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No Jitter Roll: Five for Friday

In this week's No Jitter Roll, we look at announcements around messaging, AI, contact center, and UC, as well as acquisition news:

Twilio, MessageBird Team with WhatsApp

It's been a busy week for Facebook-owned messaging application provider WhatsApp. It started the week by introducing multiparty video calling for mobile phones, and followed up with the launch of an early-access program to the WhatsApp API client for large businesses (see "WhatsApp Intros Business API: What Enterprises Need to Know"). Since then, cloud communications platform providers MessageBird and Twilio have come on board with WhatsApp in hopes of gaining a piece of the 1.5 billion-user WhatsApp pie.

MessageBird announced integration of the WhatsApp for Business API into its communications platform, enabling MessageBird to fully support enterprises in connecting the WhatsApp Business Solution into their customer communications strategies, the company said.

The integration with MessageBird lets businesses to provide SMS fallback for urgent WhatsApp messages so they can ensure customers receive communications with or without Internet access, MessageBird said. The integration also enables enterprises to add capabilities like sending urgent or location-targeted alerts to customers; surfacing notifications within the WhatsApp platform; and providing customers with the ability to initiate conversations with rich media capacity. Further, the integration provides direct access to Zendesk support for analytics and performance tracking. Customers can sign up for early access here.

Twilio announced the Twilio API for WhatsApp, which lets Twilio customers message users via WhatsApp. Developers could already use Twilio's API to integrate messaging via SMS, MMS, RCS (Rich Communications Service), Facebook Messenger, and LINE; this week's announcement adds WhatsApp to that list, the company said. With the Twilio API for WhatsApp, developers can access a variety of tools for testing and prototyping to accelerate go-to market and reduce total cost of ownership, Twilio said.

Twilio is rolling out its API for WhatsApp in a limited launch that includes customers Deliveroo, Hays, PATH, and SnapTravel. Any developer can begin testing applications in Twilio's Sandbox for WhatsApp today, and when ready for production, developers will need to request a WhatsApp Business profile from the messaging provider. This request can be made directly through the Twilio console.

Ada Partners with Genesys

In last week's No Jitter Roll, we covered Zendesk's partnership with Ada, a fast-growing startup providing artificial intelligence (AI)-powered customer service chatbots. This week, Ada surfaced in the news again, this time launching on AppFoundry, Genesys's dedicated customer experience marketplace.

Ada's chatbot integrates with the Genesys Customer Experience Platform, and aligns with Genesys's "blended AI" approach (see "Genesys Differentiates with Blended AI Approach"). Ada's chatbot automates parts of customer service to reduce the number of requests escalated to agent assistance. When agents are required, customers are escalated to Genesys Chat or Genesys Web Callback.

Ada's chatbot is also available for PureEngage, the Genesys omnichannel customer engagement suite aimed at global businesses, where Ada's multilingual capabilities could provide additional value.

Avaya Returns to Leader Quadrant in Gartner MQ for UC

Avaya this week announced that it has been returned to the leader quadrant for the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications -- following on its designation, earlier this year, as a leader in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldwide.

Mitel, Microsoft, and Cisco also appeared in the leaders quadrant. Huawei was identified as a challenger, while Unify was positioned in the visionary quadrant, and NEC and ALE were designated as niche players.

Avaya had dropped out of the leader's quadrant in the 2017 MQ for UC amid the financial troubles that culminated in its January 2017 bankruptcy, from which the company emerged late last year. As part of its rebound, Avaya continues to invest "significantly" in its UC portfolio, the company noted, pointing to recent upgrades to its Equinox collaboration solution and the launch of new handsets as evidence of its investment.

Facebook Acquires Redkix

Facebook last week announced it's acquired Redkix, an Israeli startup providing communications tools, for an undisclosed amount, as TechCrunch reported. Redkix gained an initial $17 million seed round investment roughly two years ago, for its tool that combines email with a more formal team collaboration tool like Slack or Workplace by Facebook.

"Redkix is a great solution for bridging the worlds between traditional email messaging and more modern conversational messaging," Alan Lepofsky, VP and principal analyst with Constellation Research, told TechCrunch. "Not all enterprises are ready to simply switch from one to the other, and Redkix allows for users to work in whichever method they want, seamlessly communicating with the other."

The Redkix technology and team that created it will join Facebook, and the application will be shut down after the acquisition is finalized, Redkix co-founders Oudi and Roy Antebi wrote on the company website.

"Bringing people closer together is at the core of Facebook," the Antebis wrote. "Workplace brings this mission to enterprises to make them more connected and productive. We're aligned with their vision and excited to work with them to help companies collaborate and get work done."

Cisco Acquires Duo Security

Cisco this week announced its intent to acquire privately-held Duo Security, a provider of unified access security and multi-factor authentication through the cloud. Duo Security's solution verifies users' identity and health of their devices prior to granting application access, to prevent cybersecurity incidents and breaches.

Cisco will leverage the Duo Security acquisition to extend its intent-based networking into multi-cloud environments via an integration of Duo's SaaS model with Cisco Identity Services Engine; simplify policy for cloud security by adding Duo's identity awareness capabilities to Cisco's Secure Internet Gateway, Cloud Access Security Broker, Enterprise Mobility Management, and other cloud-delivered products; and expand its endpoint visibility coverage by augmenting these capabilities with Duo's visibility of mobile and unmanaged devices, the company said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will pay $2.35 billion in cash and assumed equity awards for Duo Security's outstanding shares, warrants, and equity incentives on a fully diluted basis, Cisco said. The acquisition is expected to close during the first quarter of Cisco's 2019 fiscal year, which ends in October.

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