Developers Start Designing Apps for Apple Watch

Apple has announced the availability of WatchKit, software that gives developers a set of tools to easily create experiences designed specifically for Apple Watch. Developers can now begin developing WatchKit apps before the watch becomes available. “Apple Watch is our most personal device ever, and WatchKit provides the incredible iOS developer community with the tools they need to create exciting new experiences right on your wrist,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With the iOS 8.2 beta SDK, developers can now start using WatchKit to create breakthrough new apps, Glances, and actionable notifications designed for the innovative Apple Watch interface and work with new technologies such as Force Touch, Digital Crown, and Taptic Engine.”

Be on Your P’s & Q’s When Picking a Partner

Be on Your P's & Q's When Picking a Partner

November 14, 2014

Communication and collaboration are two necessities in the enterprise world, which is why it comes as no surprise that new forecasts have the Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) market set to experience some robust growth in the coming years.


Wainhouse (News - Alert) Research released a new study this week projecting market value to be over $5 billion by 2018. The primary area of growth will be from mid-to-large enterprises, and it is expected to spurn a CAGR of 24 percent.

The research firm outlines topics like why change has occurred and what changes are occurring in the market; UCaaS market penetration; enterprise behavior; Implications on infrastructure, cost models, teams and skill sets; as well as segmentation of SMBs and large enterprise opportunity.

If growth is to occur the way it is expected then a lot of enterprises out there will be sorting through the endless list of providers out there to find the perfect partner.

When it comes to Unified and IP communications I look to a leader in the space for my queues. David Byrd (News - Alert), CMO ANPI, in his blog ‘Byrd’s Eye View’ outlines several factors to consider when selecting a service provider for your enterprise.

In no particular order, his advice is as follows:

  • Understand the company with whom you are partnering: Take an in-depth look at who the company is, who they serve and who their partners are to ensure they align with your beliefs and direction.
  • Learn about the product and its acceptance in the market: Do your research. Just because a product receives shining reviews does not mean it will address your needs as a business.
  • Understand their definition and role of a partner, and determine if it fits with your business strategy: To put simply, ensure that your partner will provide support so you can be out there building your business, not dragged down by post sales queries.
  • Compare training programs to ensure they provide the knowledge necessary to be successful: Be aware of the type of training being offered and its availability, if it does not work with your business then this may be the wrong partner. It is vital that training programs are offered when availability exists, and you choose the best training option (s) for team members.
  • Ask about customer satisfaction levels: The customer experience is more important today than ever, look and see how your perspective partner values this proposition. If they don’t place the same level of priority on the customer then they probably are not the best fit.
  • Selling has always been a contact sport but, these days, it is even more difficult: Know what services you are purchasing that aid in the sales process, and be aware of what mechanisms in place will drive demand and support lead gen. As Byrd puts it, “To win today, the sales enablement tools must be plentiful and well developed.”
  • The commission plan should be your last consideration: The terms of your relationship with your partner a necessity to be aware of—read, understand and negotiate your contract. Be aware of the various factors that can either inhibit or spur success.

It is not easy to find the best fit, but when discovered the added value it offers is nearly incalculable. I can however say this, ANPI has been a leader in the space for some time, and the ANPI Premiere Partner Program is known to produce results. Only time will tell if the market lives up to the hype, but one thing for certain is that leaders in the space like ANPI will be there to connect, innovate and shape the market for years to come.   

Edited by Alisen Downey

New Security Survey Finds Differing Confidence Levels Surrounding Basic Controls

November 14, 2014



The vast majority of IT professionals and executives are confident in their organization’s implementation of basic foundational security controls, according to a new survey. But in a more disturbing finding, less than half of those queried are confident in the secure configuration of common devices connected to their network, even though targeted cyber attacks are on the rise.

The survey was conducted by Atomik Research in conjunction with Tripwire (News - Alert), a provider of advanced threat, security and compliance solutions. Findings centered on the confidence levels of those queried related to the security of their own networks and associated devices. And despite more than 100 million records being compromised in retail data breaches over the past year, 77 percent of retail IT workers were confident all the devices on their networks were running only authorized software.

