Trying to define what GENBAND does has been a steadily moving target over the past decade. Once upon a time, the company was a hardware manufacturer and rollup acquisition play. Over the years, it has shifted from hardware into software and from software into services. Its latest identity iteration presented this week at the Perspectives14 user event is to become a “Level 4” supplier that delivers outcomes – an intriguing concept, but a complex one requiring more work to explain than a 30 second elevator pitch. Products and services are being aggressively developed, bought, and blended together to provide service providers and large enterprises with what they want beyond a, “Here you go, have fun with the pieces” approach.
Kandy, GENBAND’s bundling of WebRTC, cloud services, and programming tools for rapid real time communications app building, defines what the company is today and in the near future. The product will be generally available in January, but select brand-name customers have already embraced it. LiveOps, Samsung, and SAP are already onboard and I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least traditional telecom carrier join the reference by Labor Day.
WebRTC is a key part of the vision because it enables rapid creation of browser-based services. Every presentation at Perspectives did everything but say, “WebRTC is the Killer App for vertical killer apps.” The UC crowd and telecom vendors have run around for a decade crowing about vertical apps, but building those services has previously required the skills and expense of programmers. WebRTC enables HTML5 web designers to drag and drop new apps in minutes and days, not weeks and months. Companies can start working with Kandy in short order.
And speed is important. GENBAND presenters emphasized the ability to quickly turn up services “within 90 days” for its fring OTT service, rather than “18 months.” One of the issues service providers have struggled with in building new services has been the extensive lead time to get a project going and into production. The attraction of WebRTC-based services is speed to market over proprietary solutions carrying client licensing feels and the ability for less customization.
Kandy’s ease of use, rapid development power and a “pay-as-you-grow” model for scaling means someone within the telecom world is going to grab onto it – the devious, disruptive minds at T-Mobile come to mind. The Un-carrier approach means it is unafraid to move rapidly and take risks. T-Mobile B2B Executive Vice President Drew Kelton called his boss CEO John Legere a “lunatic” during his eccentric presentation at GENBAND Perspectives (Talking about his male shoe fetish qualifies as “eccentric” in my book, FYI) and hinted that there will be more to the company’s approach then simply reshuffling the cards with simplified mobile contracts. Building vertical market apps with Kandy strikes me as a forward-leaning risk Legere would be comfortable with if it could get T-Mobile into new markets.
Finally, Kandy is a monthly billable service. That’s sweet for cash flow that can scale upward (and downward). It makes GENBAND less dependent upon the big-ticket sale and sales cycle, so future growth can be smooth and steady as service providers and enterprises ramp up Kandy-based services.
WebRTC and Kandy (and OTT, but that’s a different story) are a large part of what GENBAND is moving forward and into the future. How far into the future is difficult to say, because history only shows GENBAND continues to evolve and grow beyond what anyone would expect.