Look out, Apple! Google, Intel and TAG Heuer Announce Swiss Smartwatch

The only news in consumer wearables that anyone seems to want to talk about lately is the Apple (not-i)Watch. Although, it’s mostly to complain about how silly the $17,000 gold version is. Well, now, there’s an answer, thanks to collaboration from Google, Intel and Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer.

The trio announced the project on March 19 at Baselworld, a watch and jewelry trade show in Basel, Switzerland. More than 2,000 leading watch and jewelry exhibitors from 45 countries gather to talk about the time every year and announce new products. This Swiss smartwatch will have Intel processing, an Android Wear OS and TAG Heuer branding and styling. If it wasn’t so uncouth to mention it, they’d probably also sell burn cream to anyone who had already paid for Apple’s offering.

“Swiss watch making and Silicon Valley is a marriage of technological innovation with watch making credibility,” said Jean-Claude Biver, CEO, TAG Heuer and President of the Watch Division, LVMH Group. “The potential for our three companies is enormous."

The main thrust of the group is to try and make a smartwatch that looks good (something for which nearly everyone is still waiting) and works for the mass of potential users (something which will require much proving).

“By fusing beauty with technology, the Swiss watch has inspired generations of artists and engineers alike – including us at Google,” said David Singleton, Director of Engineering for Android Wear at Google. “Together, and using the Android Wear platform, we can imagine a better, beautiful, smarter watch.”

No proposed price point was announced, but you can rest assured it’ll cost more than you think, and still much less than an Apple (extremely limited) Edition.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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TE Connectivity, AppliedMicro Connect on Data Center Cable Effort

TE Connectivity, AppliedMicro Connect on Data Center Cable Effort

March 23, 2015

AppliedMicro Circuits Corp. and TE Connectivity are collaborating to create high-speed cable connectivity solutions for the data center.

The endgame for these vendors is to provide active copper cables to connect servers to top-of-rack switches at 40gbps and 50gbps data rates. Users of these solutions stand to benefit by reducing the number of cables needed to connect CPUs to switches by up to 75 percent; that, the vendors says, can translate into improved cooling and management, and lower costs.

The effort will leverage AppliedMicro’s 28nm low-power DSP-based PAM transceiver and TE Connectivity’s high-speed copper cable assemblies, which are available in a range of gauges from 24 to 33.

AppliedMicro sells a variety of gear, including a serial 40G PAN solution offering low power and high-speed ADC/DAC, a Multi Link Gearbox that allows for low-cost, high-efficiency server connectivity within a data center rack, and the HeliX 2 embedded ARMv8-A, 64-bit system on a chip for use in such applications as video streaming.

TE Connectivity is a $14 billion technology company that sells a wide variety of solutions, including distributed antenna solutions and sensors. In other news from TE Connectivity this month, the company announced that Terrence Curtin has been named president. The 14-year company veteran came from TE Connectivity’s industrial solutions business.

Tom Lynch, TE Connectivity chairman and CEO, to whom Curtin reports, commented:  "We are consistently executing our strategy and are well positioned to capitalize on the world's increasing demand for connectivity. Our product portfolio is stronger than ever with an unmatched range of connectivity and sensor solutions that serve customers in just about every industry. An essential part of our strategy is to evolve our organization and leadership to meet the increasing demands of the global environment in which we operate.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Chicago Blows Hot the Wind of Change with IoT Think Tank

Some follow change, some resist it and others cause it. The city of Chicago is once again proving that in the IoT arena, it is determined to lead as a Smart City. On March 23, UI Labs, a consortium of civic, industrial and university leaders working together to create new technology for the city, announced its second program since its founding last year: CityWorks. The CityWorks program will develop and test urban IoT infrastructure solutions in Chicago, which will eventually be sent out to other cities for their use. Development will focus on energy management, physical infrastructure, water and sanitation systems, and transportation and logistics systems.  

Joining the consortium as founding members are Microsoft, Accenture, ComEd and Siemens. The researchers working in the four target areas will be tasked with addressing existing challenges through M2M, and producing commercializable solutions in each area. The various stakeholders from the city, local universities and corporate partners are formulating a strategic investment plan and putting together a list of initial project proposals. Between six and eight projects will be launched in 2015, and those announcements will come in the next few months.

“Infrastructure forms the backbone of our cities, our economy and our society,” Caralynn Nowinski, Executive Director, UI LABS, said. “The challenges involved are so big that solutions require the combined efforts of the best and brightest at multiple organizations, which is what we have brought together to launch CityWorks. The goal is to use Chicago as a ‘test bed’ of urban innovation, drive breakthroughs, and create proven technology solutions that can be commercialized, scaled quickly and replicated in other cities.”

