All posts by Skype914

AI Social and Contextual UC #398 – New Huddle Solutions – Nectar Serious Innovation – More Slack v. Teams

 (c) AI Forum & Unified Communications Forum

May 19 – 2017 – Issue #398

 

AI Forum – Exploring the Wild World of Artificial Intelligence and other Communications, Mobile, Contextual-Intelligence and other communications companies.
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This “Do not disturb” light is ideal for open office workspace and cubicles. Deal with interruptions at work and increase workplace productivity easily with a busy indicator light.
Built-in speakers for audible call alert and phone ring light to avoid missed calls. Integrates with headset, desk phone or softphone and works as an on the phone indicator light.
Compatible with Skype for business, Lync, Cisco Jabber and more.
Click on image to order direct or partners. 
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AudioCodes Gets Your Huddle Game On !

AudioCodes has always been a leader in the UC game brings new Huddle room solutions.  Eric Bauer VP of NA Marketing noted, “The technology space is changing at warp speed and consumption habits are evolving at every turn.  As users, we look for high quality technologies that feature an intuitive interface and are available at an affordable price.  These consumer demands translate into the work place and how we collaborate.  With AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution (HRS), you can turn any space into a meeting space.  Transform your office into a professional meeting space with a high quality audio solution in a powerful and cost-effective package that is simple to operate and manage.  Available in 3 sizes, the AudioCodes HRS solution offers full integration with Skype for Business and centralized management and control to lower operational costs.”

Here are some other details and click on any image for more information.
– The majority of meeting spaces in a typical enterprise are small rooms that can accommodate up to 6 persons

– AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution is a cost-effective solution ranging from two-person huddle rooms up to fifteen-person small group meeting spaces

The solution delivers:

– Familiar user experience based on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more

– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec

– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound

– Fully managed by the AudioCodes Managed IP Phone solution for efficient deployment and ongoing IT operations

Easy Conference Scheduling for Skype for Business, Office 365, Cisco Spark and Avaya
Approved Contact has quietly but surely worked on getting their multi-platform scheduling and planning solution chatbot approved by Microsoft, Avaya and Cisco to speed staff scheduling and meetings. They ask a simple question – How much time do you waste going back and forth to schedule meetings? Approved Contact allows you to easily share calendars with anyone. Changes you make to your calendar update automatically to Approved Contact. Using Approved Contact enables you to connect your calendar to websites, text, email, mobile, voice recognition, and telephone systems.  Click on logo to contact Approved Contact.

Easy as 1-2-3, for Cisco users, compare open times on your calendar to open times on any of your Approved Contact’s calendars from right inside of Cisco Spark space
FreeTime – Compares available calendars from everyone in the space and displays up to the first 3 available times.
First, set up a new profile on Approved Contact
Second, sync your calendar into Approved Contact and invite your contacts to become your Approved Contacts
Third, add the Approved Contact BOT to any Cisco Spark space that you want to compare your free times to other’s in the Cisco Spark space.
Products supported
Office 365
Azure
Skype for Business
Outlook 2013 or later
Outlook 2016 for Mac
Outlook on the Web
Cisco Spark
Avaya
 Bottom-line – In the seminal work called Organizational Velocity written in the 1970s, the author spoke about the speed or velocity of business is dependent on the pace of collaboration.  He suggested the pace of technology ever slowly but surely increased the pace of organization work.  At the time IBM conducted a study that the average delay in scheduling a meeting and the meeting actually taking place with 5 people was about 5 weeks given other meetings, vacations, meetings already scheduled, and other factors.   Then it took hours just to complete the concalls just to check peoples’ schedules.  This has shortened a little with endless emails between principals and assistants.  Now this can be dramatically shortened to minutes at a fraction of the cost and most importantly, ease of access.   In a later book called Split Second Society, the speed of business was said most aptly like this – “Strategically, the faster you can communicate, the faster you can change and those corporations that change the fastest will be the most successful.”
Approved Contact may not have all the answers to the challenges of human communications but they are working on ways we can collaborate faster.

Why Nectar Was Chosen as an IDC Innovator

Nectar has always been an innovator.  I have first-hand knowledge of their solutions and so it is cool they were named an IDC Innovation.  It is because its Unified Communications Management Platform (UCMP) software – offered through its Network Assessment Partners – provides unique and critical performance information. It focuses on critical areas for ensuring performance management for Microsoft Skype for Business deployments, including planning and deployment, network pre-assessment, monitoring, advanced reporting, analytics, and real-time diagnostics.
You can make up your own mind, click on the image for the detailed explanation.

Chirp-Chirp Post to Twitter – Voice memos, Tunes, Songs, Interviews, News, Podcasts with Boundless Text, Videos and more

One of the more exciting features in HashNewsGram is the easy way post on Twitter voice memos, Tunes, Songs, Interviews, News, Podcasts with Boundless Text, Videos and more via an easy to use iPhone app.  Here are a few screenshots on “how to” do it.  Click on the image for iTunes.

You can also see from the image the Gettysburg Address which is 271 words. This is an example of how you can use the Notes App to record using Siri a speech or interview which is captured and translated from voice to text.

You can easily Copy-All and Paste the complete text in HashNewsGram to be posted along with a picture or audio recording to Twitter. What is really means is that you can create Twitter posts of essentially unlimited text length beyond 140 characters.

HashNewsGram will put up to about 110 characters on Twitter like this:

If a user clicks through More at they will see the complete post along with audio, video and more.

Soon you will be able to add “free hand” drawings or sketches to complement pics, audio or acticons-action-items to your twitter feed.

Click on any image for iTunes to get HashNewsGram and explore the world beyond 140 characters.

Slack versus Teams
I don’t see this article or any article on Slack v. Teams to be a “one-off” definitive answer to the subject.  I see it as an ongoing discussion of the subject of team collaboration.   Cisco Spark is a rising star in the collaboration area and think I will explore how companies are dealing with this complex issue.  The companies I talk to have a very complex and mixed environment coping with migration of Avaya to Skype for some but not all functions.  Some have Cisco but use Microsoft understandably for many of their basic office functions.  Never hear much about Google but they are out there somewhere as well.  Here is one article I saw on the Slack v. Teams.
Then there is info from Slack directly on their integrations.  Admittedly, it will be really hard to test drive all their integrations nor find them interestingly enough to use.  Here are a few.  If anyone has used the Slack-Skype integration give me a shoutout and add your feedback.

Breakthrough Twitter 140 Character Barrier 
The problem with Twitter has always been the 140 character limitation.  If you want add a link that takes 20 characters and writing good English well that is another lot of characters including spaces.  HashNewsGram eliminates that problem.  Write your heart out and include a video, pics, audio recording and even an Acticon-action icon you can really get your message across.  Of course, Twitter doesn’t expand to fit posting long text or other ideas is not limited anymore.  Click on the image for the “how to” do it.
Winner iPhone User Forum
Best Twitter App
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.” 

Click on image for iTunes

Key new features include:
– Search and one-touch save for the fastest-easiest access to Twitter news.
– Save your favorite Twitter accounts to your Folders/Subfolders with one-touch.
– New UI-user interface for faster-easier news gathering and tracking
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.”
#HashNewsGram is a Free Twitter #hashtag gathering app for iPhone.
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Broadsoft Cloud Paas – Cloud Platform
Broadsoft has patiently and earnestly gained respect as a major UC service provider.  Now they are expanding their operations by opening up their technology to provide a full platform to others.  With BroadCloud PaaS, service providers have the ability to:
– Accelerate their innovation cycle with unprecedented control and flexibility to develop differentiated, on-demand cloud unified communication and collaboration services
– Gain a 50-75% time-to-market advantage delivering new cloud communications services based on the entire BroadSoft Business application suite
– Minimize non-strategic OPEX and CAPEX while moving to a consumption cost model that greatly minimizes the ongoing marginal costs for new features and capabilities
– Benefit from carrier-class reliability and BroadSoft data centers with physical, environmental and access level security
– Reduce operational complexity and costs with simplified and scalable packaging options
They also added this BroadCloud PaaS is an option available to service providers as part of the BroadCloud cloud platform powering BroadSoft Business, a fully integrated portfolio of enterprise-ready cloud, unified communications, team collaboration and contact center applications. BroadSoft Business can scale to all market segments, and includes three core applications: UC-One, Team-One and CC-One, with BroadSoft Hub providing contextual intelligence across the entire platform so users can access the information and apps they need in one place.  You can also get their Ebook on their platform.
Bottom-line – Broadsoft continues to expand their global UC operations.  Opening the planform ability to a wider range of users not just carriers will further aid their viability.
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Siri Likely Gets Smart Speaker 
According to Neowin, “According to 9to5Mac, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated in an industry report that the Siri-powered smart speaker will most likely be unveiled at Apple’s WWDC 2017 conference. The unit will be positioned as a much higher-end competitor to Amazon’s Echo, with a price to match, having “excellent” sound reproduction due to its seven tweeters and one subwoofer.  Leaker Sonny Dickson told Mashable that the Siri speaker would have a concave top where the controls would be (not too dissimilar to the Echo), a design that’s quite close to the ‘trashcan-like’ Mac Pro, and a similar mesh style to that of the UE Megaboom line from Logitech (pictured).”
Bottom-line – Apple is sitting on $250B in cash and also sitting on their hands in regard to innovation.  They are app fat with all that cash and don’t think they need to do anything to remain viable focusing on the iPhone their principal cash cow.  No doubt they have a lot to do but they could be doing a lot more and having smart home solutions along with car, office, space plane and any other place that humans or devices can occupy.  More and faster innovation is expected sooner than later.
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Amazon Tackles Telephone Service with Alexa
This week Amazon added video conferencing to the Alexa calling feature with Alexa Show for $229 retail probably less with Amazon Prime and other promos they will have.  Due tell what they are really trying to do other than take all your money. Regarding, their more traditional product Alexa, GeekWeek said, “The system Alexa described in the patent would link an existing cellphone number with the Alexa device, and includes a provision for identifying authorized users by their voices. Alexa could let the user know a call is coming in, and then pick it up and route the call over its speaker when the user gives the go-ahead. Users could also initiate calls via Alexa.  Call charges would be billed through the user’s cell carrier, but once the call is routed through the Alexa device, the cellphone would be left out of the picture. Instead, the Alexa device would send the call to the carrier through a type of connection known as voice over Internet Protocol, or VOIP.”
Amazon VC is already funding an home intercom solution call Nucleus for an outrageous price of $250 and if you need a family size you could put out a $800+ so this gets to be another ridiculous device homes really don’t need.

Cool company Dialpad used the Alexa SDK to build their own telephone network interface. Unlike a platform-specific communications system, Dialpad will eventually be compatible with multiple voice assistants, ensuring an excellent user experience no matter what other communications platform or virtual assistant your contacts are using.

Here are the Dialpad features available through Alexa include:
  • Place a call to a contact
  • Add a contact to the current call
  • Transfer the current call to another person
  • Place a call on hold
  • Record a call
  • Check Dialpad voicemail and text messages
  • Enable and disable Do Not Disturb
  • Transfer a call from device to device, for example, from Alexa to a mobile phone or a mobile phone to Alexa
  • Listen to Dialpad system reports, such as “total call volume for the current week”

They also say integration with Google Home is coming soon.  As they said, “Being a pure-cloud business phone system, Dialpad makes it easy for people to communicate via desktop, mobile, tablet-you name it. Integrating with Alexa, another cloud-connected device, takes business communications into the Internet of Things (IoT). Alexa is truly your personal assistant: instead of paging a person or pressing some complicated key combination on your desk phone, you just say “Alexa, transfer the call to the sales department.”

Bottom-line – Amazon Alexa is winning in all kinds of ways and portends to be an even more important solution for business offices, hospitals, fast food and any other situation where voice conversation takes place.  Adding telephony is a great way to extend their reach and make Alexa even more relevant to their customers.
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Google Assistant SDK Transforms UC via Conversation Actions
Transforming voice has been one of the key tenants of UC though much of the effort has been NOT on voice but other forms of communications especially chat.
Now voice is back ! With the vengeance of a tornado, Amazon-Alexa, Apple-Siri, Microsoft-Cortana, Google-Voice and others all want hear every precious word you spout off.  The issue has been and always will be the written work is not the spoken word and what we see and touch is not often what we would say.
More often the restaurant or coffee shop server misunderstands what you say.  Meanwhile, here’s the pitch from Google. Google calls them Conversation Actions which help you fulfill user requests by letting you have a two-way dialog with users. When users request an action, the Google Assistant processes this request, determines the best action to invoke, and invokes your Conversation Action if relevant. From there, your action manages the rest, including how users are greeted, how to fulfill the user’s request, and how the conversation ends.
When you build conversation actions, you define these major components:
– Invocation triggers define how users invoke and discover your actions. Once triggered, your action carries out a conversation with users, which is defined by dialogs.
– Dialogs define how users converse with your actions and act as the user interface for your actions. They rely on fulfillment code to move the conversation forward.
– Fulfillment is the code that processes user input and returns responses and you expose it as a REST endpoint. Fulfillment also typically has the logic that carries out the actual action like retrieving recipes or news to read aloud.
 
Bottom-line – If you home alone you may find all this very cool but if you can add other family members and even animals (love to hear how Alexa would react to a Parrot) who knows what kind of chaos could erupt much less a business office, train station or ball park.  It is not that the idea is flawed it’s like any application, it only works for a few use cases. Building voice technology into cars, homes, and even IoT devices again is another nice idea but not sure if you want to have a device listening to everything you do or have to argue with them until they understand what you are talking about.
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West UC Challenges Us with Chat Bots 
West UC has issued a wide range of exciting blog posts include one that really outlines the issue with chat bots.
Here is what they have to say. “A bot is software that automates tasks you might do on your own manually, such as adding an appointment to your calendar, making a dinner reservation, or for simulating conversation. The last bot example describes call or chat bots – software that resides in calling or messaging apps and resembles human conversation and interaction. For instance, some fast food restaurants allow customers to order and pay for their meals through automated chat conversations. Other automated scheduler bots can take over the process of scheduling a meeting, complete with sending emails, notifications, and adding appointments into user’s calendars.

How do Software Bots Work?

A common implementation of bot usage occurs with hosted communications and cloud unified communications (UC). Software bots often assist with enterprise customer service. They are built into programs like Cloud Contact Pro, a sophisticated contact center platform that helps to boost rep productivity and enhance the customer’s experience. For example, bots integrated into West’s Cloud Contact Pro quickly provide contact center reps with detailed contact record information, using intelligent, skills-based call-routing, call flow, queue editing and dynamic agent scripting. Bots also help automate the connection process, assist with maintaining required PCI compliance recordings, and increase efficiency through workforce management solutions. Cloud UC solutions, like those from West, use bots to intelligently transfer desk phone calls to a mobile device, seamlessly and effortlessly.
Whether used to drive sales, offer client support, or conduct surveys, etc., bots help to formulate and improve features like advanced predictive dialers, proactive system monitoring and the capabilities provided by multi-channel communications. In fact, another common area for bot usage has been in the arena of social media. Social media tools such as Twitter use computer-generated algorithms to exhibit human-like behavior, such as automatically producing content and interacting with humans on social media (CACM). Bots are used as marketing tools on web sites, populating side ads and popups for recently visited sites, seeking to drive site activity and sales for companies. Bots can also be used in cloud UC tools like Cisco Jabber, through Presence and instant messaging (IM), to determine user availability, initial user contact dialogs and intelligent response. And when this type of technology is integrated with other UC tools, it works to enhance customer service, tailoring it specifically for each customer interaction.

The Future of Bots in Communications Software

Bot technology has been rapidly advancing over the last few years. Software bots are automating a great number of tasks across the web as well as in daily life. Soon bot programs may be doing our taxes! The popularity of Amazon Echo products and Google Home this year has shown how far bot technology has come, advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. Amazon Echo’s Alexa enables users to ask questions and do basic tasks such as making a grocery list, reading and writing emails, etc. Since both Amazon and Google have allowed 3rd party developers access to the device technology, the knowledge and capabilities of bots is steadily evolving, adding smart home capabilities/Internet of Things (IOT) such as turning on lights or closing the garage door. It’s not too hard to imagine that bots could control household appliances and provide guidance in an emergency, placing a call for an ambulance in the event that urgent medical care is required.
Bottom-line – If you are not building chatbots like a fire chasing you through a forest, your competitors may out-chatbot you out of business.
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Jabil Outlines Benefits of 5G for UC

 

This is only an excerpt from an exciting post on the rapid rise of 5G and its implications.  5G in many wants is a wireline killer and transformational technology for OTT-over the top broadcast network killer as well.

Real-Time Feedback Through Low Latency

By Paul Kite President, Jabil Kuatro – The time it takes for a signal to be beamed toward a tower and received by a device is its latency. In other words, the lower the latency the faster a device can respond. Low latency will potentially be a huge benefit for new possibilities through 5G. 4G networks have an average latency of 50 milliseconds, but with 5G latency is expected to go as short as 1 millisecond.
According to the PSB study, when thinking about what customers would like improved in 5G over 4G/LTE, they focus on enhanced speed and reliability. Low latency will be one of the key drivers that provides the reliability customers are seeking through new applications.
Connected, self-driving cars are one area low latency is absolutely critical. Relying on hundreds of real-time data sources, the difference between a latency of 50 milliseconds to 1 millisecond can be a matter of life or death. If self-driving cars can’t communicate with each other, collect and analyze data and make decisions real-time, then we’re getting ahead of ourselves with new technology our infrastructure can’t support.
An enhanced mobile bandwidth, expanded IoT functionality and low latency provide an expanded sandbox where we can develop new products and services, while vastly improving the ones currently in existence. But it is the intimate knowledge of both hardware and software that adds value for brands-the type of knowledge that comes with a manufacturing partner that can take tech innovations and spread them across multiple markets.
Five years from now, when we are expected to begin leveraging 5G in everything we do, we will look back and see how our lives have evolved with these new possibilities and how various industries have been transformed.
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There are four stories – Cisco, IBM, Facebook Workplace Video with BlueJeans and Microsoft Huddle Room with Audio Codes. 
Due to the enormity and complexity of the issues of each system, let’s just say that each has some interesting features.  Integrating Watson into the IBM Cognitive Room is certainly an interesting idea, however, I would like to have hands-on experience before endorsing any of these solutions.  However, this gives you a quick glimpse at each system.
 

 

 Cisco Sparks Ideas

What really is upsetting that in either picture from Cisco they did NOT even read their own great book (Cisco Telepresence Fundamentals) by having a room next to outside windows (which means you get all the highway noise, changing sunlight conditions and heat and more problems).
Cisco Spark has a number of models including the Cisco Spark Board 55 a fully self-contained system on a high-resolution 4K 55-inch LED screen and the Cisco Spark Board 70 is a fully self-contained system on a high-resolution 4K 70-inch LED screen. Click on either image for details.

– Intelligent framing: We’re pushing the boundaries with a smart and effortless experience. It’s like having a TV camera operator in the room. We have had speaker tracking in our high-end systems – and now Cisco Spark Room Kits have it, too. The feature automatically detects who in the room is speaking and selects the best camera framing for that person. “Best overview intelligence” detects all people in the room and selects the best group framing when no one is speaking. If a large room has only two people, the camera intelligently frames those people.
– Analytics in diagnostic mode: Artificial intelligence can be pragmatically applied for resource planning. The Room Kits have a high-performing face-detection module that tracks where people are and the angle they’re facing. The system pinpoints the speaker through audio triangulation using the six embedded microphones. The system also counts the number of people in the room. You can send all this data to a management system for customized applications.
– Voice and face recognition: This is still in beta, but you’ll soon be able to place calls via voice commands and the system will recognize attendee faces and label them with their names. These pre-production capabilities present groundbreaking opportunities for both automated calling and content delivery based on a meeting’s participants.You can deploy Cisco Spark Room Kit in a small-to-medium-sized room, and Cisco Spark Room Kit Plus in a large room. Both options support one or two displays. I think you’ll want dual displays when you see how beautiful the white board looks when dialing into a Cisco Spark Board. Imagine the experience: You see the white-board content in stunning 4k resolution on one screen, connect with people in 4k on the other, and interact with the white board on your laptop or tablet.Bottom-line – Cisco has applied their enormous skills learned in building 1000s of telepresence rooms to this next-generation approach though as I have pointed out their need to re-read their books on telepresence rooms because video is really only as good as the room, lighting, noise, echo and many other factors that make video meetings even more difficult.

IBM “Wake Word” – HAL – World Without Walls

 

Wake words is the new term for initiating a conversation with a device.  Siri, Alexa and others begin listening and acting upon voice recognition though we all know how difficult it is to understand what you are already talking about.  Not to be out-gunned, HARMAN Professional Solutions and IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) today unveiled Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms. Click on image for more.

Using IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence (AI) technology and HARMAN AKG microphones, JBL speakers and AMX AV control and switching systems, the companies bring highly connected experiences to medical facilities, corporate offices, hotels, cruise ships and other hospitality environments.

In addition to the current in-market solutions, HARMAN is part of IBM’s cognitive collaboratories based in its $200 million Watson IoT global headquarters in Munich.
 In this facility today, HARMAN is demonstrating the capabilities of its in-room cognitive concierge in a conference room setting. At the same time the HARMAN team is also working with IBM designers, researchers and others to put IoT into the hands of enterprise customers.
Today IBM’s cognitive technologies are embedded into HARMAN soundbars and alarm clocks with other form factors being developed, that users can interact with using natural language. Now consumers can simply ask questions or issue commands with their voice when in a room.
These requests are then sent to the Watson cloud and Watson IoT services, which work with HARMAN’S technology to allow people to easily control their in-room subsystems without having to physically perform any manual tasks and trying to figure the new systems out. For example, now when an employee enters a conference room they can start a video conference, launch a presentation and more using their voice. In the future, these tasks will be executed automatically based on what the system has learned about the employee based on previous meetings.
These voice-enabled cognitive rooms also function as an in-room concierge that can answer general questions or site-specific questions developed by the facility and featuring custom answers created by staff. For example, a hotel guest could ask “What time is checkout? “or “Where is the gym?” while a hospital patient could ask “What are the hospital’s visiting hours?” or “Can you tell me more about my doctor?” Leveraging HARMAN’s expertise in API integration, users can even employ Watson for service requests, including amenity replenishments, restaurant reservations, late checkout, room service, shuttle service and more.
Leveraging key Watson APIs such as Natural Language Understanding and Speech to Text, these rooms also provide users with limited mobility and vision impairment a closer level of interaction with their environment. Now with
Watson, guests can speak naturally to the system without rigid syntax requirements, using simple commands like “would you turn off the lights?”

Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms also feature enterprise-grade software tools that can help in-house technical and guest service staff members increase operational efficiency. For example, housekeeping staff can simply say, “Send up an engineer to fix the shower” in their native language. Watson’s multilingual capabilities enable organizations to accommodate a wide variety of users from different countries with an ever-growing list of supported languages.

Bottom-line – The virtual work space is taking hold as “work without walls” transforms the tedium of traditional meetings wasting time and often with little progress on the project at hand.  New non-meetings business methods will change the traditional broadcast style meetings of one person talking at a time to more of a cocktail party approach to getting things done.

Facebook for Workplace on the Rise

 

Not to be outdone by Google, Microsoft, Amazon or anyone else in the enterprise, Facebook is coming at business communications via video rather than telephony.  Essentially you can think about an office is one “virtual open space” (like their own approach to office conditions) where video from all meetings, locations and ideally worksites of any form including construction, home, mobile or mountain top are available anytime or anywhere in one or more locations.  At some point you don’t think about meetings you think about perceptual conversations or in the case of IBM “cognitive” meetings.

BlueJeans for Workplace provides businesses of all sizes with a self-service, professional-grade video platform to bring people together, create collaborative experiences, and broadcast them over Workplace by Facebook.

BlueJeans for Workplace combines the best of Facebook, with the engagement and face-to-face interaction that only video can provide.
– Broadcast meetings and company-wide events on the Company News Feed or directly to project, team, or multi-company groups. Videos are archived on their respective pages and made readily available for on-demand playback.
– Present From Any Device – Join from the full range of video endpoints, including room systems, computers and mobile devices, as well as phone dial-in.

– HD Video & Screen Sharing – Share slides, documents, pictures and pre-uploaded video in crystal clear 1080p resolution.
– Single Video Communications Platform – Need a platform to connect with employees, customers, and partners inside and outside the walls of your company?
BlueJeans is going in the right direction with their solution though Facebook is working on their own approach integrating VR-virtual reality into the mix which makes even more sense giving the increasingly mobile nature of everything we do.  Click on the image for FB 360.Bottom-line – Video is the new means for re-arranging how we think about how we communicate.  From paper memos, secretaries, dictation, telephones, email, chat and other means, video can show more of everything we do.  Though just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should and if you don’t know how to write you can’t really be a great novelist.  Then same applies to presenting yourself on video.  Acting classes might be a great way to get the new video skills you will need to succeed.
AudioCodes Adds Huddle Room Tech
The majority of meeting spaces in a typical enterprise are small rooms that can accommodate up to six persons. AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution is a cost-effective solution ranging from two-person huddle rooms up to 15-person small group meeting spaces
The solution delivers:
– Familiar user experience base on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Familiar user experience based on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Fully managed by the AudioCodes Managed IP Phone solution for efficient deployment and ongoing IT operationsBottom-line – Huddle spaces or quick meetings are key to faster communications.  Adding solutions to make these types of meetings more effective and efficient is always appreciated.
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Amazon Takes on Cloud Contact Center 
If global domination is not enough, Amazon Web Services wants to tackle contact centers.  Like with any major player they will find that being able to do something, does not mean you should. Here is what they have to say for themselves. Click on image for video. Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. Amazon Connect is based on the same contact center technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations. The self-service graphical interface in Amazon Connect makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics – no specialized skills required. There are no up-front payments or long-term commitments and no infrastructure to manage with Amazon Connect; customers pay by the minute for Amazon Connect usage plus any associated telephony services.
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Apple “Clips” Taking on Snapchat, Instagram and …

Well, yet another “pic” app which the world does not need.  Apple says “Introducing Clips. A new iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more. One cool feature is Live Titles let you easily create animated captions – just by talking as you record. Choose from a variety of styles, all perfectly timed to the sound of your voice.

Bottom-line – Seriously too many pic apps and encouraging so many more bad pics and even more apps.
 
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Workflow Now Part of the Apple Orchard

Workflow is your personal automation tool, enabling you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create powerful workflows for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Workflow includes over 200 actions, including those for Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud Drive, and Health, to name a few.

For example, you can use Workflow to:
– Make animated GIFs
– Add a home screen icon that calls a loved one
– Make PDFs from Safari or any app with a share sheet
– Get directions to the nearest coffee shop in one tap
– Tweet the song you’re listening to
– Get all of the images on a web page
– Send a message including the last screenshot you took

– And so much more…

Your workflow creations can be launched from inside the Workflow app, from other apps using Workflow’s Action Extension, or from our new lightning-fast Today Widget. You can even export a workflow as a standalone app on your home screen.

Workflow opens up infinite possibilities of what you can do with your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.
Bottom-line – Another app in search of a user, however, with the Big Apple Corporate buying them, well another app gets a nice new parent.  Seriously, has anyone used this app?
 
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Free Visual Traceroute
 
In case you don’t have one or need a new one, here’s a cool free one.

 
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Vonage Meets Alexa – “Alexa, tell conference manager to start my call.”

From Vonage Business, another cool evolvement of the Internet of Things, and it harnesses the power of the cloud (which is what we’re really, really, ridiculously good at). Vonage Conference Manager is actually pretty simple. It works like this:
  • Get an Amazon Echo. Each “smart” meeting room has an Amazon Echo placed in it permanently.
  • Sync the Echo. The Echo is mapped to the physical phone within each room and an organizational directory, which accesses calendars, meeting information and contacts, all through the cloud.
  • Enable Vonage Conference Manager. Once the Echo is synced, the Vonage Conference Manager skill is enabled once through an iPhone or at alexa.amazon.com.
  • Include the room on invites. When you schedule a meeting, be sure to add the room so it knows about the meeting, so you can use the Echo while you’re in the room.
  • Start talking. When it’s time for your meeting to start, just walk into the room and say “Alexa…” to begin. Bam! You’re all set.
Bottom-line – Cool idea can’t wait to try.

 

 

 
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There’s meetings and then there’s meetings via teleconference:
Boring face-to-face = boring via teleconference
After your next meeting, ask a colleague “what did you understand that meeting was about”?   The principal feature of teleconferencing or conferencing technology is that it allows interactive communication and helps everyone get on the same page. Even though participants in a teleconference are geographically separated, they can still meet to “get their heads together.” Unlike unidirectional communication, such as a letter or a television broadcast, in which a person either sends a message without getting any cues from the recipient or is a passive recipient of information, interactive communication allows people to be both senders and receivers of information simultaneously. Interactive communications gives each person the opportunity to initiate and respond to information as the process unfolds.  Teleconference participants can converse, talk things over, negotiate, joke, see one another, and exchange numerical and graphic information. When people use teleconferencing to “meet,” a synergy of minds is created. Users find that a greater sense of involvement and trust develops among people who are using teleconferencing to carry out a project as compared to a project that relies upon unidirectional communication.
Teleconferencing lets more people participate in the decision-making process. Advantages of group decision making, compared to individual decision making, include the availability of a greater range of experience than that held by any one individual, a more diverse set of intellectual approaches and capabilities, and a greater tendency to subject ideas to scrutiny and debate. Decision making is improved with teleconferencing, because it encourages participation of those people who are not directly involved in the decision-making process of a particular project; for example, research and development engineers can participate in a conference about marketing. Teleconferencing also allows people, such as the administrative staff who would not normally attend a distant face-to-face meeting participate in the decision-making process. Their participation ensures that they understand the subject discussed, especially the nuances and overall thrust of the decision-making process, often not captured in a written report of a meeting.  This, in turn, means that the decision is more likely to be implemented efficiently and effectively.  Ultimately the reason why meetings suck is that the presenter is not organized, has no agenda and worse has not planned for gaining and organizing feedback as to what attendees heard or thought they heard.
Making Sure Communications Succeed
I have a saying that I have used for 40 years, “communications will always fail except by chance.”  We think we are communicating when; in fact, communications is a two-way, not one-way, process.  For me to communicate effectively I have to get feedback from you to let me know what you heard and what you think it means to you.
To that end, I appreciate the opportunity to help Boulder Phone, your provider of conferencing services and products, help you to do a better job at communications.  We can help you be less boring and more effective in your communications.  We can help you as a value-added service review your presentations, review your scripts or even help you write them.  Speaking of scripts, we know they work.  Writing a script helps you organize and rehearse your thoughts to help you speak more clearly and focused.  You may not need this kind of help but Boulder Phone wants you to know we can help you not just with the technology but with communications as well.
We offer you this indepth book if you really want to know more about the subject.

 

 
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BusyLight – Stop Office Interruption Insanity  
I really hate open space offices.  Aside from the smelly food and people, constant interruptions cause serious office insanity.  The cool folks at Unified Communications sell BusyLight from Plenom and put together a very funny slide show presentation. You can click on any image for all their slides, here are a few highlights.

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Special – Manager/Assistant Dashboard for Microsoft Skype for Business

FONCOMFORT QuickLink greatly improves call handling efficiency with 1 click actions to call, pickup and transfer calls. The Live Tiles allow users/ managers and admins to quickly see the presence status of their colleagues, if calls are forwarded and if given the rights, to see who they are speaking with. This rich information allows for intelligent decision making and if a manager/person should be interrupted or not when transferring calls.  Click on image for more details.


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AudioCodes Connects Any Closet to Cloud Communications

Read First: Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition makes it possible to connect any existing telephone circuit to Cloud PBX in Office 365 using a single server and minimal configuration. This allows for the user’s voice capability to be managed out of Office 365 while their phone calls continue to use their existing phone number, circuits and PSTN provider contract.

Microsoft’s recently announced Skype for Business Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling offerings continue to have a major impact on the voice ecosystem. However, many companies are hesitant to make an immediate and full transition to the cloud. Microsoft understood this challenge and implemented a strategy to offer a hybrid solution, where cloud-based PBX services are complemented by an enterprise’s existing on-premises PSTN connectivity.

The AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances for Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition integrate with Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition recommended architectures, providing on-premises connectivity infrastructure. Enabling integration with heterogeneous systems and legacy PBXs, which are critical for a smooth migration to the cloud, AudioCodes’ Microsoft-certified SBCs offer enterprise-grade security and reliability.

Additionally, AudioCodes’ SBCs can add value by delivering enhanced features such as advanced dial plan settings, high availability on incoming calls, support for analog devices and support for call recording from the PSTN side. The combined solution of Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition with AudioCodes’ infrastructure ensures a smooth migration for enterprise customers who want to move their users to the latest cloud unified communications platform from Microsoft Office 365, while preserving on-premises connectivity with their local service providers.
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Six Core Concepts for Social Media Influencer Program & Webinar

By Evan Kirstel @evankirstel & Tom Cross @techtionary

Abstract

IM-influencer marketing is the means to accelerate revenue, lower costs, organize corporate communications and extend company goodwill to name a few benefits. This article explores these issues and a preview of the webinar (click on any image for details on the webinar) with Evan Kirstel Top Social Media Influencer and Tom Cross.
Here are some of the key points presented and discussed in the webinar with Evan Kirstel along with other key topics including the CEO as the ultimate social influencer and “tweet meets” sales lead generation via social media. The term “influencer marketing” (IM) or key opinion leaders (KOL) is the term often used by social media leaders rather than celebrity or movie/sports/rock star endorsements and other leaders of any kind including business, religious and others. Celebrity or star endorsements are not new but certainly less pronounced in the tech space. If Steve Jobs had survived there is no doubt newer, more exciting and more diverse products would be coming from Apple. His role is not unique as the CEO sets the stage for each company. Yet many tech companies believe that their tech speaks for itself not recognizing the role of advisors, consultants and social media influencers on customer decisions. The role of IM and IM professionals is to help core clients look beyond their own silo of solutions to work with customers and others to build more global solutions. The impact can be significant in reducing sales cycles, improve customer service and ultimately vastly increase overall customer and global experience.
Here is a brief summary and analysis of six key points for IM:

Connections
– create and connect with other social media influencers and guide with monthly “tweetchats.” It is truly amazing how many CEO and others fail really fail to understand that social media is social not broadcast media. Social media almost by definition means engaging with others not just preaching to them. Twitter even more than Linkedin is ideal for connecting with potential customers and engaging with them to solve their needs. IM extends the process by educating and ultimately gaining and retaining them. Customers don’t call you anymore they tweet their grievances and if you ignore them the entire world knows that you don’t care and even more importantly, prospective customers can see that as well. Companies that don’t understand are like companies who didn’t have websites 20 years ago and don’t update them today. In other words, engaging with customers throughout their lifecycle is a must-have approach to business going forward.

Content
– turbocharge your content reaching hundreds of thousands of users on Twitter and tens of thousands on Linkedin.

Content and curation go hand-in-hand as content, rather data only becomes knowledge after a human has understood, analyzed, shared and hopefully used it in decision-making. Big data is often used to suggest that we have too much information or TMI and that AI-artificial intelligence will somehow distill, synthesize or somehow organize it for humans. Yet AI is not a panacea not likely to give you any deeper understanding of the issue than you have now. In influencer marketing (IM) the knowledge of the influencer is always at risk when content from any source big or artificial is used to answer key questions. An influencer of any kind whether sports, movie or tech star will never have enough information to make specific decisions only general assessments and observations. However, to help all those involved get “on the same page” can be accomplished via IM. There is much to-do about IoT-internet of things but will the smart car talk to the smart home and what protocols, terminology and user commands be common to both. This would be the role of IM to organize different and complex systems, protocols and industry forums can help those involved (influenced) build common solutions. Smart companies can use or build IM to build bridges between companies and players to solve customer issues more quickly. This means that constant content research and development should be part of any IM program.

Curation – review and curate company content, provide guidance and enhanced thought leadership via influencer team.

 Curation actually comes from the term caring and now is applied to anything gathered from multiple sources into one place to writing blog posts. Curators organize ideas to help viewers and users gain insights. Curation can come from articles, thought leadership, research and knowledge base sources. Influencer marketing comes from ongoing research into content curation ensuring its real and
not fake news or distorted in anyway, yet add serious analysis and what is often called thought leadership. Without this content becomes useless or worse can cause confusion and conflict. For curation to be effective the context of its use must also always be in-play. Knowing or context or how the content will be used not only aids but accelerates the use and further application as well as pursuit of further curation and the IM can be of value as a real content curator.

