WebRTC Solutions Week in Review: Firefox, Voice4Net, 3CX, Voxbone

January 31, 2015

Is HTML5 ready for prime time? Google seems to think so. Back in November 2006 when Google acquired YouTube, Flash was used for playing videos. That is about to change as YouTube is now in favor of using HTML5. YouTube uses HTML5 by default in Chrome, IE 11, Safari 8, as well as in beta versions of Firefox. In addition to HTML5, WebRTC has also found a place of endorsement with Google and YouTube.

Another company that feels that WebRTC is coming into its own is Oracle. Our own Erik Linask had a discussion with Doug Tait, who is the director of telecoms markets at Oracle. Find out where the industry is in terms of WebRTC adoption and what Oracle feels the future holds. Is there movement or are we playing a waiting game?

Are you looking for a cloud-based platform that provides personalized, instant engagement for website visitors? Quisbee could be the platform that you are looking for. CafeX is a company that is seeing a lot of WebRTC deployments taking place and feels that its Quisbee platform could hold a prominent position. CafeX is focusing on three main pillars in business to keep its success moving forward through WebRTC.

Will WebRTC require having Microsoft and Apple onboard for it to become a viable solution? Find out the answer to this and more by experiencing Erik’s interview with CEO of Comunicano, Andy Abramson at WebRTC Conference and Expo in San Jose. Andy is someone who keeps his finger on the pulse of the industry.

Do you count yourself among the growing number of people who feel that they are being overwhelmed by the various applications that are available for many of your projects? One company that is attempting to change that perception is called Incentive. Find out how their announcement for the latest release of their platform designed to improve collaboration and reduce platform weariness can work for you.

Check out all that has been happening each week in the world of WebRTC by taking a stroll through our WebRTC Solutions website.

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NFV & SDN Zone Week in Review: Net Neutrality, Dialogic, Global Capacity

January 31, 2015

This seems to be the week to discuss net neutrality. Is it possible to continue ensuring service quality amid all the discussions and speculation concerning net neutrality? Global Capacity and Saisei are two companies that feel the way is through service virtualization. SDN and NFV concepts can be effectively leveraged to meet individuals at both sides of the net neutrality spectrum. It will be interesting to see how things progress as decisions on net neutrality get made.

Saisei also feels that net neutrality can be a win/win scenario. The discussions are heating up, politicians, corporations and service providers are all waiting to see what conclusion the FCC will reach. NFV offers a new way to design, deploy and more importantly, manage networking services. Is NFV, along with SDN, something that could turn the net neutrality discussion into a win/win scenario?

The prediction is that in just three years NFV and SDN will reach the $11 billion mark. As we found out during ITEXPO, there are some, such as Dialogic, who feel that it will not take that long to reach the mark. There is the feeling that we will see more deployments in the NFV space as well as additional separations of applications from hardware.

 NTT America is currently the first private cloud system to deploy SDN and it is routinely putting SDN to work in providing application support at the enterprise level. This week, NTT America was at ChannelVision Expo, which shared the spotlight with ITEXPO 2015. This was the platform it used to show the power of information and communications technology solutions.

If you want to find out everything that has been happening in the world of NFV and SDN you should take a little time to visit our NFV news and SDN Zone sites.

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Embedded M2M Solutions Week in Review: Sprint, IBM, WebNMS and Identiv

The week the Embedded M2M Solutions Community was flooded with news of innovations, announcements and partnerships. With the weekend upon us, it serves a good time to look back on the week that was—you’ve guessed right, it’s time for the week in review.

Sprint’s (News - Alert) Director of M2M Products, Platforms, and Marketing Mohammed Nasser took part in an enlightening “fireside chat” with Crossfire Media’s Carl Ford (News - Alert) as well as gave an illuminating keynote at M2M Evolution Conference & EXPO. Nasser proclaimed “We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel…So we’re very excited about what’s happening in the M2M and IoT space right now.” Nasser outlined Sprint’s go-to-market approach—“three-legged-stool.” The three legs are as follows: enablement, packet solutions and custom solutions. Read Eric Lebowitz’s full analysis and commentary here.