The support for the project goes right to the top, with city Mayor Rahm Emanuel on board, although the day-to-day work is under the purview of Deputy Mayor Steve Koch. “Making sure that the City of Chicago works for residents in every neighborhood is critical to the continued growth of our city and its economy,” Emanuel said.

Microsoft is on board for the possibility of new learning about urban infrastructure improvements, according to Dan’l Lewin, Corporate VP, Technology and Civic Engagement at Microsoft. “Technology can empower people and organizations to tackle key societal challenges, and cities are at the forefront of discovery and impact for this movement,” he said.

In addition to Microsoft, Accenture, ComEd and Siemens, Chicago-based companies HBK Engineering and Level-1 Communications have joined the consortium to provide specific, technical expertise. The academic and civic partners include: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Clean Energy Trust, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology, Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, Metropolitan Planning Council, Northwestern University, Smart Chicago Collaborative, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and World Business Chicago. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Etisalat and Alcatel-Lucent to Give UAE Customers Greater Control over Their Services

One of the emerging trends in both fixed and wireless services is the use by service providers of network information to enable their customers to have visibility and better control over their services.  From being more proactive about security to managing data plans, the use of such network-based information is a win-win.  Network operators win from having better information about what is going on in their networks so they can better manage the customer experience on a variety of fronts. At the same time, as noted, customers win by being able to manage a key monthly expense item. Plus, they can do so in real-time and without the need for making a call to get the information.   

An example of how useful such capabilities are, and why they have attracted the attention of service providers globally, is the announcement by  Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) and Etisalat, the UAE’s leading telecoms company, of an agreement to deploy Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Customer Experience Management (CEM) portfolio for Etisalat’s (News - Alert) mobile and fixed-line customers in the UAE.

The agreement was signed at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and will be deployed in Etisalat’s contact centers that serve mobile 4G LTE (News - Alert), cloud and fixed services customer needs.  As Etisalat’s networks are some of the most advanced in the world, the deployment represents the kinds of steps leading-edge service providers are taking to streamline their operations while upping the competitive ante when it comes to customer satisfaction.

As explained in the announcement, Etisalat will use the Motive solution to gain greater visibility of ultra-broadband traffic as well as the applications and devices using its entire portfolio of services which include mobile data, mobile voice, IPTV (News - Alert), entertainment, ultra-broadband Internet access and voice services. 

The solution has new workflow tools designed for agent-assisted, self-help and proactive care.  It will allow Etisalat’s agents and consumers to troubleshoot and resolve issues more quickly.  Specific uses of Motive by Etalisalat include:

  • Automatic detection, diagnosis and resolution of device issues which can substantially reduce call resolution times.
  • The addition of self-care channels to enable customers to resolve technical without the need to engage a contact center agent unless necessary.
  • Use of the Motive CEM portfolio to cover device management, service management and orchestration, analytics and content management.

The partners are excited about the agreement. 

Saleh Sayed Ahmed, VP, Digital Services & Customer Experience, Etisalat, said:  “Together, Etisalat and Alcatel-Lucent have shaped the high quality of service our customers have come to expect. With the end-to-end Motive Customer Experience Management solutions, we are taking that quality of customer service a step further by providing consistent, automated, self-care capabilities to our mobile and fixed network customers in the UAE.”

Amr K. El-Leithy, President, Alcatel-Lucent Middle East, Africa, Turkey & Azerbaijan, said:  “In the United Arab Emirates – one of the most advanced telecom markets in the world – Etisalat continues to make the customer service experience its top priority. Deploying Motive CEM solutions across its mobile and fixed networks enable customers to consume the ultra-broadband services they demand while also enjoying a superior subscriber experience.”

It may be hyperbole to say that the whole world will be watching the results of Etisalat’s deployment and the impacts it has on operations, customer satisfaction and retention.  However, service providers are going to be paying close attention to this and other similar deployments as optimization of the monetization of customer engagements through enhancec customer experiences increasingly becomes a top C-level priority.   

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

NetFortris Targets Retailers with New Cloud Communications Bundle

NetFortris Targets Retailers with New Cloud Communications Bundle

March 23, 2015

Retail business may understand the benefits and cost advantages of cloud communications solutions, but many are reluctant to adopt these offerings due to fear of complicated setup and maintenance. Yet many retailers would greatly benefit from the convenience, low price point and incredible flexibility of cloud offerings.

NetFortris, Inc. is targeting these types of retailers with its new Cloud Communications Retail Bundle, which eliminates the headache and complexity of deploying cloud services. The new package offers applications as well as security, analytics, and networking to enable retailers to quickly and easily setup advanced shopping environments. The solution is also easy to manage without any complex IT skills or manpower required.

