Tennessee Farmers Life Insurance Company Picks Sapiens to Modernize Policy Administration System

Tennessee Farmers Life Insurance Company Picks Sapiens to Modernize Policy Administration System

April 27, 2015

Sapiens International Corporation, a provider of retirement and insurance software solutions, has announced that Tennessee Farmers Life Insurance Company (TFLIC) has selected its ALIS policy administration system.

“We wish to thank Tennessee Farmers Life for selecting Sapiens and joining our growing Sapiens ALIS user community. We look forward to another successful implementation," Ron Karam, president of Sapiens’ North American insurance and retirement services division. "Our new partnership with TFLIC demonstrates Sapiens ongoing commitment to the Life and Annuity market as we continue to improve Sapiens ALIS to offer greater benefits to our customers."

TFLIC is moving to ALIS from the LIFE-COMM mainframe application. The company is converting over 330,000 policies to the cloud-based ALIS after a six month evaluation period. This is the third such conversion that Sapiens has performed. TFLIC will also connect with LifeNet, which is the main interface for both TFLIC employees and field agents.

ALIS offers new business, policy owner services, claims processing and repetitive payments.  Sapiens is also partnering with NTT (News - Alert) DATA to offer the company’s first cloud-based deployment of ALIS. Sapiens is using NTT’s application, migration and hosting capabilities under the deal.

Both Sapiens and TFLIC hope that the new system will improve the company’s insurance services while reducing the risks inherent in implementing new systems.

"We are pleased to partner with Sapiens to modernize our infrastructure, enabling Tennessee Farmers Life to enhance the service we provide to our policy holders and take advantage of current digitalization trends, including mobility and social media," said Dennis Stephen, chief operating officer of TFLIC. "We felt the Service-Oriented Architecture of Sapiens ALIS was ideal and the Sapiens personnel who have assisted with our due diligence process, and now the project, have been outstanding. This collaboration, along with Sapiens' reputation in the industry, gives us confidence in our decision."

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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New Partnership Focuses on Cloud-Based Call Center Solutions

April 23, 2015

  By Maurice Nagle, Call Center Solutions Web Editor

With much the same fervor we have seen birds return north for the summer enterprises are migrating to cloud-based call center solutions to best provide customers with exemplary service. Trying to capitalize on this recent trend, Corvisa, a cloud communications provider, announced a strategic partnership with Intelisys, one of the largest technology service distributors in the United States.


The partnership allows Intelisys to expand its portfolio of cloud solutions with Corvisa’a vast cloud communications offerings. Recently, Intelisys underscored its commitment to cloud technology with the announcement of its Cloud Sales Certification Program, which is designed to educate sales partners in all things cloud in order for them to better provide enterprises with the best fitting solution.

The adoption of cloud technology doesn’t need much help, but the partnership adds a little more inertia to this burgeoning space. Corvisa provides a business with a one-stop-shop for a business phone system, connectivity services, cloud contact center and most importantly a development platform that allows for smooth integration.

Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president of cloud transformation for Intelisys noted, "For Intelisys Sales Partners and their customers to be successful with cloud services, it's crucial that we have the right Supplier Partners in place to support each client's business needs. Corvisa's comprehensive communications platform, especially their focus on cloud contact center solutions, aligns perfectly with where our Sales Partners are headed -- leveraging the cloud to solve real problems for real businesses. We're enthusiastic and excited about the addition of Corvisa to the Intelisys cloud portfolio."

The way Corvisa has developed its Corvisa Summit Platform, the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) permits clients to customize their deployment, and create apps to meet the company’s needs while being scalable to grow with the firm.

Piet Knight, Corvisa vice president of channel sales proclaimed, "Our shared focus on best-in-class cloud services and exceptional customer service makes Intelisys and Corvisa a perfect pair. We are excited to help their Sales Partners continue to grow and excited to help bring the benefits of the cloud to their customers."

Call center solutions have seen a strong shift to the cloud, as it creates an extraordinarily flexible environment while providing ease of implementation and cost savings. Years ago, the idea of the cloud was just pie in the sky, today the sky is the limit.

 

Will Enterprises Get Hooked on Wearables?

Wearable tech is not just the latest buzz that’s happening around the Apple Watch or Google Glass. The wearable tech market is growing rapidly across numerous industries from healthcare to retail. One area where it’s becoming a strong contender is in the business world. As enterprises begin to realize the improved performance and success possible by bringing in wearable devices, spending on initiatives for wearables in the workplace is also increasing. 

New research from Salesforce shows more and more adopters are looking to incorporate wearables into the everyday workflow of business to help improve productivity and connectivity with employees and customers.

The new report, "Putting Wearables to Work: Insights on Wearable Technology in Business," also found that much like mobile devices have made their way into the business world, so too will wearable tech devices. They will follow similar paths in regard to developing specific apps catered to user needs and implementing BYOW (bring your own wearable) policies.