A whopping 89 percent of executives in the energy industry were fairly confident or very confident in their vulnerability management programs, even though warnings have been issued concerning a sophisticated malware campaign targeting incident command systems (ICS).

"It's not surprising that IT and security professionals have confidence in foundational security controls,” said Jane Holl Lute, president and CEO of the Council on CyberSecurity. “The controls are instrumental in defending against common cyber attacks and lay the foundation for effective defense against more sophisticated intrusions. But to be effective they must be implemented consistently across the entire enterprise."

However, when it comes to secure configuration of routers, firewalls and modems connected to their networks, only 47 percent of IT professionals said they were confident with their setups. And only 10 percent of security professionals were very confident in their patch management programs, which is a bit worrying considering how important they are to fundamental security controls.

"This survey clearly shows the disconnect between the executive branch and the IT branch and the false sense of security within a typical organization,” said Amar Singh, chair of ISACA UK SAG and founder of the Cyber Management Alliance. “This, in my opinion, false level of confidence may stem from several factors including the false belief that if no breach has been discovered 'we must be secure'."

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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’47 Brand Launches New Retail Ordering B2B System

November 14, 2014

Lifestyle apparel and headwear manufacturer '47 Brand recently announced the launch of its new online ordering system created in conjunction with CenterStone Technologies, a provider of business-to-business software. The system will allow retail partners to place product orders and receive customer support at all hours, every day of the week.

'47 Brand says the launch of its new ordering service will function with the intent of delivering brand products to retailers' shelves more quickly. Retail partners will have the ability to browse the '47 Brand catalogue and check the availability of products in real time. Steven D'Angelo, co-owner of '47 Brand, expressed his excitement about the B2B site launch.

“We are confident that our retail partners will find this tool to be an efficient and valuable system,” D’Angelo said. “Our team is excited to be at the forefront of this new resource which will serve to provide superior customer service to our valued partners.”

Retailers that sell '47 Brand products have access to merchandise that is branded with many major U.S. athletic leagues including the MLB (News - Alert), NFL, NHL, NBA, and hundreds of collegiate programs. Accounts made with '47 Brand and B2B ordering site come with customer service support as well as the ability to order products. Each retailer is assigned a local representative and an in-house customer service representative to assist them with any of their purchasing needs.

Presently, '47 Brand says it works with more than 250 corporate and retail associates across the globe. The launch of the new site also intends to expand that number and allow the sports products to make their way to even more businesses.

For its own part in the equation, CenterStone says its SaaS (News - Alert) retail store is made primarily for the types of products '47 Brand offers. It claims that businesses and sales representatives enjoy the use of its specialized “grid” ordering system that caters to the needs of apparel retailers. It says it does what it knows best: creating software that showcases the various aspects of apparel, such as pant sizes and inseams. “We don’t make apparel or footwear, even though we know a lot about it,” its website says.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Working from Home Today

November 14, 2014

The regular 9-5 job is a relic of past, the majority of companies today offer some type of flex work or telecommuting arrangement so employees can have increased freedom as well as a better work-life balance.

According to a recent study from the Society for Human Resource Management, telecommuting is an available work option in 39 percent of organizations. Forrester Research (News - Alert) projects that by 2016, 63 million (43 percent) of the United States workforce will work from home. One major factor in the shift to a more liberal policy is Millennials, as in the same Forrester study 92 percent of Millennials supported the freedom of choice in when and where they work.

Every enterprise implements these policies differently. For instance, Nationswell is a media startup company in New York City focused on telling peoples stories to improve the ‘fabric of America.’ Its team members come into the office on Monday, and for the rest of the week can work from wherever they please. They have the freedom to wander the streets of New York until they find just the right spot.

Another company, ReWork, a human resources company has done its own research. And, after watching how others implemented policies it felt that best practice was four weeks of paid vacation each year, unlimited sick days and four weeks of remote work eligibility. 