IBM’s (News - Alert) Gurvinder Ahluwalla offered the crowds at ITEXPO this week an “ADEPT Talk on How to Advance IoT.” By leveraging bittorrent technology IBM plans to create the ADEPT architecture. ADEPT stands for Autonomous Decentralized Peer to Peer Telemetry, something the company has already put into practice with some of its partners. Ahluwalla noted the four biggest hurdles to IoT development are a lack of functional value, lack of ecosystem, lack of business model and operating cost issues.

WebNMS made a splash of its own this week at ITEXPO (News - Alert) and the colloacated M2M Evolution Conference & EXPO in Miami, Florida with its own IoT story.  Known for its ATM Site Manager, Cell Tower Manager, Power Grid Monitoring, DCIM, Smart Home, Solar Farm Manager and Windmill Manager the platofrom and application developer is firmly entrenched in the future of M2M—and it is expanding its ecosystem. Read Paula Bernier’s (News - Alert) full report here.

Identiv Labs gave IoT development a shot in the arm this week. It will be working with firms to create end-end IoT deployments, as it is offering up design, prototyping and manufacturing services to aid development.

 Identiv's CEO, Jason Hart, offered up some comment around the new division's construction, saying “Identiv Labs is our idea incubator. It serves as an in-design platform for customers to quickly partner with Identiv experts and cost effectively innovate new or improve upon existing products in a rapid turnkey process. When an organization seeks to improve its product offering through mobility, enhance its experience with trusted Internet connectivity, or safeguard user and product identity, Identiv Labs can make it a reality.”

Remember your one-stop-shop for all things M2M is right here in the Embedded M2M Solutions Community. See you next week!

Back to the Embedded M2M Solutions Community

Cloud Call Center Week in Review: Genesys, Sky, Mass. Healthcare, St. Louis 911, Strategic Fundraising

January 31, 2015

Contributing Writer

Call center-based news this week is sort of a mixed bag. There are some high points with Genesys taking customer experiences to heightened levels, but there are some low points with some call centers calling it quits and others experiencing long wait times due to demand for U.S. healthcare. Let's start out with the good news.

As previously mentioned, TMC wrote this week about how Genesys took customer experience “to the next level.” It did this most recently with Sky, an entertainment provider in the U.K., by providing that enterprise with its Customer Experience Platform. The platform brings a number of options to call center agents and managers such as automated, intelligent call routing, support for virtualization, information dashboards for improved visibility into contact center operations, and reporting tools for improving operations long term. This has helped Sky deal with its nearly 150,000 calls that it processes through 20 call centers each day. That is about 7,500 calls, on average, for each center involved, so those agents and managers may have been hoping for anything that would help them along. Danny Clarke, Sky's customer telephony design manager, put it best when he said that the Genesys platform “[enabled] us to match resources to call volumes and identify potential problems before they affect service.”

Unfortunately, the good news ends there. A recent report about the Massachusetts health care exchange call center notes that it has experienced about 33,000 calls each day this week and that wait times for customers have reached 30 minutes or more. This has resulted in many customers hanging up or being disconnected as a result of system overload. Some people have even reported being on hold for several hours across a number of days as they try to sign up for health insurance.

Although the problem at those call centers is a matter of volume, issues for call centers can also arise as a matter of money. The Franklin County 911 call center in St. Louis, Mo. reported recently that it projects a deficit of nearly half a million dollars in 2015 because of dwindling funds for its center. Funds used to pour in because they were tied to a landline tax, but now that mobile phones have taken over and there is no similar tax on those sorts of connections, emergency officials are left wanting. Franklin County officials are considering a consolidation with surrounding counties to make ends meet and have the call center become viable once again.

Meanwhile, a call center associated with Strategic Fundraising, a political center that operates out of Springfield, Mo., will be closing its doors on Feb. 7. According to the initial report from local television news station KSPR, the site reportedly got into some legal trouble for failing to provide information about the nature of callers' solicitations. Strategic Fundraising said it had an unproductive year, financially, in 2014 and that it predicted a similar situation for the coming year.