Collaboration – collaborate with internal and external social leaders.

Like said so many times, keep your friends close and enemies close most often attributed to Niccolò Machiavelli author of The Price is also filled with priceless concepts on management and collaboration. Collaboration is not just working together but realizing that there will also be a hierarchical approach to management as the CEO and other C-levels will always rule the roost as collaborative they appear to be. Ideas come in, they bubble up, muck about and if merit, a business case emerges. The role of IM in this process is to guide, validate, collaborate and be the “out of the box” viewpoint on the subject. This delicate role is not as arbitrator or buzz-killer but to give input or collaborate as needed.

C-Level
– assist and guide the CXO on their social media efforts along with gaining-retaining followers via CEO Twitter Scoreboard.

The ultimate social influencer is the CEO who as mentioned like Steve Job sets direction, goals and inspiration to insiders and most importantly to outsiders. If Steve Jobs came out with bottled water or fashion line, we would all be drinking and wearing it. The role of social influencer and the CEO should be aligned as the IM can be the ombudsman, foreign correspondent and advocate. As IBM, Huawei, Avaya and others are finding the role of IM helps them in many ways traditional marketing doesn’t and can’t. This is the ultimate value of the influencer to help the CEO in extending their message, bypassing traditional corporate communications with staff and increasingly manage crises.

Concern
– respond to concerns expressed by customers and build and monitor system for sales, supports, IR/PR and compliance issues.

Aside from other gaps in corporate marketing, the IM can also fill-in where others can’t. Notwithstanding regulatory restrictions, IM can be on the forefront in the media where often the business press takes the company to task. IM can be the independent view responding to complex situations such as layoffs, store closing, product failures and other negative situations.

Crisis
– provide crisis response team to address 7×24 tracking to avoid situations such as Target, Wells Fargo, Chipotle and other corporate devastating consequences with live “tweetchats” demonstrating responsiveness.   In case you missed the current political environment, foreign countries are cyberattacking not just political parties but nearly every company or institution that exists. One small school district (state withheld from security reasons) has been attacked by multiple foreign countries repeatedly. If you think you is not going to happen to you, think again. The role of the IM in this area is manage the mess and to guide and assist the client in “damage control.” You can never have enough friends when stuff happens and in the case of what is going on in presidential politics your company needs this more than ever as you may just be a tweet away from brand, customer and/or

stock crisis. That is, cybersecurity attacks are one thing but other political attacks could be much worse. This means you should have an IM team ready and monitoring your business 7×24 so you can wake up and manage any mess.

 

Summary – these and other issues will be presented by Evan and Tom during the webinar. If you need immediate attention, you can visit http://www.evankirstel.com/ or email cross@gocross.com 303-594-1694 to get started and be ready today.

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Linkedin Selling Unified Communications Group – Buyers Welcome
Please join our Linkedin Group if you are selling and even buying UC gear/gizmos/gadgets/gagals and more.  Beyond networking opportunities, news, and educational resources, this group is about helping its members increase sales. Vendors, VARs, Agents and anyone selling and marketing unified communications solutions are welcome. If you are a buyer, you join and see what’s available.
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Certified Training – Affordable, Available, Actionable & Tax Deductible
WebRTC-SIP Certification, Social Media Contact Centers, Sales Professionals and Business
Custom and Complete SIP Professional Certification Program
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Lync is a Trademark of Microsoft.  Unified Communications Apps & Cloud Communications Forum is an independent forum.

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The User Forum provides classroom and webseminar training as well as a non-production environment for those IT departments without additional equipment, budget or time.  This allows planners and users to test ideas, dial in and dial back out, IM file transfers, remote desktop sharing, video conferencing, run scenarios, review logs, break linkages and learning about new telephony features and network access.  The User Forum is also designed for both the system integrator/consultant who wants to learn about tech without having to build their own system as well as the enterprise customer who doesn’t have the time, resources or knowledge to develop one.  Coming soon, User Forum Labs are designed to be “hands-on” or “over-the-shoulder” with experts available for Q&A and classes for feature-specific review.

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SIP, Unified Communications Apps & Cloud Communications Forum, 2525 Arapahoe E-4-313, Boulder, CO 80302
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AI Social and Contextual UC #397 – Breakthrough Twitter 140 Character Barrier – Alexa Show – Broadsoft Expands Cloud

 

 (c) AI Forum & Unified Communications Forum

May 12 – 2017 – Issue #397

 

AI Forum – Exploring the Wild World of Artificial Intelligence and other Communications, Mobile, Contextual-Intelligence and other communications companies.
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Advertising, social media, blog articles, webinars and other services available.
 cross@gocross.com
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This “Do not disturb” light is ideal for open office workspace and cubicles. Deal with interruptions at work and increase workplace productivity easily with a busy indicator light.
Built-in speakers for audible call alert and phone ring light to avoid missed calls. Integrates with headset, desk phone or softphone and works as an on the phone indicator light.
Compatible with Skype for business, Lync, Cisco Jabber and more.
Click on image to order direct or partners. 
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Siri can’t open iPhone Flashlight but say
ZoomLite and you get Flashlight, Magnifying Camera, Large Format Clock and Local Weather – Free.

Best app for reading anything close up including restaurant menus and receipts.

Not a simulation – real screenshot.

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iPhone User Forum
Best Sleep App
New Version Approved
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If you need an iPhone/iPad app, click on image.
If you don’t understand Why Twitter is important !
Here are 4 simple reasons and 10 ways to be a good Tweeter
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 We can help in developing webinars, customer studies, social media and sales, marketing

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Rewards programs are proven to increase revenues and customer engagement.

Rewards/VIP App
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Welcome to the SIP, UC Apps & Cloud Communications Forum
@Techtionary Twitter account topped 14,800+ followers up 300 followers this week and if you are on Twitter, please follow and we will follow you back.  Get proven results in gaining-retaining Twitter and other social media followers – click here.

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Breakthrough Twitter 140 Character Barrier 
The problem with Twitter has always been the 140 character limitation.  If you want add a link that takes 20 characters and writing good English well that is another lot of characters including spaces.  HashNewsGram eliminates that problem.  Write your heart out and include a video, pics, audio recording and even an Acticon-action icon you can really get your message across.  Of course, Twitter doesn’t expand to fit posting long text or other ideas is not limited anymore.  Click on the image for the “how to” do it.
Winner iPhone User Forum
Best Twitter App
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.” 

Click on image for iTunes

Key new features include:
– Search and one-touch save for the fastest-easiest access to Twitter news.
– Save your favorite Twitter accounts to your Folders/Subfolders with one-touch.
– New UI-user interface for faster-easier news gathering and tracking
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.”
#HashNewsGram is a Free Twitter #hashtag gathering app for iPhone.
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Broadsoft Cloud Paas – Cloud Platform
Broadsoft has patiently and earnestly gained respect as a major UC service provider.  Now they are expanding their operations by opening up their technology to provide a full platform to others.  With BroadCloud PaaS, service providers have the ability to:
– Accelerate their innovation cycle with unprecedented control and flexibility to develop differentiated, on-demand cloud unified communication and collaboration services
– Gain a 50-75% time-to-market advantage delivering new cloud communications services based on the entire BroadSoft Business application suite
– Minimize non-strategic OPEX and CAPEX while moving to a consumption cost model that greatly minimizes the ongoing marginal costs for new features and capabilities
– Benefit from carrier-class reliability and BroadSoft data centers with physical, environmental and access level security
– Reduce operational complexity and costs with simplified and scalable packaging options
They also added this BroadCloud PaaS is an option available to service providers as part of the BroadCloud cloud platform powering BroadSoft Business, a fully integrated portfolio of enterprise-ready cloud, unified communications, team collaboration and contact center applications. BroadSoft Business can scale to all market segments, and includes three core applications: UC-One, Team-One and CC-One, with BroadSoft Hub providing contextual intelligence across the entire platform so users can access the information and apps they need in one place.  You can also get their Ebook on their platform.
Bottom-line – Broadsoft continues to expand their global UC operations.  Opening the planform ability to a wider range of users not just carriers will further aid their viability.
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Easy Conference Scheduling for Skype for Business, Office 365, Cisco Spark and Avaya
Approved Contact has quietly but surely worked on getting their multi-platform scheduling and planning solution chatbot approved by Microsoft, Avaya and Cisco to speed staff scheduling and meetings. They ask a simple question – How much time do you waste going back and forth to schedule meetings? Approved Contact allows you to easily share calendars with anyone. Changes you make to your calendar update automatically to Approved Contact. Using Approved Contact enables you to connect your calendar to websites, text, email, mobile, voice recognition, and telephone systems.  Click on logo to contact Approved Contact.

Easy as 1-2-3, for Cisco users, compare open times on your calendar to open times on any of your Approved Contact’s calendars from right inside of Cisco Spark space
FreeTime – Compares available calendars from everyone in the space and displays up to the first 3 available times.
First, set up a new profile on Approved Contact
Second, sync your calendar into Approved Contact and invite your contacts to become your Approved Contacts
Third, add the Approved Contact BOT to any Cisco Spark space that you want to compare your free times to other’s in the Cisco Spark space.
Products supported
Office 365
Azure
Skype for Business
Outlook 2013 or later
Outlook 2016 for Mac
Outlook on the Web
Cisco Spark
Avaya
 Bottom-line – In the seminal work called Organizational Velocity written in the 1970s, the author spoke about the speed or velocity of business is dependent on the pace of collaboration.  He suggested the pace of technology ever slowly but surely increased the pace of organization work.  At the time IBM conducted a study that the average delay in scheduling a meeting and the meeting actually taking place with 5 people was about 5 weeks given other meetings, vacations, meetings already scheduled, and other factors.   Then it took hours just to complete the concalls just to check peoples’ schedules.  This has shortened a little with endless emails between principals and assistants.  Now this can be dramatically shortened to minutes at a fraction of the cost and most importantly, ease of access.   In a later book called Split Second Society, the speed of business was said most aptly like this – “Strategically, the faster you can communicate, the faster you can change and those corporations that change the fastest will be the most successful.”
Approved Contact may not have all the answers to the challenges of human communications but they are working on ways we can collaborate faster.
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Siri Likely Gets Smart Speaker 
According to Neowin, “According to 9to5Mac, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated in an industry report that the Siri-powered smart speaker will most likely be unveiled at Apple’s WWDC 2017 conference. The unit will be positioned as a much higher-end competitor to Amazon’s Echo, with a price to match, having “excellent” sound reproduction due to its seven tweeters and one subwoofer.  Leaker Sonny Dickson told Mashable that the Siri speaker would have a concave top where the controls would be (not too dissimilar to the Echo), a design that’s quite close to the ‘trashcan-like’ Mac Pro, and a similar mesh style to that of the UE Megaboom line from Logitech (pictured).”
Bottom-line – Apple is sitting on $250B in cash and also sitting on their hands in regard to innovation.  They are app fat with all that cash and don’t think they need to do anything to remain viable focusing on the iPhone their principal cash cow.  No doubt they have a lot to do but they could be doing a lot more and having smart home solutions along with car, office, space plane and any other place that humans or devices can occupy.  More and faster innovation is expected sooner than later.
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Amazon Tackles Telephone Service with Alexa
This week Amazon added video conferencing to the Alexa calling feature with Alexa Show for $229 retail probably less with Amazon Prime and other promos they will have.  Due tell what they are really trying to do other than take all your money. Regarding, their more traditional product Alexa, GeekWeek said, “The system Alexa described in the patent would link an existing cellphone number with the Alexa device, and includes a provision for identifying authorized users by their voices. Alexa could let the user know a call is coming in, and then pick it up and route the call over its speaker when the user gives the go-ahead. Users could also initiate calls via Alexa.  Call charges would be billed through the user’s cell carrier, but once the call is routed through the Alexa device, the cellphone would be left out of the picture. Instead, the Alexa device would send the call to the carrier through a type of connection known as voice over Internet Protocol, or VOIP.”
Amazon VC is already funding an home intercom solution call Nucleus for an outrageous price of $250 and if you need a family size you could put out a $800+ so this gets to be another ridiculous device homes really don’t need.

Cool company Dialpad used the Alexa SDK to build their own telephone network interface. Unlike a platform-specific communications system, Dialpad will eventually be compatible with multiple voice assistants, ensuring an excellent user experience no matter what other communications platform or virtual assistant your contacts are using.

Here are the Dialpad features available through Alexa include:
  • Place a call to a contact
  • Add a contact to the current call
  • Transfer the current call to another person
  • Place a call on hold
  • Record a call
  • Check Dialpad voicemail and text messages
  • Enable and disable Do Not Disturb
  • Transfer a call from device to device, for example, from Alexa to a mobile phone or a mobile phone to Alexa
  • Listen to Dialpad system reports, such as “total call volume for the current week”

They also say integration with Google Home is coming soon.  As they said, “Being a pure-cloud business phone system, Dialpad makes it easy for people to communicate via desktop, mobile, tablet-you name it. Integrating with Alexa, another cloud-connected device, takes business communications into the Internet of Things (IoT). Alexa is truly your personal assistant: instead of paging a person or pressing some complicated key combination on your desk phone, you just say “Alexa, transfer the call to the sales department.”

Bottom-line – Amazon Alexa is winning in all kinds of ways and portends to be an even more important solution for business offices, hospitals, fast food and any other situation where voice conversation takes place.  Adding telephony is a great way to extend their reach and make Alexa even more relevant to their customers.
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Google Assistant SDK Transforms UC via Conversation Actions
Transforming voice has been one of the key tenants of UC though much of the effort has been NOT on voice but other forms of communications especially chat.
Now voice is back ! With the vengeance of a tornado, Amazon-Alexa, Apple-Siri, Microsoft-Cortana, Google-Voice and others all want hear every precious word you spout off.  The issue has been and always will be the written work is not the spoken word and what we see and touch is not often what we would say.
More often the restaurant or coffee shop server misunderstands what you say.  Meanwhile, here’s the pitch from Google. Google calls them Conversation Actions which help you fulfill user requests by letting you have a two-way dialog with users. When users request an action, the Google Assistant processes this request, determines the best action to invoke, and invokes your Conversation Action if relevant. From there, your action manages the rest, including how users are greeted, how to fulfill the user’s request, and how the conversation ends.
When you build conversation actions, you define these major components:
– Invocation triggers define how users invoke and discover your actions. Once triggered, your action carries out a conversation with users, which is defined by dialogs.
– Dialogs define how users converse with your actions and act as the user interface for your actions. They rely on fulfillment code to move the conversation forward.
– Fulfillment is the code that processes user input and returns responses and you expose it as a REST endpoint. Fulfillment also typically has the logic that carries out the actual action like retrieving recipes or news to read aloud.
 
Bottom-line – If you home alone you may find all this very cool but if you can add other family members and even animals (love to hear how Alexa would react to a Parrot) who knows what kind of chaos could erupt much less a business office, train station or ball park.  It is not that the idea is flawed it’s like any application, it only works for a few use cases. Building voice technology into cars, homes, and even IoT devices again is another nice idea but not sure if you want to have a device listening to everything you do or have to argue with them until they understand what you are talking about.
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West UC Challenges Us with Chat Bots 
West UC has issued a wide range of exciting blog posts include one that really outlines the issue with chat bots.
Here is what they have to say. “A bot is software that automates tasks you might do on your own manually, such as adding an appointment to your calendar, making a dinner reservation, or for simulating conversation. The last bot example describes call or chat bots – software that resides in calling or messaging apps and resembles human conversation and interaction. For instance, some fast food restaurants allow customers to order and pay for their meals through automated chat conversations. Other automated scheduler bots can take over the process of scheduling a meeting, complete with sending emails, notifications, and adding appointments into user’s calendars.

How do Software Bots Work?

A common implementation of bot usage occurs with hosted communications and cloud unified communications (UC). Software bots often assist with enterprise customer service. They are built into programs like Cloud Contact Pro, a sophisticated contact center platform that helps to boost rep productivity and enhance the customer’s experience. For example, bots integrated into West’s Cloud Contact Pro quickly provide contact center reps with detailed contact record information, using intelligent, skills-based call-routing, call flow, queue editing and dynamic agent scripting. Bots also help automate the connection process, assist with maintaining required PCI compliance recordings, and increase efficiency through workforce management solutions. Cloud UC solutions, like those from West, use bots to intelligently transfer desk phone calls to a mobile device, seamlessly and effortlessly.
Whether used to drive sales, offer client support, or conduct surveys, etc., bots help to formulate and improve features like advanced predictive dialers, proactive system monitoring and the capabilities provided by multi-channel communications. In fact, another common area for bot usage has been in the arena of social media. Social media tools such as Twitter use computer-generated algorithms to exhibit human-like behavior, such as automatically producing content and interacting with humans on social media (CACM). Bots are used as marketing tools on web sites, populating side ads and popups for recently visited sites, seeking to drive site activity and sales for companies. Bots can also be used in cloud UC tools like Cisco Jabber, through Presence and instant messaging (IM), to determine user availability, initial user contact dialogs and intelligent response. And when this type of technology is integrated with other UC tools, it works to enhance customer service, tailoring it specifically for each customer interaction.

The Future of Bots in Communications Software

Bot technology has been rapidly advancing over the last few years. Software bots are automating a great number of tasks across the web as well as in daily life. Soon bot programs may be doing our taxes! The popularity of Amazon Echo products and Google Home this year has shown how far bot technology has come, advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. Amazon Echo’s Alexa enables users to ask questions and do basic tasks such as making a grocery list, reading and writing emails, etc. Since both Amazon and Google have allowed 3rd party developers access to the device technology, the knowledge and capabilities of bots is steadily evolving, adding smart home capabilities/Internet of Things (IOT) such as turning on lights or closing the garage door. It’s not too hard to imagine that bots could control household appliances and provide guidance in an emergency, placing a call for an ambulance in the event that urgent medical care is required.
Bottom-line – If you are not building chatbots like a fire chasing you through a forest, your competitors may out-chatbot you out of business.
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Jabil Outlines Benefits of 5G for UC

 

This is only an excerpt from an exciting post on the rapid rise of 5G and its implications.  5G in many wants is a wireline killer and transformational technology for OTT-over the top broadcast network killer as well.

Real-Time Feedback Through Low Latency

By Paul Kite President, Jabil Kuatro – The time it takes for a signal to be beamed toward a tower and received by a device is its latency. In other words, the lower the latency the faster a device can respond. Low latency will potentially be a huge benefit for new possibilities through 5G. 4G networks have an average latency of 50 milliseconds, but with 5G latency is expected to go as short as 1 millisecond.
According to the PSB study, when thinking about what customers would like improved in 5G over 4G/LTE, they focus on enhanced speed and reliability. Low latency will be one of the key drivers that provides the reliability customers are seeking through new applications.
Connected, self-driving cars are one area low latency is absolutely critical. Relying on hundreds of real-time data sources, the difference between a latency of 50 milliseconds to 1 millisecond can be a matter of life or death. If self-driving cars can’t communicate with each other, collect and analyze data and make decisions real-time, then we’re getting ahead of ourselves with new technology our infrastructure can’t support.
An enhanced mobile bandwidth, expanded IoT functionality and low latency provide an expanded sandbox where we can develop new products and services, while vastly improving the ones currently in existence. But it is the intimate knowledge of both hardware and software that adds value for brands-the type of knowledge that comes with a manufacturing partner that can take tech innovations and spread them across multiple markets.
Five years from now, when we are expected to begin leveraging 5G in everything we do, we will look back and see how our lives have evolved with these new possibilities and how various industries have been transformed.
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There are four stories – Cisco, IBM, Facebook Workplace Video with BlueJeans and Microsoft Huddle Room with Audio Codes. 
Due to the enormity and complexity of the issues of each system, let’s just say that each has some interesting features.  Integrating Watson into the IBM Cognitive Room is certainly an interesting idea, however, I would like to have hands-on experience before endorsing any of these solutions.  However, this gives you a quick glimpse at each system.
 

 

 Cisco Sparks Ideas

What really is upsetting that in either picture from Cisco they did NOT even read their own great book (Cisco Telepresence Fundamentals) by having a room next to outside windows (which means you get all the highway noise, changing sunlight conditions and heat and more problems).
Cisco Spark has a number of models including the Cisco Spark Board 55 a fully self-contained system on a high-resolution 4K 55-inch LED screen and the Cisco Spark Board 70 is a fully self-contained system on a high-resolution 4K 70-inch LED screen. Click on either image for details.

– Intelligent framing: We’re pushing the boundaries with a smart and effortless experience. It’s like having a TV camera operator in the room. We have had speaker tracking in our high-end systems – and now Cisco Spark Room Kits have it, too. The feature automatically detects who in the room is speaking and selects the best camera framing for that person. “Best overview intelligence” detects all people in the room and selects the best group framing when no one is speaking. If a large room has only two people, the camera intelligently frames those people.
– Analytics in diagnostic mode: Artificial intelligence can be pragmatically applied for resource planning. The Room Kits have a high-performing face-detection module that tracks where people are and the angle they’re facing. The system pinpoints the speaker through audio triangulation using the six embedded microphones. The system also counts the number of people in the room. You can send all this data to a management system for customized applications.
– Voice and face recognition: This is still in beta, but you’ll soon be able to place calls via voice commands and the system will recognize attendee faces and label them with their names. These pre-production capabilities present groundbreaking opportunities for both automated calling and content delivery based on a meeting’s participants.You can deploy Cisco Spark Room Kit in a small-to-medium-sized room, and Cisco Spark Room Kit Plus in a large room. Both options support one or two displays. I think you’ll want dual displays when you see how beautiful the white board looks when dialing into a Cisco Spark Board. Imagine the experience: You see the white-board content in stunning 4k resolution on one screen, connect with people in 4k on the other, and interact with the white board on your laptop or tablet.Bottom-line – Cisco has applied their enormous skills learned in building 1000s of telepresence rooms to this next-generation approach though as I have pointed out their need to re-read their books on telepresence rooms because video is really only as good as the room, lighting, noise, echo and many other factors that make video meetings even more difficult.

IBM “Wake Word” – HAL – World Without Walls

 

Wake words is the new term for initiating a conversation with a device.  Siri, Alexa and others begin listening and acting upon voice recognition though we all know how difficult it is to understand what you are already talking about.  Not to be out-gunned, HARMAN Professional Solutions and IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) today unveiled Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms. Click on image for more.

Using IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence (AI) technology and HARMAN AKG microphones, JBL speakers and AMX AV control and switching systems, the companies bring highly connected experiences to medical facilities, corporate offices, hotels, cruise ships and other hospitality environments.

In addition to the current in-market solutions, HARMAN is part of IBM’s cognitive collaboratories based in its $200 million Watson IoT global headquarters in Munich.
 In this facility today, HARMAN is demonstrating the capabilities of its in-room cognitive concierge in a conference room setting. At the same time the HARMAN team is also working with IBM designers, researchers and others to put IoT into the hands of enterprise customers.
Today IBM’s cognitive technologies are embedded into HARMAN soundbars and alarm clocks with other form factors being developed, that users can interact with using natural language. Now consumers can simply ask questions or issue commands with their voice when in a room.
These requests are then sent to the Watson cloud and Watson IoT services, which work with HARMAN’S technology to allow people to easily control their in-room subsystems without having to physically perform any manual tasks and trying to figure the new systems out. For example, now when an employee enters a conference room they can start a video conference, launch a presentation and more using their voice. In the future, these tasks will be executed automatically based on what the system has learned about the employee based on previous meetings.
These voice-enabled cognitive rooms also function as an in-room concierge that can answer general questions or site-specific questions developed by the facility and featuring custom answers created by staff. For example, a hotel guest could ask “What time is checkout? “or “Where is the gym?” while a hospital patient could ask “What are the hospital’s visiting hours?” or “Can you tell me more about my doctor?” Leveraging HARMAN’s expertise in API integration, users can even employ Watson for service requests, including amenity replenishments, restaurant reservations, late checkout, room service, shuttle service and more.
Leveraging key Watson APIs such as Natural Language Understanding and Speech to Text, these rooms also provide users with limited mobility and vision impairment a closer level of interaction with their environment. Now with
Watson, guests can speak naturally to the system without rigid syntax requirements, using simple commands like “would you turn off the lights?”

Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms also feature enterprise-grade software tools that can help in-house technical and guest service staff members increase operational efficiency. For example, housekeeping staff can simply say, “Send up an engineer to fix the shower” in their native language. Watson’s multilingual capabilities enable organizations to accommodate a wide variety of users from different countries with an ever-growing list of supported languages.

Bottom-line – The virtual work space is taking hold as “work without walls” transforms the tedium of traditional meetings wasting time and often with little progress on the project at hand.  New non-meetings business methods will change the traditional broadcast style meetings of one person talking at a time to more of a cocktail party approach to getting things done.

Facebook for Workplace on the Rise

 

Not to be outdone by Google, Microsoft, Amazon or anyone else in the enterprise, Facebook is coming at business communications via video rather than telephony.  Essentially you can think about an office is one “virtual open space” (like their own approach to office conditions) where video from all meetings, locations and ideally worksites of any form including construction, home, mobile or mountain top are available anytime or anywhere in one or more locations.  At some point you don’t think about meetings you think about perceptual conversations or in the case of IBM “cognitive” meetings.

BlueJeans for Workplace provides businesses of all sizes with a self-service, professional-grade video platform to bring people together, create collaborative experiences, and broadcast them over Workplace by Facebook.

BlueJeans for Workplace combines the best of Facebook, with the engagement and face-to-face interaction that only video can provide.
– Broadcast meetings and company-wide events on the Company News Feed or directly to project, team, or multi-company groups. Videos are archived on their respective pages and made readily available for on-demand playback.
– Present From Any Device – Join from the full range of video endpoints, including room systems, computers and mobile devices, as well as phone dial-in.

– HD Video & Screen Sharing – Share slides, documents, pictures and pre-uploaded video in crystal clear 1080p resolution.
– Single Video Communications Platform – Need a platform to connect with employees, customers, and partners inside and outside the walls of your company?
BlueJeans is going in the right direction with their solution though Facebook is working on their own approach integrating VR-virtual reality into the mix which makes even more sense giving the increasingly mobile nature of everything we do.  Click on the image for FB 360.Bottom-line – Video is the new means for re-arranging how we think about how we communicate.  From paper memos, secretaries, dictation, telephones, email, chat and other means, video can show more of everything we do.  Though just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should and if you don’t know how to write you can’t really be a great novelist.  Then same applies to presenting yourself on video.  Acting classes might be a great way to get the new video skills you will need to succeed.

AudioCodes Adds Huddle Room Tech

The majority of meeting spaces in a typical enterprise are small rooms that can accommodate up to six persons. AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution is a cost-effective solution ranging from two-person huddle rooms up to 15-person small group meeting spaces
The solution delivers:
– Familiar user experience base on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Familiar user experience based on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Fully managed by the AudioCodes Managed IP Phone solution for efficient deployment and ongoing IT operationsBottom-line – Huddle spaces or quick meetings are key to faster communications.  Adding solutions to make these types of meetings more effective and efficient is always appreciated.
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Amazon Takes on Cloud Contact Center 
If global domination is not enough, Amazon Web Services wants to tackle contact centers.  Like with any major player they will find that being able to do something, does not mean you should. Here is what they have to say for themselves. Click on image for video. Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. Amazon Connect is based on the same contact center technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations. The self-service graphical interface in Amazon Connect makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics – no specialized skills required. There are no up-front payments or long-term commitments and no infrastructure to manage with Amazon Connect; customers pay by the minute for Amazon Connect usage plus any associated telephony services.
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Apple “Clips” Taking on Snapchat, Instagram and …

Well, yet another “pic” app which the world does not need.  Apple says “Introducing Clips. A new iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more. One cool feature is Live Titles let you easily create animated captions – just by talking as you record. Choose from a variety of styles, all perfectly timed to the sound of your voice.

Bottom-line – Seriously too many pic apps and encouraging so many more bad pics and even more apps.
 
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Workflow Now Part of the Apple Orchard

Workflow is your personal automation tool, enabling you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create powerful workflows for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Workflow includes over 200 actions, including those for Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud Drive, and Health, to name a few.

For example, you can use Workflow to:
– Make animated GIFs
– Add a home screen icon that calls a loved one
– Make PDFs from Safari or any app with a share sheet
– Get directions to the nearest coffee shop in one tap
– Tweet the song you’re listening to
– Get all of the images on a web page
– Send a message including the last screenshot you took

– And so much more…

Your workflow creations can be launched from inside the Workflow app, from other apps using Workflow’s Action Extension, or from our new lightning-fast Today Widget. You can even export a workflow as a standalone app on your home screen.

Workflow opens up infinite possibilities of what you can do with your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.
Bottom-line – Another app in search of a user, however, with the Big Apple Corporate buying them, well another app gets a nice new parent.  Seriously, has anyone used this app?
 
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Free Visual Traceroute
 
In case you don’t have one or need a new one, here’s a cool free one.

 
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Vonage Meets Alexa – “Alexa, tell conference manager to start my call.”

From Vonage Business, another cool evolvement of the Internet of Things, and it harnesses the power of the cloud (which is what we’re really, really, ridiculously good at). Vonage Conference Manager is actually pretty simple. It works like this:
  • Get an Amazon Echo. Each “smart” meeting room has an Amazon Echo placed in it permanently.
  • Sync the Echo. The Echo is mapped to the physical phone within each room and an organizational directory, which accesses calendars, meeting information and contacts, all through the cloud.
  • Enable Vonage Conference Manager. Once the Echo is synced, the Vonage Conference Manager skill is enabled once through an iPhone or at alexa.amazon.com.
  • Include the room on invites. When you schedule a meeting, be sure to add the room so it knows about the meeting, so you can use the Echo while you’re in the room.
  • Start talking. When it’s time for your meeting to start, just walk into the room and say “Alexa…” to begin. Bam! You’re all set.
Bottom-line – Cool idea can’t wait to try.

 

 

 
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There’s meetings and then there’s meetings via teleconference:
Boring face-to-face = boring via teleconference
After your next meeting, ask a colleague “what did you understand that meeting was about”?   The principal feature of teleconferencing or conferencing technology is that it allows interactive communication and helps everyone get on the same page. Even though participants in a teleconference are geographically separated, they can still meet to “get their heads together.” Unlike unidirectional communication, such as a letter or a television broadcast, in which a person either sends a message without getting any cues from the recipient or is a passive recipient of information, interactive communication allows people to be both senders and receivers of information simultaneously. Interactive communications gives each person the opportunity to initiate and respond to information as the process unfolds.  Teleconference participants can converse, talk things over, negotiate, joke, see one another, and exchange numerical and graphic information. When people use teleconferencing to “meet,” a synergy of minds is created. Users find that a greater sense of involvement and trust develops among people who are using teleconferencing to carry out a project as compared to a project that relies upon unidirectional communication.
Teleconferencing lets more people participate in the decision-making process. Advantages of group decision making, compared to individual decision making, include the availability of a greater range of experience than that held by any one individual, a more diverse set of intellectual approaches and capabilities, and a greater tendency to subject ideas to scrutiny and debate. Decision making is improved with teleconferencing, because it encourages participation of those people who are not directly involved in the decision-making process of a particular project; for example, research and development engineers can participate in a conference about marketing. Teleconferencing also allows people, such as the administrative staff who would not normally attend a distant face-to-face meeting participate in the decision-making process. Their participation ensures that they understand the subject discussed, especially the nuances and overall thrust of the decision-making process, often not captured in a written report of a meeting.  This, in turn, means that the decision is more likely to be implemented efficiently and effectively.  Ultimately the reason why meetings suck is that the presenter is not organized, has no agenda and worse has not planned for gaining and organizing feedback as to what attendees heard or thought they heard.
Making Sure Communications Succeed
I have a saying that I have used for 40 years, “communications will always fail except by chance.”  We think we are communicating when; in fact, communications is a two-way, not one-way, process.  For me to communicate effectively I have to get feedback from you to let me know what you heard and what you think it means to you.
To that end, I appreciate the opportunity to help Boulder Phone, your provider of conferencing services and products, help you to do a better job at communications.  We can help you be less boring and more effective in your communications.  We can help you as a value-added service review your presentations, review your scripts or even help you write them.  Speaking of scripts, we know they work.  Writing a script helps you organize and rehearse your thoughts to help you speak more clearly and focused.  You may not need this kind of help but Boulder Phone wants you to know we can help you not just with the technology but with communications as well.
We offer you this indepth book if you really want to know more about the subject.

 

 
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BusyLight – Stop Office Interruption Insanity  
I really hate open space offices.  Aside from the smelly food and people, constant interruptions cause serious office insanity.  The cool folks at Unified Communications sell BusyLight from Plenom and put together a very funny slide show presentation. You can click on any image for all their slides, here are a few highlights.

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Special – Manager/Assistant Dashboard for Microsoft Skype for Business

FONCOMFORT QuickLink greatly improves call handling efficiency with 1 click actions to call, pickup and transfer calls. The Live Tiles allow users/ managers and admins to quickly see the presence status of their colleagues, if calls are forwarded and if given the rights, to see who they are speaking with. This rich information allows for intelligent decision making and if a manager/person should be interrupted or not when transferring calls.  Click on image for more details.


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AudioCodes Connects Any Closet to Cloud Communications

Read First: Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition makes it possible to connect any existing telephone circuit to Cloud PBX in Office 365 using a single server and minimal configuration. This allows for the user’s voice capability to be managed out of Office 365 while their phone calls continue to use their existing phone number, circuits and PSTN provider contract.

Microsoft’s recently announced Skype for Business Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling offerings continue to have a major impact on the voice ecosystem. However, many companies are hesitant to make an immediate and full transition to the cloud. Microsoft understood this challenge and implemented a strategy to offer a hybrid solution, where cloud-based PBX services are complemented by an enterprise’s existing on-premises PSTN connectivity.

The AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances for Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition integrate with Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition recommended architectures, providing on-premises connectivity infrastructure. Enabling integration with heterogeneous systems and legacy PBXs, which are critical for a smooth migration to the cloud, AudioCodes’ Microsoft-certified SBCs offer enterprise-grade security and reliability.

Additionally, AudioCodes’ SBCs can add value by delivering enhanced features such as advanced dial plan settings, high availability on incoming calls, support for analog devices and support for call recording from the PSTN side. The combined solution of Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition with AudioCodes’ infrastructure ensures a smooth migration for enterprise customers who want to move their users to the latest cloud unified communications platform from Microsoft Office 365, while preserving on-premises connectivity with their local service providers.
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Six Core Concepts for Social Media Influencer Program & Webinar

By Evan Kirstel @evankirstel & Tom Cross @techtionary

Abstract

IM-influencer marketing is the means to accelerate revenue, lower costs, organize corporate communications and extend company goodwill to name a few benefits. This article explores these issues and a preview of the webinar (click on any image for details on the webinar) with Evan Kirstel Top Social Media Influencer and Tom Cross.

Here are some of the key points presented and discussed in the webinar with Evan Kirstel along with other key topics including the CEO as the ultimate social influencer and “tweet meets” sales lead generation via social media. The term “influencer marketing” (IM) or key opinion leaders (KOL) is the term often used by social media leaders rather than celebrity or movie/sports/rock star endorsements and other leaders of any kind including business, religious and others. Celebrity or star endorsements are not new but certainly less pronounced in the tech space. If Steve Jobs had survived there is no doubt newer, more exciting and more diverse products would be coming from Apple. His role is not unique as the CEO sets the stage for each company. Yet many tech companies believe that their tech speaks for itself not recognizing the role of advisors, consultants and social media influencers on customer decisions. The role of IM and IM professionals is to help core clients look beyond their own silo of solutions to work with customers and others to build more global solutions. The impact can be significant in reducing sales cycles, improve customer service and ultimately vastly increase overall customer and global experience.
Here is a brief summary and analysis of six key points for IM:

Connections
– create and connect with other social media influencers and guide with monthly “tweetchats.” It is truly amazing how many CEO and others fail really fail to understand that social media is social not broadcast media. Social media almost by definition means engaging with others not just preaching to them. Twitter even more than Linkedin is ideal for connecting with potential customers and engaging with them to solve their needs. IM extends the process by educating and ultimately gaining and retaining them. Customers don’t call you anymore they tweet their grievances and if you ignore them the entire world knows that you don’t care and even more importantly, prospective customers can see that as well. Companies that don’t understand are like companies who didn’t have websites 20 years ago and don’t update them today. In other words, engaging with customers throughout their lifecycle is a must-have approach to business going forward.

Content
– turbocharge your content reaching hundreds of thousands of users on Twitter and tens of thousands on Linkedin.

