A year on from SIGNAL 2019, and with a very different 2020 edition on the horizon, it’s time to take a look back over some of the big announcements from last year’s show in the context of what’s happened since – and make some recommendations, and hopeful predictions for what SIGNAL 2020 might bring.
Following the big announcement of Twilio Flex at SIGNAL 2018, last year’s show provided a few updates to the company’s new flagship offering – and plenty of limited regional releases and beta trials to explore as well. The business has also made some significant acquisitions in the interim that could signal other interesting developments at SIGNAL 2020.
Here are four things to keep an eye out for at this year’s show.
1. Expanding new features outside of the US…
At Zing, we’ve been keeping a close eye on Verified By Twilio – which was announced for the US market last year.
Robocalls are a huge problem in the US, but the UK receives its fair share too. Spam calls rose by more than 300% worldwide in 2018. In the face of this, people are unsurprisingly wary of answering calls they don’t recognise.
Verified By Twilio offers a strong solution to this issue: it lets businesses show call recipients who is calling, and the reason for the call. So a call from the JustEat delivery driver outside your flat, for instance, would show up with that information attached – as opposed to just displaying the unfamiliar number they’re calling from.
This solution is currently unavailable in the UK, and we’re hoping to see a wider rollout announced at this year’s SIGNAL.
2. …and moving from beta to live release with others
Conversations is one new feature that did make it to the UK, albeit still in beta. It allows businesses to track conversations across multiple devices and platforms – from text, to WhatsApp, to webchat, for instance – and makes managing customer communications a whole lot easier.
We’ve been able to use Conversations to support the the NHS Test and Trace service, and it’s proved particularly useful for businesses where mobile reception is patchy as switching to WiFi enabled web chat won’t disrupt interactions.
It would be great to see Conversations established as a permanent product offering.
Similarly, Twilio’s Media Streams beta – a feature that offers raw audio call streams and live transcription – could prove a vital tool in reducing fraud (a branch of crime that’s seen enormous growth during the COVID-19 pandemic).
3. Growing prospects in the IoT space
July brought news that Twilio has acquired IoT start-up Electric Imp, which helps businesses form secure connections between their IoT devices, data centres, and third-party services.
While Twilio is best known for its voice and text messaging services, IoT is a growing prospect for the business – and something all of us working in the unified comms space should be paying close attention to.
Secure connected sensors provide lots of opportunities to improve efficiencies – existing case studies include everything from waste collection companies using sensors to monitor bin overflow, to brewers keeping an eye on their beer kettles.
Where Twilio sees this going, and what role IoT technology could play in the customer communications sphere (could sensors contribute to contact centre deflection, for instance?) will be something to look out for at SIGNAL 2020.
4. What’s next for Flex?
Twilio Flex was the big announcement in 2018, and since has grown to be one of the company’s primary offerings.
More recently, New York City deployed a cloud-based Flex contact centre as a key element of its COVID-19 tracing programme. Further to this, the accelerated adoption of remote working by many businesses in the UK has opened up new potential for Flex in delivering cloud-based telephony.
But as ever there’s room for improvements and add-ons. The Zing team will be keeping a keen eye out for any updates to React and Node hooks that can offer more modern libraries and make deploying plugins a swifter process.
Better outbound capabilities out of the box would be welcomed too, as would increased web resources for Flex developer training – particularly with in-person learning seeming like a distant prospect at the moment.