Voipfone - The Future Of Communication

Alive Part 2

dreamstime_xs_68313517This month’s blog is a little late because I’ve been away on holiday. This wouldn’t normally matter as Voipfone life continues no matter where I happen to be, such is the power of the intertubes, but I have been at sea which is one of the few places where the internet doesn’t reach without resorting to satellite technology.

But that really wasn’t the problem, I could have filed my copy before leaving or sent it from one of the many ports we docked in. No, the problem was I had nothing to say.

As it happens I still don’t, so if you’re still with me and busy, now might be a good place to click elsewhere on the world’s net. The problem is that VoIP, while 15 years ago was new, sexy and – god help us – disruptive – is now a mature technology and has become just telephony. In most ways this is good – business depend on reliable and low cost telephony – but in terms of being interesting, it now isn’t; it’s slipped back into being just business. Here at Voipfone our development efforts are still focused on producing new stuff but the major and radical things are now commonplace and increasingly our efforts are in robustness, security and growth. All very important but not the stuff of the front page.

In my last blog I talked about the industry trade event Channel Live, I thought it likely to be as tedious as the last and it was. If anything it was worse. When the experts – of which occasionally I’m supposed to be one – are called upon to speak to the delegates, they talk in acronyms, jargon and platitudes. I find it increasingly irritating and can’t even amuse myself playing buzzword bingo anymore. I’m now not even bothering to ask difficult questions of the so-called experts anymore, such as ‘where does the customer fit into all this?’ I have to make my own entertainment.

Luckily this year they moved Channel Live to Birmingham, which if you remember, I said may have been a risk but it seemed no less busy than London. However, the two most interesting things at the show was a fantastic Lamb raan I had at a ‘real’ Indian restaurant and GLEE.

GLEE is the gardening, landscape and something beginning with ‘e’ event, it was being held in the next hall to us at the NEC. In fact, it was spread over four halls and was at least 5 times bigger than the telco bash. I gleefully signed up for free entry as a potential wholesaler of telecommunications to the gardening industry and spent a happy few hours there. Even the giveaways are more interesting – my favourite was a packet of chocolate coloured chilli seeds which I’ll grow in my little greenhouse next year. I can also tell you that next year’s on-trend colours for garden decoration and furniture are primaries – reds, blues, yellows and greens and distinctive, line patterns. You heard it here first.

So what of telephony and VoIP? Zip, nada, nowt. Sorry.

Maybe the holiday will overwhelm my cynicism in time for next month’s blog, but don’t bank on it – one of the ‘expert’ speakers said from his important platform that companies that still made their own services were ‘so last century’. I got a wince and a questioning, pleading look from the chair but said nothing.

Our on-trend re-seller of other people’s vanilla services is now sat in a stuffy office, in a shiny dark suit (white shirt, no tie) working a spreadsheet and stressing about the next sale’s meeting, I’m on a damn big boat, in shorts sipping my second margarita looking out across the southern Atlantic pondering the next interesting thing for homemade, home grown telecommunications.

Any ideas, do get in touch.


channel live logoThe industry’s twice annual bash – Channel Live – held in the deep South and North of England is now an annual bash in the Midlands in September. This is either a sensible change or a bit of a disaster. The Southern event was by far the biggest and could attract day trippers while the Northern jaunt was smaller and cosier and required hotels for some of us. I suspect the Birmingham binge will require hotels for most now. We’ll see what happens but I suspect it’ll work.

The organisers tell us that:

“Channel Live is the UK’s only ICT trade specific conference, exhibition, thought leadership and networking event rolled into one. Only at Channel Live can Resellers, VARS and other Channel Partners openly discuss margin opportunities with vendors and solution providers.”

Which is a bit problematic as we’re not a re-seller of anything and don’t consciously do much thought leadership, whatever that is – we spend our time doing practical things like building our own telephony network. But I’m not there to discuss margin opportunities I’m there to support the Internet Telephony Service Providers’ Association, ITSPA, the industry trade body representing all VoIP companies. We have some talking slots and a small stand from where we’ll be handing out bottles of ITSPA beer – Internet Telephony Special Pale Ale, geddit?

We’re rounding up new members of course, and these events always more than pay back for us. Of course we have to disregard our own time and expenses – we man and woman the ITSPA stand as unpaid and un-expensed volunteers and we get sponsorship for the stand and beer. So I guess if they didn’t pay back we’d have to be totally incompetent – or just drunk.

But they’re also good events for meeting our suppliers and wholesalers and having a good chin wag about who’s doing what to whom. It’s always funny listening to the breathless presentations of this year’s new thing too, most of which we’re still waiting for since the first VoIP conferences of 12 years ago. This year no doubt it will be APIs (now called comms as a service, or some such nonsense) and AI.

If my headache is gone by the time it’s all over, I’ll put something on next month’s blog about it. But more probably not.

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