Sonus and Taqua Help Bring Wi-Fi Calling to Mobile, Quickly

Sonus and Taqua Help Bring Wi-Fi Calling to Mobile, Quickly

December 16, 2015

Wi-Fi calling is a market that's increasingly catching on, and with good reason. It allows users to make calls every bit as well as could be made from a standard connection, but by using Wi-Fi connectivity instead, it doesn't drain minutes or incur charges. Mobile operators interested in bringing such services to current operations can do so a lot more smoothly now thanks to a new partnership between Sonus and Taqua.

The combined force of an IP communications systems giant like Taqua and a cloud communications powerhouse like Sonus gives mobile operators a much faster, much smoother, and therefore more cost effective means of adding Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) calling options. The partnership calls for Taqua to offer up Sonus' session border controller (SBC) system as part of its own operations, particularly as part of the Taqua Virtual Mobile Core (VMC) to bring in VoWiFi, as well as its  close equivalent, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) for users.

Already the service is drawing attention; one of Vietnam's largest operators, MobiFone Corporation, has turned to the Taqua / Sonus partnership to deliver VoWiFi calling to its users. MobiFone reportedly managed to not only install the combined system, but launch trial balloons and then offer up the full service to users within a matter of months. Better yet, the system is said to allow users full access to all the standard features, including being able to use a phone's installed dialer, call history, voice mail and more as though it were calling over a standard cell signal.

Taqua's vice president of marketing, Frederick Reynolds, noted that using Wi-Fi calling is actually the means to solve a problem that's plagued mobile devices for some time: the issue of indoor coverage. Cell phone signals don't always make it indoors well, but Wi-Fi signals are intended to operate indoors, and even proceed for some way outdoors too. That combination allows users to better make a call from inside a building, and improves the value for users.

In the end, that's what this is really about; a greater value for mobile device users. Sonus and Taqua can offer up a means for mobile operators to offer more to users, enriching the partnership's bottom line while giving operators the tools to both hold a current customer base and gain fresh customers once the current set passes on the new feature by word of mouth. It's all about value, as the song once said, and the ability to offer VoWiFi calling to users can be just the value a mobile provider needs in an age of multiple competitors of all sizes in every region.

It's not a competitive edge that will likely last long, but the carrier arms race that's likely to follow should be good news for Sonus and Taqua, who introduced the newest customer-getting tool to mobile operators.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Flowroute Leader Discusses New Wave of Telecom Innovation

December 16, 2015

By Paula Bernier Executive Editor, TMC

Technology has made all of us fundamentally more productive in business and in life in general, but communication challenges will always exist – especially as businesses grow and expand across geographies and time zones. That’s the word from Flowroute Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Sean Hsieh. Here’s more on what he had to say about that; his thoughts on the channel, the cloud, collaboration, security, UC, and WebRTC; and his plans for ITEXPO, in which Flowroute will participate next month in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

You note that communications technology has come a long way, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Can you please elaborate what you mean on both fronts?

Hsieh: The technology powering communications – devices, networks, infrastructure, and so on – has transformed business so dramatically over the past decade or so – it’s truly mind boggling! But it’s important to note that the human side of technology – the actual users – is still a work in progress. I think there’s still a long way to go in how we interact with, and depend on, technology in business. That’s where much of the communication challenges stem from and where we see the greatest opportunity to make a difference.

Flowroute will be at ITEXPO in January. What will you be talking about there?

Hsieh: We at Flowroute are seeing an exciting new wave of innovation in telecom being driven by application developers who are incorporating communications services such as real-time voice and messaging within their apps. But innovating with a traditional telecom carrier as a supplier is like trying to create an interactive infographic with a typewriter. Modern communications have to adapt at the speed of thought. Too much time is lost (and money wasted) force-fitting old models to meet new demands. It’s time for app developers to consider something we’re calling the be-your-own-carrier model for communication services. By providing carrier-level access to the software development community, the BYOC model supports innovation while focusing on core service delivery. Carriers that provide scalable, highly available services that can easily be manipulated by third-party developers will earn a role in the resurgence of telecommunications. Third-party developers are going to be the greatest contributors to the creation and delivery of unique experiences through telecom. That is what our focus is day in and day out, and that is what our ITEXPO session will be focused on.