Content and curation go hand-in-hand as content, rather data only becomes knowledge after a human has understood, analyzed, shared and hopefully used it in decision-making. Big data is often used to suggest that we have too much information or TMI and that AI-artificial intelligence will somehow distill, synthesize or somehow organize it for humans. Yet AI is not a panacea not likely to give you any deeper understanding of the issue than you have now. In influencer marketing (IM) the knowledge of the influencer is always at risk when content from any source big or artificial is used to answer key questions. An influencer of any kind whether sports, movie or tech star will never have enough information to make specific decisions only general assessments and observations. However, to help all those involved get “on the same page” can be accomplished via IM. There is much to-do about IoT-internet of things but will the smart car talk to the smart home and what protocols, terminology and user commands be common to both. This would be the role of IM to organize different and complex systems, protocols and industry forums can help those involved (influenced) build common solutions. Smart companies can use or build IM to build bridges between companies and players to solve customer issues more quickly. This means that constant content research and development should be part of any IM program.

Curation – review and curate company content, provide guidance and enhanced thought leadership via influencer team.

 Curation actually comes from the term caring and now is applied to anything gathered from multiple sources into one place to writing blog posts. Curators organize ideas to help viewers and users gain insights. Curation can come from articles, thought leadership, research and knowledge base sources. Influencer marketing comes from ongoing research into content curation ensuring its real and

not fake news or distorted in anyway, yet add serious analysis and what is often called thought leadership. Without this content becomes useless or worse can cause confusion and conflict. For curation to be effective the context of its use must also always be in-play. Knowing or context or how the content will be used not only aids but accelerates the use and further application as well as pursuit of further curation and the IM can be of value as a real content curator.

Collaboration – collaborate with internal and external social leaders.

Like said so many times, keep your friends close and enemies close most often attributed to Niccolò Machiavelli author of The Price is also filled with priceless concepts on management and collaboration. Collaboration is not just working together but realizing that there will also be a hierarchical approach to management as the CEO and other C-levels will always rule the roost as collaborative they appear to be. Ideas come in, they bubble up, muck about and if merit, a business case emerges. The role of IM in this process is to guide, validate, collaborate and be the “out of the box” viewpoint on the subject. This delicate role is not as arbitrator or buzz-killer but to give input or collaborate as needed.

C-Level
– assist and guide the CXO on their social media efforts along with gaining-retaining followers via CEO Twitter Scoreboard.

The ultimate social influencer is the CEO who as mentioned like Steve Job sets direction, goals and inspiration to insiders and most importantly to outsiders. If Steve Jobs came out with bottled water or fashion line, we would all be drinking and wearing it. The role of social influencer and the CEO should be aligned as the IM can be the ombudsman, foreign correspondent and advocate. As IBM, Huawei, Avaya and others are finding the role of IM helps them in many ways traditional marketing doesn’t and can’t. This is the ultimate value of the influencer to help the CEO in extending their message, bypassing traditional corporate communications with staff and increasingly manage crises.

Concern
– respond to concerns expressed by customers and build and monitor system for sales, supports, IR/PR and compliance issues.

Aside from other gaps in corporate marketing, the IM can also fill-in where others can’t. Notwithstanding regulatory restrictions, IM can be on the forefront in the media where often the business press takes the company to task. IM can be the independent view responding to complex situations such as layoffs, store closing, product failures and other negative situations.

Crisis
– provide crisis response team to address 7×24 tracking to avoid situations such as Target, Wells Fargo, Chipotle and other corporate devastating consequences with live “tweetchats” demonstrating responsiveness.   In case you missed the current political environment, foreign countries are cyberattacking not just political parties but nearly every company or institution that exists. One small school district (state withheld from security reasons) has been attacked by multiple foreign countries repeatedly. If you think you is not going to happen to you, think again. The role of the IM in this area is manage the mess and to guide and assist the client in “damage control.” You can never have enough friends when stuff happens and in the case of what is going on in presidential politics your company needs this more than ever as you may just be a tweet away from brand, customer and/or

stock crisis. That is, cybersecurity attacks are one thing but other political attacks could be much worse. This means you should have an IM team ready and monitoring your business 7×24 so you can wake up and manage any mess.

 

Summary – these and other issues will be presented by Evan and Tom during the webinar. If you need immediate attention, you can visit http://www.evankirstel.com/ or email cross@gocross.com 303-594-1694 to get started and be ready today.

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Linkedin Selling Unified Communications Group – Buyers Welcome
Please join our Linkedin Group if you are selling and even buying UC gear/gizmos/gadgets/gagals and more.  Beyond networking opportunities, news, and educational resources, this group is about helping its members increase sales. Vendors, VARs, Agents and anyone selling and marketing unified communications solutions are welcome. If you are a buyer, you join and see what’s available.
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Lync is a Trademark of Microsoft.  Unified Communications Apps & Cloud Communications Forum is an independent forum.

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The User Forum provides classroom and webseminar training as well as a non-production environment for those IT departments without additional equipment, budget or time.  This allows planners and users to test ideas, dial in and dial back out, IM file transfers, remote desktop sharing, video conferencing, run scenarios, review logs, break linkages and learning about new telephony features and network access.  The User Forum is also designed for both the system integrator/consultant who wants to learn about tech without having to build their own system as well as the enterprise customer who doesn’t have the time, resources or knowledge to develop one.  Coming soon, User Forum Labs are designed to be “hands-on” or “over-the-shoulder” with experts available for Q&A and classes for feature-specific review.

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AI Social and Contextual UC #396 Smart Device Wars: Siri Smart Speaker – Google Home SDK Transforms UC – Amazon Alexa Becomes a Telco VoIP Provider

 (c) AI Forum & Unified Communications Forum

May 5 – 2017 – Issue #396

 

AI Forum – Exploring the Wild World of Artificial Intelligence and other Communications, Mobile, Contextual-Intelligence and other communications companies.
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Advertising, social media, blog articles, webinars and other services available.
 cross@gocross.com
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This “Do not disturb” light is ideal for open office workspace and cubicles. Deal with interruptions at work and increase workplace productivity easily with a busy indicator light.
Built-in speakers for audible call alert and phone ring light to avoid missed calls. Integrates with headset, desk phone or softphone and works as an on the phone indicator light.
Compatible with Skype for business, Lync, Cisco Jabber and more.
Click on image to order direct or partners. 
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Winner iPhone User Forum
Best Twitter App
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.” 
Key new features include:
– Search and one-touch save for the fastest-easiest access to Twitter news.
– Save your favorite Twitter accounts to your Folders/Subfolders with one-touch.
– New UI-user interface for faster-easier news gathering and tracking
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.”
#HashNewsGram is a Free Twitter #hashtag gathering app for iPhone.
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Easy Conference Scheduling for Skype for Business, Office 365, Cisco Spark and Avaya
Approved Contact has quietly but surely worked on getting their multi-platform scheduling and planning solution chatbot approved by Microsoft, Avaya and Cisco to speed staff scheduling and meetings. They ask a simple question – How much time do you waste going back and forth to schedule meetings? Approved Contact allows you to easily share calendars with anyone. Changes you make to your calendar update automatically to Approved Contact. Using Approved Contact enables you to connect your calendar to websites, text, email, mobile, voice recognition, and telephone systems.  Click on logo to contact Approved Contact.

Easy as 1-2-3, for Cisco users, compare open times on your calendar to open times on any of your Approved Contact’s calendars from right inside of Cisco Spark space
FreeTime – Compares available calendars from everyone in the space and displays up to the first 3 available times.
First, set up a new profile on Approved Contact
Second, sync your calendar into Approved Contact and invite your contacts to become your Approved Contacts
Third, add the Approved Contact BOT to any Cisco Spark space that you want to compare your free times to other’s in the Cisco Spark space.
Products supported
Office 365
Azure
Skype for Business
Outlook 2013 or later
Outlook 2016 for Mac
Outlook on the Web
Cisco Spark
Avaya
 Bottom-line – In the seminal work called Organizational Velocity written in the 1970s, the author spoke about the speed or velocity of business is dependent on the pace of collaboration.  He suggested the pace of technology ever slowly but surely increased the pace of organization work.  At the time IBM conducted a study that the average delay in scheduling a meeting and the meeting actually taking place with 5 people was about 5 weeks given other meetings, vacations, meetings already scheduled, and other factors.   Then it took hours just to complete the concalls just to check peoples’ schedules.  This has shortened a little with endless emails between principals and assistants.  Now this can be dramatically shortened to minutes at a fraction of the cost and most importantly, ease of access.   In a later book called Split Second Society, the speed of business was said most aptly like this – “Strategically, the faster you can communicate, the faster you can change and those corporations that change the fastest will be the most successful.”
Approved Contact may not have all the answers to the challenges of human communications but they are working on ways we can collaborate faster.
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Siri Likely Gets Smart Speaker 
According to Neowin, “According to 9to5Mac, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated in an industry report that the Siri-powered smart speaker will most likely be unveiled at Apple’s WWDC 2017 conference. The unit will be positioned as a much higher-end competitor to Amazon’s Echo, with a price to match, having “excellent” sound reproduction due to its seven tweeters and one subwoofer.  Leaker Sonny Dickson told Mashable that the Siri speaker would have a concave top where the controls would be (not too dissimilar to the Echo), a design that’s quite close to the ‘trashcan-like’ Mac Pro, and a similar mesh style to that of the UE Megaboom line from Logitech (pictured).”
Bottom-line – Apple is sitting on $250B in cash and also sitting on their hands in regard to innovation.  They are app fat with all that cash and don’t think they need to do anything to remain viable focusing on the iPhone their principal cash cow.  No doubt they have a lot to do but they could be doing a lot more and having smart home solutions along with car, office, space plane and any other place that humans or devices can occupy.  More and faster innovation is expected sooner than later.
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Amazon Tackles Telephone Service with Alexa
According to GeekWeek, “The system described in the patent would link an existing cellphone number with the Alexa device, and includes a provision for identifying authorized users by their voices. Alexa could let the user know a call is coming in, and then pick it up and route the call over its speaker when the user gives the go-ahead. Users could also initiate calls via Alexa.  Call charges would be billed through the user’s cell carrier, but once the call is routed through the Alexa device, the cellphone would be left out of the picture. Instead, the Alexa device would send the call to the carrier through a type of connection known as voice over Internet Protocol, or VOIP.”
Amazon VC is already funding an home intercom solution call Nucleus for an outrageous price of $250 and if you need a family size you could put out a $800+ so this gets to be another ridiculous device homes really don’t need.

Cool company Dialpad used the Alexa SDK to build their own telephone network interface. Unlike a platform-specific communications system, Dialpad will eventually be compatible with multiple voice assistants, ensuring an excellent user experience no matter what other communications platform or virtual assistant your contacts are using.

Here are the Dialpad features available through Alexa include:
  • Place a call to a contact
  • Add a contact to the current call
  • Transfer the current call to another person
  • Place a call on hold
  • Record a call
  • Check Dialpad voicemail and text messages
  • Enable and disable Do Not Disturb
  • Transfer a call from device to device, for example, from Alexa to a mobile phone or a mobile phone to Alexa
  • Listen to Dialpad system reports, such as “total call volume for the current week”

They also say integration with Google Home is coming soon.  As they said, “Being a pure-cloud business phone system, Dialpad makes it easy for people to communicate via desktop, mobile, tablet-you name it. Integrating with Alexa, another cloud-connected device, takes business communications into the Internet of Things (IoT). Alexa is truly your personal assistant: instead of paging a person or pressing some complicated key combination on your desk phone, you just say “Alexa, transfer the call to the sales department.”

Bottom-line – Amazon Alexa is winning in all kinds of ways and portends to be an even more important solution for business offices, hospitals, fast food and any other situation where voice conversation takes place.  Adding telephony is a great way to extend their reach and make Alexa even more relevant to their customers.
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Google Assistant SDK Transforms UC via Conversation Actions
Transforming voice has been one of the key tenants of UC though much of the effort has been NOT on voice but other forms of communications especially chat.
Now voice is back ! With the vengeance of a tornado, Amazon-Alexa, Apple-Siri, Microsoft-Cortana, Google-Voice and others all want hear every precious word you spout off.  The issue has been and always will be the written work is not the spoken word and what we see and touch is not often what we would say.
More often the restaurant or coffee shop server misunderstands what you say.  Meanwhile, here’s the pitch from Google. Google calls them Conversation Actions which help you fulfill user requests by letting you have a two-way dialog with users. When users request an action, the Google Assistant processes this request, determines the best action to invoke, and invokes your Conversation Action if relevant. From there, your action manages the rest, including how users are greeted, how to fulfill the user’s request, and how the conversation ends.
When you build conversation actions, you define these major components:
– Invocation triggers define how users invoke and discover your actions. Once triggered, your action carries out a conversation with users, which is defined by dialogs.
– Dialogs define how users converse with your actions and act as the user interface for your actions. They rely on fulfillment code to move the conversation forward.
– Fulfillment is the code that processes user input and returns responses and you expose it as a REST endpoint. Fulfillment also typically has the logic that carries out the actual action like retrieving recipes or news to read aloud.
 
Bottom-line – If you home alone you may find all this very cool but if you can add other family members and even animals (love to hear how Alexa would react to a Parrot) who knows what kind of chaos could erupt much less a business office, train station or ball park.  It is not that the idea is flawed it’s like any application, it only works for a few use cases. Building voice technology into cars, homes, and even IoT devices again is another nice idea but not sure if you want to have a device listening to everything you do or have to argue with them until they understand what you are talking about.
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West UC Challenges Us with Chat Bots 
West UC has issued a wide range of exciting blog posts include one that really outlines the issue with chat bots.
Here is what they have to say. “A bot is software that automates tasks you might do on your own manually, such as adding an appointment to your calendar, making a dinner reservation, or for simulating conversation. The last bot example describes call or chat bots – software that resides in calling or messaging apps and resembles human conversation and interaction. For instance, some fast food restaurants allow customers to order and pay for their meals through automated chat conversations. Other automated scheduler bots can take over the process of scheduling a meeting, complete with sending emails, notifications, and adding appointments into user’s calendars.

How do Software Bots Work?

A common implementation of bot usage occurs with hosted communications and cloud unified communications (UC). Software bots often assist with enterprise customer service. They are built into programs like Cloud Contact Pro, a sophisticated contact center platform that helps to boost rep productivity and enhance the customer’s experience. For example, bots integrated into West’s Cloud Contact Pro quickly provide contact center reps with detailed contact record information, using intelligent, skills-based call-routing, call flow, queue editing and dynamic agent scripting. Bots also help automate the connection process, assist with maintaining required PCI compliance recordings, and increase efficiency through workforce management solutions. Cloud UC solutions, like those from West, use bots to intelligently transfer desk phone calls to a mobile device, seamlessly and effortlessly.
Whether used to drive sales, offer client support, or conduct surveys, etc., bots help to formulate and improve features like advanced predictive dialers, proactive system monitoring and the capabilities provided by multi-channel communications. In fact, another common area for bot usage has been in the arena of social media. Social media tools such as Twitter use computer-generated algorithms to exhibit human-like behavior, such as automatically producing content and interacting with humans on social media (CACM). Bots are used as marketing tools on web sites, populating side ads and popups for recently visited sites, seeking to drive site activity and sales for companies. Bots can also be used in cloud UC tools like Cisco Jabber, through Presence and instant messaging (IM), to determine user availability, initial user contact dialogs and intelligent response. And when this type of technology is integrated with other UC tools, it works to enhance customer service, tailoring it specifically for each customer interaction.

The Future of Bots in Communications Software

Bot technology has been rapidly advancing over the last few years. Software bots are automating a great number of tasks across the web as well as in daily life. Soon bot programs may be doing our taxes! The popularity of Amazon Echo products and Google Home this year has shown how far bot technology has come, advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. Amazon Echo’s Alexa enables users to ask questions and do basic tasks such as making a grocery list, reading and writing emails, etc. Since both Amazon and Google have allowed 3rd party developers access to the device technology, the knowledge and capabilities of bots is steadily evolving, adding smart home capabilities/Internet of Things (IOT) such as turning on lights or closing the garage door. It’s not too hard to imagine that bots could control household appliances and provide guidance in an emergency, placing a call for an ambulance in the event that urgent medical care is required.
Bottom-line – If you are not building chatbots like a fire chasing you through a forest, your competitors may out-chatbot you out of business.
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Jabil Outlines Benefits of 5G for UC

 

This is only an excerpt from an exciting post on the rapid rise of 5G and its implications.  5G in many wants is a wireline killer and transformational technology for OTT-over the top broadcast network killer as well.

Real-Time Feedback Through Low Latency

By Paul Kite President, Jabil Kuatro – The time it takes for a signal to be beamed toward a tower and received by a device is its latency. In other words, the lower the latency the faster a device can respond. Low latency will potentially be a huge benefit for new possibilities through 5G. 4G networks have an average latency of 50 milliseconds, but with 5G latency is expected to go as short as 1 millisecond.
According to the PSB study, when thinking about what customers would like improved in 5G over 4G/LTE, they focus on enhanced speed and reliability. Low latency will be one of the key drivers that provides the reliability customers are seeking through new applications.
Connected, self-driving cars are one area low latency is absolutely critical. Relying on hundreds of real-time data sources, the difference between a latency of 50 milliseconds to 1 millisecond can be a matter of life or death. If self-driving cars can’t communicate with each other, collect and analyze data and make decisions real-time, then we’re getting ahead of ourselves with new technology our infrastructure can’t support.
An enhanced mobile bandwidth, expanded IoT functionality and low latency provide an expanded sandbox where we can develop new products and services, while vastly improving the ones currently in existence. But it is the intimate knowledge of both hardware and software that adds value for brands-the type of knowledge that comes with a manufacturing partner that can take tech innovations and spread them across multiple markets.
Five years from now, when we are expected to begin leveraging 5G in everything we do, we will look back and see how our lives have evolved with these new possibilities and how various industries have been transformed.
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There are four stories – Cisco, IBM, Facebook Workplace Video with BlueJeans and Microsoft Huddle Room with Audio Codes. 
Due to the enormity and complexity of the issues of each system, let’s just say that each has some interesting features.  Integrating Watson into the IBM Cognitive Room is certainly an interesting idea, however, I would like to have hands-on experience before endorsing any of these solutions.  However, this gives you a quick glimpse at each system.
 

 

 Cisco Sparks Ideas

What really is upsetting that in either picture from Cisco they did NOT even read their own great book (Cisco Telepresence Fundamentals) by having a room next to outside windows (which means you get all the highway noise, changing sunlight conditions and heat and more problems).
Cisco Spark has a number of models including the Cisco Spark Board 55 a fully self-contained system on a high-resolution 4K 55-inch LED screen and the Cisco Spark Board 70 is a fully self-contained system on a high-resolution 4K 70-inch LED screen. Click on either image for details.

– Intelligent framing: We’re pushing the boundaries with a smart and effortless experience. It’s like having a TV camera operator in the room. We have had speaker tracking in our high-end systems – and now Cisco Spark Room Kits have it, too. The feature automatically detects who in the room is speaking and selects the best camera framing for that person. “Best overview intelligence” detects all people in the room and selects the best group framing when no one is speaking. If a large room has only two people, the camera intelligently frames those people.
– Analytics in diagnostic mode: Artificial intelligence can be pragmatically applied for resource planning. The Room Kits have a high-performing face-detection module that tracks where people are and the angle they’re facing. The system pinpoints the speaker through audio triangulation using the six embedded microphones. The system also counts the number of people in the room. You can send all this data to a management system for customized applications.
– Voice and face recognition: This is still in beta, but you’ll soon be able to place calls via voice commands and the system will recognize attendee faces and label them with their names. These pre-production capabilities present groundbreaking opportunities for both automated calling and content delivery based on a meeting’s participants.You can deploy Cisco Spark Room Kit in a small-to-medium-sized room, and Cisco Spark Room Kit Plus in a large room. Both options support one or two displays. I think you’ll want dual displays when you see how beautiful the white board looks when dialing into a Cisco Spark Board. Imagine the experience: You see the white-board content in stunning 4k resolution on one screen, connect with people in 4k on the other, and interact with the white board on your laptop or tablet.Bottom-line – Cisco has applied their enormous skills learned in building 1000s of telepresence rooms to this next-generation approach though as I have pointed out their need to re-read their books on telepresence rooms because video is really only as good as the room, lighting, noise, echo and many other factors that make video meetings even more difficult.

IBM “Wake Word” – HAL – World Without Walls

 

Wake words is the new term for initiating a conversation with a device.  Siri, Alexa and others begin listening and acting upon voice recognition though we all know how difficult it is to understand what you are already talking about.  Not to be out-gunned, HARMAN Professional Solutions and IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) today unveiled Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms. Click on image for more.

Using IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence (AI) technology and HARMAN AKG microphones, JBL speakers and AMX AV control and switching systems, the companies bring highly connected experiences to medical facilities, corporate offices, hotels, cruise ships and other hospitality environments.

In addition to the current in-market solutions, HARMAN is part of IBM’s cognitive collaboratories based in its $200 million Watson IoT global headquarters in Munich.
 In this facility today, HARMAN is demonstrating the capabilities of its in-room cognitive concierge in a conference room setting. At the same time the HARMAN team is also working with IBM designers, researchers and others to put IoT into the hands of enterprise customers.
Today IBM’s cognitive technologies are embedded into HARMAN soundbars and alarm clocks with other form factors being developed, that users can interact with using natural language. Now consumers can simply ask questions or issue commands with their voice when in a room.
These requests are then sent to the Watson cloud and Watson IoT services, which work with HARMAN’S technology to allow people to easily control their in-room subsystems without having to physically perform any manual tasks and trying to figure the new systems out. For example, now when an employee enters a conference room they can start a video conference, launch a presentation and more using their voice. In the future, these tasks will be executed automatically based on what the system has learned about the employee based on previous meetings.
These voice-enabled cognitive rooms also function as an in-room concierge that can answer general questions or site-specific questions developed by the facility and featuring custom answers created by staff. For example, a hotel guest could ask “What time is checkout? “or “Where is the gym?” while a hospital patient could ask “What are the hospital’s visiting hours?” or “Can you tell me more about my doctor?” Leveraging HARMAN’s expertise in API integration, users can even employ Watson for service requests, including amenity replenishments, restaurant reservations, late checkout, room service, shuttle service and more.
Leveraging key Watson APIs such as Natural Language Understanding and Speech to Text, these rooms also provide users with limited mobility and vision impairment a closer level of interaction with their environment. Now with
Watson, guests can speak naturally to the system without rigid syntax requirements, using simple commands like “would you turn off the lights?”

Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms also feature enterprise-grade software tools that can help in-house technical and guest service staff members increase operational efficiency. For example, housekeeping staff can simply say, “Send up an engineer to fix the shower” in their native language. Watson’s multilingual capabilities enable organizations to accommodate a wide variety of users from different countries with an ever-growing list of supported languages.

Bottom-line – The virtual work space is taking hold as “work without walls” transforms the tedium of traditional meetings wasting time and often with little progress on the project at hand.  New non-meetings business methods will change the traditional broadcast style meetings of one person talking at a time to more of a cocktail party approach to getting things done.

Facebook for Workplace on the Rise

 

Not to be outdone by Google, Microsoft, Amazon or anyone else in the enterprise, Facebook is coming at business communications via video rather than telephony.  Essentially you can think about an office is one “virtual open space” (like their own approach to office conditions) where video from all meetings, locations and ideally worksites of any form including construction, home, mobile or mountain top are available anytime or anywhere in one or more locations.  At some point you don’t think about meetings you think about perceptual conversations or in the case of IBM “cognitive” meetings.

BlueJeans for Workplace provides businesses of all sizes with a self-service, professional-grade video platform to bring people together, create collaborative experiences, and broadcast them over Workplace by Facebook.

BlueJeans for Workplace combines the best of Facebook, with the engagement and face-to-face interaction that only video can provide.
– Broadcast meetings and company-wide events on the Company News Feed or directly to project, team, or multi-company groups. Videos are archived on their respective pages and made readily available for on-demand playback.
– Present From Any Device – Join from the full range of video endpoints, including room systems, computers and mobile devices, as well as phone dial-in.

– HD Video & Screen Sharing – Share slides, documents, pictures and pre-uploaded video in crystal clear 1080p resolution.
– Single Video Communications Platform – Need a platform to connect with employees, customers, and partners inside and outside the walls of your company?
BlueJeans is going in the right direction with their solution though Facebook is working on their own approach integrating VR-virtual reality into the mix which makes even more sense giving the increasingly mobile nature of everything we do.  Click on the image for FB 360.Bottom-line – Video is the new means for re-arranging how we think about how we communicate.  From paper memos, secretaries, dictation, telephones, email, chat and other means, video can show more of everything we do.  Though just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should and if you don’t know how to write you can’t really be a great novelist.  Then same applies to presenting yourself on video.  Acting classes might be a great way to get the new video skills you will need to succeed.
AudioCodes Adds Huddle Room Tech
The majority of meeting spaces in a typical enterprise are small rooms that can accommodate up to six persons. AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution is a cost-effective solution ranging from two-person huddle rooms up to 15-person small group meeting spaces
The solution delivers:
– Familiar user experience base on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Familiar user experience based on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Fully managed by the AudioCodes Managed IP Phone solution for efficient deployment and ongoing IT operationsBottom-line – Huddle spaces or quick meetings are key to faster communications.  Adding solutions to make these types of meetings more effective and efficient is always appreciated.
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Amazon Takes on Cloud Contact Center 
If global domination is not enough, Amazon Web Services wants to tackle contact centers.  Like with any major player they will find that being able to do something, does not mean you should. Here is what they have to say for themselves. Click on image for video. Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. Amazon Connect is based on the same contact center technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations. The self-service graphical interface in Amazon Connect makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics – no specialized skills required. There are no up-front payments or long-term commitments and no infrastructure to manage with Amazon Connect; customers pay by the minute for Amazon Connect usage plus any associated telephony services.
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Apple “Clips” Taking on Snapchat, Instagram and …

Well, yet another “pic” app which the world does not need.  Apple says “Introducing Clips. A new iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more. One cool feature is Live Titles let you easily create animated captions – just by talking as you record. Choose from a variety of styles, all perfectly timed to the sound of your voice.

Bottom-line – Seriously too many pic apps and encouraging so many more bad pics and even more apps.
 
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Workflow Now Part of the Apple Orchard

Workflow is your personal automation tool, enabling you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create powerful workflows for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Workflow includes over 200 actions, including those for Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud Drive, and Health, to name a few.

For example, you can use Workflow to:
– Make animated GIFs
– Add a home screen icon that calls a loved one
– Make PDFs from Safari or any app with a share sheet
– Get directions to the nearest coffee shop in one tap
– Tweet the song you’re listening to
– Get all of the images on a web page
– Send a message including the last screenshot you took

– And so much more…

Your workflow creations can be launched from inside the Workflow app, from other apps using Workflow’s Action Extension, or from our new lightning-fast Today Widget. You can even export a workflow as a standalone app on your home screen.

Workflow opens up infinite possibilities of what you can do with your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.
Bottom-line – Another app in search of a user, however, with the Big Apple Corporate buying them, well another app gets a nice new parent.  Seriously, has anyone used this app?
 
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Free Visual Traceroute
 
In case you don’t have one or need a new one, here’s a cool free one.

 
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Chatbots or Tiny “Borgbots” in Disguise

Not ever wanting to take the thunder from a great writer, here is just 1 of 5 key points on building chatbots.  It is a great article by Natalie Skarzynski but the section most relevant to UCaaS is this section.  Specifically the role of humans and chatbots in a customer support role.

4. When will the chatbot escalate to a human? 

“Even the most sophisticated bot will eventually encounter a problem it cannot solve. That’s why it is crucial to determine those limits, and decide what will happen when your chatbot reaches one of them.
An escalation to a human agent might be triggered when a customer:
  • Requests a phone or video call
  • Uses language that indicates frustration or anger
  • Asks the same question multiple times
  • References a potentially sensitive or dangerous issue, such as an allergic reaction or a medical emergency
  • Asks a question the bot doesn’t know how to answer
In some of the above examples, the bot is called upon to infer an aspect of the customer’s situation or state of mind based on something they have said. Sentiment analysis, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning play an important role here. For instance, the customer may describe their symptoms instead of saying the exact words, “I’m having an allergic reaction.” The bot must be smart enough to recognize what’s happening and escalate the customer to a human.
And when the hand-off happens, brands must ensure a seamless transition. Best practices include:
  • Allowing the customer to continue the conversation using the same channel
  • Avoiding asking the customer to repeat their story (since two-thirds of consumers say they are extremely frustrated by having to repeat information across multiple channels, according to data from Accenture)
  • Enabling the customer service rep to pick up where the bot left off by providing them with relevant context and interaction history
Another aspect of escalation to consider: how obvious will it be to your customers when they are talking to a bot vs. a human? Depending on your objectives, you may want to explicitly tell customers they are communicating with a bot; for instance, if you’re promoting a new animated movie, you could invite people to chat with one of the characters. But if, for example, you’re helping a customer set up Bluetooth in their new car, you may want the entire interaction to feel the same as a conversation with a human.”
Bottom-line – There is no doubt a never-ending supply of technology and seldom developers of all this stuff ever-ever consider that someone has to put this technology to work and work well as well as satisfying users who are organizing a revolt as if you ever ask them, do you need more apps, the answer other than being ready to duck the flying cheery pies headed toward your face is a resounding NO.


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Vonage Meets Alexa – “Alexa, tell conference manager to start my call.”

From Vonage Business, another cool evolvement of the Internet of Things, and it harnesses the power of the cloud (which is what we’re really, really, ridiculously good at). Vonage Conference Manager is actually pretty simple. It works like this:
  • Get an Amazon Echo. Each “smart” meeting room has an Amazon Echo placed in it permanently.
  • Sync the Echo. The Echo is mapped to the physical phone within each room and an organizational directory, which accesses calendars, meeting information and contacts, all through the cloud.
  • Enable Vonage Conference Manager. Once the Echo is synced, the Vonage Conference Manager skill is enabled once through an iPhone or at alexa.amazon.com.
  • Include the room on invites. When you schedule a meeting, be sure to add the room so it knows about the meeting, so you can use the Echo while you’re in the room.
  • Start talking. When it’s time for your meeting to start, just walk into the room and say “Alexa…” to begin. Bam! You’re all set.
Bottom-line – Cool idea can’t wait to try.

 

 

 
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There’s meetings and then there’s meetings via teleconference:
Boring face-to-face = boring via teleconference
After your next meeting, ask a colleague “what did you understand that meeting was about”?   The principal feature of teleconferencing or conferencing technology is that it allows interactive communication and helps everyone get on the same page. Even though participants in a teleconference are geographically separated, they can still meet to “get their heads together.” Unlike unidirectional communication, such as a letter or a television broadcast, in which a person either sends a message without getting any cues from the recipient or is a passive recipient of information, interactive communication allows people to be both senders and receivers of information simultaneously. Interactive communications gives each person the opportunity to initiate and respond to information as the process unfolds.  Teleconference participants can converse, talk things over, negotiate, joke, see one another, and exchange numerical and graphic information. When people use teleconferencing to “meet,” a synergy of minds is created. Users find that a greater sense of involvement and trust develops among people who are using teleconferencing to carry out a project as compared to a project that relies upon unidirectional communication.
Teleconferencing lets more people participate in the decision-making process. Advantages of group decision making, compared to individual decision making, include the availability of a greater range of experience than that held by any one individual, a more diverse set of intellectual approaches and capabilities, and a greater tendency to subject ideas to scrutiny and debate. Decision making is improved with teleconferencing, because it encourages participation of those people who are not directly involved in the decision-making process of a particular project; for example, research and development engineers can participate in a conference about marketing. Teleconferencing also allows people, such as the administrative staff who would not normally attend a distant face-to-face meeting participate in the decision-making process. Their participation ensures that they understand the subject discussed, especially the nuances and overall thrust of the decision-making process, often not captured in a written report of a meeting.  This, in turn, means that the decision is more likely to be implemented efficiently and effectively.  Ultimately the reason why meetings suck is that the presenter is not organized, has no agenda and worse has not planned for gaining and organizing feedback as to what attendees heard or thought they heard.
Making Sure Communications Succeed
I have a saying that I have used for 40 years, “communications will always fail except by chance.”  We think we are communicating when; in fact, communications is a two-way, not one-way, process.  For me to communicate effectively I have to get feedback from you to let me know what you heard and what you think it means to you.
To that end, I appreciate the opportunity to help Boulder Phone, your provider of conferencing services and products, help you to do a better job at communications.  We can help you be less boring and more effective in your communications.  We can help you as a value-added service review your presentations, review your scripts or even help you write them.  Speaking of scripts, we know they work.  Writing a script helps you organize and rehearse your thoughts to help you speak more clearly and focused.  You may not need this kind of help but Boulder Phone wants you to know we can help you not just with the technology but with communications as well.
We offer you this indepth book if you really want to know more about the subject.

 

 
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BusyLight – Stop Office Interruption Insanity  
I really hate open space offices.  Aside from the smelly food and people, constant interruptions cause serious office insanity.  The cool folks at Unified Communications sell BusyLight from Plenom and put together a very funny slide show presentation. You can click on any image for all their slides, here are a few highlights.

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Special – Manager/Assistant Dashboard for Microsoft Skype for Business

FONCOMFORT QuickLink greatly improves call handling efficiency with 1 click actions to call, pickup and transfer calls. The Live Tiles allow users/ managers and admins to quickly see the presence status of their colleagues, if calls are forwarded and if given the rights, to see who they are speaking with. This rich information allows for intelligent decision making and if a manager/person should be interrupted or not when transferring calls.  Click on image for more details.


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AudioCodes Connects Any Closet to Cloud Communications

Read First: Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition makes it possible to connect any existing telephone circuit to Cloud PBX in Office 365 using a single server and minimal configuration. This allows for the user’s voice capability to be managed out of Office 365 while their phone calls continue to use their existing phone number, circuits and PSTN provider contract.

Microsoft’s recently announced Skype for Business Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling offerings continue to have a major impact on the voice ecosystem. However, many companies are hesitant to make an immediate and full transition to the cloud. Microsoft understood this challenge and implemented a strategy to offer a hybrid solution, where cloud-based PBX services are complemented by an enterprise’s existing on-premises PSTN connectivity.

The AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances for Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition integrate with Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition recommended architectures, providing on-premises connectivity infrastructure. Enabling integration with heterogeneous systems and legacy PBXs, which are critical for a smooth migration to the cloud, AudioCodes’ Microsoft-certified SBCs offer enterprise-grade security and reliability.

Additionally, AudioCodes’ SBCs can add value by delivering enhanced features such as advanced dial plan settings, high availability on incoming calls, support for analog devices and support for call recording from the PSTN side. The combined solution of Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition with AudioCodes’ infrastructure ensures a smooth migration for enterprise customers who want to move their users to the latest cloud unified communications platform from Microsoft Office 365, while preserving on-premises connectivity with their local service providers.
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Six Core Concepts for Social Media Influencer Program & Webinar

By Evan Kirstel @evankirstel & Tom Cross @techtionary

Abstract

IM-influencer marketing is the means to accelerate revenue, lower costs, organize corporate communications and extend company goodwill to name a few benefits. This article explores these issues and a preview of the webinar (click on any image for details on the webinar) with Evan Kirstel Top Social Media Influencer and Tom Cross.
Here are some of the key points presented and discussed in the webinar with Evan Kirstel along with other key topics including the CEO as the ultimate social influencer and “tweet meets” sales lead generation via social media. The term “influencer marketing” (IM) or key opinion leaders (KOL) is the term often used by social media leaders rather than celebrity or movie/sports/rock star endorsements and other leaders of any kind including business, religious and others. Celebrity or star endorsements are not new but certainly less pronounced in the tech space. If Steve Jobs had survived there is no doubt newer, more exciting and more diverse products would be coming from Apple. His role is not unique as the CEO sets the stage for each company. Yet many tech companies believe that their tech speaks for itself not recognizing the role of advisors, consultants and social media influencers on customer decisions. The role of IM and IM professionals is to help core clients look beyond their own silo of solutions to work with customers and others to build more global solutions. The impact can be significant in reducing sales cycles, improve customer service and ultimately vastly increase overall customer and global experience.
Here is a brief summary and analysis of six key points for IM:

Connections
– create and connect with other social media influencers and guide with monthly “tweetchats.” It is truly amazing how many CEO and others fail really fail to understand that social media is social not broadcast media. Social media almost by definition means engaging with others not just preaching to them. Twitter even more than Linkedin is ideal for connecting with potential customers and engaging with them to solve their needs. IM extends the process by educating and ultimately gaining and retaining them. Customers don’t call you anymore they tweet their grievances and if you ignore them the entire world knows that you don’t care and even more importantly, prospective customers can see that as well. Companies that don’t understand are like companies who didn’t have websites 20 years ago and don’t update them today. In other words, engaging with customers throughout their lifecycle is a must-have approach to business going forward.