Transforming Network Infrastructure Week in Review: Fiber Mountain, Big Switch Networks, IHS

Transforming Network Infrastructure Week in Review: Fiber Mountain, Big Switch Networks, IHS

January 31, 2015

The lead of this week's Transforming Network Infrastructure news comes off the heels of what M.H. Raza, the CEO of network infrastructure developer Fiber Mountain, said about the current state of networking. His comments to Rich Tehrani, TMC's own CEO, at the ITEXPO 2015 in Miami underscore one of the most pressing network-based issues of our time: Can our current, traditional methods of networking sustain user demand for bandwidth?

While the answer to that question is a resounding “no,” Raza assured Tehrani that all we need to do is “fundamentally look at networks differently.” Fiber Mountain is looking at networking differently with its Glass Core system that uses fiber optic connectivity and software-defined networking in place of core switches. This is similar to what Big Switch Networks is doing over at its headquarters. It announced this week that the latest version of its hyperscale networking product, Big Cloud Fabric 2.5, comes with a number of additional options that will increase users' choices for controlling their networks in the cloud. The biggest part of the announcement is that the Big Cloud Fabric now can integrate with VMWare's vCenter virtualization software and Dell Open Networking switches. Interoperability with those packages also comes with updated support for VMWare vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, KVM, and Citrix XenServer virtual environments and support for CloudStack and Citrix CloudPlatform.

Speaking as a prediction for the months to come in the networking market, Douglas Murray, the CEO of Big Switch Networks, said his company's dedication to improving its network infrastructure would allow hyperscale networking adoption to grow. Adoption of such products will certainly become necessary if Raza's indication that current methods of networking are unsustainable.

The inner workings of networks are not the only elements that will drive sales for network products. Companies are also highly interested power supplies and other peripheral network equipment, research firm IHS recently noted in the 2015 edition of its annual IT Racks and Enclosures Report. It said it expects global shipments of its racks and enclosures to grow by 2.9 percent in the coming year. Furthermore, it said it expects revenue associated with those shipments to grow 4.4 percent. Sales should hinge on products such as uninterruptable power supplies, cooling equipment, and power distribution units. This week's news goes to show that enterprises care about the way in which their servers connect to each other and the ways in which the physical units operate. With all the latest tech combined into one, businesses can expect significant savings on the efficiency of their systems and the quality of products that end-users (consumers and enterprise employees) experience.

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Call Center Software Week in Review: Five 9, Vocalcom and More

January 31, 2015

This week’s call center software headlines focused on the importance of social media for customer care and included a case study and award win.

Vocalcom announced it won a 2015 Internet Telephony Magazine (News - Alert)'s Product of the Year award for its cloud contact center software.  Touted specifically were the IVR and ACD features of the offering for their innovation.

Anthony Dinis, CEO, Vocalcom said, “We are honored to receive the Internet Telephony (News - Alert) Magazine Product of the Year award for our Cloud Contact Center Software. Not only is it a prestigious distinction that bolsters our reputation in the industry, but it also indicates the increased importance of delivering an effortless and effective customer service experience.”

To help ensure they were meeting all TCPA rules, American Support turned to call center software provider Five 9 for help. The were able to work together on a solution that not only left them in compliance but also helped to increase sales and the chance to get on the phone with potential customers.

Not just talking to customers on the phone today, but also meeting their needs via social channels is very important for success. An article by TMC’s (News - Alert) Tracey Schelmetic this week looks at how social routing can help customers gain control over their experience with a company.  This is particularly for the growing number of millennial customers who have become accustomed to communicating solely via this channel.

Finally, a feature this week from Special Guest Joshua March, CEO of Conversocial discussed the modern contact center and what role social media plays in address customer needs to a mass audience. Check it out HERE.

That’s all for this week. Check back for all the latest in Call Center Software news as it happens. Until next week…

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Analytics Connects the Dots for the Contact Center

January 30, 2015

By Maurice Nagle
Contact Center Analytics Web Editor

The customer experience is paramount, we know this, but how can one ensure that it is providing the highest level of service? What if I told you analytics where the answer, specifically speech analytics? Jeannette Ho, vice president of revenue management and analytics at FRHI Hotels and Resorts recently gave an intereview to CMSwire.com where she illuminated several methods to guarantee a top-notch customer experience.

The team at FRHI uses different text analytic methods to offer a look into things like customer emotions and attitude. For example, FRHI will take data form digital properties like social media, consumer forums and surveys to ‘connect the dots’ so to speak. Other properties that offer value include email open rates, mobile app usage as well as digital property navigation/abandonment.