What has development or trend is playing the biggest role in changing how industry players need to do business?

Hsieh: Niche players like Flowroute are gaining ground on the big unified communications players by delivering innovative communications technology. UC providers need to take a long hard look at the utility of their suite or platform to ensure it’s evolving in a direction that will continue to drive adoption, which can be through APIs or add-on applications. They are going to aggressively go after them. If UC providers aren’t in the communication flow, their inherent value will decrease, and they will ultimately be cut out of the mix.

What technology has had the greatest impact on your work in the past year? 

Hsieh: Over the last year the team at Flowroute has implemented Slack, which has enabled a whole new level of communication – which has been mostly positive. Slack gives every individual in the company transparency into what the other teams are working on and provides a forum for team members to ask questions and challenge decisions. The success of our implementation has now been extended out to a handful of our top customers to give our employees insight into the challenges our customers face so they can focus on providing better customer experiences with Flowroute and our service. 

What do you say to industry observers who say UC is dead?

Hsieh: Unified communications vendors are still approaching the communications market in the exact same way they were a decade ago, which has slowed the growth rate of UC platforms. Where we are seeing tremendous growth is in messaging – from innovative vendors like Slack and HipChat. Their approach is now starting to become the de facto standard for enterprise collaboration. We also see tremendous growth from our customers delivering vertically focused UC offerings that offer the right technology, configured in a way to dramatically improve productivity of their customers.

Have we finally reached an inflection point with unified communications adoption? What is driving or hindering the market?

Hsieh: Unified communication suites have definitely reached an inflection point. What we are seeing is a lot of traction with niche players focused on specific vertical solutions or functionality such as messaging. In this day and age, the way people consume their communications is varied, which is going to require UC vendors to evolve the way they approach their market. A cookie cutter approach simply won’t work anymore – you have to be nimble and able to meet a huge variety of market demands to gain meaningful traction.

Will WebRTC live up to the hype?

Hsieh: How big it becomes remains to be seen. Linking pure WebRTC interactions with those that bridge WebRTC and SIP is an important intermediate capability that will drive further adoption of WebRTC-powered interactions.

How do you use social media in your daily business? 

Hsieh: Social media is definitely part of Flowroute’s marketing mix, but it is still a work in progress as it requires a high level of attention and participation to really understand, for example, the type of content that resonates with followers, the best time of day to post, and what platforms deliver the highest concentration of our target audience. I would recommend that if your organization is going to have a social presence, find the platform(s) that will get you in front of your core audience and prioritize those. Then focus on doing it right, or you will risk backlash from the audience you have built.

What is the biggest security threat currently facing businesses?

Hsieh: In our business (SIP trunking), the biggest security threat stems from a lack of network security that exposes the company to breaches via VoIP toll fraud or stealing resources. SIP trunking security is not only a question of securing SIP connections. To keep SIP credentials and all other sensitive information out of the hands of fraudsters the entire network must be secured, including Internet phone lines.

How has the cloud impacted business in general and your company in particular?

Hsieh: Cloud computing has fundamentally transformed the IT market. Flowroute’s entire production infrastructure and supporting systems are in the cloud. We are currently building out new office space because we’ve outgrown our current offices, and we only have data networking equipment in the server room in the new office. We have no servers running for any purpose in our offices.

What big data and analytics tools are you using and why? 

Hsieh: We use big data and analytics tools like Interana, which takes the onus off of Flowroute’s business intelligence team from having to run reports and manipulate data to answer questions that span the organization. Having tools in-house provides our team with an interface that anyone in the company can manipulate based on their specific requirements.

How are channel partners doing in keeping up with the latest products and services?

Hsieh: My experience is channel partners do just enough to lock down a sale, which is the goal considering they aren’t focused on just one product or technology. I believe there will always be a role for partners, and that role will continue to evolve into more of a consultative role versus strictly a technology sale and implementation.

What is the greatest challenge the channel is up against today?

Hsieh: Maintaining relevance. Great reseller and support organizations will continue to thrive, but mediocre ones won’t because cloud providers can be half the way around the world and compete with local service organizations 

What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO Ft. Lauderdale?