Content
– turbocharge your content reaching hundreds of thousands of users on Twitter and tens of thousands on Linkedin.

Content and curation go hand-in-hand as content, rather data only becomes knowledge after a human has understood, analyzed, shared and hopefully used it in decision-making. Big data is often used to suggest that we have too much information or TMI and that AI-artificial intelligence will somehow distill, synthesize or somehow organize it for humans. Yet AI is not a panacea not likely to give you any deeper understanding of the issue than you have now. In influencer marketing (IM) the knowledge of the influencer is always at risk when content from any source big or artificial is used to answer key questions. An influencer of any kind whether sports, movie or tech star will never have enough information to make specific decisions only general assessments and observations. However, to help all those involved get “on the same page” can be accomplished via IM. There is much to-do about IoT-internet of things but will the smart car talk to the smart home and what protocols, terminology and user commands be common to both. This would be the role of IM to organize different and complex systems, protocols and industry forums can help those involved (influenced) build common solutions. Smart companies can use or build IM to build bridges between companies and players to solve customer issues more quickly. This means that constant content research and development should be part of any IM program.

Curation – review and curate company content, provide guidance and enhanced thought leadership via influencer team.

 Curation actually comes from the term caring and now is applied to anything gathered from multiple sources into one place to writing blog posts. Curators organize ideas to help viewers and users gain insights. Curation can come from articles, thought leadership, research and knowledge base sources. Influencer marketing comes from ongoing research into content curation ensuring its real and
not fake news or distorted in anyway, yet add serious analysis and what is often called thought leadership. Without this content becomes useless or worse can cause confusion and conflict. For curation to be effective the context of its use must also always be in-play. Knowing or context or how the content will be used not only aids but accelerates the use and further application as well as pursuit of further curation and the IM can be of value as a real content curator.

Collaboration – collaborate with internal and external social leaders.

Like said so many times, keep your friends close and enemies close most often attributed to Niccolò Machiavelli author of The Price is also filled with priceless concepts on management and collaboration. Collaboration is not just working together but realizing that there will also be a hierarchical approach to management as the CEO and other C-levels will always rule the roost as collaborative they appear to be. Ideas come in, they bubble up, muck about and if merit, a business case emerges. The role of IM in this process is to guide, validate, collaborate and be the “out of the box” viewpoint on the subject. This delicate role is not as arbitrator or buzz-killer but to give input or collaborate as needed.

C-Level
– assist and guide the CXO on their social media efforts along with gaining-retaining followers via CEO Twitter Scoreboard.

The ultimate social influencer is the CEO who as mentioned like Steve Job sets direction, goals and inspiration to insiders and most importantly to outsiders. If Steve Jobs came out with bottled water or fashion line, we would all be drinking and wearing it. The role of social influencer and the CEO should be aligned as the IM can be the ombudsman, foreign correspondent and advocate. As IBM, Huawei, Avaya and others are finding the role of IM helps them in many ways traditional marketing doesn’t and can’t. This is the ultimate value of the influencer to help the CEO in extending their message, bypassing traditional corporate communications with staff and increasingly manage crises.

Concern
– respond to concerns expressed by customers and build and monitor system for sales, supports, IR/PR and compliance issues.

Aside from other gaps in corporate marketing, the IM can also fill-in where others can’t. Notwithstanding regulatory restrictions, IM can be on the forefront in the media where often the business press takes the company to task. IM can be the independent view responding to complex situations such as layoffs, store closing, product failures and other negative situations.

Crisis
– provide crisis response team to address 7×24 tracking to avoid situations such as Target, Wells Fargo, Chipotle and other corporate devastating consequences with live “tweetchats” demonstrating responsiveness.   In case you missed the current political environment, foreign countries are cyberattacking not just political parties but nearly every company or institution that exists. One small school district (state withheld from security reasons) has been attacked by multiple foreign countries repeatedly. If you think you is not going to happen to you, think again. The role of the IM in this area is manage the mess and to guide and assist the client in “damage control.” You can never have enough friends when stuff happens and in the case of what is going on in presidential politics your company needs this more than ever as you may just be a tweet away from brand, customer and/or

stock crisis. That is, cybersecurity attacks are one thing but other political attacks could be much worse. This means you should have an IM team ready and monitoring your business 7×24 so you can wake up and manage any mess.

 

Summary – these and other issues will be presented by Evan and Tom during the webinar. If you need immediate attention, you can visit http://www.evankirstel.com/ or email cross@gocross.com 303-594-1694 to get started and be ready today.

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Linkedin Selling Unified Communications Group – Buyers Welcome
Please join our Linkedin Group if you are selling and even buying UC gear/gizmos/gadgets/gagals and more.  Beyond networking opportunities, news, and educational resources, this group is about helping its members increase sales. Vendors, VARs, Agents and anyone selling and marketing unified communications solutions are welcome. If you are a buyer, you join and see what’s available.
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AI Social and Contextual UC #395 – Cool UC Chatbots – 5G Killer App

 (c) AI Forum & Unified Communications Forum

April 28 – 2017 – Issue #395

 

AI Forum – Exploring the Wild World of Artificial Intelligence and other Communications, Mobile, Contextual-Intelligence and other communications companies.
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Advertising, social media, blog articles, webinars and other services available.
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Do not disturb light ideal for open office workspace and cubicles. Deal with interruptions at work and increase workplace productivity with a busy indicator light.
Built-in speakers for audible call alert and phone ring light to avoid missed calls. Integrates with headset, desk phone or softphone and works as an on the phone indicator light.
Compatible with Skype for business, Lync, Cisco Jabber and more.
Click on image to order direct or partners. 
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“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.” 

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– Search and one-touch save for the fastest-easiest access to Twitter news.
– Save your favorite Twitter accounts to your Folders/Subfolders with one-touch.
– New UI-user interface for faster-easier news gathering and tracking
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.”
#HashNewsGram is a Free Twitter #hashtag gathering app for iPhone.
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ZoomLite and you get Flashlight, Magnifying Camera, Large Format Clock and Local Weather – Free.

Best app for reading anything close up including restaurant menus and receipts.

Not a simulation – real screenshot.

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Easy Conference Scheduling for Skype for Business, Office 365, Cisco Spark and Avaya
Approved Contact has quietly but surely worked on getting their multi-platform scheduling and planning solution chatbot approved by Microsoft, Avaya and Cisco to speed staff scheduling and meetings. They ask a simple question – How much time do you waste going back and forth to schedule meetings? Approved Contact allows you to easily share calendars with anyone. Changes you make to your calendar update automatically to Approved Contact. Using Approved Contact enables you to connect your calendar to websites, text, email, mobile, voice recognition, and telephone systems.  Click on logo to contact Approved Contact.

Easy as 1-2-3, for Cisco users, compare open times on your calendar to open times on any of your Approved Contact’s calendars from right inside of Cisco Spark space
FreeTime – Compares available calendars from everyone in the space and displays up to the first 3 available times.
First, set up a new profile on Approved Contact
Second, sync your calendar into Approved Contact and invite your contacts to become your Approved Contacts
Third, add the Approved Contact BOT to any Cisco Spark space that you want to compare your free times to other’s in the Cisco Spark space.
Products supported
Office 365
Azure
Skype for Business
Outlook 2013 or later
Outlook 2016 for Mac
Outlook on the Web
Cisco Spark
Avaya
 Bottom-line – In the seminal work called Organizational Velocity written in the 1970s, the author spoke about the speed or velocity of business is dependent on the pace of collaboration.  He suggested the pace of technology ever slowly but surely increased the pace of organization work.  At the time IBM conducted a study that the average delay in scheduling a meeting and the meeting actually taking place with 5 people was about 5 weeks given other meetings, vacations, meetings already scheduled, and other factors.   Then it took hours just to complete the concalls just to check peoples’ schedules.  This has shortened a little with endless emails between principals and assistants.  Now this can be dramatically shortened to minutes at a fraction of the cost and most importantly, ease of access.   In a later book called Split Second Society, the speed of business was said most aptly like this – “Strategically, the faster you can communicate, the faster you can change and those corporations that change the fastest will be the most successful.”
Approved Contact may not have all the answers to the challenges of human communications but they are working on ways we can collaborate faster.
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West UC Challenges Us with Chat Bots 
West UC has issued a wide range of exciting blog posts include one that really outlines the issue with chat bots.
Here is what they have to say. “A bot is software that automates tasks you might do on your own manually, such as adding an appointment to your calendar, making a dinner reservation, or for simulating conversation. The last bot example describes call or chat bots – software that resides in calling or messaging apps and resembles human conversation and interaction. For instance, some fast food restaurants allow customers to order and pay for their meals through automated chat conversations. Other automated scheduler bots can take over the process of scheduling a meeting, complete with sending emails, notifications, and adding appointments into user’s calendars.

How do Software Bots Work?

A common implementation of bot usage occurs with hosted communications and cloud unified communications (UC). Software bots often assist with enterprise customer service. They are built into programs like Cloud Contact Pro, a sophisticated contact center platform that helps to boost rep productivity and enhance the customer’s experience. For example, bots integrated into West’s Cloud Contact Pro quickly provide contact center reps with detailed contact record information, using intelligent, skills-based call-routing, call flow, queue editing and dynamic agent scripting. Bots also help automate the connection process, assist with maintaining required PCI compliance recordings, and increase efficiency through workforce management solutions. Cloud UC solutions, like those from West, use bots to intelligently transfer desk phone calls to a mobile device, seamlessly and effortlessly.
Whether used to drive sales, offer client support, or conduct surveys, etc., bots help to formulate and improve features like advanced predictive dialers, proactive system monitoring and the capabilities provided by multi-channel communications. In fact, another common area for bot usage has been in the arena of social media. Social media tools such as Twitter use computer-generated algorithms to exhibit human-like behavior, such as automatically producing content and interacting with humans on social media (CACM). Bots are used as marketing tools on web sites, populating side ads and popups for recently visited sites, seeking to drive site activity and sales for companies. Bots can also be used in cloud UC tools like Cisco Jabber, through Presence and instant messaging (IM), to determine user availability, initial user contact dialogs and intelligent response. And when this type of technology is integrated with other UC tools, it works to enhance customer service, tailoring it specifically for each customer interaction.

The Future of Bots in Communications Software

Bot technology has been rapidly advancing over the last few years. Software bots are automating a great number of tasks across the web as well as in daily life. Soon bot programs may be doing our taxes! The popularity of Amazon Echo products and Google Home this year has shown how far bot technology has come, advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. Amazon Echo’s Alexa enables users to ask questions and do basic tasks such as making a grocery list, reading and writing emails, etc. Since both Amazon and Google have allowed 3rd party developers access to the device technology, the knowledge and capabilities of bots is steadily evolving, adding smart home capabilities/Internet of Things (IOT) such as turning on lights or closing the garage door. It’s not too hard to imagine that bots could control household appliances and provide guidance in an emergency, placing a call for an ambulance in the event that urgent medical care is required.
Bottom-line – If you are not building chatbots like a fire chasing you through a forest, your competitors may out-chatbot you out of business.
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Jabil Outlines Benefits of 5G for UC

 

This is only an excerpt from an exciting post on the rapid rise of 5G and its implications.  5G in many wants is a wireline killer and transformational technology for OTT-over the top broadcast network killer as well.

Real-Time Feedback Through Low Latency

By Paul Kite President, Jabil Kuatro – The time it takes for a signal to be beamed toward a tower and received by a device is its latency. In other words, the lower the latency the faster a device can respond. Low latency will potentially be a huge benefit for new possibilities through 5G. 4G networks have an average latency of 50 milliseconds, but with 5G latency is expected to go as short as 1 millisecond.
According to the PSB study, when thinking about what customers would like improved in 5G over 4G/LTE, they focus on enhanced speed and reliability. Low latency will be one of the key drivers that provides the reliability customers are seeking through new applications.
Connected, self-driving cars are one area low latency is absolutely critical. Relying on hundreds of real-time data sources, the difference between a latency of 50 milliseconds to 1 millisecond can be a matter of life or death. If self-driving cars can’t communicate with each other, collect and analyze data and make decisions real-time, then we’re getting ahead of ourselves with new technology our infrastructure can’t support.
An enhanced mobile bandwidth, expanded IoT functionality and low latency provide an expanded sandbox where we can develop new products and services, while vastly improving the ones currently in existence. But it is the intimate knowledge of both hardware and software that adds value for brands-the type of knowledge that comes with a manufacturing partner that can take tech innovations and spread them across multiple markets.
Five years from now, when we are expected to begin leveraging 5G in everything we do, we will look back and see how our lives have evolved with these new possibilities and how various industries have been transformed.
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There are four stories – Cisco, IBM, Facebook Workplace Video with BlueJeans and Microsoft Huddle Room with Audio Codes. 
Due to the enormity and complexity of the issues of each system, let’s just say that each has some interesting features.  Integrating Watson into the IBM Cognitive Room is certainly an interesting idea, however, I would like to have hands-on experience before endorsing any of these solutions.  However, this gives you a quick glimpse at each system.
 

 

 Cisco Sparks Ideas

What really is upsetting that in either picture from Cisco they did NOT even read their own great book (Cisco Telepresence Fundamentals) by having a room next to outside windows (which means you get all the highway noise, changing sunlight conditions and heat and more problems).
Cisco Spark has a number of models including the Cisco Spark Board 55 a fully self-contained system on a high-resolution 4K 55-inch LED screen and the Cisco Spark Board 70 is a fully self-contained system on a high-resolution 4K 70-inch LED screen. Click on either image for details.

– Intelligent framing: We’re pushing the boundaries with a smart and effortless experience. It’s like having a TV camera operator in the room. We have had speaker tracking in our high-end systems – and now Cisco Spark Room Kits have it, too. The feature automatically detects who in the room is speaking and selects the best camera framing for that person. “Best overview intelligence” detects all people in the room and selects the best group framing when no one is speaking. If a large room has only two people, the camera intelligently frames those people.
– Analytics in diagnostic mode: Artificial intelligence can be pragmatically applied for resource planning. The Room Kits have a high-performing face-detection module that tracks where people are and the angle they’re facing. The system pinpoints the speaker through audio triangulation using the six embedded microphones. The system also counts the number of people in the room. You can send all this data to a management system for customized applications.
– Voice and face recognition: This is still in beta, but you’ll soon be able to place calls via voice commands and the system will recognize attendee faces and label them with their names. These pre-production capabilities present groundbreaking opportunities for both automated calling and content delivery based on a meeting’s participants.You can deploy Cisco Spark Room Kit in a small-to-medium-sized room, and Cisco Spark Room Kit Plus in a large room. Both options support one or two displays. I think you’ll want dual displays when you see how beautiful the white board looks when dialing into a Cisco Spark Board. Imagine the experience: You see the white-board content in stunning 4k resolution on one screen, connect with people in 4k on the other, and interact with the white board on your laptop or tablet.Bottom-line – Cisco has applied their enormous skills learned in building 1000s of telepresence rooms to this next-generation approach though as I have pointed out their need to re-read their books on telepresence rooms because video is really only as good as the room, lighting, noise, echo and many other factors that make video meetings even more difficult.

IBM “Wake Word” – HAL – World Without Walls

 

Wake words is the new term for initiating a conversation with a device.  Siri, Alexa and others begin listening and acting upon voice recognition though we all know how difficult it is to understand what you are already talking about.  Not to be out-gunned, HARMAN Professional Solutions and IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) today unveiled Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms. Click on image for more.

Using IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence (AI) technology and HARMAN AKG microphones, JBL speakers and AMX AV control and switching systems, the companies bring highly connected experiences to medical facilities, corporate offices, hotels, cruise ships and other hospitality environments.

In addition to the current in-market solutions, HARMAN is part of IBM’s cognitive collaboratories based in its $200 million Watson IoT global headquarters in Munich.
 In this facility today, HARMAN is demonstrating the capabilities of its in-room cognitive concierge in a conference room setting. At the same time the HARMAN team is also working with IBM designers, researchers and others to put IoT into the hands of enterprise customers.
Today IBM’s cognitive technologies are embedded into HARMAN soundbars and alarm clocks with other form factors being developed, that users can interact with using natural language. Now consumers can simply ask questions or issue commands with their voice when in a room.
These requests are then sent to the Watson cloud and Watson IoT services, which work with HARMAN’S technology to allow people to easily control their in-room subsystems without having to physically perform any manual tasks and trying to figure the new systems out. For example, now when an employee enters a conference room they can start a video conference, launch a presentation and more using their voice. In the future, these tasks will be executed automatically based on what the system has learned about the employee based on previous meetings.
These voice-enabled cognitive rooms also function as an in-room concierge that can answer general questions or site-specific questions developed by the facility and featuring custom answers created by staff. For example, a hotel guest could ask “What time is checkout? “or “Where is the gym?” while a hospital patient could ask “What are the hospital’s visiting hours?” or “Can you tell me more about my doctor?” Leveraging HARMAN’s expertise in API integration, users can even employ Watson for service requests, including amenity replenishments, restaurant reservations, late checkout, room service, shuttle service and more.
Leveraging key Watson APIs such as Natural Language Understanding and Speech to Text, these rooms also provide users with limited mobility and vision impairment a closer level of interaction with their environment. Now with
Watson, guests can speak naturally to the system without rigid syntax requirements, using simple commands like “would you turn off the lights?”

Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms also feature enterprise-grade software tools that can help in-house technical and guest service staff members increase operational efficiency. For example, housekeeping staff can simply say, “Send up an engineer to fix the shower” in their native language. Watson’s multilingual capabilities enable organizations to accommodate a wide variety of users from different countries with an ever-growing list of supported languages.

Bottom-line – The virtual work space is taking hold as “work without walls” transforms the tedium of traditional meetings wasting time and often with little progress on the project at hand.  New non-meetings business methods will change the traditional broadcast style meetings of one person talking at a time to more of a cocktail party approach to getting things done.

Facebook for Workplace on the Rise

 

Not to be outdone by Google, Microsoft, Amazon or anyone else in the enterprise, Facebook is coming at business communications via video rather than telephony.  Essentially you can think about an office is one “virtual open space” (like their own approach to office conditions) where video from all meetings, locations and ideally worksites of any form including construction, home, mobile or mountain top are available anytime or anywhere in one or more locations.  At some point you don’t think about meetings you think about perceptual conversations or in the case of IBM “cognitive” meetings.

BlueJeans for Workplace provides businesses of all sizes with a self-service, professional-grade video platform to bring people together, create collaborative experiences, and broadcast them over Workplace by Facebook.

BlueJeans for Workplace combines the best of Facebook, with the engagement and face-to-face interaction that only video can provide.
– Broadcast meetings and company-wide events on the Company News Feed or directly to project, team, or multi-company groups. Videos are archived on their respective pages and made readily available for on-demand playback.
– Present From Any Device – Join from the full range of video endpoints, including room systems, computers and mobile devices, as well as phone dial-in.

– HD Video & Screen Sharing – Share slides, documents, pictures and pre-uploaded video in crystal clear 1080p resolution.
– Single Video Communications Platform – Need a platform to connect with employees, customers, and partners inside and outside the walls of your company?
BlueJeans is going in the right direction with their solution though Facebook is working on their own approach integrating VR-virtual reality into the mix which makes even more sense giving the increasingly mobile nature of everything we do.  Click on the image for FB 360.Bottom-line – Video is the new means for re-arranging how we think about how we communicate.  From paper memos, secretaries, dictation, telephones, email, chat and other means, video can show more of everything we do.  Though just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should and if you don’t know how to write you can’t really be a great novelist.  Then same applies to presenting yourself on video.  Acting classes might be a great way to get the new video skills you will need to succeed.

AudioCodes Adds Huddle Room Tech

The majority of meeting spaces in a typical enterprise are small rooms that can accommodate up to six persons. AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution is a cost-effective solution ranging from two-person huddle rooms up to 15-person small group meeting spaces
The solution delivers:
– Familiar user experience base on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Familiar user experience based on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Fully managed by the AudioCodes Managed IP Phone solution for efficient deployment and ongoing IT operationsBottom-line – Huddle spaces or quick meetings are key to faster communications.  Adding solutions to make these types of meetings more effective and efficient is always appreciated.
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Amazon Takes on Cloud Contact Center 
If global domination is not enough, Amazon Web Services wants to tackle contact centers.  Like with any major player they will find that being able to do something, does not mean you should. Here is what they have to say for themselves. Click on image for video. Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. Amazon Connect is based on the same contact center technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations. The self-service graphical interface in Amazon Connect makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics – no specialized skills required. There are no up-front payments or long-term commitments and no infrastructure to manage with Amazon Connect; customers pay by the minute for Amazon Connect usage plus any associated telephony services.
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Apple “Clips” Taking on Snapchat, Instagram and …

Well, yet another “pic” app which the world does not need.  Apple says “Introducing Clips. A new iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more. One cool feature is Live Titles let you easily create animated captions – just by talking as you record. Choose from a variety of styles, all perfectly timed to the sound of your voice.

Bottom-line – Seriously too many pic apps and encouraging so many more bad pics and even more apps.
 
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Workflow Now Part of the Apple Orchard

Workflow is your personal automation tool, enabling you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create powerful workflows for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Workflow includes over 200 actions, including those for Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud Drive, and Health, to name a few.

For example, you can use Workflow to:
– Make animated GIFs
– Add a home screen icon that calls a loved one
– Make PDFs from Safari or any app with a share sheet
– Get directions to the nearest coffee shop in one tap
– Tweet the song you’re listening to
– Get all of the images on a web page
– Send a message including the last screenshot you took

– And so much more…

Your workflow creations can be launched from inside the Workflow app, from other apps using Workflow’s Action Extension, or from our new lightning-fast Today Widget. You can even export a workflow as a standalone app on your home screen.

Workflow opens up infinite possibilities of what you can do with your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.
Bottom-line – Another app in search of a user, however, with the Big Apple Corporate buying them, well another app gets a nice new parent.  Seriously, has anyone used this app?
 
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Free Visual Traceroute
 
In case you don’t have one or need a new one, here’s a cool free one.

 
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Chatbots or Tiny “Borgbots” in Disguise

Not ever wanting to take the thunder from a great writer, here is just 1 of 5 key points on building chatbots.  It is a great article by Natalie Skarzynski but the section most relevant to UCaaS is this section.  Specifically the role of humans and chatbots in a customer support role.

4. When will the chatbot escalate to a human? 

“Even the most sophisticated bot will eventually encounter a problem it cannot solve. That’s why it is crucial to determine those limits, and decide what will happen when your chatbot reaches one of them.
An escalation to a human agent might be triggered when a customer:
  • Requests a phone or video call
  • Uses language that indicates frustration or anger
  • Asks the same question multiple times
  • References a potentially sensitive or dangerous issue, such as an allergic reaction or a medical emergency
  • Asks a question the bot doesn’t know how to answer
In some of the above examples, the bot is called upon to infer an aspect of the customer’s situation or state of mind based on something they have said. Sentiment analysis, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning play an important role here. For instance, the customer may describe their symptoms instead of saying the exact words, “I’m having an allergic reaction.” The bot must be smart enough to recognize what’s happening and escalate the customer to a human.
And when the hand-off happens, brands must ensure a seamless transition. Best practices include:
  • Allowing the customer to continue the conversation using the same channel
  • Avoiding asking the customer to repeat their story (since two-thirds of consumers say they are extremely frustrated by having to repeat information across multiple channels, according to data from Accenture)
  • Enabling the customer service rep to pick up where the bot left off by providing them with relevant context and interaction history
Another aspect of escalation to consider: how obvious will it be to your customers when they are talking to a bot vs. a human? Depending on your objectives, you may want to explicitly tell customers they are communicating with a bot; for instance, if you’re promoting a new animated movie, you could invite people to chat with one of the characters. But if, for example, you’re helping a customer set up Bluetooth in their new car, you may want the entire interaction to feel the same as a conversation with a human.”
Bottom-line – There is no doubt a never-ending supply of technology and seldom developers of all this stuff ever-ever consider that someone has to put this technology to work and work well as well as satisfying users who are organizing a revolt as if you ever ask them, do you need more apps, the answer other than being ready to duck the flying cheery pies headed toward your face is a resounding NO.


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Vonage Meets Alexa – “Alexa, tell conference manager to start my call.”

From Vonage Business, another cool evolvement of the Internet of Things, and it harnesses the power of the cloud (which is what we’re really, really, ridiculously good at). Vonage Conference Manager is actually pretty simple. It works like this:
  • Get an Amazon Echo. Each “smart” meeting room has an Amazon Echo placed in it permanently.
  • Sync the Echo. The Echo is mapped to the physical phone within each room and an organizational directory, which accesses calendars, meeting information and contacts, all through the cloud.
  • Enable Vonage Conference Manager. Once the Echo is synced, the Vonage Conference Manager skill is enabled once through an iPhone or at alexa.amazon.com.
  • Include the room on invites. When you schedule a meeting, be sure to add the room so it knows about the meeting, so you can use the Echo while you’re in the room.
  • Start talking. When it’s time for your meeting to start, just walk into the room and say “Alexa…” to begin. Bam! You’re all set.
Bottom-line – Cool idea can’t wait to try.

 

 

 
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There’s meetings and then there’s meetings via teleconference:
Boring face-to-face = boring via teleconference
After your next meeting, ask a colleague “what did you understand that meeting was about”?   The principal feature of teleconferencing or conferencing technology is that it allows interactive communication and helps everyone get on the same page. Even though participants in a teleconference are geographically separated, they can still meet to “get their heads together.” Unlike unidirectional communication, such as a letter or a television broadcast, in which a person either sends a message without getting any cues from the recipient or is a passive recipient of information, interactive communication allows people to be both senders and receivers of information simultaneously. Interactive communications gives each person the opportunity to initiate and respond to information as the process unfolds.  Teleconference participants can converse, talk things over, negotiate, joke, see one another, and exchange numerical and graphic information. When people use teleconferencing to “meet,” a synergy of minds is created. Users find that a greater sense of involvement and trust develops among people who are using teleconferencing to carry out a project as compared to a project that relies upon unidirectional communication.
Teleconferencing lets more people participate in the decision-making process. Advantages of group decision making, compared to individual decision making, include the availability of a greater range of experience than that held by any one individual, a more diverse set of intellectual approaches and capabilities, and a greater tendency to subject ideas to scrutiny and debate. Decision making is improved with teleconferencing, because it encourages participation of those people who are not directly involved in the decision-making process of a particular project; for example, research and development engineers can participate in a conference about marketing. Teleconferencing also allows people, such as the administrative staff who would not normally attend a distant face-to-face meeting participate in the decision-making process. Their participation ensures that they understand the subject discussed, especially the nuances and overall thrust of the decision-making process, often not captured in a written report of a meeting.  This, in turn, means that the decision is more likely to be implemented efficiently and effectively.  Ultimately the reason why meetings suck is that the presenter is not organized, has no agenda and worse has not planned for gaining and organizing feedback as to what attendees heard or thought they heard.
Making Sure Communications Succeed
I have a saying that I have used for 40 years, “communications will always fail except by chance.”  We think we are communicating when; in fact, communications is a two-way, not one-way, process.  For me to communicate effectively I have to get feedback from you to let me know what you heard and what you think it means to you.
To that end, I appreciate the opportunity to help Boulder Phone, your provider of conferencing services and products, help you to do a better job at communications.  We can help you be less boring and more effective in your communications.  We can help you as a value-added service review your presentations, review your scripts or even help you write them.  Speaking of scripts, we know they work.  Writing a script helps you organize and rehearse your thoughts to help you speak more clearly and focused.  You may not need this kind of help but Boulder Phone wants you to know we can help you not just with the technology but with communications as well.
We offer you this indepth book if you really want to know more about the subject.

 

 
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BusyLight – Stop Office Interruption Insanity  
I really hate open space offices.  Aside from the smelly food and people, constant interruptions cause serious office insanity.  The cool folks at Unified Communications sell BusyLight from Plenom and put together a very funny slide show presentation. You can click on any image for all their slides, here are a few highlights.

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Special – Manager/Assistant Dashboard for Microsoft Skype for Business

FONCOMFORT QuickLink greatly improves call handling efficiency with 1 click actions to call, pickup and transfer calls. The Live Tiles allow users/ managers and admins to quickly see the presence status of their colleagues, if calls are forwarded and if given the rights, to see who they are speaking with. This rich information allows for intelligent decision making and if a manager/person should be interrupted or not when transferring calls.  Click on image for more details.


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AudioCodes Connects Any Closet to Cloud Communications

Read First: Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition makes it possible to connect any existing telephone circuit to Cloud PBX in Office 365 using a single server and minimal configuration. This allows for the user’s voice capability to be managed out of Office 365 while their phone calls continue to use their existing phone number, circuits and PSTN provider contract.

Microsoft’s recently announced Skype for Business Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling offerings continue to have a major impact on the voice ecosystem. However, many companies are hesitant to make an immediate and full transition to the cloud. Microsoft understood this challenge and implemented a strategy to offer a hybrid solution, where cloud-based PBX services are complemented by an enterprise’s existing on-premises PSTN connectivity.

The AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances for Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition integrate with Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition recommended architectures, providing on-premises connectivity infrastructure. Enabling integration with heterogeneous systems and legacy PBXs, which are critical for a smooth migration to the cloud, AudioCodes’ Microsoft-certified SBCs offer enterprise-grade security and reliability.

Additionally, AudioCodes’ SBCs can add value by delivering enhanced features such as advanced dial plan settings, high availability on incoming calls, support for analog devices and support for call recording from the PSTN side. The combined solution of Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition with AudioCodes’ infrastructure ensures a smooth migration for enterprise customers who want to move their users to the latest cloud unified communications platform from Microsoft Office 365, while preserving on-premises connectivity with their local service providers.
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Six Core Concepts for Social Media Influencer Program & Webinar

By Evan Kirstel @evankirstel & Tom Cross @techtionary

Abstract

IM-influencer marketing is the means to accelerate revenue, lower costs, organize corporate communications and extend company goodwill to name a few benefits. This article explores these issues and a preview of the webinar (click on any image for details on the webinar) with Evan Kirstel Top Social Media Influencer and Tom Cross.

Here are some of the key points presented and discussed in the webinar with Evan Kirstel along with other key topics including the CEO as the ultimate social influencer and “tweet meets” sales lead generation via social media. The term “influencer marketing” (IM) or key opinion leaders (KOL) is the term often used by social media leaders rather than celebrity or movie/sports/rock star endorsements and other leaders of any kind including business, religious and others. Celebrity or star endorsements are not new but certainly less pronounced in the tech space. If Steve Jobs had survived there is no doubt newer, more exciting and more diverse products would be coming from Apple. His role is not unique as the CEO sets the stage for each company. Yet many tech companies believe that their tech speaks for itself not recognizing the role of advisors, consultants and social media influencers on customer decisions. The role of IM and IM professionals is to help core clients look beyond their own silo of solutions to work with customers and others to build more global solutions. The impact can be significant in reducing sales cycles, improve customer service and ultimately vastly increase overall customer and global experience.
Here is a brief summary and analysis of six key points for IM:

Connections
– create and connect with other social media influencers and guide with monthly “tweetchats.” It is truly amazing how many CEO and others fail really fail to understand that social media is social not broadcast media. Social media almost by definition means engaging with others not just preaching to them. Twitter even more than Linkedin is ideal for connecting with potential customers and engaging with them to solve their needs. IM extends the process by educating and ultimately gaining and retaining them. Customers don’t call you anymore they tweet their grievances and if you ignore them the entire world knows that you don’t care and even more importantly, prospective customers can see that as well. Companies that don’t understand are like companies who didn’t have websites 20 years ago and don’t update them today. In other words, engaging with customers throughout their lifecycle is a must-have approach to business going forward.

Content
– turbocharge your content reaching hundreds of thousands of users on Twitter and tens of thousands on Linkedin.

Content and curation go hand-in-hand as content, rather data only becomes knowledge after a human has understood, analyzed, shared and hopefully used it in decision-making. Big data is often used to suggest that we have too much information or TMI and that AI-artificial intelligence will somehow distill, synthesize or somehow organize it for humans. Yet AI is not a panacea not likely to give you any deeper understanding of the issue than you have now. In influencer marketing (IM) the knowledge of the influencer is always at risk when content from any source big or artificial is used to answer key questions. An influencer of any kind whether sports, movie or tech star will never have enough information to make specific decisions only general assessments and observations. However, to help all those involved get “on the same page” can be accomplished via IM. There is much to-do about IoT-internet of things but will the smart car talk to the smart home and what protocols, terminology and user commands be common to both. This would be the role of IM to organize different and complex systems, protocols and industry forums can help those involved (influenced) build common solutions. Smart companies can use or build IM to build bridges between companies and players to solve customer issues more quickly. This means that constant content research and development should be part of any IM program.

Curation – review and curate company content, provide guidance and enhanced thought leadership via influencer team.

 Curation actually comes from the term caring and now is applied to anything gathered from multiple sources into one place to writing blog posts. Curators organize ideas to help viewers and users gain insights. Curation can come from articles, thought leadership, research and knowledge base sources. Influencer marketing comes from ongoing research into content curation ensuring its real and

not fake news or distorted in anyway, yet add serious analysis and what is often called thought leadership. Without this content becomes useless or worse can cause confusion and conflict. For curation to be effective the context of its use must also always be in-play. Knowing or context or how the content will be used not only aids but accelerates the use and further application as well as pursuit of further curation and the IM can be of value as a real content curator.

Collaboration – collaborate with internal and external social leaders.

Like said so many times, keep your friends close and enemies close most often attributed to Niccolò Machiavelli author of The Price is also filled with priceless concepts on management and collaboration. Collaboration is not just working together but realizing that there will also be a hierarchical approach to management as the CEO and other C-levels will always rule the roost as collaborative they appear to be. Ideas come in, they bubble up, muck about and if merit, a business case emerges. The role of IM in this process is to guide, validate, collaborate and be the “out of the box” viewpoint on the subject. This delicate role is not as arbitrator or buzz-killer but to give input or collaborate as needed.

C-Level
– assist and guide the CXO on their social media efforts along with gaining-retaining followers via CEO Twitter Scoreboard.

The ultimate social influencer is the CEO who as mentioned like Steve Job sets direction, goals and inspiration to insiders and most importantly to outsiders. If Steve Jobs came out with bottled water or fashion line, we would all be drinking and wearing it. The role of social influencer and the CEO should be aligned as the IM can be the ombudsman, foreign correspondent and advocate. As IBM, Huawei, Avaya and others are finding the role of IM helps them in many ways traditional marketing doesn’t and can’t. This is the ultimate value of the influencer to help the CEO in extending their message, bypassing traditional corporate communications with staff and increasingly manage crises.

Concern
– respond to concerns expressed by customers and build and monitor system for sales, supports, IR/PR and compliance issues.

Aside from other gaps in corporate marketing, the IM can also fill-in where others can’t. Notwithstanding regulatory restrictions, IM can be on the forefront in the media where often the business press takes the company to task. IM can be the independent view responding to complex situations such as layoffs, store closing, product failures and other negative situations.

Crisis
– provide crisis response team to address 7×24 tracking to avoid situations such as Target, Wells Fargo, Chipotle and other corporate devastating consequences with live “tweetchats” demonstrating responsiveness.   In case you missed the current political environment, foreign countries are cyberattacking not just political parties but nearly every company or institution that exists. One small school district (state withheld from security reasons) has been attacked by multiple foreign countries repeatedly. If you think you is not going to happen to you, think again. The role of the IM in this area is manage the mess and to guide and assist the client in “damage control.” You can never have enough friends when stuff happens and in the case of what is going on in presidential politics your company needs this more than ever as you may just be a tweet away from brand, customer and/or

stock crisis. That is, cybersecurity attacks are one thing but other political attacks could be much worse. This means you should have an IM team ready and monitoring your business 7×24 so you can wake up and manage any mess.

 

Summary – these and other issues will be presented by Evan and Tom during the webinar. If you need immediate attention, you can visit http://www.evankirstel.com/ or email cross@gocross.com 303-594-1694 to get started and be ready today.