In fact, 54 percent of companies said they already have a BYOW policy in place and another 40 percent said they are planning to implement one in the future.

via Shutterstock

"Wearables are the next phase of the mobile revolution. Like smartphones before them, the key to success for wearables in the enterprise is all about the killer business apps," said Lindsey Irvine, Global Director of Strategic Partnerships, Salesforce. "This research demonstrates the tremendous opportunity for wearable use cases to drive significant business value."

What stands to be a giant game-changer for businesses will be the data collected from wearable devices and what they do with that data since it provides actionable insight in real-time.

More work is still needed in this area however. Only eight percent of those who responded said they are totally ready to gain the actionable insights from the data both employee and customer wearables will provide.

But a future where wearables are common place for the enterprise is inevitable. Seventy-nine percent of adopters said wearables, “are or will be strategic to their company's future success” with 86 percent saying they plan to increase spending over the next 12 months.

The quickest to climb in popularity once the enterprise wearable tech space gets into gear, will be smartwatches - followed by digital lanyards and smart glasses. All of these wearables can be used by employees who work remotely and on-the-go for easy access to vital information about customers and products and services. 

Wearables for the enterprise will be a key discussion at the upcoming Wearable Tech Expo. Topics will highlight the use of augmented reality in the enterprise and how in conjunction with business apps, employees, customers and a business’ bottom line all stand to benefit.

 

Report: Cloud Video Conferencing Set To Explode

April 23, 2015


By Rory J. Thompson
Web Editor

The expansion and acceptance of video conferencing services in the enterprise has had at least one new side benefit: the growth of cloud-based video conferencing services. A new report forecasts that the cloud-based video conferencing services market could be worth $2.9 billion by 2020.

According to research company Global Industry Analysts (GIA), a major factor driving the adoption of cloud video conferencing services is the need among enterprises to reduce operational costs and extend conferencing beyond their network boundaries.

According to an online report, “the rising demand for enterprise mobility and the ensuing increase in the number of mobile workers could lead many businesses to pursue cloud-based video conferencing services. Growth will also be fostered by the continuous expansion of the global Internet network, launch of 4G networks, and proliferation of IP-based video conferencing systems.”

It was noted that the study found 85 percent of business professionals said they want one cloud-based video conferencing service for remote meetings and 71 percent said they believed they lost a deal due to lack of face-to-face interaction.

“IP based Video Conferencing Services represent a major product in the video conferencing services market,” it was discovered. “While on-premise video conferencing continues to account for a major share of revenues, future growth will be driven by increased adoption of cloud-based video conferencing services and managed video conferencing solutions. A key factor driving the adoption of cloud solutions is the need to curb infrastructure spending.”

Not surprisingly, the U.S. was cited as the largest market for such services, but the Asia-Pacific region is coming up fast, projected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 13.5 percent through 2020.

The report also noted that as cloud video conferencing catches on, more players will join in, boosting the market even further. In particular, education, healthcare and government were cited as three prime areas for growth.

 

Got VoIP for Your Business?

Got VoIP for Your Business?

April 23, 2015

By Maurice Nagle, Virtual PBX Web Editor

A recent survey on U.S. small and medium sized businesses’ (SMB) perceptions and usage of business phone systems illustrated some intriguing results; most notably that awareness of technology trends and specifically business phone system trends is low. And, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau Data firms that qualify for the SMB tag make up 99.7 percent of employer firms in the United States. When we put these two points together, there’s an issue—as Plato once said, “Ignorance is bliss.” If you don’t know, you simply don’t know.

For that reason, this article will take a look at a Business VoIP provider that is reliable, cost-friendly and for those not so tech savvy, quite user friendly. As a company experiencing healthy growth, Nextiva has received industry-wide kudos as one of the preeminent business VoIP providers in today’s market.

One of the biggest advantages Nextiva offers is its professional account setup. While you do have to manually plug in the phones sent to your business, there is a fair of amount of hand holding, if necessary, during the installation process. The business VoIP provider is the only such provider that assigns each client a personal account representative to offer end-to-end support; offering the expertise and skill of a professional installation minus the additional price tag.

Getting down to the nitty gritty, Nextiva provides an SMB with a plethora of features at the reasonable price of about $45 a month. Nextiva’s customer support teams are U.S.-based, and according to fitsmallbusiness.com answer 95 percent of service calls within the first two rings. Conversely, a RingCentral may have quality offerings but only guarantees the same level of customer service for its larger clients. With Nextiva, you know what you’re business is getting, no hidden fees and no contract.

VoIP service is an easy way for SMBs to cut costs on their phone bill, add functionality and improve collaboration. Additionally, if one were to leverage a cloud-based business VoIP solution the headache of hardware storage and maintenance can become a thing of the past.

