The Conferencing Zone Week in Review: Samsung, Cisco, Verizon, and More

December 19, 2015


By Kyle Piscioniere
Web Editor

The Conferencing Zone brings readers the most important news in the world of conferencing. This week we saw two pair-ups, including one between industry giants Verizon and Cisco. We also debuted an exclusive interview with Logitech (News - Alert) then rounded out the week with commentary on the marriage between video conferencing and marketing. Let’s get into it:

The big news of the week comes from Verizon and Cisco (News - Alert). The two are putting together a cloud-based collaboration solution, designed to build on the specializations of both companies. Contributing Writer John Casaretto breaks down the new product in his article, analyzing its potential in the market, so be sure to check it out.

A smaller partnership came from Samsung (News - Alert) and Faceme, who are teaming up to build on their existing video conferencing offerings. The two are debuting Faceme Rooms, which will streamline and economize the remote meeting process. The product will facilitate full team meetings while regulating bandwidth in real time, minimizing hardware concerns, and providing customer support.

We also released an interview between Logitech and our own CEO Rich Tehrani. Logitech’s Jason Moss showcased the ConferenceCam Connect, a full audio and video device. The sleek, thermos-shaped device is a carry-on video camera with enhanced speakerphone, video capture, and sound quality. Check out the video for the full details.

Finally, writer Frank Griffin responded to a Forbes article on conferencing and marketing. With the personalization trend dominating marketing conversations, companies are turning to video conferencing for individualized marketing initiatives. Griffin breaks down how well video marketing has worked for the biggest companies, and how the strategy may (or may not) be accessible for businesses of certain sizes.

That’s it for our Conferencing Zone news this week. Join us early and often during the next (shortened) week for your industry updates, expert commentary, and analysis. See you then!

Contact Center Analytics Week in Review: Calabrio, Telecom Brokers & Ovum

December 19, 2015


By Rory Lidstone
Contributing Writer

With 2015 nearly at a close, it’s not surprising to see that the Contact Center Analytics space was a bit quieter than usual this week. Still, there were a few stories of note.

Starting with the news that Calabrio was named as a ‘leader’ by Gartner in its “Magic Quadrant for Customer Engagement Center Workforce Optimization” report. This is the first time Calabrio has been named a leader in workforce optimization (WFO) and, according to Gartner, the company did so due to its completeness of vision and ability to execute. In addition, recent successes of the Calabrio ONE Solution and some large deals lately—one of which was for 30,000 seats—contributed to Calabrio’s placement in the WFO Magic Quadrant.

Calabrio ONE was noted by Gartner as being among the top WFO solutions because it can help optimize everything, from recruitment, to scheduling and training, while adding intelligence to each function along the way.

In other news this week, Telecom Brokers partnered with Treasure Data to better harness the power of big data analytics. In particular, Telecom Brokers can now offer its customer base a set of cloud-based big data tools, along with other business intelligence-specific resources. The result is businesses able to take better advantage of big data.

Next, big data continued to dominate the headlines thanks to a new industry analysis report from Ovum entitled “2016 Trends to Watch: Big Data.” The report expects accelerated adoption for the market in the year ahead thanks in large part to cloud and appliances. In more specific terms, Spark will reportedly see the biggest upswing in adoption, but SQL will continue to lead the market. This is in part because SQL-on-Hadoop continues to be a major channel for Hadoop vendors looking to reach a large base of enterprise SQL developers.

That about does it for this week in Contact Center Analytics, but be sure to stay tuned for more stories in the space.

Call Center Services Week in Review: Bank of America, Healthcare.Gov, TCN

Another big week in call center services has come and gone. Huge amounts of news from all over came in, so let's take the last weekend before Christmas to run down all the biggest events of the week with our Week in Review coverage!

First came word from Bank of America, which laid off a huge number of call center staffers, but may be hiring many back in short order. Bank of America lost 250 staffers from the Utica, New York call center, but not because the call center's being shut down. Rather, the company plans to hire nearly double that at 400 total, and the laid off will be allowed to apply for the new openings. The layoffs take effect this June, so employees have time to consider options.