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Linkedin Selling Unified Communications Group – Buyers Welcome
Please join our Linkedin Group if you are selling and even buying UC gear/gizmos/gadgets/gagals and more.  Beyond networking opportunities, news, and educational resources, this group is about helping its members increase sales. Vendors, VARs, Agents and anyone selling and marketing unified communications solutions are welcome. If you are a buyer, you join and see what’s available.
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WebRTC-SIP Certification, Social Media Contact Centers, Sales Professionals and Business
Custom and Complete SIP Professional Certification Program
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The User Forum provides classroom and webseminar training as well as a non-production environment for those IT departments without additional equipment, budget or time.  This allows planners and users to test ideas, dial in and dial back out, IM file transfers, remote desktop sharing, video conferencing, run scenarios, review logs, break linkages and learning about new telephony features and network access.  The User Forum is also designed for both the system integrator/consultant who wants to learn about tech without having to build their own system as well as the enterprise customer who doesn’t have the time, resources or knowledge to develop one.  Coming soon, User Forum Labs are designed to be “hands-on” or “over-the-shoulder” with experts available for Q&A and classes for feature-specific review.

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AI Social and Contextual UC #394 – Cisco Spark Room – Facebook 360 for Workplace – IBM Gets Cognitive – MS Huddle Room

 (c) AI Forum & Unified Communications Forum

April 21 – 2017 – Issue #394

 

AI Forum – Exploring the Wild World of Artificial Intelligence and other Communications, Mobile, Contextual-Intelligence and other communications companies.
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Advertising, social media, blog articles, webinars and other services available.
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Do not disturb light ideal for open office workspace and cubicles. Deal with interruptions at work and increase workplace productivity with a busy indicator light.
Built-in speakers for audible call alert and phone ring light to avoid missed calls. Integrates with headset, desk phone or softphone and works as an on the phone indicator light.
Compatible with Skype for business, Lync, Cisco Jabber and more.
Click on image to order direct or partners. 
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Siri can’t open iPhone Flashlight but say
ZoomLite and you get Flashlight, Magnifying Camera, Large Format Clock and Local Weather – Free.

Best app for reading anything close up including restaurant menus and receipts.

Not a simulation – real screenshot.

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iPhone User Forum
Best Sleep App
New Version Approved
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If you need an iPhone/iPad app, click on image.
If you don’t understand Why Twitter is important !
Here are 4 simple reasons and 10 ways to be a good Tweeter
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 We can help in developing webinars, customer studies, social media and sales, marketing

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Custom mobile app for rewards/loyalty programs

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Easy Conference Scheduling for Skype for Business, Office 365, Cisco Spark and Avaya
Approved Contact has quietly but surely worked on getting their multi-platform scheduling and planning solution chatbot approved by Microsoft, Avaya and Cisco to speed staff scheduling and meetings. They ask a simple question – How much time do you waste going back and forth to schedule meetings? Approved Contact allows you to easily share calendars with anyone. Changes you make to your calendar update automatically to Approved Contact. Using Approved Contact enables you to connect your calendar to websites, text, email, mobile, voice recognition, and telephone systems.  Click on logo to contact Approved Contact.

Easy as 1-2-3, for Cisco users, compare open times on your calendar to open times on any of your Approved Contact’s calendars from right inside of Cisco Spark space
FreeTime – Compares available calendars from everyone in the space and displays up to the first 3 available times.
First, set up a new profile on Approved Contact
Second, sync your calendar into Approved Contact and invite your contacts to become your Approved Contacts
Third, add the Approved Contact BOT to any Cisco Spark space that you want to compare your free times to other’s in the Cisco Spark space.
Products supported
Office 365
Azure
Skype for Business
Outlook 2013 or later
Outlook 2016 for Mac
Outlook on the Web
Cisco Spark
Avaya
 Bottom-line – In the seminal work called Organizational Velocity written in the 1970s, the author spoke about the speed or velocity of business is dependent on the pace of collaboration.  He suggested the pace of technology ever slowly but surely increased the pace of organization work.  At the time IBM conducted a study that the average delay in scheduling a meeting and the meeting actually taking place with 5 people was about 5 weeks given other meetings, vacations, meetings already scheduled, and other factors.   Then it took hours just to complete the concalls just to check peoples’ schedules.  This has shortened a little with endless emails between principals and assistants.  Now this can be dramatically shortened to minutes at a fraction of the cost and most importantly, ease of access.   In a later book called Split Second Society, the speed of business was said most aptly like this – “Strategically, the faster you can communicate, the faster you can change and those corporations that change the fastest will be the most successful.”
Approved Contact may not have all the answers to the challenges of human communications but they are working on ways we can collaborate faster.
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New 4/20 #HashNewsGram App V1.3 Approved
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.”
Key new features include:
– Search and one-touch save for the fastest-easiest access to Twitter news.
– Save your favorite Twitter accounts to your Folders/Subfolders with one-touch.
– New UI-user interface for faster-easier news gathering and tracking
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.”
 
#HashNewsGram is a Free Twitter #hashtag gathering app for iPhone.  You can select your favorite topics and put them in folders/subfolders and organize your Twitter newsfeed.  Then tap on Folders to see all folder/subfolder and see the posts.

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There are four stories – Cisco, IBM, Facebook Workplace Video with BlueJeans and Microsoft Huddle Room with Audio Codes. 
Due to the enormity and complexity of the issues of each system, let’s just say that each has some interesting features.  Integrating Watson into the IBM Cognitive Room is certainly an interesting idea, however, I would like to have hands-on experience before endorsing any of these solutions.  However, this gives you a quick glimpse at each system.
 

 

 Cisco Sparks Ideas

What really is upsetting that in either picture from Cisco they did NOT even read their own great book (Cisco Telepresence Fundamentals) by having a room next to outside windows (which means you get all the highway noise, changing sunlight conditions and heat and more problems).
Cisco Spark has a number of models including the Cisco Spark Board 55 a fully self-contained system on a high-resolution 4K 55-inch LED screen and the Cisco Spark Board 70 is a fully self-contained system on a high-resolution 4K 70-inch LED screen. Click on either image for details.

– Intelligent framing: We’re pushing the boundaries with a smart and effortless experience. It’s like having a TV camera operator in the room. We have had speaker tracking in our high-end systems – and now Cisco Spark Room Kits have it, too. The feature automatically detects who in the room is speaking and selects the best camera framing for that person. “Best overview intelligence” detects all people in the room and selects the best group framing when no one is speaking. If a large room has only two people, the camera intelligently frames those people.
– Analytics in diagnostic mode: Artificial intelligence can be pragmatically applied for resource planning. The Room Kits have a high-performing face-detection module that tracks where people are and the angle they’re facing. The system pinpoints the speaker through audio triangulation using the six embedded microphones. The system also counts the number of people in the room. You can send all this data to a management system for customized applications.
– Voice and face recognition: This is still in beta, but you’ll soon be able to place calls via voice commands and the system will recognize attendee faces and label them with their names. These pre-production capabilities present groundbreaking opportunities for both automated calling and content delivery based on a meeting’s participants.You can deploy Cisco Spark Room Kit in a small-to-medium-sized room, and Cisco Spark Room Kit Plus in a large room. Both options support one or two displays. I think you’ll want dual displays when you see how beautiful the white board looks when dialing into a Cisco Spark Board. Imagine the experience: You see the white-board content in stunning 4k resolution on one screen, connect with people in 4k on the other, and interact with the white board on your laptop or tablet.Bottom-line – Cisco has applied their enormous skills learned in building 1000s of telepresence rooms to this next-generation approach though as I have pointed out their need to re-read their books on telepresence rooms because video is really only as good as the room, lighting, noise, echo and many other factors that make video meetings even more difficult.

IBM “Wake Word” – HAL – World Without Walls

 

Wake words is the new term for initiating a conversation with a device.  Siri, Alexa and others begin listening and acting upon voice recognition though we all know how difficult it is to understand what you are already talking about.  Not to be out-gunned, HARMAN Professional Solutions and IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) today unveiled Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms. Click on image for more.

Using IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence (AI) technology and HARMAN AKG microphones, JBL speakers and AMX AV control and switching systems, the companies bring highly connected experiences to medical facilities, corporate offices, hotels, cruise ships and other hospitality environments.

In addition to the current in-market solutions, HARMAN is part of IBM’s cognitive collaboratories based in its $200 million Watson IoT global headquarters in Munich.
 In this facility today, HARMAN is demonstrating the capabilities of its in-room cognitive concierge in a conference room setting. At the same time the HARMAN team is also working with IBM designers, researchers and others to put IoT into the hands of enterprise customers.
Today IBM’s cognitive technologies are embedded into HARMAN soundbars and alarm clocks with other form factors being developed, that users can interact with using natural language. Now consumers can simply ask questions or issue commands with their voice when in a room.
These requests are then sent to the Watson cloud and Watson IoT services, which work with HARMAN’S technology to allow people to easily control their in-room subsystems without having to physically perform any manual tasks and trying to figure the new systems out. For example, now when an employee enters a conference room they can start a video conference, launch a presentation and more using their voice. In the future, these tasks will be executed automatically based on what the system has learned about the employee based on previous meetings.
These voice-enabled cognitive rooms also function as an in-room concierge that can answer general questions or site-specific questions developed by the facility and featuring custom answers created by staff. For example, a hotel guest could ask “What time is checkout? “or “Where is the gym?” while a hospital patient could ask “What are the hospital’s visiting hours?” or “Can you tell me more about my doctor?” Leveraging HARMAN’s expertise in API integration, users can even employ Watson for service requests, including amenity replenishments, restaurant reservations, late checkout, room service, shuttle service and more.
Leveraging key Watson APIs such as Natural Language Understanding and Speech to Text, these rooms also provide users with limited mobility and vision impairment a closer level of interaction with their environment. Now with
Watson, guests can speak naturally to the system without rigid syntax requirements, using simple commands like “would you turn off the lights?”

Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms also feature enterprise-grade software tools that can help in-house technical and guest service staff members increase operational efficiency. For example, housekeeping staff can simply say, “Send up an engineer to fix the shower” in their native language. Watson’s multilingual capabilities enable organizations to accommodate a wide variety of users from different countries with an ever-growing list of supported languages.

Bottom-line – The virtual work space is taking hold as “work without walls” transforms the tedium of traditional meetings wasting time and often with little progress on the project at hand.  New non-meetings business methods will change the traditional broadcast style meetings of one person talking at a time to more of a cocktail party approach to getting things done.

Facebook for Workplace on the Rise

Not to be outdone by Google, Microsoft, Amazon or anyone else in the enterprise, Facebook is coming at business communications via video rather than telephony.  Essentially can think about an office is one “virtual open space” where video from all meetings, locations and ideally worksites of any form including construction, home, mobile or mountain top.  At some point you don’t think about meetings you think about perceptual conversations or in the case of IBM “cognitive” meetings.

BlueJeans for Workplace provides businesses of all sizes with a self-service, professional-grade video platform to bring people together, create collaborative experiences, and broadcast them over Workplace by Facebook.

BlueJeans for Workplace combines the best of Facebook, with the engagement and face-to-face interaction that only video can provide.
– Broadcast meetings and company-wide events on the Company News Feed or directly to project, team, or multi-company groups. Videos are archived on their respective pages and made readily available for on-demand playback.
– Present From Any Device – Join from the full range of video endpoints, including room systems, computers and mobile devices, as well as phone dial-in.

– HD Video & Screen Sharing – Share slides, documents, pictures and pre-uploaded video in crystal clear 1080p resolution.
– Single Video Communications Platform – Need a platform to connect with employees, customers, and partners inside and outside the walls of your company?
BlueJeans is going in the right direction with their solution though Facebook is working on their own approach integrating VR-virtual reality into the mix which makes even more sense giving the increasingly mobile nature of everything we do.  Click on the image for FB 360.Bottom-line – Video is the new means for re-arranging how we think about how we communicate.  From paper memos, secretaries, dictation, telephones, email, chat and other means, video can show more of everything we do.  Though just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should and if you don’t know how to write you can’t really be a great novelist.  Then same applies to presenting yourself on video.  Acting classes might be a great way to get the new video skills you will need to succeed.
AudioCodes Adds Huddle Room Tech
The majority of meeting spaces in a typical enterprise are small rooms that can accommodate up to six persons. AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution is a cost-effective solution ranging from two-person huddle rooms up to 15-person small group meeting spaces
The solution delivers:
– Familiar user experience base on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Familiar user experience based on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Fully managed by the AudioCodes Managed IP Phone solution for efficient deployment and ongoing IT operationsBottom-line – Huddle spaces or quick meetings are key to faster communications.  Adding solutions to make these types of meetings more effective and efficient is always appreciated.
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Amazon Takes on Cloud Contact Center 
If global domination is not enough, Amazon Web Services wants to tackle contact centers.  Like with any major player they will find that being able to do something, does not mean you should. Here is what they have to say for themselves. Click on image for video. Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. Amazon Connect is based on the same contact center technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations. The self-service graphical interface in Amazon Connect makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics – no specialized skills required. There are no up-front payments or long-term commitments and no infrastructure to manage with Amazon Connect; customers pay by the minute for Amazon Connect usage plus any associated telephony services.
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Apple “Clips” Taking on Snapchat, Instagram and …

Well, yet another “pic” app which the world does not need.  Apple says “Introducing Clips. A new iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more. One cool feature is Live Titles let you easily create animated captions – just by talking as you record. Choose from a variety of styles, all perfectly timed to the sound of your voice.

Bottom-line – Seriously too many pic apps and encouraging so many more bad pics and even more apps.
 
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Workflow Now Part of the Apple Orchard

Workflow is your personal automation tool, enabling you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create powerful workflows for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Workflow includes over 200 actions, including those for Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud Drive, and Health, to name a few.

For example, you can use Workflow to:
– Make animated GIFs
– Add a home screen icon that calls a loved one
– Make PDFs from Safari or any app with a share sheet
– Get directions to the nearest coffee shop in one tap
– Tweet the song you’re listening to
– Get all of the images on a web page
– Send a message including the last screenshot you took

– And so much more…

Your workflow creations can be launched from inside the Workflow app, from other apps using Workflow’s Action Extension, or from our new lightning-fast Today Widget. You can even export a workflow as a standalone app on your home screen.

Workflow opens up infinite possibilities of what you can do with your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.
Bottom-line – Another app in search of a user, however, with the Big Apple Corporate buying them, well another app gets a nice new parent.  Seriously, has anyone used this app?
 
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Free Visual Traceroute
 
In case you don’t have one or need a new one, here’s a cool free one.

 
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Chatbots or Tiny “Borgbots” in Disguise

Not ever wanting to take the thunder from a great writer, here is just 1 of 5 key points on building chatbots.  It is a great article by Natalie Skarzynski but the section most relevant to UCaaS is this section.  Specifically the role of humans and chatbots in a customer support role.

4. When will the chatbot escalate to a human? 

“Even the most sophisticated bot will eventually encounter a problem it cannot solve. That’s why it is crucial to determine those limits, and decide what will happen when your chatbot reaches one of them.
An escalation to a human agent might be triggered when a customer:
  • Requests a phone or video call
  • Uses language that indicates frustration or anger
  • Asks the same question multiple times
  • References a potentially sensitive or dangerous issue, such as an allergic reaction or a medical emergency
  • Asks a question the bot doesn’t know how to answer
In some of the above examples, the bot is called upon to infer an aspect of the customer’s situation or state of mind based on something they have said. Sentiment analysis, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning play an important role here. For instance, the customer may describe their symptoms instead of saying the exact words, “I’m having an allergic reaction.” The bot must be smart enough to recognize what’s happening and escalate the customer to a human.
And when the hand-off happens, brands must ensure a seamless transition. Best practices include:
  • Allowing the customer to continue the conversation using the same channel
  • Avoiding asking the customer to repeat their story (since two-thirds of consumers say they are extremely frustrated by having to repeat information across multiple channels, according to data from Accenture)
  • Enabling the customer service rep to pick up where the bot left off by providing them with relevant context and interaction history
Another aspect of escalation to consider: how obvious will it be to your customers when they are talking to a bot vs. a human? Depending on your objectives, you may want to explicitly tell customers they are communicating with a bot; for instance, if you’re promoting a new animated movie, you could invite people to chat with one of the characters. But if, for example, you’re helping a customer set up Bluetooth in their new car, you may want the entire interaction to feel the same as a conversation with a human.”
Bottom-line – There is no doubt a never-ending supply of technology and seldom developers of all this stuff ever-ever consider that someone has to put this technology to work and work well as well as satisfying users who are organizing a revolt as if you ever ask them, do you need more apps, the answer other than being ready to duck the flying cheery pies headed toward your face is a resounding NO.


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Vonage Meets Alexa – “Alexa, tell conference manager to start my call.”

From Vonage Business, another cool evolvement of the Internet of Things, and it harnesses the power of the cloud (which is what we’re really, really, ridiculously good at). Vonage Conference Manager is actually pretty simple. It works like this:
  • Get an Amazon Echo. Each “smart” meeting room has an Amazon Echo placed in it permanently.
  • Sync the Echo. The Echo is mapped to the physical phone within each room and an organizational directory, which accesses calendars, meeting information and contacts, all through the cloud.
  • Enable Vonage Conference Manager. Once the Echo is synced, the Vonage Conference Manager skill is enabled once through an iPhone or at alexa.amazon.com.
  • Include the room on invites. When you schedule a meeting, be sure to add the room so it knows about the meeting, so you can use the Echo while you’re in the room.
  • Start talking. When it’s time for your meeting to start, just walk into the room and say “Alexa…” to begin. Bam! You’re all set.
Bottom-line – Cool idea can’t wait to try.

 

 

 
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There’s meetings and then there’s meetings via teleconference:
Boring face-to-face = boring via teleconference
After your next meeting, ask a colleague “what did you understand that meeting was about”?   The principal feature of teleconferencing or conferencing technology is that it allows interactive communication and helps everyone get on the same page. Even though participants in a teleconference are geographically separated, they can still meet to “get their heads together.” Unlike unidirectional communication, such as a letter or a television broadcast, in which a person either sends a message without getting any cues from the recipient or is a passive recipient of information, interactive communication allows people to be both senders and receivers of information simultaneously. Interactive communications gives each person the opportunity to initiate and respond to information as the process unfolds.  Teleconference participants can converse, talk things over, negotiate, joke, see one another, and exchange numerical and graphic information. When people use teleconferencing to “meet,” a synergy of minds is created. Users find that a greater sense of involvement and trust develops among people who are using teleconferencing to carry out a project as compared to a project that relies upon unidirectional communication.
Teleconferencing lets more people participate in the decision-making process. Advantages of group decision making, compared to individual decision making, include the availability of a greater range of experience than that held by any one individual, a more diverse set of intellectual approaches and capabilities, and a greater tendency to subject ideas to scrutiny and debate. Decision making is improved with teleconferencing, because it encourages participation of those people who are not directly involved in the decision-making process of a particular project; for example, research and development engineers can participate in a conference about marketing. Teleconferencing also allows people, such as the administrative staff who would not normally attend a distant face-to-face meeting participate in the decision-making process. Their participation ensures that they understand the subject discussed, especially the nuances and overall thrust of the decision-making process, often not captured in a written report of a meeting.  This, in turn, means that the decision is more likely to be implemented efficiently and effectively.  Ultimately the reason why meetings suck is that the presenter is not organized, has no agenda and worse has not planned for gaining and organizing feedback as to what attendees heard or thought they heard.
Making Sure Communications Succeed
I have a saying that I have used for 40 years, “communications will always fail except by chance.”  We think we are communicating when; in fact, communications is a two-way, not one-way, process.  For me to communicate effectively I have to get feedback from you to let me know what you heard and what you think it means to you.
To that end, I appreciate the opportunity to help Boulder Phone, your provider of conferencing services and products, help you to do a better job at communications.  We can help you be less boring and more effective in your communications.  We can help you as a value-added service review your presentations, review your scripts or even help you write them.  Speaking of scripts, we know they work.  Writing a script helps you organize and rehearse your thoughts to help you speak more clearly and focused.  You may not need this kind of help but Boulder Phone wants you to know we can help you not just with the technology but with communications as well.
We offer you this indepth book if you really want to know more about the subject.

 

 
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BusyLight – Stop Office Interruption Insanity  
I really hate open space offices.  Aside from the smelly food and people, constant interruptions cause serious office insanity.  The cool folks at Unified Communications sell BusyLight from Plenom and put together a very funny slide show presentation. You can click on any image for all their slides, here are a few highlights.

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ZoomLite – Siri-enabled Magnifying Camera Flashlight

ZoomLite (click on image for iTunes) is a free iPhone/iPad apps local weather info, camera, large format clock in both digital (see right) and classic formats (see below) and 3-level magnifying flashlight app. It will be also integrated into the next versions of MedsMinders.com and SleepTracs.com.
TO USE: press “Home” iPhone button until Siri comes online & say ZoomLite.  This is really helpful when you need to get up in the middle of the night and instead of fumbling around, you say Zoomlite and you can easily see the time, check the weather, read a meds bottle or just not stumble and fall. Oh, you cannot open the native iPhone flashlight using Siri another advantage of ZoomLite.
You will be able to see weather, large font clock, take a picture and easily read labels, meds bottles, check meds, cuts/sores, household issues and other fine print articles and other hard to read documents or any other reason to see something closeup with 3-step magnifying flashlight.
ZoomLite is one of the many award-winning apps such as Basketball Fans, ReallyReal, Sports Fans Club, Football Fans Club, iSeekSugar, BiEyes, iFlipTips, SleepTracs, iSeekSugar, MedsMinders, RewardsVIPClub, and many others from TECHtionary.
You can find much more at reallyreal.com or techtionary.com.
ZoomLite is also available or private/white and customizing – email cross@gocross.com


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Special – Manager/Assistant Dashboard for Microsoft Skype for Business

FONCOMFORT QuickLink greatly improves call handling efficiency with 1 click actions to call, pickup and transfer calls. The Live Tiles allow users/ managers and admins to quickly see the presence status of their colleagues, if calls are forwarded and if given the rights, to see who they are speaking with. This rich information allows for intelligent decision making and if a manager/person should be interrupted or not when transferring calls.  Click on image for more details.


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AudioCodes Connects Any Closet to Cloud Communications

Read First: Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition makes it possible to connect any existing telephone circuit to Cloud PBX in Office 365 using a single server and minimal configuration. This allows for the user’s voice capability to be managed out of Office 365 while their phone calls continue to use their existing phone number, circuits and PSTN provider contract.

Microsoft’s recently announced Skype for Business Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling offerings continue to have a major impact on the voice ecosystem. However, many companies are hesitant to make an immediate and full transition to the cloud. Microsoft understood this challenge and implemented a strategy to offer a hybrid solution, where cloud-based PBX services are complemented by an enterprise’s existing on-premises PSTN connectivity.

The AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances for Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition integrate with Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition recommended architectures, providing on-premises connectivity infrastructure. Enabling integration with heterogeneous systems and legacy PBXs, which are critical for a smooth migration to the cloud, AudioCodes’ Microsoft-certified SBCs offer enterprise-grade security and reliability.

Additionally, AudioCodes’ SBCs can add value by delivering enhanced features such as advanced dial plan settings, high availability on incoming calls, support for analog devices and support for call recording from the PSTN side. The combined solution of Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition with AudioCodes’ infrastructure ensures a smooth migration for enterprise customers who want to move their users to the latest cloud unified communications platform from Microsoft Office 365, while preserving on-premises connectivity with their local service providers.
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Six Core Concepts for Social Media Influencer Program & Webinar

By Evan Kirstel @evankirstel & Tom Cross @techtionary

Abstract

IM-influencer marketing is the means to accelerate revenue, lower costs, organize corporate communications and extend company goodwill to name a few benefits. This article explores these issues and a preview of the webinar (click on any image for details on the webinar) with Evan Kirstel Top Social Media Influencer and Tom Cross.
Here are some of the key points presented and discussed in the webinar with Evan Kirstel along with other key topics including the CEO as the ultimate social influencer and “tweet meets” sales lead generation via social media. The term “influencer marketing” (IM) or key opinion leaders (KOL) is the term often used by social media leaders rather than celebrity or movie/sports/rock star endorsements and other leaders of any kind including business, religious and others. Celebrity or star endorsements are not new but certainly less pronounced in the tech space. If Steve Jobs had survived there is no doubt newer, more exciting and more diverse products would be coming from Apple. His role is not unique as the CEO sets the stage for each company. Yet many tech companies believe that their tech speaks for itself not recognizing the role of advisors, consultants and social media influencers on customer decisions. The role of IM and IM professionals is to help core clients look beyond their own silo of solutions to work with customers and others to build more global solutions. The impact can be significant in reducing sales cycles, improve customer service and ultimately vastly increase overall customer and global experience.
Here is a brief summary and analysis of six key points for IM:

Connections
– create and connect with other social media influencers and guide with monthly “tweetchats.” It is truly amazing how many CEO and others fail really fail to understand that social media is social not broadcast media. Social media almost by definition means engaging with others not just preaching to them. Twitter even more than Linkedin is ideal for connecting with potential customers and engaging with them to solve their needs. IM extends the process by educating and ultimately gaining and retaining them. Customers don’t call you anymore they tweet their grievances and if you ignore them the entire world knows that you don’t care and even more importantly, prospective customers can see that as well. Companies that don’t understand are like companies who didn’t have websites 20 years ago and don’t update them today. In other words, engaging with customers throughout their lifecycle is a must-have approach to business going forward.

Content
– turbocharge your content reaching hundreds of thousands of users on Twitter and tens of thousands on Linkedin.

Content and curation go hand-in-hand as content, rather data only becomes knowledge after a human has understood, analyzed, shared and hopefully used it in decision-making. Big data is often used to suggest that we have too much information or TMI and that AI-artificial intelligence will somehow distill, synthesize or somehow organize it for humans. Yet AI is not a panacea not likely to give you any deeper understanding of the issue than you have now. In influencer marketing (IM) the knowledge of the influencer is always at risk when content from any source big or artificial is used to answer key questions. An influencer of any kind whether sports, movie or tech star will never have enough information to make specific decisions only general assessments and observations. However, to help all those involved get “on the same page” can be accomplished via IM. There is much to-do about IoT-internet of things but will the smart car talk to the smart home and what protocols, terminology and user commands be common to both. This would be the role of IM to organize different and complex systems, protocols and industry forums can help those involved (influenced) build common solutions. Smart companies can use or build IM to build bridges between companies and players to solve customer issues more quickly. This means that constant content research and development should be part of any IM program.

Curation – review and curate company content, provide guidance and enhanced thought leadership via influencer team.

 Curation actually comes from the term caring and now is applied to anything gathered from multiple sources into one place to writing blog posts. Curators organize ideas to help viewers and users gain insights. Curation can come from articles, thought leadership, research and knowledge base sources. Influencer marketing comes from ongoing research into content curation ensuring its real and
not fake news or distorted in anyway, yet add serious analysis and what is often called thought leadership. Without this content becomes useless or worse can cause confusion and conflict. For curation to be effective the context of its use must also always be in-play. Knowing or context or how the content will be used not only aids but accelerates the use and further application as well as pursuit of further curation and the IM can be of value as a real content curator.

Collaboration – collaborate with internal and external social leaders.

Like said so many times, keep your friends close and enemies close most often attributed to Niccolò Machiavelli author of The Price is also filled with priceless concepts on management and collaboration. Collaboration is not just working together but realizing that there will also be a hierarchical approach to management as the CEO and other C-levels will always rule the roost as collaborative they appear to be. Ideas come in, they bubble up, muck about and if merit, a business case emerges. The role of IM in this process is to guide, validate, collaborate and be the “out of the box” viewpoint on the subject. This delicate role is not as arbitrator or buzz-killer but to give input or collaborate as needed.

C-Level
– assist and guide the CXO on their social media efforts along with gaining-retaining followers via CEO Twitter Scoreboard.

The ultimate social influencer is the CEO who as mentioned like Steve Job sets direction, goals and inspiration to insiders and most importantly to outsiders. If Steve Jobs came out with bottled water or fashion line, we would all be drinking and wearing it. The role of social influencer and the CEO should be aligned as the IM can be the ombudsman, foreign correspondent and advocate. As IBM, Huawei, Avaya and others are finding the role of IM helps them in many ways traditional marketing doesn’t and can’t. This is the ultimate value of the influencer to help the CEO in extending their message, bypassing traditional corporate communications with staff and increasingly manage crises.

Concern
– respond to concerns expressed by customers and build and monitor system for sales, supports, IR/PR and compliance issues.

Aside from other gaps in corporate marketing, the IM can also fill-in where others can’t. Notwithstanding regulatory restrictions, IM can be on the forefront in the media where often the business press takes the company to task. IM can be the independent view responding to complex situations such as layoffs, store closing, product failures and other negative situations.

Crisis
– provide crisis response team to address 7×24 tracking to avoid situations such as Target, Wells Fargo, Chipotle and other corporate devastating consequences with live “tweetchats” demonstrating responsiveness.   In case you missed the current political environment, foreign countries are cyberattacking not just political parties but nearly every company or institution that exists. One small school district (state withheld from security reasons) has been attacked by multiple foreign countries repeatedly. If you think you is not going to happen to you, think again. The role of the IM in this area is manage the mess and to guide and assist the client in “damage control.” You can never have enough friends when stuff happens and in the case of what is going on in presidential politics your company needs this more than ever as you may just be a tweet away from brand, customer and/or

stock crisis. That is, cybersecurity attacks are one thing but other political attacks could be much worse. This means you should have an IM team ready and monitoring your business 7×24 so you can wake up and manage any mess.

 

Summary – these and other issues will be presented by Evan and Tom during the webinar. If you need immediate attention, you can visit http://www.evankirstel.com/ or email cross@gocross.com 303-594-1694 to get started and be ready today.

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Linkedin Selling Unified Communications Group – Buyers Welcome
Please join our Linkedin Group if you are selling and even buying UC gear/gizmos/gadgets/gagals and more.  Beyond networking opportunities, news, and educational resources, this group is about helping its members increase sales. Vendors, VARs, Agents and anyone selling and marketing unified communications solutions are welcome. If you are a buyer, you join and see what’s available.
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FonComfort and QuickLink Upgrades
The following new functions and improvements have been added :

FonComfort Professional 2.8.0
– Improved search while transferring: Now lists the most called contacts including 1-click dial function
– Suppress second calls when you are already dialing a number
– FonComfort client now automatically reconnects after losing connection (e.g. notebook in WiFi)
– During transfer, the call window of the called person shows the forwarding person
– Ongoing calls can be expanded to a three-person conference
– DTMF dialing after setting up the connection (e.g. PIN input for accessing a web conference)

FonComfort QuickLink 2.6.0
– Make calls on behalf of others
– Ongoing calls can be expanded to a three-person conference
– FonComfort client now automatically reconnects after losing connection (e.g. notebook in WiFi)

For a demo of either product, click here to email:

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IBM Sees Serious Spike in SIP Security Attacks – Get Seriously SIP Smart Before You Are Hit
IBM Security reports, “There are numerous protocols used in voice-over-IP (VoIP) communications. According to IBM Managed Security Services (MSS) data, the most targeted VoIP protocol is Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which accounted for over 51 percent of the security event activity analyzed in the last 12 months.  In actual attacks on VoIP communications, we note various types of disruption. Spikes in July and September were mostly the result of specially crafted SIP messages that were terminated incorrectly. Persistent, invalid messages are known to cause vulnerable servers and equipment to fail. The spike in October 2016 was largely influenced by SIP messages with invalid characters in the SIP “To” field. These could be reflective of suspicious activity, necessitating further investigation.”  Click on either image for complete article from IBM.


Nothing to SPIT At

When it comes to unsolicited information, we’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with or
reducing email spam in our inbox. But what about spam over internet telephony (SPIT), also known as VoIP spam? These unsolicited, automated phone calls made from internet-provided numbers are just as annoying as junk mail.
VoIP technology allows malicious individuals to conduct caller ID spoofing with minimal cost and effort. This enables attackers to obtain information or facilitate additional scams against their targets. A February report, for example, highlighted issues with certain VoIP phones that had insecure default configurations, which allowed attackers to make, receive and transfer calls, play recordings, upload new firmware and even use victims’ devices for covert surveillance.
VoIP services are also subject to abuses such as toll fraud, which involves taking control of network access to avoid paying for telephone calls. VoIP phone consumers should avoid blindly relying on the manufacturer’s default security settings and use strong passwords.
An attacker can carry out a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack by flooding a company’s telephone service with thousands of junk calls per minute from automated IP dialers. A phone DDoS attack could cripple an organization that relies heavily on its phone systems. The method has even been used to prevent fraud victims from calling their banks
after large sums of money were stolen from their bank accounts.”


Be prepared for SIP attacks by being smart and having a SIP security plan.  Here are just some of the 100+ compelling reasons for attending and achieving certification via the
Certification Corporation Certified SIP Professional program – Click on image for courses.
40+ SBC/Edge and SIP Trunking Security & Troubleshooting
1 – Calljacking*
2 – Jitter/echo
3 – Buffer overflow
4 – CODEC mismatch – asynchronous transcoding problems
5 – Audio – choppy, clipped, screeching, robotic, etc.
6 – VAD issues
7 – Noise – White/Pink/Brown
8 – Clipping and Dipping
9 – DSP – serialization
10 – Propagation
Others will be explained and explored in class.
*Like ABC News story on NYT, HuffPost, Twitter are you prepared for DNS IP Highjacking SIP Calljacking attacks prevention, detection and recovery are presented.
52+ SIP Security Recommendations and Solutions to SIP Attacks
1 – Malformed message attacks
2 – SPIT-SPam over Internet Telephony
– Robocalling SPIT
3 – Memory “leak” buffer overflow attacks
4 – VOMIT-Voice Over Misconfigured Telephony
5 – DOS-Denial-of Service attacks (overload, part SYN, FIN)
6 – TDoS – Telephony Denial of Service attack
– Part of an extortion scheme
– Spoofed Caller IDs to hide their origin
7 – Eavesdropping
8 – Masquerading (Trojan Horses) as a phone, user, server, as a customer
9 – Media injection – insertion of audio/video (hate – xrated) into call flow
10 – SIP redirect – fork call forwarding to another location
Others will be explained and explored in class.


10 Business/Customer Reasons
1 – Increase the revenue “uptake” or performance level cycle
2 – Increase the speed of sale or implementation
3 – Provide a more comprehensive strategic view of project scope
4 – Reduce customer support costs
5 – Increase customer satisfaction
6 – Increase user service/product usability-acceptance
7 – Increase customer retention
8 – Demonstrates company commitment to education and professionalism
9 – Demonstrates career commitment
10 – Increase employer value to stakeholders
for more or call 303-594-1694 for registration in Boulder or inhouse class at your location.  These courses are Made in the USA !
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Cognitive UC “Think” 

IBM WOW-World of Watson hit like a hurricane with exciting new products, partner solutions and a new view of the way we about “think” everything.  Yes, that’s a picture of Thomas J. Watson along with his father built IBM into the powerhouse and the legacy lives in their namesake of IBM Watson.
One of the more interesting session was on Telecom.  Without diving into all the terms cognitive computing is the most relevant to Watson and where AI-artificial intelligence is going.  Cognitive computing was a top topic as IBM’s Watson took center stage on all kind of issues including unified communications.  Yet what is cognitive computing?  Here is one answer – Cognitive issues are similar to the physical issues; they relate to the integration of complex symbols, language, visuals, and other fuzzy factors. The integration of historical influences with genetic characteristics also takes place on the cognitive level. In machine terms, the influences are not only historical but also futuristic, and include the ability to imagine future situations, not only as an extension of known facts but also as a projection of the unknown.  If you thought this would be easy.  It is not.  Nor is any part of AI-artificial intelligence.   Watson is a “work in progress” or always “under construction” as humans we are never satisfied to know what we know; we always want to know more.   This means Watson is going to have to run to keep up.

As Quincy Allen CMO of IBM Cloud noted, “World of Watson spotlights the future of cognitive computing. But cognitive apps are here. They’re delivering powerful insights and amazing experiences, on IBM Cloud. Take the Seiko M-Tracer Golf Swing Analyzer, an app that connects with IBM Cloud to let golfers immediately analyze performance data like attack angle, club path and club head speed. Or take the app Walk and Explore New York, a personalized tour guide that customizes an itinerary just for you. If Watson predicts bad weather will affect your trip, it will automatically adjust your itinerary.”

Automate customer interactions

Watson and really any form of AI is really hardly more than asking Siri or any other voice AI app where should you go for dinner. However not knowing that you hate Italian, it would like suggest a place you would not go to.  However, here is a bottom-line bot — Create a bot powered by natural language understanding in minutes, then deploy via multiple channels and devices, such as messaging platforms like Slack, mobile devices/SMS, and even physical robots.  In other words, Watson is a co-pilot not a pilot for your work.  AI bots and the like will learn from you and then be more help with the range they know about.  They like humans are not psychic so don’t expect them to do things they don’t understand when often you don’t understand them either.

