InContact Gets Industry Recongition

November 19, 2015

It doesn’t really matter how good you say your company is; the real proof comes when someone else says it. Validation from outside sources is what makes others in the industry stand up and take notice.

So it was with understandable pride that inContact, the leading provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, announced recently it had received the prestigious 2015 North American Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert) Award for Customer Value Leadership.

The recognition means a lot in a competitive industry. Frost & Sullivan is known as the “Growth Partnership Company”, enabling its clients to accelerate growth and achieve best-in-class positions in growth, innovation and leadership. “The company's Growth Partnership Service provides the CEO and the CEO's Growth Team with disciplined research and best-practice models to drive the generation, evaluation and implementation of powerful growth strategies,” the company says on its site.

To better support its evaluation of best practices across multiple business performance categories, Frost & Sullivan employed a customized Decision Support Scorecard, which allowed research and consulting teams to objectively analyze performance according to key benchmarking criteria, and assign ratings on that basis. “The tool follows a 10-point scale that allows for nuances in performance evaluation,” the company said. “InContact outscored its two nearest competitors with scores of 9 in both the Customer Impact and Business Impact categories.”

For its part, inContact felt vindicated by the findings.

"We are honored to receive this recognition and further validate our leadership position in the industry," said Paul Jarman, CEO at inContact. "We recognize that, while having premier technology is crucial, helping companies achieve their goals is essential. This Award from Frost & Sullivan substantiates our powerful combination of highly developed cloud technology with expert services, and a rich partner ecosystem, as the premier solution in the contact center market."

One company noted that its selection on inContact has made a notable difference. Hoveround Corporation, a provider of power chairs, electric scooters and other mobility solutions, chose inContact for its inbound contact center solution back in 2009. After six years in the cloud, Hoveround added inContact's Personal Connection outbound solution in 2014 and has seen results by eliminating the telltale awkward pause of typical legacy dialers. The connection rate with customers increased from 19 percent to 46 percent and continues to climb, Hoveround says.

"InContact’s strategy to focus solely on the cloud has enabled it to address many challenges within the contact center market," said Frost & Sullivan Principal Analyst Nancy Jamison. "First, the all-in-one, multi-tenant approach does away with the integration hassles found in on-premise deployments; second, the company has resolved cloud reliability issues head-on."

UAE Businesses Held Back by VoIP Regulatory Restrictions

VoIP has long struggled in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Businesses are starting to push back.

Currently, only two businesses are licensed to offer VoIP in the UAE—telecom giants Etisalat (News - Alert) and du. This effectively has held back the VoIP market in the UAE, keeping out telecom competition from businesses that would offer the newer technology.

Not being able to take advantage of the cost savings from VoIP may not be such a big thing for large businesses, but smaller firms are finding this restriction increasingly onerous.

“It has to be through Etisalat and du, through an actual phone line, and the cost is a lot, it’s not cheap,” Ambareen Musa, founder and chief executive of the financial products comparison website, told the UAE paper, The National. “And the more we expand, the more expensive it’s going to become.”

The inability to use VoIP also makes mobile calling more of a challenge, she noted.

“You will find on the mobile trying to do a Skype call over VoIP is quite difficult,” she said. “You can’t call an actual number. FaceTime (News - Alert) doesn’t work. As a business owner and someone who’s always on the run, it’s definitely a hindrance.”

UAE telecommunications regulator TRA said back in 2010 that it was in talks with Skype (News - Alert) and other VoIP providers about expanding the number of businesses that could offer VoIP. But, five years, on there still are no other businesses licensed to offer VoIP.

It is possible to still use Skype with other Skype users in the UAE. So VoIP isn’t completely inaccessible for UAE businesses. But the advantage of being able to call on traditional phone networks is a crucial function of business-grade VoIP.

The heavy-handedness of TRA is really holding back small and medium-sized businesses at a time when the UAE needs to be encouraging more such businesses. The growth in small and medium private businesses is considered a crucial non-oil sector of the UAE economy.

Unfortunately, protests from business owners have not been enough yet to liberalize the UAE’s VoIP market.


FCC Proposal Would Include VoIP Handsets in Accessibility Requirements

VoIP is becoming the technology of choice for landlines, and the Federal Communications Commission is paying attention with its proposed update to accessibility requirements for telephones and handsets.