The virtual PBX offerings of today are easily implemented, cost nothing to store and provide a firm with the desired mobility, scalability and reliability.

The benefits are bountiful for those that make the jump to a business VoIP provider. Do your research, find the provider that works for you and enjoy the splendor that is business VoIP. While ignorance may be bliss, in some instances it pays to be well informed. This is one of them.  

 

Free the Bandwidth: FCC Opens Access to 3.5GHz Spectrum

The Federal Communications Commission is planning to open up access to airwaves that were previously reserved strictly for military use and other government operations, in the 3.5GHz band. The idea is to create more capacity for advanced wireless services.


"Since they don’t make spectrum anymore, and since spectrum is the pathway of the 21st century, we have to figure out how we’re going to live with a fixed amount," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (News - Alert). "Sharing is key to that."

The idea is to implement a three-tier plan to ensure no interference with existing incumbent users, known as the Citizens Broadband Radio Service. The top tier of the band will be reserved for the federal government and other existing users, who will, along with (surprise!) the Defense Department be guaranteed protection from interference. In the middle tier, the FCC (News - Alert) will auction off short-duration licenses to commercial companies. And at the bottom will be the General Authorized Access tier, which will be thrown open for use as unlicensed spectrum, much like Wi-Fi, open to enterprising device manufacturers and others without further approval from the FCC.

The plan “is setting a new paradigm for how spectrum sharing should work,” Wheeler said.

The move will open frequencies from 3550MHz to 3700MHz to non-government users. These are frequencies that don’t have good indoor propagation characteristics nor do they have long-distance capabilities. So, the application, at least at first, will be focused on supporting small cell deployments and hotspot backhaul.

Industry groups praised the move.

“The spectrum crunch remains very real and the FCC’s action represents significant progress towards opening more spectrum for broadband,” Telecommunications Industry Associations chief executive Scott Belcher said in a statement.

The Wireless Innovation (News - Alert) Forum was similarly pleased.

“We welcome this announcement and look forward to reviewing the rules once they are published in the Federal Register,” said Bruce Oberlies of Motorola (News - Alert) Solutions, chair of the WIF. “Our Spectrum Sharing Committee members have been working hard to lay the groundwork for successful advancement of commercial deployment and incumbent protection in the 3.5 GHz band. The Forum members are excited to see this continue to move forward with the Commission’s leadership.”

On April 17, the FCC also said it had voted to propose a notice seeking public comment on competitive bidding practices and rules in auctions of airwaves to go along with the move.

 

Aptean Upgrades to CRM Pivotal 6.5, Focuses on Mobile

April 22, 2015

Customer relationship management software developer Aptean recently announced the launch of the latest version of its enterprise CRM software Pivotal 6.5.

The company says its mission is not to be all things to all people; when products try to do too much, they can fall flat. Instead, the update to Pivotal has mobile sales users in mind and tries to assist that population with their needs both inside and outside the office. Matt Keenan, vice president of the CRM Product Group at Aptean, commented on specific focus of the updated package.

“Aptean believes that CRM solutions struggle when they try to be ‘all things to all people.’ With that in mind, we’ve rethought the traditional look and feel of CRM to meet the needs of today’s hyper-connected, mobile sales users,” Keenan said.

He goes on to mention that the software delivers sales tools that include the management of existing and potential customers. It can be helpful to salespersons when they are in the office making a cold call to a prospective client, and it can reaffirm their knowledge of existing clients they may meet in the field.

This sort of everywhere-type management is made possible through mobile. Pivotal can work just as well on a desktop as it can on a user's mobile phone or tablet. Furthermore, it is made to give sales teams the same experience in all locations so they know exactly how the software will perform before they open the app.

Added features to the software include the ability to create emails, take notes, and make appointments while viewing a calendar. When scheduling for a day, week, or month's workflow the multiple-function dashboard can be invaluable. On their way to such appointments, mobile users can also use the built-in map to see where their clients are located and make sure they arrive at their destinations without struggle. Finally, users can also create their own customized dashboards to give them an overview of graphs or make quick searches from a primary location.

Updates here are meant to provide usability to sales teams that are always on the go. For the most part, that describes nearly every modern sales team, and it is clear that Aptean is placing its focus on that demographic. Teams that work primarily from the office are not necessarily at a disadvantage if they upgrade to Pivotal version 6.5, but they may find themselves nudged in a direction that has mobile as its endpoint. The use of smartphones and tablets is the new present and the foreseeable future; Aptean knows this and is helping carve the way forward.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Facebook Tweaks its News Feed: Don’t Panic

Inhale.

Updates to the Facebook page layout have proved that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Every time the social media platform tweaks its interface, everyone and their grandmother starts seeing red—and not because they have more notifications.