Bottom-line – Watson isn’t the only technology that IBM and others are working on.  It’s a vast array of issues and there will likely be millions of apps (maybe a few less) to solve even the smallest problem in your daily life.  Here is a roadmap of what IBM is up to.

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Denial of Service Attacks DDoS Simplified

Yes, DDoS-Distributed Denial of Service attacks are on the rise largely due to the press and politics driving hacking of the Democratic National Committee reportedly but not confirmed by unknown and unnamed Russian attackers.  However, they are coming to your website so you need to know what they are and have a plan not just to respond but thwart them before they start.

Here’s the basics.  TCP sets up with the Destination Port number via SYNchronizes the connection, manages the transmission of data sending SEQuences (parts), sends an ACKnowlegement to confirm receipt of data  and when FINished disconnects the session.
Here’s a self-repeating view of the complete process.  This explains the TCP set up process, how firewalls provide TCP port filtering, the TCP “sliding window” process and TCP FINish.  Click on the image for an animated tutorial.

The remainder of this tutorial explains the consequences of hacker attacks.  Hacker comes from the term hack which is slang that software programmers use to describe writing computer programs.  Cracker comes from safe/vault crackers to break/crack into a vault safe.  White Hat Hacker is a good or trusted programmer and Black Hat is a bad or untrusted disgruntled person whose desire is to cause injury or disrupt computer systems.  Grey Hat is a programmer of uncertain intent.
Hacker sends TCP-Transmission Control Protocol SYN-Synchronize message from a friendly site or “spoofed” with internal IP-Internet Protocol Address.
If target site is 198.20.0.0, hacker may send 198.20.0.255.
In other words, hacker(s) appears to be internal or friendly users.
DOS-Denial Of Service begins with a hacker who sends TCP-Transmission Control Protocol SYN-Synchronize message from a friendly site or “spoofed” with internal IP-Internet Protocol Address. If target site is 198.20.0.0, hacker may send 198.20.0.255. In other words, hacker(s) appears to be internal or friendly users.  Target (victim) responds with TCP ACK-SYN ACK-Acknowledgement – SYN-SYNchronize message.  In other words, target (victim) treats hacker as a friendly visitor or internal user. There is typically a 40 second window while the receiver (victim) waits to receive an ACKnowledgement from the sender.  This is a normal TCP process while the receiver waits to begin data transmission.  During this time, up to 8 sessions can be created.  If more than 8 sessions are created, then blockage occurs.  The sending of multiple TCP-SYNchronize messages is often called SYN-Flooding or DoS-Denial Of Service.  NOTE: Newer systems support more than 8 sessions and the wait window is often shorter.
In some cases of DoS-Denial of Service the target victim is bombarded with ping reflections from all the systems at the directed broadcast address.
The result is that not just one system but two or more systems may be attacked.
This is also called DDoS-Distributed DoS.
Too many simultaneous requests can cause system failure and/or users cannot get access causing DENIAL OF SERVICE.
IoT Driven DDoS Attacks
In simple terms, here’s how your cable modem, baby monitor, IP video camera, WiFi coffee makers or other devices often referred to as IoT-internet of things can be used to accelerate DDoS attacks.  Hackers use “brute force” attacks on these devices which often have weak passwords such as password123, cable123, etc.  By trying again and again, hackers try thousands of passwords until they get access.  Once they get access they can use these devices just like your PC to attempt to access a victim website.  Doing this with thousands of other devices, they attempt or succeed in blocking one or even thousands of websites.  There are many approaches you can use to possibly prevent them such as honeypots and other diversionary approaches.  It is way beyond the scope of this tutorial to suggest all of them but be prepared especially as you put all your “eggs in one basket” with voice et al. on your internet circuits and you should be very ready for “calljacking” the insertion of unwanted, malicious and damaging content or redirection to other locations.
If you want to know more you will have to take the class to find out.  Click on the image to get SIP smart.
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Machine Learning UC

Usually tech PR is just more “my tech is better than other tech.”  However, as we move from just talking to chatting, video, multi-media, VR/AR and more we need to explore how rather than just using NLP-natural language processing to “parse” sentences, is understand what a dog rather than cat is, we need to know more about machine learning and understanding of visual content.  Qualcomm says, “Moving video analytics processing from the server to the camera at the point of capture opens up a new class of ‘conscious cameras’ with tremendous benefits in terms of reduced data streams, better image recognition and immediate alerts and actions,” Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.  “With advanced connectivity, and computing technologies incorporated into the camera right at the point of capture, we push more intelligence to the edge, allowing deep learning to support highly accurate object recognition.”

Qualcomm also has a video analytics manager API and connected camera Software Development Kit (SDK): A feature-rich set of camera processing and analytics software capabilities including multi-stream, overlay, video HDR, temporal noise reduction, low bit rate codecs, voice activation, face detection and recognition, intelligent motion detection and object tracking. With such intelligence on the camera, customers can move from expensive, server-based video analytics in the cloud to efficient camera-based analytics. By only streaming data when qualified events happen, the camera platform is designed to reduce network bandwidth requirements and help minimize cloud storage costs.

Note Qualcomm is not saying they have AI or even a camera but the processing power along with a SDK and Linux support to push data to an analytics data to an platform which could be developed into a AI knowledge system.

Bottom-line – Content management and deep understand of image meaning is a long way off because the AI system may see something but not understand the meaning much less what the meaning has to you or any one else.

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IBM Push-SMS-Social Media Integration 
This case study and Best Practices comes from a very interesting white paper from IBM marketing and click on the image for the complete paper.  While I like the paper in general, there are some specific which I have added at the end to reflect differences of opinion and real-live experiences.  You can decide for yourself what works for you.
“Bridgevine, a reseller for cable and telecommunications companies, was challenged with prospective customers not following through with conversions – in this instance, calling in to the call center to schedule an installation appointment. So, the team decided to implement an automated email and SMS campaign with the goal of being more proactive.  Bridgevine placed a short form including both email address and mobile number on its Time Warner microsite. If a prospect completes the form and opts-in to receive future.  communications, but doesn’t immediately schedule an appointment, the individual is automatically placed into an automated re-touch program. In this program, the lead receives an automated SMS and email – both triggered via the IBM Marketing Cloud digital marketing platform – upon submission of the form. The first SMS is delivered within one or two minutes of the form submission. The lead continues to receive automated SMS and email messages for up to three days, unless it becomes a conversion before then. If the prospect in the program calls to schedule an installation appointment, the IBM Marketing Cloud platform is tied to Bridgevine’s call center via an API, therefore automatically removing the prospect from the program. The program has resulted in a 300 percent increase in conversions, with a call-back rate of 33 percent. More than 30 percent of the prospects who provided their email addresses also opted in to the SMS program.
SMS Best Practices
– Promote SMS opt-in across key touch points, including email, POS signs, ads throughout stores or in mall locations, or on transaction receipts.
– Create exclusive content for SMS rather than regurgitating offers you’re communicating through other channels.
– As applicable, build basic SMS programs like Text to Join, Text for Info, Text to Vote, Text to Screen, or Text to Win.
– Engage in a two-way dialogue with customers via interactive campaigns designed to look for specific keywords and respond intelligently.
– Look for ways to integrate SMS into your existing automated campaigns to drive stronger response.
– Send transactional SMS or SMS reminders by leveraging APIs to allow messages to be sent from your own infrastructure.
– Review and analyze aggregate SMS campaign data and use this data to drive more relevant content in both SMS and other channels
Push Best Practices
– Tie mobile data to your users’ profiles to see who they are and how they’ve used your app.
– Leverage app interest data, app interactions, and even average order value to feed automatically into the cloud for a more robust view of your on-the-go audience.
– Achieve a truly closed-loop marketing strategy across all channels by integrating push campaign response information and in-app behaviors with other channel interactions and customer data.
– Send visually rich push notifications with video support to enhance the experience.
– Increase profit margins with targeted marketing actions like “quick click to purchase” or “set a reminder to buy.”
– Send targeted, engaging push notification campaigns that leverage each customer’s unique profile data from all channels, not just mobile.
– Create multi-step and cross-channel automated programs and campaigns for customers at each stage of the application lifecycle.
Social Media Best Practices
– Connect your social media engagement and publishing platform to your systems of record, enabling you to track the social behavior of leads that interact with your brand and use these insights in cross-channel digital marketing campaigns.
– Use social media brand pages and feeds to drive SMS opt-ins and mobile app downloads.
– Offer a social-sign option when contacts are registering/logging in, which reduces the friction on mobile devices.
– Employ social look-alike modeling to find new high-value prospects and advertise your mobile app and SMS programs to them, in addition to driving email opt-ins.
– Look for mobile-friendly social tools, such as Twitter Lead Generation Forms, which bring up a form already populated with the user’s social account data (name, email address, Twitter handle, etc.).
– Communicate social promotions in the in-app inbox of your app downloaders.
– Integrate social and mobile efforts into one coordinated, multichannel marketing effort.
In today’s landscape, there’s a good chance your customers are consuming social content on mobile devices. According to one study, 91 percent of smartphone owners ages 18 to 29 used social networking on their phone, while 55 percent of those 50 and older had done so. Furthermore, integrating social media channels with your mobile marketing can give you the power to turn social insights into action by creating cross-platform dialogues, building stronger advocacy and improving loyalty.”
Bottom-line – Thanks to IBM for writing and researching this white paper.  Indeed, they also spoke of omni-channel marketing coordination between different platforms.  However, the real challenge is that each of them – SMS, push, social media and all the others have their own dynamics.  That is, a blog post is different that a Tweet, SMS or push and the language used can be and should be different.  Each should be used for its function and that means a person must decide what is pushed, texted, tweeted, blogged, etc.  Do you see the problem? When you add in location marketing like “we see you are in aisle 5 would you like to buy ….” or “if you come to our store instead we will give you 20% off on anything you buy.”  The permutations and content message options are boggling.  Adding in cultural and even geographic language issues one need be very careful to engage, not alienate.  No doubt a cloud platform is a must-have and even IBM Watson might be helpful, however, this is where AI (read my book) will likely fail us and in our marketing efforts as purchasing habits will always be personal and ever-changing.
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Blockchain: The Future of Democracy In Technology
By Evan Kirstel @evankirstel
This week I had the opportunity to attend the Blockchain World Congress in NYC, focused on the underlying technology behind Bitcoin which has the potential to be one of the most exciting technological advances of this century.
Blockchain is disrupting the financial sector and has the ability to disrupt all major markets, including supply chain, logistics, retail, legal, entertainment, energy and power, and many more.
Blockchain is a peer-to-peer network where data is processed, validated, verified, secured at each step or peer rather than a single administrative authority. Each transaction is passed along from one peer to the next which can data is validated and then pass along until it reaches the receiver. This peering architecture is ideal for all kinds of business transactions and encompasses IoT-internet of things where things which depend more on connecting with other peers than one authority.

However, blockchain technology remains nascent. During its ongoing rapid development, significant obstacles arise even as minor and major advances are being made on a regular basis.
Here are just a few of the many benefits:
– Reduce transaction processing time significantly
– Reduce risk of data and financial loss
– Reduce risk of data hijacking via public and private encryption
– Reduce administrative and overhead costs
– Simplification of business processes
– Improved scalability
– Allow for both public and private Blockchains
Nitin Gauer, Director of an IBM team helping make Blockchain real for business noted that banking and finance markets are driving adoption, removing key obstacles to adoption for other industries:

The distributed ledger technology is set to transform the financial industry and change the way banks conduct global payments. Moreover, it holds massive potential to change other sectors, such as retail, healthcare, agriculture, legal, and logistics.

Meanwhile investment in the technology is continuously growing as well. As of the first quarter of 2016, the investment in bitcoin and blockchain companies surpassed $1 billion.

Blockchain technology growth is accelerating because it based on a very simple concept of blocks of data connected via an ever-extending chain links which track and enforce encryption and security. Blockchain like any supply chain can take many forms and support any industry. For example, Bitcoin uses Blockchain (1) and in high-speed stock trading where security, performance and reliability is also vital, NASDAQ (2) is going to use “Blockchain technology to assist in expediting trade clearing and settlement from the current equity market standards of three days to as little as ten minutes. As a result, settlement risk exposure can be reduced by over 99 percent, dramatically lowering capital costs and systemic risk. In addition, this technology could allow issuers to significantly lower the risk and the administrative burden of what is largely a manual and multi-step process today.” Another example is in health care and research where trust in research is often and should always be verified. As researcher put it, Blockchain is a “tamper-proof public ledger” which all can access and once data is entered into the ledger is nearly impossible to tamper with. The authors also noted, “we confirm the use of Blockchain as a low cost, independently verifiable method that could be widely and readily used to audit and confirm the reliability of scientific studies.” (3) The authors went on to demonstrate an example where the cost was free taking less than five minutes to complete and verified as accurate. (3)

The Linux Foundation is spearheading the development of “open standards” approach to Blockchain called the Hyperledger Project to create an open standard for distributed ledgers for a new generation of transactional applications. With more than 80 major companies as members and more joining weekly, Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, commented about Blockchain, “Peer-to-peer in nature, distributed ledger technology is shared, transparent and decentralized, making it ideal for application in finance and countless other areas such as manufacturing, banking, insurance and the Internet of Things.” The Hyperledger Project will address “cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers.” (4)

Here are, among other things, some key points of Hyperledger:
– Peer-to-peer networking
– Distributed “ledger” technology
– Open source
– Scalability
– Establish means for trust and transparency
Chris Ferris, IBM Distinguished Engineer, CTO Open Technology, and Technical Steering Committee Chair, Hyperledger Project, noted “By providing a community for members to collaborate and contribute to an open source Blockchain solution, we’re able to advance the technology collectively and ultimately drive quicker adoption and higher value across industries.”
However, before you think everyone is onboard with this issue, Blockchain will take enormous education and integration with legacy enterprise IT systems whether they be financial or an industry. If you want to get involved, jump in and join Hyperledger Project”
Blockchain is an exciting new approach to democracy in technology from devices, systems and authorities to collaborate on “open source” standards as well providers to build into viable business solutions which users can trust at a very low cost.
(1)   Bits on blocks – https://bitsonblocks.net/2015/09/09/a-gentle-introduction-to-blockchain-technology/
(2)   http://ir.nasdaq.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=948326
(3)   How blockchain-timestamped protocols could improve the trustworthiness of medical science http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4866630/
(4) Open Source Blockchain Effort for the Enterprise http://www.telecomreseller.com/2016/04/20/open-source-blockchain-effort-for-the-enterprise/

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AI Social and Contextual UC #393 – Cisco, Microsoft Avaya Multi-Platform People Scheduler/Planner – BusyLight Saves Sanity – Workflow in Apple Orchard

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April 14 – 2017 – Issue #393

 

AI Forum – Exploring the Wild World of Artificial Intelligence and other Communications, Mobile, Contextual-Intelligence and other communications companies.
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Do not disturb light ideal for open office workspace and cubicles. Deal with interruptions at work and increase workplace productivity with a busy indicator light.
Built-in speakers for audible call alert and phone ring light to avoid missed calls. Integrates with headset, desk phone or softphone and works as an on the phone indicator light.
Compatible with Skype for business, Lync, Cisco Jabber and more.
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ZoomLite and you get Flashlight, Magnifying Camera, Large Format Clock and Local Weather – Free.

Best app for reading anything close up including restaurant menus and receipts.

Not a simulation – real screenshot.

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#HashNewsGram App Approved 
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.”
 
#HashNewsGram is a Twitter #hashtag gathering app for iPhone.  You can select your favorite topics and put them in folders/subfolders and organize your Twitter newsfeed.  Then tap on Folders to see all folder/subfolder and see the posts.

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Easy Conference Scheduling for Skype for Business, Office 365, Cisco Spark and Avaya
Approved Contact has quietly but surely worked on getting their multi-platform scheduling and planning solution chatbot approved by Microsoft, Avaya and Cisco to speed staff scheduling and meetings. They ask a simple question – How much time do you waste going back and forth to schedule meetings? Approved Contact allows you to easily share calendars with anyone. Changes you make to your calendar update automatically to Approved Contact. Using Approved Contact enables you to connect your calendar to websites, text, email, mobile, voice recognition, and telephone systems.  Click on logo to contact Approved Contact.

Easy as 1-2-3, for Cisco users, compare open times on your calendar to open times on any of your Approved Contact’s calendars from right inside of Cisco Spark space
FreeTime – Compares available calendars from everyone in the space and displays up to the first 3 available times.
First, set up a new profile on Approved Contact
Second, sync your calendar into Approved Contact and invite your contacts to become your Approved Contacts
Third, add the Approved Contact BOT to any Cisco Spark space that you want to compare your free times to other’s in the Cisco Spark space.
Products supported
Office 365
Azure
Skype for Business
Outlook 2013 or later
Outlook 2016 for Mac
Outlook on the Web
Cisco Spark
Avaya
 Bottom-line – In the seminal work called Organizational Velocity written in the 1970s, the author spoke about the speed or velocity of business is dependent on the pace of collaboration.  He suggested the pace of technology ever slowly but surely increased the pace of organization work.  At the time IBM conducted a study that the average delay in scheduling a meeting and the meeting actually taking place with 5 people was about 5 weeks given other meetings, vacations, meetings already scheduled, and other factors.   Then it took hours just to complete the concalls just to check peoples’ schedules.  This has shortened a little with endless emails between principals and assistants.  Now this can be dramatically shortened to minutes at a fraction of the cost and most importantly, ease of access.   In a later book called Split Second Society, the speed of business was said most aptly like this – “Strategically, the faster you can communicate, the faster you can change and those corporations that change the fastest will be the most successful.”
Approved Contact may not have all the answers to the challenges of human communications but they are working on ways we can collaborate faster.
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Skype for Business Call Recording
Call recording is a growing “must-have” for nearly every company from customer service to regulatory/compliance issues.  One reader told me “we record everything and save it FOREVER.”  Here is a solution from Audiocodes.  Anyone who calls a customer service or tech support line has gotten that “this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes” announcement in their lifetime.  That typically means that the contact center you called has a recording system and most likely will record your call, whether it’s to understand how their employees handle customer calls or possibly by law to meet specific compliance purposes.  The expansion of Skype for Business in the enterprise is slowly replacing the traditional phone system and the number of options to record calls is limited to a few companies.  With such a narrow choice of products, why should you record your Skype for Business calls?
The answers are simple.  I’ve outlined a few bullets that will help you decide on whether you should record or not.
 
Protection – Any verbal transaction that involves your company and a customer or partner should always be recorded.  A recording will protect your company and employees during verbal monetary transactions, no matter how big or how small the transaction is.  Further, in cases where specific laws take place, such as financial investments or order by phone, it is required by law to record the conversation.  More importantly, even if it’s a casual conversation between an employee and customer, the minute a commitment is involved, the conversation should be recorded.  This will help in cases of disputes where the customer or employee may make a claim of “he said, she said”.  Recordings don’t lie, the conversation can simply be played back and the dispute can be settle.  Even in cases where there is no contact center, like in finance for instance, your finance administrator may not speak with customers on a regular basis but at times calls might get escalated to them.  In these situations, wouldn’t it be great to recording the conversation so that there are no discrepancies?  By using Record on Demand, the conversation can be recorded and saved for future reference.
Understanding Your Customer – By recording conversations between your employees and customers, the organization can get a better picture of how it communicates with its customers and how its employees are positioning the company and its products.  Sampling conversations can easily provide a picture of what your customers are looking for, or perhaps outline areas of improvement for your organization.  Sometimes it’s not what the customers says, but rather how the customer says it or implies it.  You can’t get that from your employee.  They can only provide you a recollection of what was said, and in their view only.  Recordings provide an unbiased view of the conversation where management can make informed decisions.
Compliance – Compliance is at the forefront of every conversation in the enterprise.  Many companies have Compliance Officers that manage communications between the firm and its customers.  With the expansion of data breaches, hacking oblog.af technology and identity theft, compliance laws have been implemented over the past few years to protect consumer information such as personal financial information (social security numbers, credit card information, etc.) and even healthcare information from being exposed.  Further, laws such as MAD II (Market Abuse and Market Manipulation) which protects the consumer from misleading or misguided information on financial investment vehicles.  MAD II manages the company’s sales practices and protects the company from disreputable trades.  Other compliance laws such as MIFID II, which is scheduled to be implemented in the European Union in July 2017 stretches the compliance monitoring standard from investment brokers to sales, administrative personnel and certified financial planners.  So, the expansion of compliance is requiring that conversations or basically any communication with the consumer be recorded.  With that requirement, Skype for Business users must have both voice and chat (IM) sessions recorded to protect the consumer and allow the firm to monitor the activity of their employees.
SmartTAP is AudioCodes Skype for Business recording platform.  Built specifically to support Skype for Business, SmartTAP provides a secure, tamper proof environment to record both voice and chat sessions, either consistently, or on a Record on Demand / Save on Demand basis. Through SmartTAP’s Media Server protection, Skype for Business calls are never exposed to the internet, thus adding another layer of protection from outside intrusion.  SmartTAP also stores voice and chat sessions in an encrypted environment, with a Digital Signature added, where original recordings can never be touched.  Expanding SmartTAP throughout the organization is easy by deploying the Skype for Business Toolbar that embeds directly into the Skype for Business client.  Tagging calls, recording calls on demand are made easy by simply selecting the SmartTAP option on the Skype for Business client.  These capabilities only scratch the surface of what SmartTAP can do for your Skype for Business deployment.  Click on image for more information.
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Oracle Gets AI

Oracle put together are a great paper on AI.  While I don’t agree that it is “AI” since everyone uses that term to describe nearly anything.  However, I like the graphics which create a sense of understand for how they are approaching the issue. Here goes.
Data and Context-Driven
– Process enormous amounts of web-scale data in real-time and synthesizes context to deliver the best and most personalized outcomes.
– Action-Oriented and Omni-Channel
– Anticipate user behaviors and deliver actionable and individualized outcomes. Data and events are tracked from everywhere so recommendations are coordinated across channels.
– Continuously Adaptive and Self-Learning

– Continuously improves outcomes as the system reacts, learns and adapts. There is a value exchange between the end user and the adaptive intelligent app-the more the end user interacts, the more value they receive.

Built for Business Users

Immediate value out of the box, with no need for a legion of data scientists!

Adaptive
Learn from your behavior and “others like you” in the moment.
React, change, and adapt based on continued use-click by click.

Deliver increasingly relevant and optimized outcomes in real-time.

Intelligent
Process and derive insights from web-scale 3rd-party data.
Synthesize context: weather, life events, real-time actions, social activity, and much more.
Identify and serve up-in real-time-the best individualized outcomes.
Bottom-line – Doubt there will ever be really good AI to pass the “Turing Test” well enough to even help but doesn’t mean that the IT industry will not continue to spend 100s of billions on the pursuit of the “Holy Grail” and what it might mean.  Like conquering space, people will “keep on trucking” in hopes of something that users can use maybe even buy.  If you saw the Pepsi TV ad with Kendall Jenner this week, I doubt that anyone at Pepsi or even the greatest AI system could have predicted the terrible public reaction and PR debacle.
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AudioCodes Adds Huddle Room Tech
The majority of meeting spaces in a typical enterprise are small rooms that can accommodate up to six persons. AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution is a cost-effective solution ranging from two-person huddle rooms up to 15-person small group meeting spaces
The solution delivers:
– Familiar user experience base on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Familiar user experience based on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Fully managed by the AudioCodes Managed IP Phone solution for efficient deployment and ongoing IT operationsBottom-line – Huddle spaces or quick meetings are key to faster communications.  Adding solutions to make these types of meetings more effective and efficient is always appreciated.
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Amazon Takes on Cloud Contact Center 
If global domination is not enough, Amazon Web Services wants to tackle contact centers.  Like with any major player they will find that being able to do something, does not mean you should. Here is what they have to say for themselves. Click on image for video. Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. Amazon Connect is based on the same contact center technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations. The self-service graphical interface in Amazon Connect makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics – no specialized skills required. There are no up-front payments or long-term commitments and no infrastructure to manage with Amazon Connect; customers pay by the minute for Amazon Connect usage plus any associated telephony services.
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Apple “Clips” Taking on Snapchat, Instagram and …

Well, yet another “pic” app which the world does not need.  Apple says “Introducing Clips. A new iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more. One cool feature is Live Titles let you easily create animated captions – just by talking as you record. Choose from a variety of styles, all perfectly timed to the sound of your voice.

Bottom-line – Seriously too many pic apps and encouraging so many more bad pics and even more apps.
 
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Workflow Now Part of the Apple Orchard

Workflow is your personal automation tool, enabling you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create powerful workflows for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Workflow includes over 200 actions, including those for Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud Drive, and Health, to name a few.

For example, you can use Workflow to:
– Make animated GIFs
– Add a home screen icon that calls a loved one
– Make PDFs from Safari or any app with a share sheet
– Get directions to the nearest coffee shop in one tap
– Tweet the song you’re listening to
– Get all of the images on a web page
– Send a message including the last screenshot you took

– And so much more…

Your workflow creations can be launched from inside the Workflow app, from other apps using Workflow’s Action Extension, or from our new lightning-fast Today Widget. You can even export a workflow as a standalone app on your home screen.

Workflow opens up infinite possibilities of what you can do with your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.
Bottom-line – Another app in search of a user, however, with the Big Apple Corporate buying them, well another app gets a nice new parent.  Seriously, has anyone used this app?
 
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Free Visual Traceroute
 
In case you don’t have one or need a new one, here’s a cool free one.

 
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Enterprise Enters CPaas Business
Bandwidth.com ordered up a cool white paper on CPasS and its time for even the SMB to get serious about this approach.  It’s a long paper so click on the image and read yourself.  Here is just a few paragraphs of the highlights.  “For enterprise-class CPaaS providers, the ability to reliably deliver communications services is reflected in a willingness to guarantee their solutions with service-level agreements (SLA). Under the typical terms of a SLA, the provider will ensure the uptime and reliability of their CPaaS services in writing, with financial penalties for failing to maintain these metrics. The ability to offer a SLA is in stark contrast to many of the over the-top CPaaS offerings, which can only provide a best-effort level of service, with little guarantee that an API-driven connection will be available or sustained. Service-level agreements represent a provider’s confidence that their service will meet or exceed their customer’s needs and expectations.

Dedicated Operations Teams
Many of the CPaaS providers in the market operate in much the same way as the app developers they are supporting. With limited resources, ongoing operations and customer support consist largely of community-based support; in some cases, basic helpdesk services, email-driven support tickets and limited phone support are made available. However, for medium businesses and larger enterprises, dedicated support and operations teams, around-the-clock support and status updates are the norm. Enterprise-class CPaaS providers distinguish themselves from the rest of the CPaaS market by offering support structures that match the expectations of their typical customers, with dedicated support representatives for larger accounts, 24×7
network operations centers (NOC) and technical operations support.”

Bottom-line – Many Fortune 100 have long been their own “telco” and now that this approach is more scalable, affordable and practical, if you have 1,000 users time to be your own provider.  Time for providers to wake up and smell the bandwidth.


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Chatbots or Tiny “Borgbots” in Disguise

Not ever wanting to take the thunder from a great writer, here is just 1 of 5 key points on building chatbots.  It is a great article by Natalie Skarzynski but the section most relevant to UCaaS is this section.  Specifically the role of humans and chatbots in a customer support role.

4. When will the chatbot escalate to a human? 

“Even the most sophisticated bot will eventually encounter a problem it cannot solve. That’s why it is crucial to determine those limits, and decide what will happen when your chatbot reaches one of them.
An escalation to a human agent might be triggered when a customer:
  • Requests a phone or video call
  • Uses language that indicates frustration or anger
  • Asks the same question multiple times
  • References a potentially sensitive or dangerous issue, such as an allergic reaction or a medical emergency
  • Asks a question the bot doesn’t know how to answer
In some of the above examples, the bot is called upon to infer an aspect of the customer’s situation or state of mind based on something they have said. Sentiment analysis, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning play an important role here. For instance, the customer may describe their symptoms instead of saying the exact words, “I’m having an allergic reaction.” The bot must be smart enough to recognize what’s happening and escalate the customer to a human.
And when the hand-off happens, brands must ensure a seamless transition. Best practices include:
  • Allowing the customer to continue the conversation using the same channel
  • Avoiding asking the customer to repeat their story (since two-thirds of consumers say they are extremely frustrated by having to repeat information across multiple channels, according to data from Accenture)
  • Enabling the customer service rep to pick up where the bot left off by providing them with relevant context and interaction history
Another aspect of escalation to consider: how obvious will it be to your customers when they are talking to a bot vs. a human? Depending on your objectives, you may want to explicitly tell customers they are communicating with a bot; for instance, if you’re promoting a new animated movie, you could invite people to chat with one of the characters. But if, for example, you’re helping a customer set up Bluetooth in their new car, you may want the entire interaction to feel the same as a conversation with a human.”
Bottom-line – There is no doubt a never-ending supply of technology and seldom developers of all this stuff ever-ever consider that someone has to put this technology to work and work well as well as satisfying users who are organizing a revolt as if you ever ask them, do you need more apps, the answer other than being ready to duck the flying cheery pies headed toward your face is a resounding NO.


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MS Teams Sinks Slack

Slack in spite of their arrogant approach to the marketplace, gained traction as the need for group collaboration has been a “missing link” since the dawn of time.  We built such tools in the 1970s on “cloud” systems then called time-sharing.  Flash forward MS Teams is really cool and is built into Office 365 so makes it a real nice addition. Here are more details.  Click on any image for more.

Microsoft has introduced more than 100 new features to Teams since November, including an enhanced meeting experience, with scheduling capabilities; mobile audio calling, with video calling on Android now and coming soon to iOS and Windows Phone; email integration; and new security and compliance capabilities. The company has also delivered new features to make Microsoft Teams more accessible, such as support for screen readers, and high contrast and keyboard-only navigation. Guest access capabilities and deeper integration with Outlook, and a richer developer platform, are targeted for June of this year. For more details on the new features, go to the Office Blog.

Microsoft Teams brings together people, conversations and content, along with the tools that teams need. It’s integrated with familiar Office applications and is built from the ground up on Office 365 and Microsoft’s global, secured cloud. Microsoft Teams is built on four core promises:
  • Chat for today’s teams. Microsoft Teams provides a modern conversations experience, with threaded, persistent chat to keep everyone engaged. Team conversations can be either private or visible to the entire team, and users can access multiple teams, making it easy to switch between projects.
  • A hub for teamwork. The Office applications and services that teams use every day – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, and OneNote and Power BI- are all built-in, so people have the information and tools they need.
  • Customization for every team. Microsoft Teams offers the ability to customize work spaces with tabs, connectors and bots from third-party partners as well as familiar Microsoft tools like Microsoft Planner and Visual Studio Team Services. More than 150 integrations are available or coming soon, with companies like SAP, Trello, Hipmunk, Growbot and ModuleQ building on the platform.
  • Security teams trust. Microsoft Teams is built on the hyper-scale, enterprise-grade Office 365 cloud, delivering the advanced security and compliance capabilities that customers expect. Teams supports global standards including SOC 1, SOC 2, EU Model Clauses, ISO27001 and HIPAA.

Bottom-line – Slack is toast to be heaped on the pile like WordPerfect, Novell and so many others that MS targeted like the Borg and destroyed.  Slack’s real problem was that they were, IMHO, so arrogant and absorbed like so many startups in their own splendor they failed to realize like the Titanic the “iceberg” in front of them and likely to sink.

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Vonage Meets Alexa – “Alexa, tell conference manager to start my call.”

From Vonage Business, another cool evolvement of the Internet of Things, and it harnesses the power of the cloud (which is what we’re really, really, ridiculously good at). Vonage Conference Manager is actually pretty simple. It works like this:
  • Get an Amazon Echo. Each “smart” meeting room has an Amazon Echo placed in it permanently.
  • Sync the Echo. The Echo is mapped to the physical phone within each room and an organizational directory, which accesses calendars, meeting information and contacts, all through the cloud.
  • Enable Vonage Conference Manager. Once the Echo is synced, the Vonage Conference Manager skill is enabled once through an iPhone or at alexa.amazon.com.
  • Include the room on invites. When you schedule a meeting, be sure to add the room so it knows about the meeting, so you can use the Echo while you’re in the room.
  • Start talking. When it’s time for your meeting to start, just walk into the room and say “Alexa…” to begin. Bam! You’re all set.
Bottom-line – Cool idea can’t wait to try.

 

 

 
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There’s meetings and then there’s meetings via teleconference:
Boring face-to-face = boring via teleconference
After your next meeting, ask a colleague “what did you understand that meeting was about”?   The principal feature of teleconferencing or conferencing technology is that it allows interactive communication and helps everyone get on the same page. Even though participants in a teleconference are geographically separated, they can still meet to “get their heads together.” Unlike unidirectional communication, such as a letter or a television broadcast, in which a person either sends a message without getting any cues from the recipient or is a passive recipient of information, interactive communication allows people to be both senders and receivers of information simultaneously. Interactive communications gives each person the opportunity to initiate and respond to information as the process unfolds.  Teleconference participants can converse, talk things over, negotiate, joke, see one another, and exchange numerical and graphic information. When people use teleconferencing to “meet,” a synergy of minds is created. Users find that a greater sense of involvement and trust develops among people who are using teleconferencing to carry out a project as compared to a project that relies upon unidirectional communication.
Teleconferencing lets more people participate in the decision-making process. Advantages of group decision making, compared to individual decision making, include the availability of a greater range of experience than that held by any one individual, a more diverse set of intellectual approaches and capabilities, and a greater tendency to subject ideas to scrutiny and debate. Decision making is improved with teleconferencing, because it encourages participation of those people who are not directly involved in the decision-making process of a particular project; for example, research and development engineers can participate in a conference about marketing. Teleconferencing also allows people, such as the administrative staff who would not normally attend a distant face-to-face meeting participate in the decision-making process. Their participation ensures that they understand the subject discussed, especially the nuances and overall thrust of the decision-making process, often not captured in a written report of a meeting.  This, in turn, means that the decision is more likely to be implemented efficiently and effectively.  Ultimately the reason why meetings suck is that the presenter is not organized, has no agenda and worse has not planned for gaining and organizing feedback as to what attendees heard or thought they heard.
Making Sure Communications Succeed
I have a saying that I have used for 40 years, “communications will always fail except by chance.”  We think we are communicating when; in fact, communications is a two-way, not one-way, process.  For me to communicate effectively I have to get feedback from you to let me know what you heard and what you think it means to you.
To that end, I appreciate the opportunity to help Boulder Phone, your provider of conferencing services and products, help you to do a better job at communications.  We can help you be less boring and more effective in your communications.  We can help you as a value-added service review your presentations, review your scripts or even help you write them.  Speaking of scripts, we know they work.  Writing a script helps you organize and rehearse your thoughts to help you speak more clearly and focused.  You may not need this kind of help but Boulder Phone wants you to know we can help you not just with the technology but with communications as well.
We offer you this indepth book if you really want to know more about the subject.

 

 
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BusyLight – Stop Office Interruption Insanity  
I really hate open space offices.  Aside from the smelly food and people, constant interruptions cause serious office insanity.  The cool folks at Unified Communications sell BusyLight from Plenom and put together a very funny slide show presentation. You can click on any image for all their slides, here are a few highlights.

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ZoomLite – Siri-enabled Magnifying Camera Flashlight

ZoomLite (click on image for iTunes) is a free iPhone/iPad apps local weather info, camera, large format clock in both digital (see right) and classic formats (see below) and 3-level magnifying flashlight app. It will be also integrated into the next versions of MedsMinders.com and SleepTracs.com.
TO USE: press “Home” iPhone button until Siri comes online & say ZoomLite.  This is really helpful when you need to get up in the middle of the night and instead of fumbling around, you say Zoomlite and you can easily see the time, check the weather, read a meds bottle or just not stumble and fall. Oh, you cannot open the native iPhone flashlight using Siri another advantage of ZoomLite.
You will be able to see weather, large font clock, take a picture and easily read labels, meds bottles, check meds, cuts/sores, household issues and other fine print articles and other hard to read documents or any other reason to see something closeup with 3-step magnifying flashlight.
ZoomLite is one of the many award-winning apps such as Basketball Fans, ReallyReal, Sports Fans Club, Football Fans Club, iSeekSugar, BiEyes, iFlipTips, SleepTracs, iSeekSugar, MedsMinders, RewardsVIPClub, and many others from TECHtionary.
You can find much more at reallyreal.com or techtionary.com.
ZoomLite is also available or private/white and customizing – email cross@gocross.com


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Special – Manager/Assistant Dashboard for Microsoft Skype for Business

FONCOMFORT QuickLink greatly improves call handling efficiency with 1 click actions to call, pickup and transfer calls. The Live Tiles allow users/ managers and admins to quickly see the presence status of their colleagues, if calls are forwarded and if given the rights, to see who they are speaking with. This rich information allows for intelligent decision making and if a manager/person should be interrupted or not when transferring calls.  Click on image for more details.