The FCC (News - Alert) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Oct 30 that would, along with updating the rules regarding hearing aid compatibility (HAC), now include VoIP handset manufacturers in any accessibility requirements.

Present HAC rules apply only to handsets used for traditional PSTN. With growing adoption of VoIP, however, the FCC proposal would now extend these requirements to any handset whether it is used for PSTN or VoIP.

HAC requirements go back to 1988 and the inclusion section 710 of the Communications Act, which mandates that all telephones manufactured or imported for use in the United States to provide an “internal means for effective use with hearing aids that are designed to be compatible with telephones which meet established technical standards for hearing aid compatibility.” This requirement initially meant that telephones had to include an electromagnetic coil to allow inductive coupling between telephone handsets and hearing aids. Since 1996, the FCC also has mandated volume control requirements.

The inclusion of VoIP in landline regulations makes sense given widespread VoIP use, but it also is deeply problematic for the industry. While most handsets now have more than adequate volume controls, the inclusion of VoIP handsets in the regulatory requirements effectively means that VoIP phones now must follow inductive coupling requirements. That would be both expensive and hard to implement.

One ray of hope in this new proposal is that it also offers up a new procedure for the establishment of the technical standards. The FCC has proposed a streamlined process that enables wireless and wireline handsets to be considered hearing aid compatible if they are compliant with relevant technical standards developed through a public participation process and in consultation with interested consumer stakeholders designated by the FCC. A new Disability Advisory Committee will help identify these stakeholders. This could help bring some sanity to the proposed new regulations.


Food Recalls are Increasing, and so are Costs, Says Study

Food Recalls are Increasing, and so are Costs, Says Study

November 18, 2015

It is becoming ever more clear how important the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is to the safety of the food supply chain, and why compliance will mean good business for those farmers, suppliers, shippers and storage facilities that are affected.

A recent study from Swiss Re in Zurich, a global insurance firm, showed a number of important trends, including: that the number of recalls per year in the US has almost doubled since 2002, food contamination costs US health authorities $15.6 billion per year, about 9 million Americans became sick from contaminated food in 2013 alone, half of all food recalls cost the affected companies more than $10 million, and the globalised food supply chain is making risk management for food recalls more difficult.

Food manufacturers operate in a vast, globalised supply chain, and contaminations can cause sickness, death and millions in hard losses and reputation damage for companies under the lash. Swiss Re recently published its “Food Safety in a Globalised World” paper, which examines how the increasing number food recalls is impacting consumers public health services, governments and companies globally. The report describes how risk mitigation and risk transfer through insurance can protect food manufacturers operating in a highly globalised, often fragmented, supply chain.

“In a more globalized economy, ensuring the highest level of food safety is becoming an ever greater challenge for firms,” said Jayne Plunkett, Head of Casualty Reinsurance, Swiss Re. “Today ingredients and technologies are sourced worldwide. This leads to greater complexity for food manufacturers and consumer and regulatory demands on companies are continually increasing.”

Globally, the report found that demographic change is also exposing more sensitive consumer groups to the dangers of contaminated food. Aging societies, an increase in allergies in the overall population and malnourishment as a source of lack of physical resiliency are significant factors for the increase in exposure.

“Food recalls can be caused by something as simple as a labeling error on the packaging, or as complex as a microbial contamination somewhere along a vast globalised supply chain,” said Roland Friedli, Risk Engineer and co-author of the report, Swiss Re. “Yet even a simple mistake can cost a food manufacturer millions in losses and even more in terms of reputation. Insurance and sound risk management are essential for keeping affected businesses afloat.”

To download the full report, click here.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Tech Trine, Radisys, Octasic and Quortus Partner to Save Lives Through Innovative Communications

November 18, 2015

The services acceleration company, Radisys Corporation, joins forces with Octasic, Inc. and Quortus to make a difference in Defense and Public Safety operations. Announced earlier this week, this tech trine is releasing a complete 4G/3G/2G secure network that will encourage and facilitate better communications amongst Military personnel and disaster relief organizations. The Multi-Radio Network-in-a-Box system comes equipped with a private end-to-end LTE network, protected by a compact and ruggedize form factor.

