Unified Communications Week in Review: AT&T, SkySwitch, Spooky Nook Sports

Unified Communications Week in Review: AT&T, SkySwitch, Spooky Nook Sports

February 21, 2015

Another major week in news for the unified communications (UC) field has come and gone, and in its wake a host of news items have landed for us to consider. With a major new field adding so many new developments in products and services alike, it's good that we have a weekend on hand to consider how all these events fit into the wider world as we know it. To make that consideration easier, we've got just the thing in the form of our Week in Review coverage, so settle in and let's run down all the high points of the week in UC.

First, we had a look at the kind of impact the government could have on communications service providers (CSPs), and that by and large, that impact was mostly positive. A growing number of regulations and mandates are offering opportunity for CSPs and the like that can provide solutions to the issues raised by said mandates, and that means opportunity. As MarketUS' Michael Price noted, small businesses are starting to take the lead on this front, offering larger businesses a means to meet mandates as well.

Next we turned our attention to SkySwitch and its new UC platform that's not only packed with features, but also set up in a white-label fashion so as to make it easily brandable by those interested in putting it into play. The platform itself reportedly includes billing tools, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, E911 functions, Web conferencing tools and more, with all functions able to be accessed from one single dashboard.

Spooky Nook Sports in Mannheim, Pennsylvania came in next, as it turned to Agilysys' line of hospitality software to help run its operations. Spooky Nook Sports controls the largest indoor sports complex in North America at over 700,000 square feet, and plans to bring a new hotel and restaurant online are in the works as well. With Agilysys tools like Eatec and InfoGenesis POS on hand, among others, Spooky Nook Sports will be better able to get its somewhat disparate operations together and derive benefit from the efficiencies created therein.

Then we had a look at the growth of hybrid cloud services, and just why the adoption of same was on the rise. With a wide variety of applications connecting to hybrid cloud either directly or indirectly—like big data applications, healthcare systems and others—the growth of hybrid cloud made sense as companies seemed increasingly interested in the flexibility that comes from a combination of remote systems and systems kept in-house.

Finally, we had a look at AT&T's new UC Federation system, a unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) solution that not only supports several different UC platforms, ranging from Microsoft Lync to Cisco Jabber, but also offers means to achieve that seamless communication that is commonly so hard to obtain. Enterprises are better able to control communications at different levels, are able to use more platforms to better ensure communications, and even achieve that level of connectivity that's both secure and scalable, ensuring better results all around.

That was the week that was in UC, and there was certainly no shortage of new events taking place in the sector. As new products and services emerged, so too were there new ways to put these to use, and our global online community kept right out in front of all the biggest changes for us to see. So be sure to join us back here next week for all the latest news, and every weekend as well for our Week in Review coverage!

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SIP Trunking Week in Review: 8×8, NetGen, Vertical Communications

February 21, 2015

By Steve Anderson Contributing SIP Trunking Report Writer

The field of session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking is one that's commonly in flux. It's been around for quite some time, but even now it's adding new developments and making itself better in the attempt. This week, meanwhile, proved no different; a host of new developments emerged in the field, and we were right there to bring back the news. But all this news makes for a complex environment, one that we're about to make just a little simpler with the coming of a weekend and a round of our Week in Review coverage!

First, we had a look at the rise of Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT), and how this technology is rapidly becoming a voice communications tool of choice. Many of us already have these systems in our homes, these digital “cordless” phones as some call such, but even this widespread and time-tested technology has been getting some updates, including some impressive signal resiliency. A whole new generation of DECT is on the way, and already firms like SNOM are working to produce the newest tools in the line.

Next we turned our focus to 8x8's new service-level agreement (SLA) known as the Performance Assured SLA. With this new SLA, 8x8 can offer up not only better than four-nines (99.99 percent) uptime, but also a mean opinion score of at least 3.0 for a minimum of 98 percent of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) calls. This may seem impossible due to issues in networks that 8x8 wouldn't even control, but 8x8 notes extreme investment in quality to produce the desired results.

NetGen Communications turned up the next bit of news, offering a complete wireless public branch exchange (PBX) system, the WROC 2000 series. The company showed off same at the recently-concluded ITEXPO Miami 2015 event, and the system had plenty to offer. Packing 10 separate ports with support for 3G, 4G, and LTE connectivity right out of the box, as well as support for a host of different endpoints, the system looked to provide maximum versatility and function for users.

Then we had a look at Vertical Communications, who made a move in the field to acquire CT Innovations (CTI). Since Vertical deals in business communications software, CTI's blend of voice and data services should prove to be a huge boost for Vertical's offerings. Plus, Vertical also gets access to the substantial customer base CTI has established, featuring over 400 customers across four states. The integration is expected to be “...seamless...”, according to Vertical executive vice president Ben Treadway.