Next came word out of the Healthcare.gov Marketplace, which signed on an additional 90,000 users in Tennessee recently. Reports suggest the call centers have been augmented, as has the Marketplace website, to better handle larger numbers of users. The augmentations seem to have positive effect, as the most recent deadline yielded an additional 2.8 million Americans signing up for healthcare coverage with the Marketplace.

Security myths in the cloud contact center market came in next, as we looked at some key misconceptions still held in the field. With huge data breaches still coloring customer perceptions, and security still the biggest barrier to cloud implementations, it makes a clear imperative for cloud-based companies to push security as a selling point. Some basic information—like the fact that cloud companies continually outrank on-premises data centers in security—should be helpful here.

Then, a merger between TCN and Global Connect stepped in, as the two companies looked to expand market reach and provide more tools to those companies in the field. TCN's future roadmap will get some substantial augmentation from this arrangement, reports note, and Global Connect (News - Alert) will bring its name recognition in to give TCN customers more options. The merger calls for Global Connect's executive team to take up leadership posts in TCN's east coast operations.

Finally, we had a look at call center burnout, and how much damage it can do to a company. While training and development is being embraced, retention is suffering in comparison, and so companies are looking at how best to offer employee engagement, which in turn makes a better customer experience. Exact methods differ, but some say the best plan in this case is also the simplest plan.

That was the week that was in call center services, and as the last full week of the year, it was a big one to boot. Our global online community brought back huge bundles of news for us to consider, so be sure to join us back here next week for all the latest news, and every weekend for our Week in Review coverage!

Apple Push Notification Service Update

At WWDC 2015 we announced a new HTTP/2 based provider API and simplified certificate management process for developers using the Apple Push Notification service. You can now take advantage of this new provider API and create a single SSL certificate for each of your iOS apps, allowing you to connect to both APNs environments. To learn more, read the Local and Remote Notification Programming Guide and watch What’s New in Notifications.

Additional App File Size Details Available

iTunes Connect now provides more visibility into the various file sizes of your app. In addition to viewing the size of your original binary, you can now see the download size and install size for Apple TV, for each iOS device type running iOS 9, and for the universal version of your app. Get started in the Activity tab of My Apps in iTunes Connect or learn more in the iTunes Connect Developer Guide.

Additional App File Size Details Available

iTunes Connect now provides more visibility into the various file sizes of your app. In addition to viewing the size of your original binary, you can now see the download size and install size for Apple TV, for each iOS device type running iOS 9, and for the universal version of your app. Get started in the Activity tab of My Apps in iTunes Connect or learn more in the iTunes Connect Developer Guide.

Apple Push Notification Service Update

At WWDC 2015 we announced a new HTTP/2 based provider API and simplified certificate management process for developers using the Apple Push Notification service. You can now take advantage of this new provider API and create a single SSL certificate for each of your iOS apps, allowing you to connect to both APNs environments. To learn more, read the Local and Remote Notification Programming Guide and watch What’s New in Notifications.

Apple Names Jeff Williams Chief Operating Officer

Apple has announced that Jeff Williams has been named chief operating officer and Johny Srouji is joining Apple’s executive team as senior vice president for Hardware Technologies. Phil Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, will expand his role to include leadership of the App Store across all Apple platforms. Apple also announced that Tor Myhren will join Apple in the first calendar quarter of 2016 as vice president of Marketing Communications, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. “We are fortunate to have incredible depth and breadth of talent across Apple’s executive team. As we come to the end of the year, we’re recognizing the contributions already being made by two key executives,” said Cook. “Jeff is hands-down the best operations executive I’ve ever worked with, and Johny’s team delivers world-class silicon designs which enable new innovations in our products year after year.”

The Growing Problem of Smartphone Display Size

A new report from Strategy Analytics may (finally) stem the growth of smartphone displays. Surprisingly, a survey of U.S. and U.K. consumers found that users prefer a 5.3 inch phone display over other sizes.