“This integrated multi-standard base station, available for all OCTASIC’s BTS platforms, provides unique efficiency and portability, meeting our customers’ demands for flexible, lightweight complete cellular solutions,” states Michel Laurence, Executive Chairman of Ostic. He continues, “Radisys’ award-winning small cell software combined with Quortus’ best-of-breed core network technology and Octasic’s miniaturized SDR base stations provide our customers with access to turnkey small cell solutions enabling coverage, worldwide flexibility and capacity that meet their needs.”

This ultra-secure mobile telecommunications station enables users to rapidly deploy a complete portable network from anywhere. At times when disaster strikes, communications are the first thing to go. Depending on location, there isn’t always a tower to continue mobile reception at the direst time of need. This network-in-a-box system allows a network to be deployed with support for 4G/LTE, 3G and 2G technologies. Communications networks of up to 32 active users are supported, whereas any standard handset can be used in the field.  

According to Andy Oder, CEO of Quortus, multiple options will support delivery of communications at all times, through one broadcast method or another. “Our ECX Tactical solution is specifically designed to meet the needs of military and public safety organizations, delivering the ability to support 4G, 3G and 2G networks either standalone or with core network reach-back – and with features required by critical communications networks, including high reliability voice, multicast/broadcast connectivity, in-session mobility, relay-station functionality and ad-hoc node meshing. This partnership with Radisys and Octasic furthers our ability to deliver a working network anywhere in the world, while driving down costs and integration complexity.”

Militaries around the world depend on communications technologies to ensure success in strategic action, allowing for quick reactions per protocol and necessity. The same goes for public safety personnel, who are in need of safe and reliable communications while in the field, saving lives and protecting the citizens of the land. Communications are essential when communicating strategy, verifying orders, advising subordinates and in search and rescue efforts. Security within communication will ensure that lines are not cross or hi-jacked and that all confidential information remains confidential by the intended parties only.

“As the leaders in small cell software with more than 80 deployments worldwide, we’re skilled at working with any organization that needs reliable, secure and portable communications technology,” discusses Tom McQuade, General Manager of CellEngine and Trillium Software at Radisys. “We’re excited about this new Multi-Radio Network-in-a-Box that encompasses Octasic’s value proposition to deliver base stations that meet the military’s strict size, weight and power requirements and adds Quortus’ virtualized core for a complete end-to-end LTE network solution.”


The Multi-Radio Network-in-a-Box system includes a Radisys field-hardened CellEngine TOTALeNobeE LTE small cell software and Femtotality 3G small cell software with Octasic’s OCTBTS base station platforms and Quoturs ECX Tactical virtualized EPC (Evolved Packed Core) solution, enclosing a private end-to-end LTE network, protected by a compact and ruggedize form factor.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Procera eVolution Gives Service Providers More Monetization Opportunities

Procera eVolution Gives Service Providers More Monetization Opportunities

November 18, 2015

Procera recently announced the release of eVolution, a big data analytics solution that captures a comprehensive set of subscriber data that provides fixed, cable, mobile, and Wi-Fi operators with intelligence that they can respond to more quickly. This will facilitate targeted promotions, improved customer experience, and better customer problem resolution.

In a whitepaper produced by Infonetics, the research firm promotes the value of business intelligence to providers that find their current data analytics inadequate in today’s market. In the past, it was possible to develop sophisticated data analytics systems, given enough money and infrastructure, but the one glaring problem was that the decision-making information was always a step behind.

These systems provided historic data, which although not without value, fails to give accurate up-to-the-minute information that identifies problems and malicious use quickly, gives customers the best experience possible, and provides useful insight for opportunities to monetize service that weren’t apparent before.

Using deep packet inspection (DPI) it’s possible to capture more profound information: application classification; content visibility; device type; location; and quality of experience (QoE) to name a few. This intelligence could uncover problems like slow performance, allowing providers to fix the problem before support calls come in.

Much of the in-depth information collected would allow for targeted promotions. The whitepaper gives the example of iPhone users in Manhattan streaming financial quotes from Bloomberg. Obviously the sky is the limit on this. Such intelligence might also reveal that a large number of Android users in Kentucky viewed college basketball sites. This would enable promotional campaigns offering discounts on Kentucky Wildcats or Louisville Cardinals apparel.

It would be interesting to find out what the ROI will be on eVolution, because at first glance, this solution seems to open up revenue streams and gives service providers a competitive advantage that legacy intelligence systems simply cannot offer. If the monetization and great customer experience are even close to what Procera claims they would be, it would be almost criminal not to invest in it. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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