"We're making it easier than ever for retailers and restaurant owners to get access to secure Internet, Wi-Fi and phone services so they can sell more, connect with consumers more effectively, and grow their business," said Scott Smith, EVP of sales at NetFortris. "Our solutions are highly reliable, simple to use, and PCI (News - Alert) compliant so merchants can protect sensitive customer data.”

The new retail bundle is essentially a cloud communications package in a box, with all services delivered over the NetFortris carrier-grade and redundant private network. All hardware, network and security infrastructure are managed by NetFortris, and businesses can take advantage of 10Gb network speeds.

The network supports a number of high-speed business apps, including VoIP, video, managed Wi-Fi and a variety of business analytics. NetFortris also offers built-in security using advanced firewalls, application monitoring and intrusion detection and prevention. The bundle comes with two hosted VoIP enterprise seats and gives retailers the option of installing a Polycom hardline phone and a Yealink (News - Alert) cordless phone or two wireless IP phones.

NetFortris has a solid background in providing comprehensive cloud communications offerings to the enterprise along with the healthcare and financial markets, and the new retail offering is an extension of that expertise. It is also completely customizable to accommodate retailers of any size as well as multi-site and geographically dispersed organizations.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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Is Mobile VoIP Helping to Drive Demand for Network Analytics?

March 23, 2015

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Has any industry evolved as quickly as telecommunications in the last decade? While we can point to technology as the frontrunner, we also know that telecommunications relies more heavily on technology today than at any point in the past. As businesses adopt Voice over IP (VoIP), mobility is gaining even more importance. The time is right to enable mobile VoIP adoption and the market is primed to follow suit.

According to the Network Analytics Market by Deployment Types (On Premise, On Demand,) by Application (Mobile, VoIP and Fixed Line, Unified Communications (News - Alert)) by End Users (Cloud Service Providers, Telecommunications) – Global Forecast to 2019, the network analytics market is on schedule to grow from $589.6 million in 2014 to $1,842.2 million by 2019. This growth represents a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25.6 percent.  In terms of revenue generated, North America is the largest market, although Asia-Pacific is expected to emerge as a high-growth opportunity.

Much of this growth is due to the activity taking place in cloud computing, big data and mobility. In markets throughout the world, companies are trying to determine the best way to incorporate new technologies into optimization. This often requires a closer look at the network and how best to optimize performance. When high performance integrated services are affecting network performance, it’s time to do something about it. A network analytics solution can help, especially as it lends efficiency and a lower cost.

Companies all over the world are also migrating to digitalization services. Whether they have multiple locations or are trying to support the disparate employee base, these companies have a high demand for network analytics. This is especially important in areas where they company wants to support mobile VoIP and ensure users have access to the tools and communications they need to be effective in the field.

At the same time, users across the enterprise and small business need access to unified communications. Regardless of work-life balance, they need to streamline communications to ensure optimal productivity and support operations effectively. Whether Bring Your Own Device is a primary focus or simply supporting mobile VoIP, companies need a proven strategy to move forward and the internal infrastructure to support this initiative.

For that reason, companies are increasingly turning to REVE Systems to support their mobile VoIP adoption. Whether the goal is to white label the service or support a global team, the primary objective is to provide companies with the resources they need to effectively compete in today’s competitive industries.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Why Strategic Thinking Is Crucial in Content Marketing, Part I

March 23, 2015

If you spend hours every week trying to figure out how to get your marketing department thinking more strategically and producing more strategically positioned content, you have plenty of company. Executives and managers are searching—in many cases desperately—for employees with the ability to examine every angle of a problem or opportunity and make decisions that will drive positive business outcomes in both the long and short term.

Let our advance worrying become our advance thinking and planning.”Winston Churchill 

 In fact, a recent poll of 1,320 MBA recruiters conducted by Bloomberg Businessweek found that strategic thinking was the most difficult skill to find among job applicants. Strategic thinking is difficult to find and harness for several distinct reasons:

  • It does not come naturally to many people
  • Looking at the “big picture” is challenging in any deadline-driven environment
  • Creative dissonance is crucial, which can be uncomfortable for employees and managers
  • It requires risk-taking and a willingness to fail

“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.”Albert Einstein 

Despite its relevant scarcity, strategic thinking is a critical component of quality content marketing. A content marketing strategy is an integrated, ongoing approach—rather than an isolated campaign or singular effort—so macro thinking is a perquisite for creating material that drives successful business outcomes. No single piece of content should ever be created in a vacuum; every blog, social media post, white paper or case study should be crafted with a specific audience and goal in mind, even if the objective is simply to educate the reader.