Hsieh: It’s all about the networking and conversations that will take place at the show. ITEXPO brings together the people that are driving innovation across their organizations. To have the opportunity to hear from and connect with many of them is what I am looking forward to most.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

APIs Giving SMS New Life, Customer Service New Opportunity

APIs Giving SMS New Life, Customer Service New Opportunity

December 16, 2015

Text messaging continues to change as customer preferences and market forces impact adoption and what’s possible.

First there was SMS, which was a big money maker for the telephone companies. SMS – which works with any mobile phone on any cellular network anywhere in the world – remains an important force in communications, given 350 billion SMS messages are exchanged monthly. But the rise of over-the-top chat solutions from companies like WeChat and WhatsApp (Which Facebook (News - Alert) bought last year), have disrupted the SMS space by offering free or very low cost competitive capabilities.

Indeed, WhatsApp alone has more than 800 million active users, who send 30 billion messages a day. Adoption of chat solutions from WhatsApp and its brethren have taken a big bite out of SMS, for which revenues are expected to decrease from $120 billion in 2013 to $96.7 billion in 2018, mostly in Asia, especially China.

That’s the bad news. The good news, says Mackensie Graham in a recent Nexmo blog, is that SMS isn’t dead or dying, it’s evolving. Here she points to Ovum (News - Alert) statistics that indicate application-to-person SMS messaging will increase from 1.4 trillion in 2013 to 2.19 trillion by 2018.

“A2P messaging has the power to shift the conversation away from less-used branded apps, and speak to the consumer where they already are, on their messaging app of choice,” says Graham. “This trend is very much consumer driven and consumer chosen; it’s about brands meeting the consumer for convenient communication, not forcing the texting fingers in yet another rarely used app.”

The Nexmo Chat App API can enable that because it can connect all chat apps to all CRM platforms. That allows for a new model around messaging and a better way to enable businesses and their customers to connect. And this type of communication is an important one for businesses given so many people now prefer texting to other mediums, and considering that 90 percent of people read a text message within the first three minutes of receiving it.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Blog Offers Tips on How to Achieve Software Licensing Renewal Success

People want to feel like they’re in control. They tend to like to try before they buy. They prefer easy to use solutions. They appreciate personalized service and being kept in the loop. Businesses should consider all these factors when designing software licensing programs and processes, says Mathieu Baissac in his most recent Flexera Software blog.

In a follow up to an earlier blog in which he offered six tips related to renewals, Baissac in his new Dec. 9 piece offers four additional tips, which are as follows:

• provide meaningful upgrades at least once a year;

• provide those upgrades on the customer’s timeline, not your own;

• provide the upgrades only to those who have paid for maintenance; and

• make sure the right people are receiving your renewal notifications.

Businesses should provide a meaningful upgrade at least once annually, Baissac suggests, because to do so less frequently may get customers thinking about buying a whole new license every three to four years rather than paying maintenance for that window of time.

Upgrading on customers’ timelines, he adds, makes them want to upgrade rather than feeling forced to do so. And allowing customers to upgrade easily, and trial the upgrade if they like, can also build customer loyalty.

Of course, it’s important to police upgrades as well, notes Baissac. That involves checking whether a customer is on active maintenance before allowing for a download, validating against maintenance entitlements in the case of a push upgrade model, and changing the version numbers on license keys.

Identifying and continually checking to ensure the relevant contacts are getting upgrade communications is also key, says Baissac. Here, he offers an example of what can occur when updated contact lists are not maintained.

“Recently I was talking to an unhappy customer who said ‘we went live and then we never heard back from you,’” says Baissac. “This customer was using one of our first releases…. Once we provided them with a large number of release notes and updated their contacts, they were quite excited at the rapid pace of evolution of our products.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

More Digital. More Human. Be More

More Digital. More Human. Be More

December 15, 2015

By Special Guest
Ravi Kumar S., Executive Vice President & Chief Delivery Officer at Infosys

Technology = Digital = Disruption, says the new algebra. Except that it isn’t.