Finally, some exciting news came from the small and medium-sized business (SMB) front, as a new report revealed that one in three SMBs were planning to invest in new technology with 2015's arrival. The study—conducted by Zogby Analytics for Xero Limited—revealed that not only were there big plans to expand technologically, but fully 74 percent of small business owners were expecting to see growth this year. With companies seeming willing to put money on the line for such predictions, it might well prove a big year indeed.

That was the week that was in SIP trunking, and clearly, there was a lot going on. Our global online community was right in the thick of it, bringing back the best in news and showing us where this market was headed. So be sure to join us back here next week for all the latest, and every weekend as well for our Week in Review coverage!

Contact Center Analytics Week in Review: Calibrio, Uber, Airbnb

February 21, 2015

By Casey Houser
Contributing Writer

Team building exercises have been proven to motivate and unite workers as part of an overall system of employee satisfaction. The process of making a game out of work, called “gamification,” TMC noted this week, can have both the effects of engaging employees while also creating a better environment for improved customer service. Basically, when employees are happy, their customers are happy.

TMC cited Calabrio, a workforce optimization company, which said peer mentoring can also lead toward happier employees. Agents can mentor employees as they move along in their collaborative games, and at the end of stints of mentoring, employees can gain rewards. Calabrio makes sure to point out, however, that these rewards must mean something to the employees to serve as proper incentives for good performance on the job. Indeed, the call center software that companies use can also play a heavy part in how successful gamification becomes in places of business. Calabrio again states that its software can help companies begin games without trial and error; it can help them on their path to a competitive workplace that brings employees, and hopefully customers, together.

That is only one way to create better customer service. One other discussed this week is through the use of digital services. Many startups are harnessing the power of smartphones and other mobile devices to give consumers the keys to the castle – so to speak. With companies like Uber, customers are in power and can use their smart devices to request transportation at a moment's notice rather than using the traditional methods of visiting a transportation business in person or calling them and wading through phone trees and operators. Airbnb, as another example, has used mobile technology to give customer more freedom than ever when they need to book hotel rooms.

TMC's stance appears that it believes companies which adopt burgeoning technologies will likely find themselves on top of their chosen markets. New tech brings in change in markets, and change is essential to growth and therefore success. Calabrio, Uber, Airbnb – these companies have all harnessed the newest tech to make sure their business clients and the public can have positive experiences as they work and play by simply placing the power of change at their fingertips.

Transforming Network Infrastructure Week in Review: Zhone, CIR, Coriant

Transforming Network Infrastructure Week in Review: Zhone, CIR, Coriant

February 21, 2015

Quality of VoIP service has always been a concern for carriers and service providers who know that being proactive in monitoring voice quality means keeping customers happy. Customer satisfaction is extremely important and having the right tools is a way to ensure a high quality level. A couple of years ago, GL Communications responded with the PacketScan, an all-IP packet analyzer. This week the company release its newest version called the PacketScan HD.

I mentioned customer satisfaction above; the overall customer experience has become an important aspect in today’s society. Customers have come expect more, especially when it comes to their banking needs. According to Gartner, knowing that providing great customer service is important, the banking and financial services industry is close to the top of the IT spend list when it comes to providing quality service. Zhone Technologies partnered with Qypsy to deliver FiberLAN to SouthEast Bank.

According to a new report from Communications Industry Researchers, we can expect to see the revenue generated by the chip-to-chip and on-chip optical interconnections market to come very close to the $1 billion market in the next five years. The rise of optical engines and how they fit into future chip-to-chip connectivity is just one of the many topics covered in the new report.

When you need to travel, whether for pleasure or business, almost everyone wants to use their mobile device while at the airport. Getting that last bit of mobile data will soon become easier if you happen to be waiting at one of the three major Paris airports. Coriant has partnered with Hub One to upgrade the Paris airport networks.

When it comes to thinking outside the box, hackers are probably among the most creative group, coming up with ways to bypass security options created by some of the smartest people. Over the past 16 months we have seen that major corporations and financial institutions have had their account information taken from them. A new report from MeriTalk will give you an idea of just how much security is on everyone’s mind these days.

To read all of the details and find out more about what is going on in the world of optical networking, take a little time to read through the articles in Transforming Network Infrastructure.