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AudioCodes Connects Any Closet to Cloud Communications

Read First: Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition makes it possible to connect any existing telephone circuit to Cloud PBX in Office 365 using a single server and minimal configuration. This allows for the user’s voice capability to be managed out of Office 365 while their phone calls continue to use their existing phone number, circuits and PSTN provider contract.

Microsoft’s recently announced Skype for Business Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling offerings continue to have a major impact on the voice ecosystem. However, many companies are hesitant to make an immediate and full transition to the cloud. Microsoft understood this challenge and implemented a strategy to offer a hybrid solution, where cloud-based PBX services are complemented by an enterprise’s existing on-premises PSTN connectivity.

The AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances for Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition integrate with Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition recommended architectures, providing on-premises connectivity infrastructure. Enabling integration with heterogeneous systems and legacy PBXs, which are critical for a smooth migration to the cloud, AudioCodes’ Microsoft-certified SBCs offer enterprise-grade security and reliability.

Additionally, AudioCodes’ SBCs can add value by delivering enhanced features such as advanced dial plan settings, high availability on incoming calls, support for analog devices and support for call recording from the PSTN side. The combined solution of Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition with AudioCodes’ infrastructure ensures a smooth migration for enterprise customers who want to move their users to the latest cloud unified communications platform from Microsoft Office 365, while preserving on-premises connectivity with their local service providers.
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Custom-Curated Newsletter Powered by IBM Watson
Accelerate Sales/Marketing Efforts

 Evan Kirstel announces a new service to help you accelerate sales for your team and channel partners.  I can create a custom curated and company focused newsletter delivering to you actionable information for your own sales team or channel partners.  In addition, via my Twitter team and multiple accounts, I can push that out optionally to
up to 250,000 Twitter followers
to direct prospective customers to your CTA-call to actions, customer-closing content and landing page(s).
To create this exciting information, I use xiQ’s Marketing Intelligence Platform,

powered by IBM Watson. The platform is enterprise-wide and is applied to its global leadership, sales, marketing and industry business unit executives. By implementing the cognitive computing-powered xiQ platform, Genpact is now able to identify real-time market intelligence that further strengthens its ability to support client growth, efficiency and business agility.

Background – “Thought leadership is a key driver of Genpact’s ‘Lean Digital Transformation’ vision,” said Gianni Giacomelli, Chief Marketing Officer and SVP of Product Innovation, at Genpact. “xiQ delivers real-time market intelligence to our leadership team,
reducing the time to process critical information while improving decision making. With xiQ, we have digitalized the process of keeping our teams on the cutting edge, winning customer confidence and driving business growth.”
xiQ’s Marketing Intelligence Platform leverages multiple IBM Watson Alchemy language APIs like Entity, Keyword, and Concept Extraction as well as Sentiment Analysis to help companies like Genpact analyze unstructured data from the Internet, social media and public records. This analysis, combined with xiQ’s other content marketing abilities, empowers sales and marketing teams with real-time insights that can improve engagement with customers and prospects. For example, by tapping into Watson’s Sentiment Analysis service, Genpact can analyze tweets and news from their clients, proactively identify their customer needs, personalize their engagement and enhance their customers’ experience.

Call or DM on Twitter to get started today and accelerate your sales efforts.

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Hololens Adds Live Spectators

Mixed Reality Capture (MRC) to aid in the visualization of holograms that the wearer is seeing from a first-person perspective to connect the experience of someone wearing a HoloLens with that of an audience (whether that audience is 1 person or 100 people) and also allows you to see what the people wearing HoloLens are doing and how they are interacting with their mixed reality experience.  Click on image for more.

Bottom-line – Cool idea love to get one.
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Amazon Chimes-In

As if the world needs yet another web conferencing service which is so overcrowded it’s hard to believe, Amazon never deterred announced their Chime service.

Here are the key features and pricing.
Online Meetings
designed to help you run productive and efficient online meetings from your mobile device or your desktop. Meetings start on time, they’re easy to join with a single tap or click, the visual roster shows who is participating, and anyone can mute background noise. It’s easy to participate, and you can join from anywhere.

Video 
allows you to conduct video conference calls with a single tap or click. You can use video conferencing for up to 16 people on your desktop, or 8 people on mobile devices, with easy to see video tiles displayed on your screen. High-quality wideband audio and high-definition video allow you to focus on the conversation instead of straining to hear what is being said.

 


Chat Rooms
allows you to create Chat Rooms to easily bring groups of people together to work on projects. @Username mentions allow you to alert the right people in the room, and you can share files by simply attaching them to the conversation. Chat Rooms are available on all your devices, and chat history is searchable.
Presence  
uses smart presence to indicate your status, where green means you’re available, and red means you’re busy. You can also manually set your presence to indicate that you’re not available, or hide your presence status entirely.

Bottom-line – Amazon not always wins but they are determined so be prepared.
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NecTECH: Nectar Assessment Partner – Know More Support More

Nectar Expands its Certified Advanced Assessment Partner Program with Learning Plan – click on image for website

As Doug Green Editor/Publisher of TelecomReseller once said, “you can’t sell what you don’t know.”  Same is true in nearly every aspect of a business.  You need to know a lot to support a lot and Nectar Services, an innovator in unified communications with their Unified Communication Management Platform (UCMP) that improves service delivery across integrated voice, data, video and application solutions by providing critical performance information to your executives and technical resources is bringing education certification to the UC industry.

Purpose

Many UC platforms, including hosted UC providers are devaluing network assessments because they slow down the deployment and eliminate some of the end client budget that would go toward the hosted UC subscription.  To articulate and quantify the value of having a qualified partner perform network assessments, Nectar created the Nectar Assessment Partner Program.

The Nectar Assessment Partner Program is a specific partner designation, indicating a partner is capable of:
  • Selling the value of a Network Assessment
  • Architecting a Network Assessment
  • Deploying Perspective (Controller & Agents)
  • Running a Perspective Network Assessment
  • Interpreting the Outputs of a Perspective Network Assessment (Qlik-/RIG-based)
A Network Assessment Partner is a Nectar partner that:
  • Has a planning and deployment practice for Avaya, Cisco, and/or Microsoft
  • Has enough network knowledge to effectively assess a network and recommend areas of remediation
  • An advanced Network Assessment Partner would have the ability to remediate for the customer.
  • Has passed the Nectar technical and sales competencies
Learning Plan
To earn the Nectar Assessment Partner designation, a partner must have at least 2 employees pass 5 courses with assessments:

Nectar 101

Nectar 101 is introductory overview of Nectar, our solutions and the value we bring to the market.  Specific topics covered include:
  • Who is Nectar?
  • Why Nectar? (solution value proposition)
  • What is Nectar? (high level module overview)

Perspective 101

Perspective 101 is an extension of Nectar 101 and provides more depth around the Perspective product and its value proposition to the market. Specific topics covered include:
  • Terminology Review
  • Component Roles
  • Typical Deployment Examples
  • Reporting Options

Perspective: Designing for a Network Assessment

Once someone understands the Perspective product, the first step in any successful assessment is an effective design.  This course walks attendees through how to design a network assessment, especially within the context of Skype for Business Online and the Microsoft Skype Operations Framework.  Specific topics covered include:
  • Nectar Network Assessment Partner Program Overview
  • Understanding the Network Assessment
  • Understanding the Customer Environment
    • Understanding the Topology
    • Understanding the Sites
    • Understanding the Users
    • Understanding the Traffic
  • Understanding the End State
  • Designing the Perspective Deployment
    • Components
    • Reference Architectures

Perspective: Deploying for a Network Assessment

After the design has completed and validated, the partner can deploy the necessary components and run the network assessment.  This course covers the practical aspects of deploying the solution and running a network assessment.  Specific topics covered include:
  • Deploying the Perspective Controller
  • Deploying a Perspective Agent
  • Configuring and Launching a Perspective Network Assessment
    • Components of A Perspective Network Assessment

Perspective: Interpreting the Results of a Network Assessment

Any assessment is only really as effective as the results it produces, how those results are communicated the end client, and how those results drive effective remediation where necessary.  This final lesson and assessment shows partners how to interpret the results of a Perspective network assessment in a way that is meaningful to their clients. Specific topics covered include:
  • Review and Confirmation Configured Sessions
  • Advanced Analytics
  • RIG-based Reports
Nectar is a global market leader in providing the most comprehensive monitoring and diagnostics software solution for Unified Communication services, enables IT and operation organizations to proactively ensure the end-user experience. Its flagship offering, the Unified Communications Management Platform (UCMP), improves visibility and service delivery across integrated voice, video and data application solutions by providing unique and critical performance information. Nectar provides monitoring and diagnostics for millions of enterprise endpoints to over 1,400 enterprises in over 86 countries-including some of the largest global banking, search engine, service provider, healthcare, and manufacturing organizations in the world.
Bottom-line – Knowing what you are doing is more than a must-have for yourself it is something that customers rely upon to keep them in business, I applaud Nectar’s approach and educational leadership.
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IBM Seriously Smart UC  
IBM and Genband are really full-on with global UC solutions delivery.  Here are a few excerpts from their announcements and links to IBM solutions.  They offer to:

– Build on an open, cloud-based mobile collaboration platform designed for hybrid cloud, so you can integrate existing investments. Deploy it recognizing that mobile is how most people today interact with each other and with content. And ensure that your apps don’t just work-they should work even better together.

– Integrate data sources and conversations from virtually everywhere.  The right open platform makes it easier to integrate existing technology and data from across and outside the organization. Create a smooth experience regardless of channel or the repositories you use, and enhance context, interactions and decision-making

with outside expertise and data sources such as insights from the weather, medical research or social networks.

– Apply a cognitive approach to high value business activities. Prioritize content and conversations to orient people to what matters most to them. Use natural language and mobile interaction capabilities and extend cognitive functions to your most pressing professional and organizational challenges. Deploy teaming applications and enhancements that understand, reason and learn across the spectrum of individual and team workflows.

– Enable cognitive computing features in your app using IBM Watson’s Language, Vision, Speech and Data APIs.
Bottom-line – Few remember that IBM made and sold PBX’s in Europe in the 1970s and now they are expanding their breadth and depth with complete UC solutions with help from Genband and others.  More choices, more approaches to UC are needed and Watson brings cognitive expert systems within the reach of any user.
 
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Six Core Concepts for Social Media Influencer Program & Webinar

By Evan Kirstel @evankirstel & Tom Cross @techtionary

Abstract

IM-influencer marketing is the means to accelerate revenue, lower costs, organize corporate communications and extend company goodwill to name a few benefits. This article explores these issues and a preview of the webinar (click on any image for details on the webinar) with Evan Kirstel Top Social Media Influencer and Tom Cross.
Here are some of the key points presented and discussed in the webinar with Evan Kirstel along with other key topics including the CEO as the ultimate social influencer and “tweet meets” sales lead generation via social media. The term “influencer marketing” (IM) or key opinion leaders (KOL) is the term often used by social media leaders rather than celebrity or movie/sports/rock star endorsements and other leaders of any kind including business, religious and others. Celebrity or star endorsements are not new but certainly less pronounced in the tech space. If Steve Jobs had survived there is no doubt newer, more exciting and more diverse products would be coming from Apple. His role is not unique as the CEO sets the stage for each company. Yet many tech companies believe that their tech speaks for itself not recognizing the role of advisors, consultants and social media influencers on customer decisions. The role of IM and IM professionals is to help core clients look beyond their own silo of solutions to work with customers and others to build more global solutions. The impact can be significant in reducing sales cycles, improve customer service and ultimately vastly increase overall customer and global experience.
Here is a brief summary and analysis of six key points for IM:

Connections
– create and connect with other social media influencers and guide with monthly “tweetchats.” It is truly amazing how many CEO and others fail really fail to understand that social media is social not broadcast media. Social media almost by definition means engaging with others not just preaching to them. Twitter even more than Linkedin is ideal for connecting with potential customers and engaging with them to solve their needs. IM extends the process by educating and ultimately gaining and retaining them. Customers don’t call you anymore they tweet their grievances and if you ignore them the entire world knows that you don’t care and even more importantly, prospective customers can see that as well. Companies that don’t understand are like companies who didn’t have websites 20 years ago and don’t update them today. In other words, engaging with customers throughout their lifecycle is a must-have approach to business going forward.

Content
– turbocharge your content reaching hundreds of thousands of users on Twitter and tens of thousands on Linkedin.

Content and curation go hand-in-hand as content, rather data only becomes knowledge after a human has understood, analyzed, shared and hopefully used it in decision-making. Big data is often used to suggest that we have too much information or TMI and that AI-artificial intelligence will somehow distill, synthesize or somehow organize it for humans. Yet AI is not a panacea not likely to give you any deeper understanding of the issue than you have now. In influencer marketing (IM) the knowledge of the influencer is always at risk when content from any source big or artificial is used to answer key questions. An influencer of any kind whether sports, movie or tech star will never have enough information to make specific decisions only general assessments and observations. However, to help all those involved get “on the same page” can be accomplished via IM. There is much to-do about IoT-internet of things but will the smart car talk to the smart home and what protocols, terminology and user commands be common to both. This would be the role of IM to organize different and complex systems, protocols and industry forums can help those involved (influenced) build common solutions. Smart companies can use or build IM to build bridges between companies and players to solve customer issues more quickly. This means that constant content research and development should be part of any IM program.

Curation – review and curate company content, provide guidance and enhanced thought leadership via influencer team.

 Curation actually comes from the term caring and now is applied to anything gathered from multiple sources into one place to writing blog posts. Curators organize ideas to help viewers and users gain insights. Curation can come from articles, thought leadership, research and knowledge base sources. Influencer marketing comes from ongoing research into content curation ensuring its real and
not fake news or distorted in anyway, yet add serious analysis and what is often called thought leadership. Without this content becomes useless or worse can cause confusion and conflict. For curation to be effective the context of its use must also always be in-play. Knowing or context or how the content will be used not only aids but accelerates the use and further application as well as pursuit of further curation and the IM can be of value as a real content curator.

Collaboration – collaborate with internal and external social leaders.

Like said so many times, keep your friends close and enemies close most often attributed to Niccolò Machiavelli author of The Price is also filled with priceless concepts on management and collaboration. Collaboration is not just working together but realizing that there will also be a hierarchical approach to management as the CEO and other C-levels will always rule the roost as collaborative they appear to be. Ideas come in, they bubble up, muck about and if merit, a business case emerges. The role of IM in this process is to guide, validate, collaborate and be the “out of the box” viewpoint on the subject. This delicate role is not as arbitrator or buzz-killer but to give input or collaborate as needed.

C-Level
– assist and guide the CXO on their social media efforts along with gaining-retaining followers via CEO Twitter Scoreboard.

The ultimate social influencer is the CEO who as mentioned like Steve Job sets direction, goals and inspiration to insiders and most importantly to outsiders. If Steve Jobs came out with bottled water or fashion line, we would all be drinking and wearing it. The role of social influencer and the CEO should be aligned as the IM can be the ombudsman, foreign correspondent and advocate. As IBM, Huawei, Avaya and others are finding the role of IM helps them in many ways traditional marketing doesn’t and can’t. This is the ultimate value of the influencer to help the CEO in extending their message, bypassing traditional corporate communications with staff and increasingly manage crises.

Concern
– respond to concerns expressed by customers and build and monitor system for sales, supports, IR/PR and compliance issues.

Aside from other gaps in corporate marketing, the IM can also fill-in where others can’t. Notwithstanding regulatory restrictions, IM can be on the forefront in the media where often the business press takes the company to task. IM can be the independent view responding to complex situations such as layoffs, store closing, product failures and other negative situations.

Crisis
– provide crisis response team to address 7×24 tracking to avoid situations such as Target, Wells Fargo, Chipotle and other corporate devastating consequences with live “tweetchats” demonstrating responsiveness.   In case you missed the current political environment, foreign countries are cyberattacking not just political parties but nearly every company or institution that exists. One small school district (state withheld from security reasons) has been attacked by multiple foreign countries repeatedly. If you think you is not going to happen to you, think again. The role of the IM in this area is manage the mess and to guide and assist the client in “damage control.” You can never have enough friends when stuff happens and in the case of what is going on in presidential politics your company needs this more than ever as you may just be a tweet away from brand, customer and/or

stock crisis. That is, cybersecurity attacks are one thing but other political attacks could be much worse. This means you should have an IM team ready and monitoring your business 7×24 so you can wake up and manage any mess.

 

Summary – these and other issues will be presented by Evan and Tom during the webinar. If you need immediate attention, you can visit http://www.evankirstel.com/ or email cross@gocross.com 303-594-1694 to get started and be ready today.

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Linkedin Selling Unified Communications Group – Buyers Welcome
Please join our Linkedin Group if you are selling and even buying UC gear/gizmos/gadgets/gagals and more.  Beyond networking opportunities, news, and educational resources, this group is about helping its members increase sales. Vendors, VARs, Agents and anyone selling and marketing unified communications solutions are welcome. If you are a buyer, you join and see what’s available.
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FonComfort and QuickLink Upgrades
The following new functions and improvements have been added :

FonComfort Professional 2.8.0
– Improved search while transferring: Now lists the most called contacts including 1-click dial function
– Suppress second calls when you are already dialing a number
– FonComfort client now automatically reconnects after losing connection (e.g. notebook in WiFi)
– During transfer, the call window of the called person shows the forwarding person
– Ongoing calls can be expanded to a three-person conference
– DTMF dialing after setting up the connection (e.g. PIN input for accessing a web conference)

FonComfort QuickLink 2.6.0
– Make calls on behalf of others
– Ongoing calls can be expanded to a three-person conference
– FonComfort client now automatically reconnects after losing connection (e.g. notebook in WiFi)

For a demo of either product, click here to email:

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IBM Sees Serious Spike in SIP Security Attacks – Get Seriously SIP Smart Before You Are Hit
IBM Security reports, “There are numerous protocols used in voice-over-IP (VoIP) communications. According to IBM Managed Security Services (MSS) data, the most targeted VoIP protocol is Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which accounted for over 51 percent of the security event activity analyzed in the last 12 months.  In actual attacks on VoIP communications, we note various types of disruption. Spikes in July and September were mostly the result of specially crafted SIP messages that were terminated incorrectly. Persistent, invalid messages are known to cause vulnerable servers and equipment to fail. The spike in October 2016 was largely influenced by SIP messages with invalid characters in the SIP “To” field. These could be reflective of suspicious activity, necessitating further investigation.”  Click on either image for complete article from IBM.


Nothing to SPIT At

When it comes to unsolicited information, we’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with or
reducing email spam in our inbox. But what about spam over internet telephony (SPIT), also known as VoIP spam? These unsolicited, automated phone calls made from internet-provided numbers are just as annoying as junk mail.
VoIP technology allows malicious individuals to conduct caller ID spoofing with minimal cost and effort. This enables attackers to obtain information or facilitate additional scams against their targets. A February report, for example, highlighted issues with certain VoIP phones that had insecure default configurations, which allowed attackers to make, receive and transfer calls, play recordings, upload new firmware and even use victims’ devices for covert surveillance.
VoIP services are also subject to abuses such as toll fraud, which involves taking control of network access to avoid paying for telephone calls. VoIP phone consumers should avoid blindly relying on the manufacturer’s default security settings and use strong passwords.
An attacker can carry out a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack by flooding a company’s telephone service with thousands of junk calls per minute from automated IP dialers. A phone DDoS attack could cripple an organization that relies heavily on its phone systems. The method has even been used to prevent fraud victims from calling their banks
after large sums of money were stolen from their bank accounts.”


Be prepared for SIP attacks by being smart and having a SIP security plan.  Here are just some of the 100+ compelling reasons for attending and achieving certification via the
Certification Corporation Certified SIP Professional program – Click on image for courses.
40+ SBC/Edge and SIP Trunking Security & Troubleshooting
1 – Calljacking*
2 – Jitter/echo
3 – Buffer overflow
4 – CODEC mismatch – asynchronous transcoding problems
5 – Audio – choppy, clipped, screeching, robotic, etc.
6 – VAD issues
7 – Noise – White/Pink/Brown
8 – Clipping and Dipping
9 – DSP – serialization
10 – Propagation
Others will be explained and explored in class.
*Like ABC News story on NYT, HuffPost, Twitter are you prepared for DNS IP Highjacking SIP Calljacking attacks prevention, detection and recovery are presented.
52+ SIP Security Recommendations and Solutions to SIP Attacks
1 – Malformed message attacks
2 – SPIT-SPam over Internet Telephony
– Robocalling SPIT
3 – Memory “leak” buffer overflow attacks
4 – VOMIT-Voice Over Misconfigured Telephony
5 – DOS-Denial-of Service attacks (overload, part SYN, FIN)
6 – TDoS – Telephony Denial of Service attack
– Part of an extortion scheme
– Spoofed Caller IDs to hide their origin
7 – Eavesdropping
8 – Masquerading (Trojan Horses) as a phone, user, server, as a customer
9 – Media injection – insertion of audio/video (hate – xrated) into call flow
10 – SIP redirect – fork call forwarding to another location
Others will be explained and explored in class.


10 Business/Customer Reasons
1 – Increase the revenue “uptake” or performance level cycle
2 – Increase the speed of sale or implementation
3 – Provide a more comprehensive strategic view of project scope
4 – Reduce customer support costs
5 – Increase customer satisfaction
6 – Increase user service/product usability-acceptance
7 – Increase customer retention
8 – Demonstrates company commitment to education and professionalism
9 – Demonstrates career commitment
10 – Increase employer value to stakeholders
for more or call 303-594-1694 for registration in Boulder or inhouse class at your location.  These courses are Made in the USA !
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Cognitive UC “Think” 

IBM WOW-World of Watson hit like a hurricane with exciting new products, partner solutions and a new view of the way we about “think” everything.  Yes, that’s a picture of Thomas J. Watson along with his father built IBM into the powerhouse and the legacy lives in their namesake of IBM Watson.
One of the more interesting session was on Telecom.  Without diving into all the terms cognitive computing is the most relevant to Watson and where AI-artificial intelligence is going.  Cognitive computing was a top topic as IBM’s Watson took center stage on all kind of issues including unified communications.  Yet what is cognitive computing?  Here is one answer – Cognitive issues are similar to the physical issues; they relate to the integration of complex symbols, language, visuals, and other fuzzy factors. The integration of historical influences with genetic characteristics also takes place on the cognitive level. In machine terms, the influences are not only historical but also futuristic, and include the ability to imagine future situations, not only as an extension of known facts but also as a projection of the unknown.  If you thought this would be easy.  It is not.  Nor is any part of AI-artificial intelligence.   Watson is a “work in progress” or always “under construction” as humans we are never satisfied to know what we know; we always want to know more.   This means Watson is going to have to run to keep up.

As Quincy Allen CMO of IBM Cloud noted, “World of Watson spotlights the future of cognitive computing. But cognitive apps are here. They’re delivering powerful insights and amazing experiences, on IBM Cloud. Take the Seiko M-Tracer Golf Swing Analyzer, an app that connects with IBM Cloud to let golfers immediately analyze performance data like attack angle, club path and club head speed. Or take the app Walk and Explore New York, a personalized tour guide that customizes an itinerary just for you. If Watson predicts bad weather will affect your trip, it will automatically adjust your itinerary.”

Automate customer interactions

Watson and really any form of AI is really hardly more than asking Siri or any other voice AI app where should you go for dinner. However not knowing that you hate Italian, it would like suggest a place you would not go to.  However, here is a bottom-line bot — Create a bot powered by natural language understanding in minutes, then deploy via multiple channels and devices, such as messaging platforms like Slack, mobile devices/SMS, and even physical robots.  In other words, Watson is a co-pilot not a pilot for your work.  AI bots and the like will learn from you and then be more help with the range they know about.  They like humans are not psychic so don’t expect them to do things they don’t understand when often you don’t understand them either.

Bottom-line – Watson isn’t the only technology that IBM and others are working on.  It’s a vast array of issues and there will likely be millions of apps (maybe a few less) to solve even the smallest problem in your daily life.  Here is a roadmap of what IBM is up to.

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Denial of Service Attacks DDoS Simplified

Yes, DDoS-Distributed Denial of Service attacks are on the rise largely due to the press and politics driving hacking of the Democratic National Committee reportedly but not confirmed by unknown and unnamed Russian attackers.  However, they are coming to your website so you need to know what they are and have a plan not just to respond but thwart them before they start.

Here’s the basics.  TCP sets up with the Destination Port number via SYNchronizes the connection, manages the transmission of data sending SEQuences (parts), sends an ACKnowlegement to confirm receipt of data  and when FINished disconnects the session.
Here’s a self-repeating view of the complete process.  This explains the TCP set up process, how firewalls provide TCP port filtering, the TCP “sliding window” process and TCP FINish.  Click on the image for an animated tutorial.

The remainder of this tutorial explains the consequences of hacker attacks.  Hacker comes from the term hack which is slang that software programmers use to describe writing computer programs.  Cracker comes from safe/vault crackers to break/crack into a vault safe.  White Hat Hacker is a good or trusted programmer and Black Hat is a bad or untrusted disgruntled person whose desire is to cause injury or disrupt computer systems.  Grey Hat is a programmer of uncertain intent.
Hacker sends TCP-Transmission Control Protocol SYN-Synchronize message from a friendly site or “spoofed” with internal IP-Internet Protocol Address.
If target site is 198.20.0.0, hacker may send 198.20.0.255.
In other words, hacker(s) appears to be internal or friendly users.
DOS-Denial Of Service begins with a hacker who sends TCP-Transmission Control Protocol SYN-Synchronize message from a friendly site or “spoofed” with internal IP-Internet Protocol Address. If target site is 198.20.0.0, hacker may send 198.20.0.255. In other words, hacker(s) appears to be internal or friendly users.  Target (victim) responds with TCP ACK-SYN ACK-Acknowledgement – SYN-SYNchronize message.  In other words, target (victim) treats hacker as a friendly visitor or internal user. There is typically a 40 second window while the receiver (victim) waits to receive an ACKnowledgement from the sender.  This is a normal TCP process while the receiver waits to begin data transmission.  During this time, up to 8 sessions can be created.  If more than 8 sessions are created, then blockage occurs.  The sending of multiple TCP-SYNchronize messages is often called SYN-Flooding or DoS-Denial Of Service.  NOTE: Newer systems support more than 8 sessions and the wait window is often shorter.
In some cases of DoS-Denial of Service the target victim is bombarded with ping reflections from all the systems at the directed broadcast address.
The result is that not just one system but two or more systems may be attacked.
This is also called DDoS-Distributed DoS.
Too many simultaneous requests can cause system failure and/or users cannot get access causing DENIAL OF SERVICE.
IoT Driven DDoS Attacks
In simple terms, here’s how your cable modem, baby monitor, IP video camera, WiFi coffee makers or other devices often referred to as IoT-internet of things can be used to accelerate DDoS attacks.  Hackers use “brute force” attacks on these devices which often have weak passwords such as password123, cable123, etc.  By trying again and again, hackers try thousands of passwords until they get access.  Once they get access they can use these devices just like your PC to attempt to access a victim website.  Doing this with thousands of other devices, they attempt or succeed in blocking one or even thousands of websites.  There are many approaches you can use to possibly prevent them such as honeypots and other diversionary approaches.  It is way beyond the scope of this tutorial to suggest all of them but be prepared especially as you put all your “eggs in one basket” with voice et al. on your internet circuits and you should be very ready for “calljacking” the insertion of unwanted, malicious and damaging content or redirection to other locations.
If you want to know more you will have to take the class to find out.  Click on the image to get SIP smart.
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Machine Learning UC

Usually tech PR is just more “my tech is better than other tech.”  However, as we move from just talking to chatting, video, multi-media, VR/AR and more we need to explore how rather than just using NLP-natural language processing to “parse” sentences, is understand what a dog rather than cat is, we need to know more about machine learning and understanding of visual content.  Qualcomm says, “Moving video analytics processing from the server to the camera at the point of capture opens up a new class of ‘conscious cameras’ with tremendous benefits in terms of reduced data streams, better image recognition and immediate alerts and actions,” Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.  “With advanced connectivity, and computing technologies incorporated into the camera right at the point of capture, we push more intelligence to the edge, allowing deep learning to support highly accurate object recognition.”

Qualcomm also has a video analytics manager API and connected camera Software Development Kit (SDK): A feature-rich set of camera processing and analytics software capabilities including multi-stream, overlay, video HDR, temporal noise reduction, low bit rate codecs, voice activation, face detection and recognition, intelligent motion detection and object tracking. With such intelligence on the camera, customers can move from expensive, server-based video analytics in the cloud to efficient camera-based analytics. By only streaming data when qualified events happen, the camera platform is designed to reduce network bandwidth requirements and help minimize cloud storage costs.

Note Qualcomm is not saying they have AI or even a camera but the processing power along with a SDK and Linux support to push data to an analytics data to an platform which could be developed into a AI knowledge system.

Bottom-line – Content management and deep understand of image meaning is a long way off because the AI system may see something but not understand the meaning much less what the meaning has to you or any one else.

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IBM Push-SMS-Social Media Integration 
This case study and Best Practices comes from a very interesting white paper from IBM marketing and click on the image for the complete paper.  While I like the paper in general, there are some specific which I have added at the end to reflect differences of opinion and real-live experiences.  You can decide for yourself what works for you.
“Bridgevine, a reseller for cable and telecommunications companies, was challenged with prospective customers not following through with conversions – in this instance, calling in to the call center to schedule an installation appointment. So, the team decided to implement an automated email and SMS campaign with the goal of being more proactive.  Bridgevine placed a short form including both email address and mobile number on its Time Warner microsite. If a prospect completes the form and opts-in to receive future.  communications, but doesn’t immediately schedule an appointment, the individual is automatically placed into an automated re-touch program. In this program, the lead receives an automated SMS and email – both triggered via the IBM Marketing Cloud digital marketing platform – upon submission of the form. The first SMS is delivered within one or two minutes of the form submission. The lead continues to receive automated SMS and email messages for up to three days, unless it becomes a conversion before then. If the prospect in the program calls to schedule an installation appointment, the IBM Marketing Cloud platform is tied to Bridgevine’s call center via an API, therefore automatically removing the prospect from the program. The program has resulted in a 300 percent increase in conversions, with a call-back rate of 33 percent. More than 30 percent of the prospects who provided their email addresses also opted in to the SMS program.
SMS Best Practices
– Promote SMS opt-in across key touch points, including email, POS signs, ads throughout stores or in mall locations, or on transaction receipts.
– Create exclusive content for SMS rather than regurgitating offers you’re communicating through other channels.
– As applicable, build basic SMS programs like Text to Join, Text for Info, Text to Vote, Text to Screen, or Text to Win.
– Engage in a two-way dialogue with customers via interactive campaigns designed to look for specific keywords and respond intelligently.
– Look for ways to integrate SMS into your existing automated campaigns to drive stronger response.
– Send transactional SMS or SMS reminders by leveraging APIs to allow messages to be sent from your own infrastructure.
– Review and analyze aggregate SMS campaign data and use this data to drive more relevant content in both SMS and other channels
Push Best Practices
– Tie mobile data to your users’ profiles to see who they are and how they’ve used your app.
– Leverage app interest data, app interactions, and even average order value to feed automatically into the cloud for a more robust view of your on-the-go audience.
– Achieve a truly closed-loop marketing strategy across all channels by integrating push campaign response information and in-app behaviors with other channel interactions and customer data.
– Send visually rich push notifications with video support to enhance the experience.
– Increase profit margins with targeted marketing actions like “quick click to purchase” or “set a reminder to buy.”
– Send targeted, engaging push notification campaigns that leverage each customer’s unique profile data from all channels, not just mobile.
– Create multi-step and cross-channel automated programs and campaigns for customers at each stage of the application lifecycle.
Social Media Best Practices
– Connect your social media engagement and publishing platform to your systems of record, enabling you to track the social behavior of leads that interact with your brand and use these insights in cross-channel digital marketing campaigns.
– Use social media brand pages and feeds to drive SMS opt-ins and mobile app downloads.
– Offer a social-sign option when contacts are registering/logging in, which reduces the friction on mobile devices.
– Employ social look-alike modeling to find new high-value prospects and advertise your mobile app and SMS programs to them, in addition to driving email opt-ins.
– Look for mobile-friendly social tools, such as Twitter Lead Generation Forms, which bring up a form already populated with the user’s social account data (name, email address, Twitter handle, etc.).
– Communicate social promotions in the in-app inbox of your app downloaders.
– Integrate social and mobile efforts into one coordinated, multichannel marketing effort.
In today’s landscape, there’s a good chance your customers are consuming social content on mobile devices. According to one study, 91 percent of smartphone owners ages 18 to 29 used social networking on their phone, while 55 percent of those 50 and older had done so. Furthermore, integrating social media channels with your mobile marketing can give you the power to turn social insights into action by creating cross-platform dialogues, building stronger advocacy and improving loyalty.”
Bottom-line – Thanks to IBM for writing and researching this white paper.  Indeed, they also spoke of omni-channel marketing coordination between different platforms.  However, the real challenge is that each of them – SMS, push, social media and all the others have their own dynamics.  That is, a blog post is different that a Tweet, SMS or push and the language used can be and should be different.  Each should be used for its function and that means a person must decide what is pushed, texted, tweeted, blogged, etc.  Do you see the problem? When you add in location marketing like “we see you are in aisle 5 would you like to buy ….” or “if you come to our store instead we will give you 20% off on anything you buy.”  The permutations and content message options are boggling.  Adding in cultural and even geographic language issues one need be very careful to engage, not alienate.  No doubt a cloud platform is a must-have and even IBM Watson might be helpful, however, this is where AI (read my book) will likely fail us and in our marketing efforts as purchasing habits will always be personal and ever-changing.
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Blockchain: The Future of Democracy In Technology
By Evan Kirstel @evankirstel
This week I had the opportunity to attend the Blockchain World Congress in NYC, focused on the underlying technology behind Bitcoin which has the potential to be one of the most exciting technological advances of this century.
Blockchain is disrupting the financial sector and has the ability to disrupt all major markets, including supply chain, logistics, retail, legal, entertainment, energy and power, and many more.
Blockchain is a peer-to-peer network where data is processed, validated, verified, secured at each step or peer rather than a single administrative authority. Each transaction is passed along from one peer to the next which can data is validated and then pass along until it reaches the receiver. This peering architecture is ideal for all kinds of business transactions and encompasses IoT-internet of things where things which depend more on connecting with other peers than one authority.

However, blockchain technology remains nascent. During its ongoing rapid development, significant obstacles arise even as minor and major advances are being made on a regular basis.
Here are just a few of the many benefits:
– Reduce transaction processing time significantly
– Reduce risk of data and financial loss
– Reduce risk of data hijacking via public and private encryption
– Reduce administrative and overhead costs
– Simplification of business processes
– Improved scalability
– Allow for both public and private Blockchains
Nitin Gauer, Director of an IBM team helping make Blockchain real for business noted that banking and finance markets are driving adoption, removing key obstacles to adoption for other industries:

The distributed ledger technology is set to transform the financial industry and change the way banks conduct global payments. Moreover, it holds massive potential to change other sectors, such as retail, healthcare, agriculture, legal, and logistics.

Meanwhile investment in the technology is continuously growing as well. As of the first quarter of 2016, the investment in bitcoin and blockchain companies surpassed $1 billion.

