the point of becoming familiar with and actually adopting new technology can be a struggle.

 

For example, Business SMS is huge and it’s been proven that the majority of consumers (those with, statistically, the greatest buying power), prefer this method of communication. Some businesses are hesitant to onboard this technology into their own marketing and communications strategy. This isn’t an issue of how readily available or attainable this technology is, but rather, how open users are to adopting these new methods.

 

There isn’t a clear-cut answer for this issue, other than it simply takes time. Eric Hernaez explained, “It’s all a matter of somebody getting to critical mass.”

 

We May See a Shift in the Traditional Phone Number

While discussing the struggle towards user adoption, the topic of phone numbers shifting towards unique identifiers that are separate from the PSTN was brought up.

 

Although users prefer to pick out names in their contacts list, at the end of the day, the phone call process is still all about the phone number. Jason Byrne said that it’s all about the phone numbers (although he doesn’t know why it still is) and that’s where the carriers have the power right now.

 

McClain Roth chipped in and stated that it’s comical even though we could move away from phone numbers right now, there’s a huge challenge in getting there. He backed up his statement with observations of how modern society communicates, using Apple as an example. Everyone who has an iPhone now doesn’t actually communicate via text message, but instead, with iMessage. iMessage is conducted over the digital internet protocol, completely eliminating the carrier altogether. Now it’s iPhone that has the information about what and who users messaging – not the carrier.

 

And then, Eric Hernaez elaborated with an idea that truly encapsulates how the carrier landscape is changing. Hernaez said, “The intent of this session is, ‘What is a carrier?’ I would say that Apple’s a carrier. The fact that they can communicate completely apart from the PSTN but still allow people to achieve their goal – which is to talk to mom, sister, whoever – that is the next-generation carrier.”

 

He built on this point and said, “You don’t have to be part of the telephone network to make that happen. What you need is the eyeballs, right? You need the critical mass, you need enough people who want to use your network to communicate that way to make it happen. It’s happening with Facetime and iMessage, but it’s happening in other places too, like apps such as WhatsApp and Viber. Different communities around the world really rely on these things instead of sending SMS messages or making phone calls. So, again, once these communities reach a critical mass and people would rather do it that way than the old way, I think you’ll start to see the shift.”

One of the Most Hated Nuisances of the Year: Robocalling

Towards the end of the discussion, the audience had questions about Robocalling. It was expressed that robocalls are now reaching into offices at the workplace and are become totally unmanageable.

 

Eric Hernaez explained, “There is a technical proposal for verifying that whoever is calling owns that phone number – it’s called stir shaken- and how that makes it through into the real world is still unknown. Unfortunately, the best that there is right now are services like Nomorobo and other databases that will allow you to check a phone number. Much as the same way you can do a CNAM dip to find a caller’s name, it will look at the database and say ‘is this a robocall’, and then you can divert a call or do something different with it, like put spam on it.”

 

The audience was concerned about the options made available for enterprise, and Eric spoke about the solution that SkySwitch made available for the enterprise early this year.

 

And although services such as Nomorobo are the best solutions out there at this time, it was explained that this is not yet a complete solution. The downside to these services is that robocallers will pick a valid phone number, which as an example, could be a business two doors down from yours. But once that number gets blocked, that means the next time the actual business two doors down tries to call you, it will be identified as spam.

 

We don’t know how or when a real solution will be developed, but security concerns will certainly drive innovation in the field.

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