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WebRTC Solutions Week in Review: Radisys, Sonus, Matrix

February 21, 2015

Radisys is a company whose goal is to help communications and content providers, along with their strategic partners, create new revenue streams and drive cost out of their services delivery infrastructure. This week, Radisys announced that it has been working with Oracle to offer communications service providers a comprehensive, scalable, multi-service delivery solution for VoLTE, WebRTC, and other real-time services.

It was about a year ago that one topic of discussion was whether or not WebRTC would raise contact center costs. On the one hand it provides easy-access video chat that can help businesses attract and retain high-touch customers in high-value transactions, not to mention the ability to use a standard browser on both ends of the connection. On the other hand video calls may have a longer average duration than voice calls and require agents to have additional training. The thinking a year later is that WebRTC is a great fit for the contact center.

Sonus and Numonix are collaborating in an attempt to improve contact center productivity through the integration of Numonix RECITE call recording solutions into Sonus’ portfolio of SBCs. Their combination into one platform will provide a fully integrated and interoperable, contact center solution. The goal of the integrated Sonus-Numonix solution should be able to offer a lot of options.

One of the major problems on the Internet is traffic. When you are expecting a certain amount of traffic and you end up receiving a lot more, you will always run into trouble. That is one of the reasons that we are seeing an upgrade to Matrix’s Synapse 0.7.0 Python reference server. There are some changes and a minor maintenance update.

If you are old enough to have watch cartoons such as the Jetsons, you will remember that at some point in the future we will all have robots to assist us in our daily tasks. If you are familiar with the Terminator series then they are all out to kill us. I prefer to think of Rosie the Robot as our future. With that in mind, there is a new Indiegogo campaign that will be launched by Origibot with the idea of making service robots available at price points most people can afford.

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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IoT Connectivity Solutions Week in Review: LogiSense, Elliptic, Juniper

IoT Connectivity Solutions Week in Review: LogiSense, Elliptic, Juniper

February 21, 2015

The Internet of Things is constantly changing. Here are some of the top stories we’ve been following this past week in the world of IoT connectivity.

When you think of innovation, you might think of Silicon Valley. You might want to start thinking of Barcelona, Spain when you think of the Internet of Things. Juniper Research certainly does. It’s named the city one of the top five “smart cities” of 2015. The city uses IoT technologies in things like street lights and traffic management. Other cities include London, Nice, France and Singapore.

One way that IoT technology is changing things is in the world of billing for utilities. More companies are installing “smart meters” that can measure things like electricity use much more accurately than with the standard method of reading meters manually. This in turn lets utility companies bill more precisely than they could before, according to LogiSense.

One major concern with Internet of Things technology is security. It’s bad enough when credit card data is stolen or other sensitive information is leaked, but IoT devices can affect people’s lives much more intimately and can cause serious safety problems if they’re compromised. One of the most troubling areas is in “connected cars,” which can allow outside intruders to take control of these cars from drivers. Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts called for the auto industry to set up a security rating system for its cars after it was revealed that hackers could unlock the doors of some BMW cars using a cellphone.

Responding to the growing security needs, Elliptic Technologies introduced tRoot, which it describes as a “embedded hardware root of trust” system for the eWBM “system-on-a-chip.” As more devices connect to the Internet, it will be necessary to secure them at the hardware level. While no security solution is perfect, it seems to be a step in the right direction.

Be sure to follow the IoT Connectivity Solutions Community for all the latest news.

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Better Customer Interactions Every Time with Intradiem & SSA Solutions

February 20, 2015

It’s no secret today that companies across the globe are being asked to do more, with less. Even as the economy improves for many, the need to cut costs and work more efficiently is still in high demand.

In the call center space, this same requirement is amplified by the need to also ensure that customers are satisfied with the services they are receiving.

A new partnership between Intradiem and SSA solutions plans to do just that for call contact centers. The Intraday Automation solutions provider and contact center consulting firm will be combining their expertise and offering to help companies better manage, operate and make decisions.

The highlight of the partnership is the ability to drive client ROI while offering outstanding customer experiences for every interaction being had.

The tools can monitor and change business conditions based on staffing levels and idle time to ensure agents are always working and revenue is not being lost.

Matt McConnell, Intradiem Chief Executive Officer commented, "The contact center is responsible for providing a customer experience that builds brand loyalty, so it has a direct effect on revenue growth. Companies have been collecting customer information for years, and now need help using that data to modernize and improve their frontline operations. Through partnerships with industry leaders like SSA, we are able to streamline and automate critical call center processes so that agents can deliver an outstanding customer experience with every interaction.” 

Last month, Intradiem made headlines with the announcement that it had seen worldwide growth in 2014 and that now more than 50 of the World’s largest companies are using its Intraday Automation Software.


Edited by Maurice Nagle

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