The world of communication technology is a thrilling frontier, and my recent experience at VON: Evolution Fall 2023 reaffirmed that. Surrounded by peers and pioneers from telco, media, blockchain and AI, carefully curated by (voice pioneer, innovator, inspirator) Jeff Pulver, I found myself immersed in a crucible of ideas that promise to reshape how we connect and communicate.

The event was at the same time inspiring and practical, showcasing the challenges and opportunities ahead and offering unparalleled networking opportunities. What makes Jeff’s events so special is the diverse mix of people and the no-slides no-sales-pitch format, creating space for real connections, conversations and ideation.

It’s impossible to summarize 3 days in a blog, but here are some personal musings and takeaways that resonated with me and gives an idea of what may be brewing on the horizon – and why you might want to join future VON: Evolution events in person if you’re in the programmable communications space and interested in exploring new possibilities and opportunities.

👉 Convergence Is Key, and the Picture Is Still Developing

It’s hard to ignore how AI, blockchain, and 5G are starting to mix together. Each of these new technologies is powerful on its own, but together, they could change how we connect and live. We’re still in the early stages of this convergence, so we’re not fully aware of the impact yet. Let’s wait and see how the pieces come together. Or better yet, get involved, explore and drive the change!

👉 Regulation: A Balancing Act for Tomorrow’s Innovators

We heard from telcos that often struggle innovating while being heavily regulated. AI is starting to be regulated, but blockchain is not. The word ‘regulation’ can make innovators nervous, but let’s reimagine it as a helpful guide instead of a barrier. Thoughtful regulation can promote growth, such as standardizing messaging and protecting privacy, and help build trust in these new solutions. This opens up many possibilities for exploration.

👉 Restoring Trust through Innovation

One important challenge discussed was the fight against spam and false information in communication. Some discussions mentioned using community-driven projects and blockchain technology to validate and verify information. As I thought about this, I realized there are many different ways to rebuild trust in our communications. This is a pressing and vital matter for the industry as a whole!

👉 5G: More Than Just Speed

The power of 5G for businesses is evident. Although there are some serious challenges, like indoor coverage, it has the potential to transform enterprises into new-age service providers. This shift is more strategic than it seems and can lead to groundbreaking innovations. It will also have an impact on mobile operators and the services they offer.

👉 Blockchain Beyond Buzzwords

Blockchain’s role in telecommunications, for example in real-time settlements and bandwidth tokenization, could be revolutionary. But what form will this revolution take? How will it reshape the economics and efficiencies of telecom networks? These are open questions, in many cases requiring collaboration between telcos, innovators as well as regulators.

The Human Element in a Digital World

In a technology-driven conference, I was heartened by the recurring reference to the human element. AI is not just about algorithms and automation; it’s about augmenting our ability to connect on a deeper level. As founder of the CPaaS Acceleration Alliance, I see this as a cornerstone of our mission—to ensure that as our communication platforms evolve, they always strive to enhance human interaction.

A Glimpse into the Future: Many Roads to Explore

As I share these reflections, I’m aware that they represent a fraction of the possibilities that lie ahead. The programmable communications industry is at a fascinating juncture, projected to surge from $16 billion in 2022 to an astounding $100 billion by 2030. The pathways to get there are manifold, and as we charter this unexplored territory, the CPaaS Acceleration Alliance is more than just a networking or marketing platform; it’s a collective of visionaries and builders, crafting the future of communication!

In wrapping up, VON: Evolution Fall 2023 was not just an event but a convergence of potential futures. In every conversation, every debate, and every shared story, I saw the shimmer of tomorrow. Jeff has truly done an outstanding job bringing all these people together, and setting the intimate stage for these conversations. I’m looking forward to his next events, and collaborating on future events (we sponsored this VON: Evolution Fall, as we think these events are of high value to our Alliance members).

The CPaaS industry, with all its vibrancy and dynamism, stands at the edge of these futures, ready to embrace them. As we look forward, our mission is clear—not to predict the future but to power it, fostering the collaborations and innovations that will define the next decade of communication. Together, we are venturing into a world more connected and communicative than ever before, and I’m excited to be part of this journey!

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Over the past 30 years Rob (co-)founded various tech companies, including one of the leading Dutch hosted voice providers (before hosted voice became the new normal). Today, he works with telcos/CSPs and some of the world’s leading technology providers on innovation and growth, especially in the rapidly changing world of cloud communications and CPaaS. Rob has this crazy belief that the strengths of corporates and innovators should be combined in new ecosystems to create optimal customer experience, new business models and solutions for some of today’s big problems.


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