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Right Place, Right Time, Right People, Right Platform: Real-Time Communications Has Changed For Good

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

David Walsh, President and Chief Executive Officer of GENBAND

Everything in the communications industry is changing – again.  Today, GENBAND is formally launching Kandy and after opening this powerful “Platform-as-a-Service” to a handful of our partners as part of an “early access” program, tonight we will be sharing their applications, which will prove to the world that communicating in real-time will never be the same. Those partners include massive companies like SAP, IBM and Tech Mahindra, as well as smaller start-up companies. Common among them are the attributes of vision, creativity and an understanding that how human beings and their machines communicate in real-time will be driven by a new ecosystem, and an API as well as APPs economy – and exchange.

I started in telecom over thirty years ago, in the financial markets, just as the Internet became much bigger than its ARPA roots, and just as IP communications was emerging and then bursting towards a massive disruption of traditional “telco.” As it turned out, I was working on Wall Street, building trading floors, immersed in some of the most complex and mission-critical communications systems on the planet. Exchanges were growing at a dramatic rate, as were alternative exchanges and new “Electronic Communication Networks.”

In the process of getting my job done back in the early 1990s, which was to support traders who wanted more and more of everything to be able to thrive during the “boom,” not only voice communications but market data, news, and collaboration and negotiation platforms, I figured out that with IP and voice “as data,” there was a simpler way to move information in real-time less expensively and more reliably. Turns out there were also more creative ways to connect people that the IP revolution opened up.

Around the time I wanted to continue building a new company, I started (IXnet) and took it public with another trading communications technology company we merged with (IPC), I met a very interesting fellow entrepreneur who started a company called MXnet – Paul Pluschkell. Long story short, we hit it off and shared a very similar vision, so my company acquired his company, and Paul led the “leading edge” initiative and created an incredibly powerful platform bringing the buy side, sell side, exchanges, news and market data companies together over a common IP platform called “Liquidity”. The name refers to the outcome traders and trading firms wanted – a liquid market where buying and selling could flow freely and fairly.

Paul’s vision was as radical as mine, and we took the company public in 1999, and sold it in 2000 to Global Crossing for nearly $4 billion.

Fast forward to this time last year, September 2013, when Paul sold yet another company he had started up, Spigit (now part of Mindjet) and appropriately Spigit was a software platform that brought people and teams together in Fortune 500 companies to draw out the best ideas through a “social” approach. When I learned Paul was a “free agent” again, it was clear that it was time for us to work together again. Not surprisingly, it took Paul about a New York minute to grasp GENBAND’s vision including the recent acquisition of fring we had announced a few weeks earlier.

In January, Paul came on board and this evening he and his team, who have been working night and day with the rest of the GENBAND team, will formally launch Kandy – not just a Platform-as-a-Service, but an Outcome-as-a-Service platform.

Why Focus on Outcomes?

With a continuing deluge of possibilities, oceans of content, multiple channels for communicating with others – what is the next frontier in our “software everywhere” communications industry?

It all comes down to context: and being at the right place, at the right time, with the right people, and a righteous platform.

Let’s think about this from the vantage points of different participants in a retail scenario:

  • For consumers, imagine they are in a shopping mall, with many choices, looking for the best deals on the products they seek; when they subscribe to an aggregated deal application, that senses they are in that mall, they benefit when those opt-in offers appear on their smartphone, along with a code, ensuring they are getting the best deal – right then and there – without having to wait for even that overnight Amazon delivery. If they have a question, the consumer can bring in a friend or spouse, get their opinion on the right size, shape, color, style – get a thumbs up on the deal, and make the purchase.
  • For retailers, imagine they are competing fiercely for consumer dollars, and unable to discount as deeply as Amazon, thus need to compete on service. It’s expensive to keep experts in each location, but they can offer virtual shopping assistants to help answer questions on high-ticket items, and if the item is not in stock, can arrange for a delivery or next-day shipment. Throughout this process, the retailer is not only pleasing their customer with “personal service” but also gathering important, privatized information which can be used to analyze trends and continually groom their offerings to ensure happy customers and a better bottom line.
  • For independent software vendors, imagine being able to drop in a real-time concierge, for example, to an existing application for a famous brand; so, for example, Samsung can upsell their high-end SmartTVs while the consumer is considering their options. The ISV can develop a unique solution for Samsung, and help them distribute it through the “right place, right time” new mobile application ecosystem.
  • For systems integrators, imagine being able to make real-time shopping applications work with the Point-of-Sale systems already embedded in mass merchant with 2,000 stores. Even as the consumer is guided through a single purchase, which becomes a multiple purchase with the right marketing flow, the merchant is able to check the consumer out – no lines, immediate satisfaction, and the building of an ongoing relationship as that “right person” in the store seals the deal and helps the consumer package up their purchase, sending an immediate text message of thanks with a 20 percent discount coupon for their next trip to the store.
  • For communications service providers, they are able to sell not only more broadband into mass merchant’s stores to support these applications, but to also take on a consultative role, bringing the best applications to their large enterprise customers in the retail space, which work in store and via e-commerce. If the retailer wants to further differentiate, the service providers ace applications development team, say developers in AT&T’s Foundry, Verizon’s Innovation group, BT’s enterprise team, can work with the customer to design applications that humanize the buying experience while also making the retailer more modern, efficient and able to mine “big data” as sessions flow seamlessly between the physical infrastructure (store hot-spots) up to and including secure applications.  Big communications service providers brands are trusted by big enterprises.

That’s just one example of right place – right time – and right people. And success impacts outcomes – for everybody.

So where does the “righteous platform” fit in?

The speed with which applications are now being developed, and the impact they are having on business models and the success of enterprises and organization is stunning. This is why there is no time like the present to connect with software development platforms – platforms-as-a-service – that give developers the tools to build, and the service capabilities to go quickly and with less risk into the market. Kandy is all that, and more.

I am incredibly proud today to be part of this movement and of the Kandy team, as we blast off with our “second stage rocket” after a tremendously successful soft launch last June at GENBAND’s customer event, Perspectives 14, last June.

With a strong vision for how we will contextually and creatively communicate going forward, a strong, growing and profitable business and board backing us, Kandy is something of a “start-up”, fully supported by over 2,000 people around the world in GENBAND, who have served hundreds of the top communications service providers and global enterprises in transforming their networks for the last 15 years.

Our vision is big – really big – but we know we are already succeeding, even though we are only formally just launching. Why? Because the developers we’ve been working with, hand-in-hand, are coming out with amazing applications as validation that the right time – is now.

Join us! Get access at, tweet me at @walshgenband  and if you happen to be joining us tonight, you will see for yourself how real – and really cool – Kandy is.

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