We know from our experience in steering digital transformation that success is as much about using technology to renew the landscape as it is about getting it to completely disrupt it in unprecedented ways. There are indeed two simultaneous and concurrent aspects to managing the digital revolution – one that seeks to make improvements, and better current efficiencies through the transformation of atoms to bits; another that tries to redefine the landscape in a wave of massive change to the customer experience -sometimes also to the business model, and in a direction hitherto unexplored. One that works around renewing existing constructs, the other that builds entirely new ones.

This duality of being a digital business can be summed up nicely as one that continuously exploits digital technologies to both create new sources of value for customers and increase operational agility in service of customers. This definition aligns closely with the view that digital transformation as a continuum where improving enterprise efficiency is the goal at one end, and improving customer experience at the other. And across all industries, mobile devices play a vital role to offer ubiquitous connectivity — from connected products to wearables — driving both improvements in digital customer experience and digital operational excellence.

How we go about that eventually stems from the client’s context and priorities, but the principle remains unaltered – to look for opportunities to extract further business efficiencies as well as delight customers by elevating their experience and by developing highly desirable contiguous offerings that promise new avenues to create more value.

For example, for one mining company, improving equipment uptime was a clear priority. They were able to install and capture sensor data from equipment and stream it in real-time, through an analytics engine, to an equipment performance dashboard. This alerted maintenance personnel to a change in state-of-systems that unless arrested, would lead to breakdown. This early warning system enabled them to reduce downtime and maintenance costs significantly.

But for an insurance company, the Internet of Things represented an opportunity to take a totally new approach to pricing – that of usage-based insurance. They made the shift with a car plug-in to continuously monitor and transmit driving proficiency data and generate driving profiles that they could use to charge “personalized” premiums. This changed the insurance buying experience for both the insurer and the insured.

While the research, and these examples paint a compelling picture of the what and how of being digital, there remains the question of why. And there lies a notion that’s profound. When digital technology amplifies human imagination, the mundane and routine repetitive tasks can be carefully modeled and precisely formulated to be automated, setting the business free to pursue new ideas, new ways of making – the important things. These are the things that only human imagination, creativity and imagination can bring to life, and purposeful solutions born from empathy for the human situation as only humans can have. There sits the opportunity of our times - to leverage technology and augment individual talent and collective capability, to truly unleash human potential.

About the Author: Ravi is an Executive Vice President and the Chief Delivery Officer at Infosys. In this role, he leads the Infosys global delivery organization across all global industry segments, driving digital transformation services, application development and maintenance; independent validation services, engineering services, emerging technology solutions, business intelligence & analytics, cloud and infrastructure, and enterprise package applications service lines. He also oversees Infosys operations in Japan. He is the Chairman of the Board of Infosys China and is also on the board of Infosys Public Services and McCamish Systems (an Infosys company).

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Diving into Meaningful Use Stage 3

Government requirements are continuing to wash over private practices and the next wave will be Meaningful Use Stage 3, which focuses on the advanced use of EHRs. Changes are expected to reduce the complexity of the program and shift to a single set of sustainable objectives and measures by 2018.

There are 10 objectives to be carried out by Eligible Professionals (EPs) – those held accountable through CMS to demonstrate meaningful use of EHR technology. Here are the objectives to successfully demonstrate Meaningful Use for 2015 through 2017 reporting years:

1. Protect Patient Health Information: The healthcare industry has been the target of cybercriminals in 2015 with a myriad of attacks on healthcare organizations such as Anthem, Premier and Blue Cross and Blue Shield, who suffered the largest data breaches. In light of these occurrences, it is more important than ever to protect electronic health information created or maintained by the CEHRT through the implementation of appropriate technical capabilities. It is recommended to complete a full risk analysis and maintain a signed and dated copy in your office.

2. Clinical Decision Support (CDS): Use clinical decision support to improve performance on high priority health conditions. In order for EPs to meet this objective, they must implement five clinical decision support interventions related to four or more clinical quality measures at a relevant point in patient care for the entire EHR reporting period. The clinical decision support interventions must be related to high priority health conditions.

The EP must also enable the functionality for drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction checks for the entire EHR reporting period. However, any EP who writes fewer than 100 medication orders during the EHR reporting period is excluded from this requirement. It is a good idea to set up a warning for drug-drug and drug-allergy interactions to ensure these measures are met.

3. Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE): Use computerized provider order entry for medication, laboratory, and radiology orders directly entered by any licensed healthcare professional. Any EP who writes fewer than 100 medication orders during the EHR reporting period is excluded from this rule.

4. Electronic Prescribing: Generate and transmit permissible prescriptions electronically. More than 50 percent of permissible prescriptions written by the EP are queried for a drug formulary and transmitted electronically using CEHRT. Again, for any EP who writes fewer than 100 permissible prescriptions during the EHR reporting period or does not have a pharmacy within his or her organization and there are no pharmacies that accept electronic prescriptions within 10 miles of the EP’s practice location does not have to adhere to this measure.

5. Health Information Exchange: The EP who transitions their patient to another setting of care or provider of care or refers their patient to another provider of care must provide a summary care record for each transition of care or referral. The EP who provides a referral must use CEHRT to create a summary of care record and can electronically transmit it to a receiving provider for more than 10 percent of transitions of care and referrals. EPs who transfer a patient to another setting or refers a patient to another provider less than 100 times during the EHR reporting period is not required to meet this measure.

6. Patient-Specific Education: Use clinically relevant information from CEHRT to identify patient specific education resources and provide those resources to the patient. The patient portal is a good option to ensure those resources are available to patients on an ongoing basis. EPs that do not have office visits are not required to do this.

7. Medication Reconciliation: The EP, who receives a referral for a new patient from another setting of care or provider, must perform medication reconciliation. The only exclusion applies to EPs who was not the recipient of any transitions of care during the EHR reporting period.

8. Patient Electronic Access: Provide patients the ability to view online, download, and transmit their health information within four business days of the information being available to the EP. More than 50 percent of all unique patients seen by the EP must be provided timely access to view online, download, and transmit to a third party their health information subject to the EP’s discretion to withhold certain information. The second part of the measure states that for an EHR reporting period in 2015 and 2016, at least one patient seen by the EP during the EHR reporting period (or patient-authorized representative) must be able to view, download or transmit to a third party his or her health information during that reporting period.

For an EHR reporting in 2017, more than 5 percent of unique patients seen by the EP must be able to view, download or transmit to a third party their health information. The one exclusion that applies is for any EP who neither orders, nor creates any of the information listed for inclusion as part of the measures; or conducts 50 percent or more of his or her patient encounters in a county that does not have 50 percent or more of its housing units with 4Mbps broadband availability according to the latest information available from the FCC.

9. Secure Electronic Messaging: Use secure electronic messaging only to communicate with patients on relevant health information. For 2015, the capability for patients to send and receive a secure electronic message with the EP was fully enabled. In 2016, at least one patient seen by the EP must be sent a secure message using the electronic messaging function of CEHRT to the patient, or in response to a secure message sent by the patient. For 2017, a secure message can be sent using the electronic messaging function of CEHRT to the patient or in response to a secure message sent by the patient, will be required for more than 5 percent of unique patients. EPs will be excluded from this rule if they have no office visits during the EHR reporting period, or any EP who conducts 50 percent or more of his or her patient encounters in a county that does not have 50 percent or more of its housing units with 4Mbps broadband availability according to the latest information available from the FCC.

10. Public Health Reporting: The EP must be in active engagement with a public health agency to submit electronic public health data from CEHRT, except where prohibited.

In Stage 2 of Meaningful Use in 2015 EPs are required to participate in Immunization Registry Reporting with a public health agency to submit immunization data and syndromic surveillance data. This measure also covered those EPs who are required to submit data to a specialized registry.

Some EPs are excluded from this measure because they do not administer any immunizations to any of the populations for which data is collected by its jurisdiction’s immunization registry or for those who operated within a jurisdiction for which no immunization registry or immunization information system is capable of accepting the specific standards required to meet the CEHRT definition. The same holds true for those EPs submitting syndromic surveillance data.

Mastering Meaningful Use: For those navigating the meaningful use waters, the best advice is to work with your vendor to automate these measures and embed them in your work flow. In this way, private practices will be able to track their progress and map their way to successfully meeting Meaningful Use requirements while providing the highest quality care to patients.