By studying consumer behavior one can literally add up the numbers provided by structuring the data and attributing positive or negative values to each beahvaior. This does not stop here, one can easily meld htier collected data with geographical as well as traditional offline data to calculate and predict behavior.

The brand is able to create a model to guide its decisions moving forward. For example, Ho uses the call center as an example. If the customer continues to abadon while in the middle of a signing up for a service or product can be linked to voice analytical data gained from a negative contact center call in regard to that signup process future interactions can be proactively positive.

As far as benefits go, the ability to connect customer emotion and behavior is invaluable. It offers the agent and the enterpirse an expanded opportunity for more personalized and successful marketing campaigns.

Jeannette Ho and her team aim to give every guest an amazing experience, she refers to it as turning “moments” into “memories.” Ho notes companies like Swisscom and Zapfi as two companies that have implemented various analytics tools into their operations and have seen tangible improvements in there customer service.

The question I leave you with is simple. If we know that the customer experience is top priority, why isnt everybody doing all that can be done to provide such service?

Edited by Alisen Downey

Calling All IT Directors: The Future Is Now, Argue ITEXPO Panelists

When it comes to the disruptive changes that will rock the technology sector over the next three to five years, almost all ITEXPO (News - Alert) panelists and keynoters this week agreed: we are entering a world dictated by the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and cloud computing.

“You’ve heard it at the conference; the IoT is driving the need for big data,” Emil Sayegh, President and CEO of Codero Hosting, said during a Friday breakout titled “Hindsight is 20:20—Making Sure Your Technology Is Poised for Your Future.”

“There will be a deluge of data over the years and the question becomes, ‘How do we process that data, manipulate it to have meaning and adequately store it?’ he added. “What that question brings up is the notion of what kind of computing resources and what kind of infrastructure will we need both in-house and externally to manage that abundance of data that is already coming our way.”

To solve this obstacle, the panelists predict the imminent trend of pushing data out to the cloud or, in other words, pushing data away from the traditional IT department. That’s because the surge of big data is creating a mound of problems for IT, according to Chad Kissinger, founder of OnRamp. As such, what we are witnessing is the need for “crowd wrangling,” or for IT to recapture control of where the data is heading to make sure the department can protect the data and reintegrate it with other data that exists elsewhere.

Whether it’s the influx of big data, an IoT-enabled world or a hybrid cloud environment, change is coming and the panelists encouraged attendees to ready for the next phase of technological evolution.

“Everyone in here is going to have to evolve and reinvent themselves in business over the next five years,” Woodrow Wilson Bowling II of Wilson Bowling Consultants and Advisors said. “If not, you will be lucky if you are still in business. These changes are going to happen so quickly it’s mind-boggling. The transition is incredible; you need to be on your toes.”

Sayegh suggested that IT professionals begin to cast an eye toward automation to prepare for this new world and recognize that automation is the key platform that will enable them to spin up resources expediently on their needs. The archaic manual processes of the past will no longer work, he suggested.

Perhaps more importantly IT has to reposition itself as a strategic driver for the company.

“IT has to worry about how to become strategic for their business and ensure that they are advancing an organization’s strategic goals,” Kissinger said. “10 years ago, IT people would worry about being the guy who runs the generator and air conditioners and routing on the Internet. Today, none of our customers know anything about that.”

“Their IT people have evolved and moved from hardware to operating systems and moving forward, they will move up to the application space,” he added. “The people I see most successful are those who are trying to find strategic value to their companies.”

But are IT departments ready for such change? More specifically, are they willing to throw out old practices?

According to the panelists there are a number of factors holding IT back from quick evolution, specifically legacy systems, regulations and environments. Take the healthcare industry, for example. This vertical handles an enormous amount of information yet it still cannot load electronic health information in the cloud, suggested Kissinger. In this case, the healthcare industry is tied to legacy systems and legacy requirements.

Even more so, IT is grappling with the fact that change is difficult.

As Wilson argued, “Change is one of the most difficult things for the human race. None of us like change.”