A few things to bear in mind when ‘liberating’ employees:

  • It is important to be aware of what employees are looking for as far as options. Based on industry, needs/wants could change and a suggested way to address this would be face-to-face surveys with team members to get a true gauge of who they are and where they are coming from.
  • A company must understand how its communication solutions work and what their functionalities are. Things like Web conferencing and other conference call services serve as a lifeline for remote employees ensuring high level of collaboration and productivity.
  • It is vital to let employees and job hunters alike know what the policies are on work freedoms like telecommuting or flex work. A strong benefits package can be a draw for those looking for work, and telecommuting and other ‘liberating’ options are becoming more and more the norm.  

By doing the research, having the right tools in place and giving team members what they want it can rejuvenate the work environment. Technology today like conference call services allow for these options to be put in place without the company losing a step.

Edited by Alisen Downey

Virgin Wines Announces Managed Services Deal with NaviSite Europe

Online wine company Virgin Wines has struck a managed services deal with NaviSite Europe, a Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable company. NaviSite will provide managed hosting and web application services for the wine merchant as part of an update to its IT systems.

Virgin, which was established as part of Richard Branson’s empire, was subsequently bought out by Direct Wines and underwent a management buyout last year. As part of the buyout the company need to update its IT systems and find a new MSP to deliver hosting and managed application support.

NaviSite’s (News - Alert) services are critical to the company’s success, since it operates purely online and requires high levels of uptime and stability. The service provider is also offering colocation and cloud services to Virgin Wines via its U.K. data centers. Managed support includes running web servers and application servers as well as the company’s database system.

“As an online service we don’t have that one-on-one customer experience like traditional retailers, so the website experience is very important for our customers,” said David Wyatt, social media and communications manager, Virgin Wines. “As customers increasingly want services on demand, uptime is crucial. If the platform is down then they will just go elsewhere. Even a short outage can impact our profits significantly.”

NaviSite’s services can easily handle peaks and spikes in customer volume. Virgin is also steadily expanding its business and has been aiming to attract 100,000 new customers per year, which the MSP has the flexibility and scalability to accommodate.

“With users able to order what they want, when they want, customers expect services to be available, responsive and secure,” said Sean McAvan, managing director, NaviSite Europe. “We believe that our expertise in supporting clients in the online retail sector, partnered with our tailored approach, system quality and reliability means that NaviSite is an ideal partner for Virgin Wines and other online retailers.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Hosted PBX Systems Growing in Popularity

Hosted PBX Systems Growing in Popularity

November 14, 2014

Nextera Communications has announced that hosted PBX (News - Alert) continues to gain traction in the business market.

“Hosted PBX offers robust features that can take productivity to a higher level while significantly reducing costs,” said Becky Parker, vice president of development and marketing for Nextera. “It’s very advantageous for small to mid-sized companies. Quick and easy to deploy, Hosted PBX provides businesses with valuable opportunities – like free interoffice extension dialing between multiple sites, an ultra-flexible auto attendant system, and published numbers in offsite locations for a virtual presence.”

Hosted PBX solutions like the one Nextera offers are becoming popular because they offer all of the major features of modern VoIP PBX systems with few of the overhead costs of on-premises solutions.

Technicians don’t have to come out and install these systems. Businesses can just sign up from a website and be up and running with their new phone systems immediately. The cost of maintaining and upgrading these systems also falls on the provider instead of the customer, which makes them even more attractive to businesses.

Nextera pointed to research by Infonetics (News - Alert) that said that global sales of hosted PBX systems rose by more than 20 percent last year.

A survey by Metaswitch networks also found that 20 percent of small and medium sized businesses were using VoIP already. Of those, 60 percent of them were using a hosted PBX. Hosted systems are particularly attractive to smaller businesses who often lack the specialized IT staff that large enterprises do to install on-premises solutions and keep them running.

It’s also a boon to smaller companies far removed from Silicon Valley. Nextera is based in the Twin (News - Alert) Cities area. Smaller providers can sell these systems with a more personal touch.

“It’s a revolution in telecommunications and Nextera is excited to be leading the way for Minnesota businesses,” Parker said.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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