That may shock both consumers and developers. Smartphones have been steadily growing since their first introduction to the market. Seven years ago, that growth was necessary. We didn’t have the battery technology to power a 5-inch, high resolution touchscreen display for a full day. Consumers demanded bigger and brighter screens, and companies raced to deliver the first solutions. Fast forward to today, and some phones – like the 7-inch Huawei MediaPad X1 – can barely fit in our pockets.

Let’s look back at the confusing history of screen size. The most visible example of an ‘oversized’ display was Samsung’s original Galaxy Note, the first commercially successful 5.3” screen. The Note was deemed “too big” by tech critics when first introduced, spawning the hideous portmanteau “phablet”.

Then other phones caught up. A 5.3” phone is no longer a phablet; according to Strategy Analytics, it’s the preferred screen size. We mostly reserve the title ‘phablet’ for phones over 6”, and when phone shopping we expect at least 4”-5” displays. The most recent Note 5 display is 5.7”. Its screen is considered large, but by no means oversized.

Even Apple has waffled on screen size. The iPhone 6 had a 4.7” display, but its big brother, the iPhone 6 Plus, leapfrogged the 5.3” sweet spot to 5.5”. Now there are rumors that Apple will scale back the 6 display in its next iteration, possibly to an average 4 inches.

Phone developers are clearly still searching for the perfect screen size. Strategy Analytics claims that it’s 5.3”. But does their report capture a snapshot of our changing screen preference, or is user preference finally stabilizing? There are two possible answers: either 1) users have had their fill of larger screens and are now ready to scale back to a reasonable size; or 2) users are still in flux, and the 7” of today is the 5.3” of tomorrow.

I think it’s more likely that we’ll settle in the 5.0” to 5.5” phone range. Our hands aren’t getting any bigger, and larger tablets are more readily available than ever before. There will always be a market for the monster 7” displays, but the average user isn’t clamoring for bigger phones. We’re ready to take better bezels, increased battery life, smarter services, and higher resolutions. Hopefully developers will take note.

Phone size was once a point of pride for developers, but the smartphone market is maturing. We’ve tried the bigger options, and now it’s time to scale back to a more reasonable, comfortable size. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

A Grinch’s Guide to Holiday Ads

December 16, 2015

It’s always fun to watch companies exploit the holidays. The Hess truck, Hershey’s classic Kiss jingle, ubiquitous mall Santas: Christmas is an absolute feast for savvy Don Drapers. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the season’s most blatant and egregious appeals to Christmas cheer.

Starbucks made a brief stir with their annual Christmas cup design. The coffee chain either celebrated the season with an elegant, minimalist nod to holiday solitude, or they furthered their agenda against the nation’s Christian values. For those that remember this short-lived controversy, you’ll probably also recall that it was, largely, baseless. Yes, some people criticized the cup. But far more people criticized the critics, feeding into a massive echo chamber of outrage against outrage. Merry Christmas to Starbucks, which was mentioned over 474,000 times on social media during the one week it was relevant.

For those of you who need more pathos in your Christmas advertisements, check out this video from Viber: 

Let’s play Christmas ad bingo: Kids with cute accents? Check. Slow, indie folk revival backdrop? Check. Soldiers writing home, stern but loving grandparents, and users thanking Viber for their exceptional services? Check, check, check; that’s a bingo. There are plenty of videos like this one making the holiday rounds, too, if you haven’t had your fill.   

My personal favorite holiday ad comes from Reese’s. When users complained that their Christmas tree-shaped peanut butter cups looked more like misshapen blobs than pine trees, Reese’s stopped the hate with their #alltreesarebeautiful campaign. The candy company published an image of their sad, dumpy Christmas tree cup looking in a mirror, where it sees a shapely, spruced-up reflection. Kudos to whichever social media genius made me pity a piece of chocolate.

If you’re as sick of Christmas marketing as I am – and as excited for Star Wars – here’s an early present. Enjoy it, Scrooges. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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