The most recent changes are to the News feed, and they’re for the best.

Exhale.

 According to an article in the Irish Examiner, Facebook’s newest changes are entirely aimed at improving the overall user experience, and there will be no noticeable changes to the actual page layout.

For starters, the News Feed will begin to place updates from friends higher up on the page. Important updates, such as photos, videos, links and status updates from close friends that users regularly interact with will generally pop up at the top of the feed, while the “junk” content gets shuffled toward the bottom. Users will therefore see the updates that matter to them each time they arrive at the page or open the mobile app.

Another change is that fewer updates about friends commenting or liking other posts will be placed lower in the feed. Once the user shows interest by liking or commenting on the post, future activity will show higher on the News Feed. Facebook is also easing up on restrictions that prevent multiple posts from a single source from showing on the News Feed.

Because Facebook’s content is mostly driven by who the user chooses to befriend and which pages he or she “likes,” the platform is fairly personalized as it is. Nevertheless, the idea that social media only shows us what we want to see is an assumption, and one that the most recent changes to the News Feed is aimed at addressing.

That’s not to say that Facebook won’t completely alter its interface at some point and basically tell its community of millions to suck it up and deal.

But for the time being at least, Zuckerberg’s got your back. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Agricultural Insurance is a ?. Wait for it ? Risky Business.

To help alleviate the risks, ADM Crop Risk Services (ADM CRS) applied for permission from the FAA to fly drones over insured fields to check for damage and improve claim processing. That application was approved by the administration on April 22.

“ADM is continuing to deliver on our commitment to create shareholder value, including by enhancing how we deliver products and services to our customers,” said Greg Mills, President, ADM CRS. “Now, we are setting our sights even higher, with UAV plans and technology that are significantly ahead of the rest of the industry.”

The company’s UAV technology includes the software to integrate the drones in its Aeros suite of claims software and makes it easier to locate and calculate crop damage and transfer that information into a claim, so customers can get payments faster. That’s critical to a farmer that has suffered a loss.

The holdup has been that the FAA does not typically allow private firms to operate drones in commercial airspace, unless given an express

Image via Flickr

variance. Now that it has one, the company plans to have UAVs in the air by 2016. The system will be rolled out to customers in the Midwest first, followed by other regions.

ADM’s UAVs will be able to identify and measure damaged acres, corn stand counts, wind-blown or green snap acres, hail damage, prevented planting acreage and acreage without crop vegetation. The drones will be automated and able to take off, make measurements and land by themselves, using proprietary software that enables them to automatically download measurements and information as images are taken. This process streamlines the system so that data analysis and claims processing can begin almost immediately.

“We are tremendously excited to start showing this state-of-the-art system to our customers,” said Mills. “We’ll be offering something no one else in the industry can offer, and the farmers we serve will be the ones who benefit.”

Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity brings freedom. Let’s see what this brings.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Atlassian Embraces Open Source with BlueJimp Acquisition

April 22, 2015

Atlassian is a company known for its development of collaboration tools such as HipChat – a Web-based service for private individual and group chat and instant messaging. Now, it may become known as a proponent of open source with its acquisition of the video conferencing service BlueJimp.

BlueJimp has its headquarters in France and is known in the area for its Jitsi open-source chat and video conferencing software. Jitsi contains the Videobridge video router that allows developers to build video chat services through WebRTC. According to analysis at TechCrunch, it is Videobridge which is likely of most interest to Atlassian. What's more is that all things BlueJimp come with the added benefit of being open source, so there is a community of independent contributors that back those technologies. Bernardo de Albergaria, the vice president of Atlassian, spoke to those points in his statement regarding the acquisition.

“Supporting the Jitsi open source project will allow great minds from around the world to advance video for the workplace faster than we would be able to on our own,” Albergaria said. “This is an exciting new venture for Atlassian that will enrich HipChat in ways that haven’t yet been imagined.”

The Jitsi project will not end with Atlassian's takeover of BlueJimp. The company says it will continue supporting the project and leaving the code open source. The most immediate benefit users will likely see in HipChat is support for multi-party video chat whereas users were previously limited to one-to-one chats. TechCrunch notes that this will be made possible through Videobridge's focus on relaying, rather than mixing, video content; that way a single server can support communications between thousands of participants at once.

The distant future of HipChat could entail support for mixing and recording video on a number of platforms including Apple Watch. For now, though, it is likely that Atlassian will continue to monitor how the community continues to support development of BlueJimp overall. Albergaria said the community could help advance the product in ways Atlassian has not yet imagined. That noted, it will take an effort on Atlassian's part to find out what it has imagined and notice the differences between those two possible futures. Only that way will the company be able to enhance its proprietary products with the collective mind already dedicated to making BlueJimp better.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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