Each piece of content should also be tied to a larger, overarching strategy. Even as you write a white paper that you plan to gate on your website for lead capture, for instance, you should be thinking about key phrases or statistics in the document to use in a social post to drive prospects to download the asset. You should also make mental notes of topics within the white paper that you could turn into a blog post that would, of course, include a call to action to download the white paper. 

In other words, strategic content creation is about seeing two and three steps ahead and taking a broad view of your work without losing focus on the task at hand. For many professionals, marketers included, achieving that kind of 360-degree perspective can be difficult to establish. Like any skill or talent, strategic thinking comes more easily to some people than others. So the question for managers and employees then becomes, can strategic thinking be taught? Stay tuned—we will examine that question in Part II of this piece. 

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Wheelings & Dealings: Vidder Receives $12 Million Funding Round to Help Deliver Access Control Solution

March 23, 2015

By Laura Stotler, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The prevalence of cloud computing within the enterprise has led to a marked increase in cyber attacks and a need for companies to tighten their security measures and become more proactive. Vidder, a company that specializes in high-level access control for extended and distributed enterprises, understands the benefits and risks of the cloud and is stepping up its game.

The company has received $12 million in Series B financing, which will be used to help deliver its PrecisionAccess solution to global enterprises. The offering is designed to combat credential theft, server exploitation and connection hijacking to meet the specific needs of enterprises that are utilizing cloud applications and services.

PrecisionAccess dynamically connects only trusted and strongly authenticated users to similarly authorized systems, heading off cyber attacks before they can occur. The offering uses Vidder’s Software Defined Perimeter architecture to ensure enterprises are secure and breaches are intercepted in a timely manner.

“Cyber attacks are rampant,” said Mark Hoover, CEO of Vidder. “Many of the massive, continuing breaches we see today are the results of enterprise applications being exposed to all kinds of users in the extended enterprise of cloud apps and partner ecosystems. We’ve had great success protecting Fortune 500 companies in the US and are looking forward to now expanding globally.”

Indeed, Vidder will use the new funding to expand its global marketing efforts as well as sales and customer service. The company will work to better deliver the PrecisionAccess solution to targeted customers, who can take advantage of its built-in multifactor authentication capabilities. Vidder’s Software Defined Perimeter technology isolates application servers from all users, which largely reduces the attack surface from malicious users who might set out to exploit vulnerabilities in servers or applications.

This approach works particularly well in cloud environments, and has been promoted by the Cloud Security Alliance as a high-level access control security model. The approach has also been validated in public “hackathons,” attended by global participants who generate billions of attack packets to try to compromise a target server.

The new funding run was led by LDV Partners and includes support from Presidio Ventures (News - Alert) (News - Alert), ONSET Ventures and Voyager Capital, among others.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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Telecom Signaling Week in Review: TI Sparkle, Vodafone and Oracle Communications

March 21, 2015

This week in the Telecom Signaling Community, as if confirmation were needed, highlights the diversity of uses of next generation signaling.  It underscores the proposition that if you are a service provider or a government agency, fulfilling the promise of the connected broadband world regardless of channel starts with advanced signaling. 

The examples of this, which also exemplify the importance of using sophisticated analytics to create actionable insights from signaling information, came this week in the announcement that TI Sparkle has selected Starhome Mach for Data Clearing and Analytics to improve service delivery, support OSS/BSS capabilities and enhance the customer experience.

In an illustration that next generation signaling in the mobility sphere is not confined to operators of physical mobile networks—but is also critical for cable operators—multi-service operators (MSOs) and OTTs, Vodafone’s German cable operations selected NetNumber to provide solutions to virtualize its infrastructure. 

As noted above, the importance of signaling is widespread, and not just for network operators, but for key vertical markets. This is exemplified by Morgan County, Ohio’s successful deployment of NG 9-1-1 based on a solution developed by General Dynamics Information Technology in July 2014 that uses an Oracle Communications Session Border Controller (SBC) as a foundational piece of the solution.   

While it may seem this week is ending on somewhat of a downer, it is not. The good news is that Infonetics Research is out with a report that highlights how LTE is driving impressive investment in mobile infrastructure including signaling. The not so good news is that the research firm is predicting a drop-off of such investments a few years out because 4G LTE will have been deployed so extensively.  I painted a scenario where they could be wrong about the decline.

Weekend Reading

This is a gentle reminder that the weekend is a good time, if you have time, to get caught up on industry news and insights, and our community home page is a great way to stay current. It is constantly being updated with news, whitepapers, data sheets, and other valuable resources.  Check out the whitepaper LTE Diameter Signaling Index-3rd Edition. Plus, Manage the future now which looks at how Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) implementation will raise interesting challenges regarding Operation Support Systems (OSS), is worth spending time with as well.   

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