Edited by Alisen Downey

UK Citizens Demand Better Service, Local Call Centers

January 30, 2015

Contributing Writer

What sort of discount on a product would make you willing to deal with an offshore call center for a routine service call? The U.K. public recently dove into that question and revealed that many of them would choose to simply work with a U.K. call center rather than take the discount and be forced to deal with agents from another country.

A recent report from the International Business Times U.K. explained those findings which are part of a compilation of research completed on the subject of attitudes regarding call center outsourcing. IB Times references an infographic it sourced from Kaizen Search, a global executive search firm, from which its representative, Sarah Footman, commented on the nature of costs as they relate to businesses outsourcing their call center duties.

“Even though there has been a significant shift in businesses bringing call centers back to U.K. shores, there are a lot that still outsource mainly due to financial reasons, with the Philippines becoming the increasingly favored location for international businesses,” Footman said.

The infographic points to 57 percent of U.K. citizens that say they feel having a U.K.-based call center is very important because it can provide better service and fewer cultural barriers to that service when compared to offshore centers. Furthermore, 92 percent of people in the age group of 65+ report that U.K.-based call centers are important to them for similar reasons -- largely that they are “more comfortable.”

Citizens say they want better service from their chosen brands than they currently receive and that offshore call centers tend to provide them with a low quality of service and issues concerning language barriers. Only 26 percent of respondents to one survey said they would take the 10 percent discount rather than trade that discount for dealing with a local customer service representative. Respondents says they want call centers to come back to the country, and they say they are willing to wait up to three minutes on hold to speak to representatives who are inside U.K. borders.

These feelings demonstrate a prominent dislike for the barriers between cultures and a desire for service that is efficient and effective. Perhaps the most telling statistic in the infographic is that people are willing to wait -- up to a certain point (three minutes) -- for quality service. Even if they receive expedited service from offshore call centers, it stands to reason that poor service, even if it is quick, may still be frowned upon. The pressure is certainly on U.K. businesses to increase their levels of efficacy when it comes to customer interaction. This does not always mean bringing call center operations back to home base, but it does mean an increased level of quality and a conquering of cultural barriers that clearly have citizens in a fit.

Edited by Alisen Downey

Now That You Have the Money for Digital Marketing, How Do You Find the Staff?

Digital marketing spend is expected to keep pace—and even exceed—traditional marketing spend in the coming years. As a matter of fact, a 2014 Gartner survey found that two-thirds of companies are funding digital marketing via reinvestment of existing marketing budgets. Supporting research from Mondo states that investment in digital marketing will increase as 80 percent of companies plan to boost their digital marketing budgets (for the majority, by between 5 percent and 15 percent) during the next 12 to 18 months.

For those familiar with all the ins and outs of digital marketing, you know that the method includes online advertising, content creation, website design, video, search, analytics, social, mobile, email and digital commerce. This list of various tactics requires very specific skill sets—and people that have them are in high demand.

The challenge for marketing organizations, therefore, is finding the talent to fulfill the promise of digital marketing. The scarcity of applicants who are experts in digital marketing allows people to hop around to find the best jobs, according to Mondo’s Laura McGarrity, VP of digital marketing. “It is a candidate’s market,” she emphasized, with the average tenure for digital marketing professionals being 12 to 18 months (in comparison, the average CMO tenure is 45 months).

Mondo found that digital/social marketing is the top skill set—at 54 percent—that marketing companies are hiring for this year, followed by content creation (44 percent), big data/analytics (33 percent) and mobile strategy (30 percent). More traditional marketing skills rank lower on the list, e.g., 22 percent for product/brand expertise.

One way for companies to overcome  the deficit in talent, as cited by Mondo, is to engage a more flexible workforce—defined as a combination of permanent and freelance or contract marketers.

While this would represent a break from traditional marketing hiring practices, it is a shift that is being embraced by more and more companies faced by the talent shortage. The Mondo study found that, in the next 12 to 18 months, the percentage of companies with all permanent workers will decrease from 42 percent today to 23 percent. Further validating this change in employee acquisition, the study showed that today’s mere 1 percent of companies with a 50/50 split of permanent and contract workers is expected to grow to 30 percent in the next 12 to 18 months.

Another option for businesses is to partner with a content strategy vendor that can help get your digital marketing strategy off the ground. Click here to learn how Content Boost can help you meet your strict qualifications for digital marketing talent.