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Dialpad Closes Meetings Gap
In 2013 when Craig Walker launched UberConference, his plan was to disrupt audioconferencing with new concepts such as the elimination of PIN codes, integration with social sites, and a freemium model. The service even had interesting hold music.
As its name suggested, UberConference was intended to be an outstanding conferencing experience. But over the years, audioconferencing has given way to videoconferencing, and the word "Uber" has become more associated with transportation than the intended expression of greatness.
Today, Dialpad relaunched its UberConference service as Dialpad Meetings. The new service leverages several elements from Highfive, which Dialpad acquired last September. These include a scalable WebRTC framework based on the Janus WebRTC server from Meetecho. Dialpad suggested that it expects to soon announce support for as many as 10,000 participants in an HD meeting.
Dialpad has not yet announced a new room system solution. Previously, Highfive partnered with Dolby for room equipment, but Dolby has since exited that business. But, we can also expect Dialpad to be able to announce new room system solutions soon, presumably leveraging its close partnership with Poly.
Dialpad also today announced that calls will now support screen sharing. This is clever, as it narrows the differences between meetings and calls. It eliminates the need to reconnect as a video meeting in order to view shared content.
Additionally, Dialpad has announced a new communications service called Dialpad Channels. This is an informal collaborative conferencing tool possibly inspired by Clubhouse, the invitation-only social network for audio chat. While the pandemic caused a spike in fatiguing conferences, most of us were deprived of casual or impromptu conversations that are common with in-person venues.
Dialpad Channels are essentially always-on, voice-based interactions organized by topics. The party-line concept is as old as telephony itself, but the use cases are totally new. Dialpad Channels might be a reasonable alternative to office hours in a post-pandemic world.
Dialpad Channels creates a virtual water cooler. Slack recently announced a similar concept called Huddles. But Dialpad has a few advantages. First, it has extensive background in real-time communications. And, more significantly, Dialpad has its Voice Intelligence (VI) technology. Dialpad VI transcribes what was spoken in Dialpad Channels, making real-time interactions both searchable and discoverable.
Dialpad uses this AI technology for transcription and analytics across all of its services. VI stems back to Dialpad’s 2018 acquisition of TalkIQ, and Dialpad leverages it across the portfolio. For example, I believe Dialpad is the only provider that offers users the option to transcribe all UCaaS calls.
These and other announcements are part of what Dialpad is calling truly unified communications, or TrUCaaS. The industry has been using the term “unified communications” ever since someone bolted an Ethernet card to a PBX about 20 years ago. What started with unified messaging expanded to click-to-dial and softphones. While the voice and data networks have clearly become unified, most of us still use separate applications and/or providers to complete our communications suite.
Dialpad’s TrUCaaS provides voice, meetings, messaging, and contact center in a single client. That’s one unified client (available for PC, mobile, and web) from one provider that owns and controls the full suite of services. The app offers a consistent UI and shares services, such as VI, across its modalities. In addition to less app-switching and a common conversation history, it also creates an intuitive experience. For example, Dialpad offers one chat, for in-conference, in-call, SMS, and standalone services.
A single app seems pretty obvious, so this begs the question: What took so long? The quick answer is there’s no such thing as an overnight sensation. The journey for UberConference to expand into telephony and messaging started in 2013. Just last fall Dialpad did a Series E fundraising and acquired Highfive. In February, Dialpad announced that its VI engine processed over a billion minutes. Dialpad has also been steadily expanding its international reach, especially in APAC.
Dialpad has closed the gap in meetings, and has moved ahead of the industry with Dialpad Channels. It has a broad set of capabilities, funding, and global reach. I expect its next big push will be the contact center given how several providers are citing the UCaaS + CCaaS combination as a growth driver. Despite being about 10 years old, the company is still operating like a startup, and a major share of the original team is still in place.
Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.
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