About the Author: Debra Harris is a senior product manager for AdvancedMD with more than 25 years experience in the healthcare software industry. Debra’s regulatory experience helped to drive MU success since 2010 for AdvancedMD and their customers. She also led the ONC EHR Technology certification for AdvancedMD, and played an integral role in planning for coordination of product deployment of regulatory requirements.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

By Special Guest
Debra Harris, AdvancedMD Clinical Product Manager ,

More Training Sessions for FSMA Readiness

More Training Sessions for FSMA Readiness

December 15, 2015

Training is going to be key for compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and we here at are going to keep you up to date on as many as we can find.

Here are two in California, and an online webinar, both set for January.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture will host informational sessions on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Final Rules for Produce Safety and Preventive Controls for Animal Food. The Produce Safety Rule will be presented on January 13 in Tulare, California and both the Preventive Controls for Animal Food Rule and the Produce Safety Rule will be presented on January 14 in Seaside, California. The purpose of the informational sessions is to provide industry with an overview of the final rules and respond to questions. Pre-registration is requested; there is no charge. Click here.

Online, take part in the “GFSI Audit Readiness & FSMA: What You Need to Know” webinar, sponsored by ReposiTrak, on January 12 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., with Carlos Romero of QSPS Consulting LLC, An Audit Readiness Consulting Group. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is an industry-driven initiative providing thought leadership and guidance on food safety management systems necessary for safety along the supply chain. This work is accomplished through collaboration between the world's leading food safety experts from retail, manufacturing and food service companies, as well as international organizations, governments, academia and service providers to the global food industry. GFSI is facilitated by The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global, parity-based industry network, driven by its members. Click here to register.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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The Cloud, ITAM and SLO: Key Points to Keep in Mind

The Cloud, ITAM and SLO: Key Points to Keep in Mind

December 15, 2015

Software as a service (SaaS (News - Alert)) and other cloud services offer operational efficiencies, but often require an institutional change in thinking when it comes to handling IT and software asset management.

Applications no longer just help the business, they run the business. Yet most companies lack a strategic solution to optimize the usage and spend of software assets throughout the software lifecycle. Few other strategic business assets are as undermanaged or as in need of a strategic solution as enterprise software—a fact that’s exacerbated by the fact that cloud-based services have a procurement model that makes it very easy for a business manager or anyone else to purchase resources to get their job done.

“Really, all it takes is a credit card, and in minutes, a subscription to an ERP, CRM, or other enterprise IT tool can be purchased,” explained Flexera Software’s Eric Feldman, in a blog.

So when it comes to IT asset management (ITAM) and software asset management (SAM), In traditional IT models, assets and their lifecycle from procurement through deployment and disposal are tracked. Software is purchased and utilized according to license agreements to leverage entitlements and mitigate software audit risk.

But the ability for anyone in an enterprise to easily subscribe to IT resources and applications turns this on its ear. Asset managers who must stay in compliance and manage license spend are faced with additional complexity stemming from the "cloud sprawl,” meaning that they’re unable to ensure continuous software license optimization, compliance and overall software spend optimization in an automated, centralized way. So most organizations that have embraced the cloud don't truly know whether they are in compliance or not – the underlying data is suspect at best.

According to Flexera Software, which is offering an on-demand webinar on the cloud market and the role of ITAM and software license optimization (SLO) in cloud IT, modern applications running in today’s complex virtual environments pose unique license management and software asset management challenges, including:

  • Discovery of application virtualization, streaming and virtual desktop usage
  • Handling license consumption implications for virtual applications, virtual desktops (VDI), virtual machines (VM), hard partitions, and sub-capacity licensing
  • Identification of processor, VM and partition characteristics for major hardware and virtualization vendors
  • Considering software product use rights and application usage for all license models and all vendors
  • Tracking of usage in a product-specific way that aligns with how the software usage is monetized

Keeping this in mind while implementing SLO and ITAM/SAM will allow enterprises to gain visibility and control of IT assets, reduce ongoing software costs, and maintain continuous license compliance.

Edited by Maurice Nagle