Blockchain technology growth is accelerating because it based on a very simple concept of blocks of data connected via an ever-extending chain links which track and enforce encryption and security. Blockchain like any supply chain can take many forms and support any industry. For example, Bitcoin uses Blockchain (1) and in high-speed stock trading where security, performance and reliability is also vital, NASDAQ (2) is going to use “Blockchain technology to assist in expediting trade clearing and settlement from the current equity market standards of three days to as little as ten minutes. As a result, settlement risk exposure can be reduced by over 99 percent, dramatically lowering capital costs and systemic risk. In addition, this technology could allow issuers to significantly lower the risk and the administrative burden of what is largely a manual and multi-step process today.” Another example is in health care and research where trust in research is often and should always be verified. As researcher put it, Blockchain is a “tamper-proof public ledger” which all can access and once data is entered into the ledger is nearly impossible to tamper with. The authors also noted, “we confirm the use of Blockchain as a low cost, independently verifiable method that could be widely and readily used to audit and confirm the reliability of scientific studies.” (3) The authors went on to demonstrate an example where the cost was free taking less than five minutes to complete and verified as accurate. (3)

The Linux Foundation is spearheading the development of “open standards” approach to Blockchain called the Hyperledger Project to create an open standard for distributed ledgers for a new generation of transactional applications. With more than 80 major companies as members and more joining weekly, Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, commented about Blockchain, “Peer-to-peer in nature, distributed ledger technology is shared, transparent and decentralized, making it ideal for application in finance and countless other areas such as manufacturing, banking, insurance and the Internet of Things.” The Hyperledger Project will address “cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers.” (4)

Here are, among other things, some key points of Hyperledger:
– Peer-to-peer networking
– Distributed “ledger” technology
– Open source
– Scalability
– Establish means for trust and transparency
Chris Ferris, IBM Distinguished Engineer, CTO Open Technology, and Technical Steering Committee Chair, Hyperledger Project, noted “By providing a community for members to collaborate and contribute to an open source Blockchain solution, we’re able to advance the technology collectively and ultimately drive quicker adoption and higher value across industries.”
However, before you think everyone is onboard with this issue, Blockchain will take enormous education and integration with legacy enterprise IT systems whether they be financial or an industry. If you want to get involved, jump in and join Hyperledger Project”
Blockchain is an exciting new approach to democracy in technology from devices, systems and authorities to collaborate on “open source” standards as well providers to build into viable business solutions which users can trust at a very low cost.
(1)   Bits on blocks – https://bitsonblocks.net/2015/09/09/a-gentle-introduction-to-blockchain-technology/
(2)   http://ir.nasdaq.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=948326
(3)   How blockchain-timestamped protocols could improve the trustworthiness of medical science http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4866630/
(4) Open Source Blockchain Effort for the Enterprise http://www.telecomreseller.com/2016/04/20/open-source-blockchain-effort-for-the-enterprise/

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AI Social and Contextual UC #392 – Understanding Skype Biz Call Recording – Hash News Gram App Approved – Oracle AI

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April 7 – 2017 – Issue #392

 

AI Forum – Exploring the Wild World of Artificial Intelligence and other Communications, Mobile, Contextual-Intelligence and other communications companies.
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#HashNewsGram App Approved 
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.”
 
#HashNewsGram is a Twitter #hashtag gathering app for iPhone.  You can select your favorite topics and put them in folders/subfolders and organize your Twitter newsfeed.  Then tap on Folders to see all folder/subfolder and see the posts.

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Skype for Business Call Recording
Call recording is a growing “must-have” for nearly every company from customer service to regulatory/compliance issues.  One reader told me “we record everything and save it FOREVER.”  Here is a solution from Audiocodes.  Anyone who calls a customer service or tech support line has gotten that “this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes” announcement in their lifetime.  That typically means that the contact center you called has a recording system and most likely will record your call, whether it’s to understand how their employees handle customer calls or possibly by law to meet specific compliance purposes.  The expansion of Skype for Business in the enterprise is slowly replacing the traditional phone system and the number of options to record calls is limited to a few companies.  With such a narrow choice of products, why should you record your Skype for Business calls?
The answers are simple.  I’ve outlined a few bullets that will help you decide on whether you should record or not.
 
Protection – Any verbal transaction that involves your company and a customer or partner should always be recorded.  A recording will protect your company and employees during verbal monetary transactions, no matter how big or how small the transaction is.  Further, in cases where specific laws take place, such as financial investments or order by phone, it is required by law to record the conversation.  More importantly, even if it’s a casual conversation between an employee and customer, the minute a commitment is involved, the conversation should be recorded.  This will help in cases of disputes where the customer or employee may make a claim of “he said, she said”.  Recordings don’t lie, the conversation can simply be played back and the dispute can be settle.  Even in cases where there is no contact center, like in finance for instance, your finance administrator may not speak with customers on a regular basis but at times calls might get escalated to them.  In these situations, wouldn’t it be great to recording the conversation so that there are no discrepancies?  By using Record on Demand, the conversation can be recorded and saved for future reference.
Understanding Your Customer – By recording conversations between your employees and customers, the organization can get a better picture of how it communicates with its customers and how its employees are positioning the company and its products.  Sampling conversations can easily provide a picture of what your customers are looking for, or perhaps outline areas of improvement for your organization.  Sometimes it’s not what the customers says, but rather how the customer says it or implies it.  You can’t get that from your employee.  They can only provide you a recollection of what was said, and in their view only.  Recordings provide an unbiased view of the conversation where management can make informed decisions.
Compliance – Compliance is at the forefront of every conversation in the enterprise.  Many companies have Compliance Officers that manage communications between the firm and its customers.  With the expansion of data breaches, hacking oblog.af technology and identity theft, compliance laws have been implemented over the past few years to protect consumer information such as personal financial information (social security numbers, credit card information, etc.) and even healthcare information from being exposed.  Further, laws such as MAD II (Market Abuse and Market Manipulation) which protects the consumer from misleading or misguided information on financial investment vehicles.  MAD II manages the company’s sales practices and protects the company from disreputable trades.  Other compliance laws such as MIFID II, which is scheduled to be implemented in the European Union in July 2017 stretches the compliance monitoring standard from investment brokers to sales, administrative personnel and certified financial planners.  So, the expansion of compliance is requiring that conversations or basically any communication with the consumer be recorded.  With that requirement, Skype for Business users must have both voice and chat (IM) sessions recorded to protect the consumer and allow the firm to monitor the activity of their employees.
SmartTAP is AudioCodes Skype for Business recording platform.  Built specifically to support Skype for Business, SmartTAP provides a secure, tamper proof environment to record both voice and chat sessions, either consistently, or on a Record on Demand / Save on Demand basis. Through SmartTAP’s Media Server protection, Skype for Business calls are never exposed to the internet, thus adding another layer of protection from outside intrusion.  SmartTAP also stores voice and chat sessions in an encrypted environment, with a Digital Signature added, where original recordings can never be touched.  Expanding SmartTAP throughout the organization is easy by deploying the Skype for Business Toolbar that embeds directly into the Skype for Business client.  Tagging calls, recording calls on demand are made easy by simply selecting the SmartTAP option on the Skype for Business client.  These capabilities only scratch the surface of what SmartTAP can do for your Skype for Business deployment.  Click on image for more information.
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Oracle Gets AI

Oracle put together are a great paper on AI.  While I don’t agree that it is “AI” since everyone uses that term to describe nearly anything.  However, I like the graphics which create a sense of understand for how they are approaching the issue. Here goes.
Data and Context-Driven
– Process enormous amounts of web-scale data in real-time and synthesizes context to deliver the best and most personalized outcomes.
– Action-Oriented and Omni-Channel
– Anticipate user behaviors and deliver actionable and individualized outcomes. Data and events are tracked from everywhere so recommendations are coordinated across channels.
– Continuously Adaptive and Self-Learning

– Continuously improves outcomes as the system reacts, learns and adapts. There is a value exchange between the end user and the adaptive intelligent app-the more the end user interacts, the more value they receive.

Built for Business Users

Immediate value out of the box, with no need for a legion of data scientists!

Adaptive
Learn from your behavior and “others like you” in the moment.
React, change, and adapt based on continued use-click by click.

Deliver increasingly relevant and optimized outcomes in real-time.

Intelligent
Process and derive insights from web-scale 3rd-party data.
Synthesize context: weather, life events, real-time actions, social activity, and much more.
Identify and serve up-in real-time-the best individualized outcomes.
Bottom-line – Doubt there will ever be really good AI to pass the “Turing Test” well enough to even help but doesn’t mean that the IT industry will not continue to spend 100s of billions on the pursuit of the “Holy Grail” and what it might mean.  Like conquering space, people will “keep on trucking” in hopes of something that users can use maybe even buy.  If you saw the Pepsi TV ad with Kendall Jenner this week, I doubt that anyone at Pepsi or even the greatest AI system could have predicted the terrible public reaction and PR debacle.
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AudioCodes Adds Huddle Room Tech

The majority of meeting spaces in a typical enterprise are small rooms that can accommodate up to six persons. AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution is a cost-effective solution ranging from two-person huddle rooms up to 15-person small group meeting spaces
The solution delivers:
– Familiar user experience base on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Familiar user experience based on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Fully managed by the AudioCodes Managed IP Phone solution for efficient deployment and ongoing IT operationsBottom-line – Huddle spaces or quick meetings are key to faster communications.  Adding solutions to make these types of meetings more effective and efficient is always appreciated.
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Amazon Takes on Cloud Contact Center 
If global domination is not enough, Amazon Web Services wants to tackle contact centers.  Like with any major player they will find that being able to do something, does not mean you should. Here is what they have to say for themselves. Click on image for video. Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. Amazon Connect is based on the same contact center technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations. The self-service graphical interface in Amazon Connect makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics – no specialized skills required. There are no up-front payments or long-term commitments and no infrastructure to manage with Amazon Connect; customers pay by the minute for Amazon Connect usage plus any associated telephony services.
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Apple “Clips” Taking on Snapchat, Instagram and …

Well, yet another “pic” app which the world does not need.  Apple says “Introducing Clips. A new iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more. One cool feature is Live Titles let you easily create animated captions – just by talking as you record. Choose from a variety of styles, all perfectly timed to the sound of your voice.

Bottom-line – Seriously too many pic apps and encouraging so many more bad pics and even more apps.
 
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Workflow Now Part of the Apple Orchard

Workflow is your personal automation tool, enabling you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create powerful workflows for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Workflow includes over 200 actions, including those for Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud Drive, and Health, to name a few.

For example, you can use Workflow to:
– Make animated GIFs
– Add a home screen icon that calls a loved one
– Make PDFs from Safari or any app with a share sheet
– Get directions to the nearest coffee shop in one tap
– Tweet the song you’re listening to
– Get all of the images on a web page
– Send a message including the last screenshot you took

– And so much more…

Your workflow creations can be launched from inside the Workflow app, from other apps using Workflow’s Action Extension, or from our new lightning-fast Today Widget. You can even export a workflow as a standalone app on your home screen.

Workflow opens up infinite possibilities of what you can do with your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.
Bottom-line – Another app in search of a user, however, with the Big Apple Corporate buying them, well another app gets a nice new parent.  Seriously, has anyone used this app?
 
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Free Visual Traceroute
 
In case you don’t have one or need a new one, here’s a cool free one.

 
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Enterprise Enters CPaas Business

Bandwidth.com ordered up a cool white paper on CPasS and its time for even the SMB to get serious about this approach.  It’s a long paper so click on the image and read yourself.  Here is just a few paragraphs of the highlights.  “For enterprise-class CPaaS providers, the ability to reliably deliver communications services is reflected in a willingness to guarantee their solutions with service-level agreements (SLA). Under the typical terms of a SLA, the provider will ensure the uptime and reliability of their CPaaS services in writing, with financial penalties for failing to maintain these metrics. The ability to offer a SLA is in stark contrast to many of the over the-top CPaaS offerings, which can only provide a best-effort level of service, with little guarantee that an API-driven connection will be available or sustained. Service-level agreements represent a provider’s confidence that their service will meet or exceed their customer’s needs and expectations.

Dedicated Operations Teams
Many of the CPaaS providers in the market operate in much the same way as the app developers they are supporting. With limited resources, ongoing operations and customer support consist largely of community-based support; in some cases, basic helpdesk services, email-driven support tickets and limited phone support are made available. However, for medium businesses and larger enterprises, dedicated support and operations teams, around-the-clock support and status updates are the norm. Enterprise-class CPaaS providers distinguish themselves from the rest of the CPaaS market by offering support structures that match the expectations of their typical customers, with dedicated support representatives for larger accounts, 24×7
network operations centers (NOC) and technical operations support.”

Bottom-line – Many Fortune 100 have long been their own “telco” and now that this approach is more scalable, affordable and practical, if you have 1,000 users time to be your own provider.  Time for providers to wake up and smell the bandwidth.


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Chatbots or Tiny “Borgbots” in Disguise

Not ever wanting to take the thunder from a great writer, here is just 1 of 5 key points on building chatbots.  It is a great article by Natalie Skarzynski but the section most relevant to UCaaS is this section.  Specifically the role of humans and chatbots in a customer support role.

4. When will the chatbot escalate to a human? 

“Even the most sophisticated bot will eventually encounter a problem it cannot solve. That’s why it is crucial to determine those limits, and decide what will happen when your chatbot reaches one of them.
An escalation to a human agent might be triggered when a customer:
  • Requests a phone or video call
  • Uses language that indicates frustration or anger
  • Asks the same question multiple times
  • References a potentially sensitive or dangerous issue, such as an allergic reaction or a medical emergency
  • Asks a question the bot doesn’t know how to answer
In some of the above examples, the bot is called upon to infer an aspect of the customer’s situation or state of mind based on something they have said. Sentiment analysis, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning play an important role here. For instance, the customer may describe their symptoms instead of saying the exact words, “I’m having an allergic reaction.” The bot must be smart enough to recognize what’s happening and escalate the customer to a human.
And when the hand-off happens, brands must ensure a seamless transition. Best practices include:
  • Allowing the customer to continue the conversation using the same channel
  • Avoiding asking the customer to repeat their story (since two-thirds of consumers say they are extremely frustrated by having to repeat information across multiple channels, according to data from Accenture)
  • Enabling the customer service rep to pick up where the bot left off by providing them with relevant context and interaction history
Another aspect of escalation to consider: how obvious will it be to your customers when they are talking to a bot vs. a human? Depending on your objectives, you may want to explicitly tell customers they are communicating with a bot; for instance, if you’re promoting a new animated movie, you could invite people to chat with one of the characters. But if, for example, you’re helping a customer set up Bluetooth in their new car, you may want the entire interaction to feel the same as a conversation with a human.”
Bottom-line – There is no doubt a never-ending supply of technology and seldom developers of all this stuff ever-ever consider that someone has to put this technology to work and work well as well as satisfying users who are organizing a revolt as if you ever ask them, do you need more apps, the answer other than being ready to duck the flying cheery pies headed toward your face is a resounding NO.


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MS Teams Sinks Slack

Slack in spite of their arrogant approach to the marketplace, gained traction as the need for group collaboration has been a “missing link” since the dawn of time.  We built such tools in the 1970s on “cloud” systems then called time-sharing.  Flash forward MS Teams is really cool and is built into Office 365 so makes it a real nice addition. Here are more details.  Click on any image for more.

Microsoft has introduced more than 100 new features to Teams since November, including an enhanced meeting experience, with scheduling capabilities; mobile audio calling, with video calling on Android now and coming soon to iOS and Windows Phone; email integration; and new security and compliance capabilities. The company has also delivered new features to make Microsoft Teams more accessible, such as support for screen readers, and high contrast and keyboard-only navigation. Guest access capabilities and deeper integration with Outlook, and a richer developer platform, are targeted for June of this year. For more details on the new features, go to the Office Blog.

Microsoft Teams brings together people, conversations and content, along with the tools that teams need. It’s integrated with familiar Office applications and is built from the ground up on Office 365 and Microsoft’s global, secured cloud. Microsoft Teams is built on four core promises:
  • Chat for today’s teams. Microsoft Teams provides a modern conversations experience, with threaded, persistent chat to keep everyone engaged. Team conversations can be either private or visible to the entire team, and users can access multiple teams, making it easy to switch between projects.
  • A hub for teamwork. The Office applications and services that teams use every day – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, and OneNote and Power BI- are all built-in, so people have the information and tools they need.
  • Customization for every team. Microsoft Teams offers the ability to customize work spaces with tabs, connectors and bots from third-party partners as well as familiar Microsoft tools like Microsoft Planner and Visual Studio Team Services. More than 150 integrations are available or coming soon, with companies like SAP, Trello, Hipmunk, Growbot and ModuleQ building on the platform.
  • Security teams trust. Microsoft Teams is built on the hyper-scale, enterprise-grade Office 365 cloud, delivering the advanced security and compliance capabilities that customers expect. Teams supports global standards including SOC 1, SOC 2, EU Model Clauses, ISO27001 and HIPAA.

Bottom-line – Slack is toast to be heaped on the pile like WordPerfect, Novell and so many others that MS targeted like the Borg and destroyed.  Slack’s real problem was that they were, IMHO, so arrogant and absorbed like so many startups in their own splendor they failed to realize like the Titanic the “iceberg” in front of them and likely to sink.

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Vonage Meets Alexa – “Alexa, tell conference manager to start my call.”

From Vonage Business, another cool evolvement of the Internet of Things, and it harnesses the power of the cloud (which is what we’re really, really, ridiculously good at). Vonage Conference Manager is actually pretty simple. It works like this:
  • Get an Amazon Echo. Each “smart” meeting room has an Amazon Echo placed in it permanently.
  • Sync the Echo. The Echo is mapped to the physical phone within each room and an organizational directory, which accesses calendars, meeting information and contacts, all through the cloud.
  • Enable Vonage Conference Manager. Once the Echo is synced, the Vonage Conference Manager skill is enabled once through an iPhone or at alexa.amazon.com.
  • Include the room on invites. When you schedule a meeting, be sure to add the room so it knows about the meeting, so you can use the Echo while you’re in the room.
  • Start talking. When it’s time for your meeting to start, just walk into the room and say “Alexa…” to begin. Bam! You’re all set.
Bottom-line – Cool idea can’t wait to try.

 

 

 
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There’s meetings and then there’s meetings via teleconference:
Boring face-to-face = boring via teleconference
After your next meeting, ask a colleague “what did you understand that meeting was about”?   The principal feature of teleconferencing or conferencing technology is that it allows interactive communication and helps everyone get on the same page. Even though participants in a teleconference are geographically separated, they can still meet to “get their heads together.” Unlike unidirectional communication, such as a letter or a television broadcast, in which a person either sends a message without getting any cues from the recipient or is a passive recipient of information, interactive communication allows people to be both senders and receivers of information simultaneously. Interactive communications gives each person the opportunity to initiate and respond to information as the process unfolds.  Teleconference participants can converse, talk things over, negotiate, joke, see one another, and exchange numerical and graphic information. When people use teleconferencing to “meet,” a synergy of minds is created. Users find that a greater sense of involvement and trust develops among people who are using teleconferencing to carry out a project as compared to a project that relies upon unidirectional communication.
Teleconferencing lets more people participate in the decision-making process. Advantages of group decision making, compared to individual decision making, include the availability of a greater range of experience than that held by any one individual, a more diverse set of intellectual approaches and capabilities, and a greater tendency to subject ideas to scrutiny and debate. Decision making is improved with teleconferencing, because it encourages participation of those people who are not directly involved in the decision-making process of a particular project; for example, research and development engineers can participate in a conference about marketing. Teleconferencing also allows people, such as the administrative staff who would not normally attend a distant face-to-face meeting participate in the decision-making process. Their participation ensures that they understand the subject discussed, especially the nuances and overall thrust of the decision-making process, often not captured in a written report of a meeting.  This, in turn, means that the decision is more likely to be implemented efficiently and effectively.  Ultimately the reason why meetings suck is that the presenter is not organized, has no agenda and worse has not planned for gaining and organizing feedback as to what attendees heard or thought they heard.
Making Sure Communications Succeed
I have a saying that I have used for 40 years, “communications will always fail except by chance.”  We think we are communicating when; in fact, communications is a two-way, not one-way, process.  For me to communicate effectively I have to get feedback from you to let me know what you heard and what you think it means to you.
To that end, I appreciate the opportunity to help Boulder Phone, your provider of conferencing services and products, help you to do a better job at communications.  We can help you be less boring and more effective in your communications.  We can help you as a value-added service review your presentations, review your scripts or even help you write them.  Speaking of scripts, we know they work.  Writing a script helps you organize and rehearse your thoughts to help you speak more clearly and focused.  You may not need this kind of help but Boulder Phone wants you to know we can help you not just with the technology but with communications as well.
We offer you this indepth book if you really want to know more about the subject.

 

 
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BusyLight – Stop Office Interruption Insanity  
I really hate open space offices.  Aside from the smelly food and people, constant interruptions cause serious office insanity.  The cool folks at Unified Communications sell BusyLight from Plenom and put together a very funny slide show presentation. You can click on any image for all their slides, here are a few highlights.

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ZoomLite – Siri-enabled Magnifying Camera Flashlight

ZoomLite (click on image for iTunes) is a free iPhone/iPad apps local weather info, camera, large format clock in both digital (see right) and classic formats (see below) and 3-level magnifying flashlight app. It will be also integrated into the next versions of MedsMinders.com and SleepTracs.com.
TO USE: press “Home” iPhone button until Siri comes online & say ZoomLite.  This is really helpful when you need to get up in the middle of the night and instead of fumbling around, you say Zoomlite and you can easily see the time, check the weather, read a meds bottle or just not stumble and fall. Oh, you cannot open the native iPhone flashlight using Siri another advantage of ZoomLite.
You will be able to see weather, large font clock, take a picture and easily read labels, meds bottles, check meds, cuts/sores, household issues and other fine print articles and other hard to read documents or any other reason to see something closeup with 3-step magnifying flashlight.
ZoomLite is one of the many award-winning apps such as Basketball Fans, ReallyReal, Sports Fans Club, Football Fans Club, iSeekSugar, BiEyes, iFlipTips, SleepTracs, iSeekSugar, MedsMinders, RewardsVIPClub, and many others from TECHtionary.
You can find much more at reallyreal.com or techtionary.com.
ZoomLite is also available or private/white and customizing – email cross@gocross.com


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Special – Manager/Assistant Dashboard for Microsoft Skype for Business

FONCOMFORT QuickLink greatly improves call handling efficiency with 1 click actions to call, pickup and transfer calls. The Live Tiles allow users/ managers and admins to quickly see the presence status of their colleagues, if calls are forwarded and if given the rights, to see who they are speaking with. This rich information allows for intelligent decision making and if a manager/person should be interrupted or not when transferring calls.  Click on image for more details.


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AudioCodes Connects Any Closet to Cloud Communications

Read First: Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition makes it possible to connect any existing telephone circuit to Cloud PBX in Office 365 using a single server and minimal configuration. This allows for the user’s voice capability to be managed out of Office 365 while their phone calls continue to use their existing phone number, circuits and PSTN provider contract.

Microsoft’s recently announced Skype for Business Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling offerings continue to have a major impact on the voice ecosystem. However, many companies are hesitant to make an immediate and full transition to the cloud. Microsoft understood this challenge and implemented a strategy to offer a hybrid solution, where cloud-based PBX services are complemented by an enterprise’s existing on-premises PSTN connectivity.

The AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances for Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition integrate with Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition recommended architectures, providing on-premises connectivity infrastructure. Enabling integration with heterogeneous systems and legacy PBXs, which are critical for a smooth migration to the cloud, AudioCodes’ Microsoft-certified SBCs offer enterprise-grade security and reliability.

Additionally, AudioCodes’ SBCs can add value by delivering enhanced features such as advanced dial plan settings, high availability on incoming calls, support for analog devices and support for call recording from the PSTN side. The combined solution of Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition with AudioCodes’ infrastructure ensures a smooth migration for enterprise customers who want to move their users to the latest cloud unified communications platform from Microsoft Office 365, while preserving on-premises connectivity with their local service providers.
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Custom-Curated Newsletter Powered by IBM Watson
Accelerate Sales/Marketing Efforts

 Evan Kirstel announces a new service to help you accelerate sales for your team and channel partners.  I can create a custom curated and company focused newsletter delivering to you actionable information for your own sales team or channel partners.  In addition, via my Twitter team and multiple accounts, I can push that out optionally to
up to 250,000 Twitter followers
to direct prospective customers to your CTA-call to actions, customer-closing content and landing page(s).
To create this exciting information, I use xiQ’s Marketing Intelligence Platform,

powered by IBM Watson. The platform is enterprise-wide and is applied to its global leadership, sales, marketing and industry business unit executives. By implementing the cognitive computing-powered xiQ platform, Genpact is now able to identify real-time market intelligence that further strengthens its ability to support client growth, efficiency and business agility.

Background – “Thought leadership is a key driver of Genpact’s ‘Lean Digital Transformation’ vision,” said Gianni Giacomelli, Chief Marketing Officer and SVP of Product Innovation, at Genpact. “xiQ delivers real-time market intelligence to our leadership team,
reducing the time to process critical information while improving decision making. With xiQ, we have digitalized the process of keeping our teams on the cutting edge, winning customer confidence and driving business growth.”
xiQ’s Marketing Intelligence Platform leverages multiple IBM Watson Alchemy language APIs like Entity, Keyword, and Concept Extraction as well as Sentiment Analysis to help companies like Genpact analyze unstructured data from the Internet, social media and public records. This analysis, combined with xiQ’s other content marketing abilities, empowers sales and marketing teams with real-time insights that can improve engagement with customers and prospects. For example, by tapping into Watson’s Sentiment Analysis service, Genpact can analyze tweets and news from their clients, proactively identify their customer needs, personalize their engagement and enhance their customers’ experience.

Call or DM on Twitter to get started today and accelerate your sales efforts.

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Hololens Adds Live Spectators

Mixed Reality Capture (MRC) to aid in the visualization of holograms that the wearer is seeing from a first-person perspective to connect the experience of someone wearing a HoloLens with that of an audience (whether that audience is 1 person or 100 people) and also allows you to see what the people wearing HoloLens are doing and how they are interacting with their mixed reality experience.  Click on image for more.

Bottom-line – Cool idea love to get one.
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Amazon Chimes-In

As if the world needs yet another web conferencing service which is so overcrowded it’s hard to believe, Amazon never deterred announced their Chime service.

Here are the key features and pricing.
Online Meetings
designed to help you run productive and efficient online meetings from your mobile device or your desktop. Meetings start on time, they’re easy to join with a single tap or click, the visual roster shows who is participating, and anyone can mute background noise. It’s easy to participate, and you can join from anywhere.

Video 
allows you to conduct video conference calls with a single tap or click. You can use video conferencing for up to 16 people on your desktop, or 8 people on mobile devices, with easy to see video tiles displayed on your screen. High-quality wideband audio and high-definition video allow you to focus on the conversation instead of straining to hear what is being said.

 


Chat Rooms
allows you to create Chat Rooms to easily bring groups of people together to work on projects. @Username mentions allow you to alert the right people in the room, and you can share files by simply attaching them to the conversation. Chat Rooms are available on all your devices, and chat history is searchable.
Presence  
uses smart presence to indicate your status, where green means you’re available, and red means you’re busy. You can also manually set your presence to indicate that you’re not available, or hide your presence status entirely.

Bottom-line – Amazon not always wins but they are determined so be prepared.
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NecTECH: Nectar Assessment Partner – Know More Support More

Nectar Expands its Certified Advanced Assessment Partner Program with Learning Plan – click on image for website

As Doug Green Editor/Publisher of TelecomReseller once said, “you can’t sell what you don’t know.”  Same is true in nearly every aspect of a business.  You need to know a lot to support a lot and Nectar Services, an innovator in unified communications with their Unified Communication Management Platform (UCMP) that improves service delivery across integrated voice, data, video and application solutions by providing critical performance information to your executives and technical resources is bringing education certification to the UC industry.

Purpose

Many UC platforms, including hosted UC providers are devaluing network assessments because they slow down the deployment and eliminate some of the end client budget that would go toward the hosted UC subscription.  To articulate and quantify the value of having a qualified partner perform network assessments, Nectar created the Nectar Assessment Partner Program.

The Nectar Assessment Partner Program is a specific partner designation, indicating a partner is capable of:
  • Selling the value of a Network Assessment
  • Architecting a Network Assessment
  • Deploying Perspective (Controller & Agents)
  • Running a Perspective Network Assessment
  • Interpreting the Outputs of a Perspective Network Assessment (Qlik-/RIG-based)
A Network Assessment Partner is a Nectar partner that:
  • Has a planning and deployment practice for Avaya, Cisco, and/or Microsoft
  • Has enough network knowledge to effectively assess a network and recommend areas of remediation
  • An advanced Network Assessment Partner would have the ability to remediate for the customer.
  • Has passed the Nectar technical and sales competencies
Learning Plan
To earn the Nectar Assessment Partner designation, a partner must have at least 2 employees pass 5 courses with assessments:

Nectar 101

Nectar 101 is introductory overview of Nectar, our solutions and the value we bring to the market.  Specific topics covered include:
  • Who is Nectar?
  • Why Nectar? (solution value proposition)
  • What is Nectar? (high level module overview)

Perspective 101

Perspective 101 is an extension of Nectar 101 and provides more depth around the Perspective product and its value proposition to the market. Specific topics covered include:
  • Terminology Review
  • Component Roles
  • Typical Deployment Examples
  • Reporting Options

Perspective: Designing for a Network Assessment

Once someone understands the Perspective product, the first step in any successful assessment is an effective design.  This course walks attendees through how to design a network assessment, especially within the context of Skype for Business Online and the Microsoft Skype Operations Framework.  Specific topics covered include:
  • Nectar Network Assessment Partner Program Overview
  • Understanding the Network Assessment
  • Understanding the Customer Environment
    • Understanding the Topology
    • Understanding the Sites
    • Understanding the Users
    • Understanding the Traffic
  • Understanding the End State
  • Designing the Perspective Deployment
    • Components
    • Reference Architectures

Perspective: Deploying for a Network Assessment

After the design has completed and validated, the partner can deploy the necessary components and run the network assessment.  This course covers the practical aspects of deploying the solution and running a network assessment.  Specific topics covered include:
  • Deploying the Perspective Controller
  • Deploying a Perspective Agent
  • Configuring and Launching a Perspective Network Assessment
    • Components of A Perspective Network Assessment

Perspective: Interpreting the Results of a Network Assessment

Any assessment is only really as effective as the results it produces, how those results are communicated the end client, and how those results drive effective remediation where necessary.  This final lesson and assessment shows partners how to interpret the results of a Perspective network assessment in a way that is meaningful to their clients. Specific topics covered include:
  • Review and Confirmation Configured Sessions
  • Advanced Analytics
  • RIG-based Reports
Nectar is a global market leader in providing the most comprehensive monitoring and diagnostics software solution for Unified Communication services, enables IT and operation organizations to proactively ensure the end-user experience. Its flagship offering, the Unified Communications Management Platform (UCMP), improves visibility and service delivery across integrated voice, video and data application solutions by providing unique and critical performance information. Nectar provides monitoring and diagnostics for millions of enterprise endpoints to over 1,400 enterprises in over 86 countries-including some of the largest global banking, search engine, service provider, healthcare, and manufacturing organizations in the world.
Bottom-line – Knowing what you are doing is more than a must-have for yourself it is something that customers rely upon to keep them in business, I applaud Nectar’s approach and educational leadership.
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IBM Seriously Smart UC  
IBM and Genband are really full-on with global UC solutions delivery.  Here are a few excerpts from their announcements and links to IBM solutions.  They offer to:

– Build on an open, cloud-based mobile collaboration platform designed for hybrid cloud, so you can integrate existing investments. Deploy it recognizing that mobile is how most people today interact with each other and with content. And ensure that your apps don’t just work-they should work even better together.

– Integrate data sources and conversations from virtually everywhere.  The right open platform makes it easier to integrate existing technology and data from across and outside the organization. Create a smooth experience regardless of channel or the repositories you use, and enhance context, interactions and decision-making

with outside expertise and data sources such as insights from the weather, medical research or social networks.

– Apply a cognitive approach to high value business activities. Prioritize content and conversations to orient people to what matters most to them. Use natural language and mobile interaction capabilities and extend cognitive functions to your most pressing professional and organizational challenges. Deploy teaming applications and enhancements that understand, reason and learn across the spectrum of individual and team workflows.

– Enable cognitive computing features in your app using IBM Watson’s Language, Vision, Speech and Data APIs.
Bottom-line – Few remember that IBM made and sold PBX’s in Europe in the 1970s and now they are expanding their breadth and depth with complete UC solutions with help from Genband and others.  More choices, more approaches to UC are needed and Watson brings cognitive expert systems within the reach of any user.
 
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Six Core Concepts for Social Media Influencer Program & Webinar

By Evan Kirstel @evankirstel & Tom Cross @techtionary

Abstract

IM-influencer marketing is the means to accelerate revenue, lower costs, organize corporate communications and extend company goodwill to name a few benefits. This article explores these issues and a preview of the webinar (click on any image for details on the webinar) with Evan Kirstel Top Social Media Influencer and Tom Cross.

Here are some of the key points presented and discussed in the webinar with Evan Kirstel along with other key topics including the CEO as the ultimate social influencer and “tweet meets” sales lead generation via social media. The term “influencer marketing” (IM) or key opinion leaders (KOL) is the term often used by social media leaders rather than celebrity or movie/sports/rock star endorsements and other leaders of any kind including business, religious and others. Celebrity or star endorsements are not new but certainly less pronounced in the tech space. If Steve Jobs had survived there is no doubt newer, more exciting and more diverse products would be coming from Apple. His role is not unique as the CEO sets the stage for each company. Yet many tech companies believe that their tech speaks for itself not recognizing the role of advisors, consultants and social media influencers on customer decisions. The role of IM and IM professionals is to help core clients look beyond their own silo of solutions to work with customers and others to build more global solutions. The impact can be significant in reducing sales cycles, improve customer service and ultimately vastly increase overall customer and global experience.
Here is a brief summary and analysis of six key points for IM:

Connections
– create and connect with other social media influencers and guide with monthly “tweetchats.” It is truly amazing how many CEO and others fail really fail to understand that social media is social not broadcast media. Social media almost by definition means engaging with others not just preaching to them. Twitter even more than Linkedin is ideal for connecting with potential customers and engaging with them to solve their needs. IM extends the process by educating and ultimately gaining and retaining them. Customers don’t call you anymore they tweet their grievances and if you ignore them the entire world knows that you don’t care and even more importantly, prospective customers can see that as well. Companies that don’t understand are like companies who didn’t have websites 20 years ago and don’t update them today. In other words, engaging with customers throughout their lifecycle is a must-have approach to business going forward.

Content
– turbocharge your content reaching hundreds of thousands of users on Twitter and tens of thousands on Linkedin.

Content and curation go hand-in-hand as content, rather data only becomes knowledge after a human has understood, analyzed, shared and hopefully used it in decision-making. Big data is often used to suggest that we have too much information or TMI and that AI-artificial intelligence will somehow distill, synthesize or somehow organize it for humans. Yet AI is not a panacea not likely to give you any deeper understanding of the issue than you have now. In influencer marketing (IM) the knowledge of the influencer is always at risk when content from any source big or artificial is used to answer key questions. An influencer of any kind whether sports, movie or tech star will never have enough information to make specific decisions only general assessments and observations. However, to help all those involved get “on the same page” can be accomplished via IM. There is much to-do about IoT-internet of things but will the smart car talk to the smart home and what protocols, terminology and user commands be common to both. This would be the role of IM to organize different and complex systems, protocols and industry forums can help those involved (influenced) build common solutions. Smart companies can use or build IM to build bridges between companies and players to solve customer issues more quickly. This means that constant content research and development should be part of any IM program.

Curation – review and curate company content, provide guidance and enhanced thought leadership via influencer team.

 Curation actually comes from the term caring and now is applied to anything gathered from multiple sources into one place to writing blog posts. Curators organize ideas to help viewers and users gain insights. Curation can come from articles, thought leadership, research and knowledge base sources. Influencer marketing comes from ongoing research into content curation ensuring its real and

not fake news or distorted in anyway, yet add serious analysis and what is often called thought leadership. Without this content becomes useless or worse can cause confusion and conflict. For curation to be effective the context of its use must also always be in-play. Knowing or context or how the content will be used not only aids but accelerates the use and further application as well as pursuit of further curation and the IM can be of value as a real content curator.

Collaboration – collaborate with internal and external social leaders.

Like said so many times, keep your friends close and enemies close most often attributed to Niccolò Machiavelli author of The Price is also filled with priceless concepts on management and collaboration. Collaboration is not just working together but realizing that there will also be a hierarchical approach to management as the CEO and other C-levels will always rule the roost as collaborative they appear to be. Ideas come in, they bubble up, muck about and if merit, a business case emerges. The role of IM in this process is to guide, validate, collaborate and be the “out of the box” viewpoint on the subject. This delicate role is not as arbitrator or buzz-killer but to give input or collaborate as needed.

C-Level
– assist and guide the CXO on their social media efforts along with gaining-retaining followers via CEO Twitter Scoreboard.

The ultimate social influencer is the CEO who as mentioned like Steve Job sets direction, goals and inspiration to insiders and most importantly to outsiders. If Steve Jobs came out with bottled water or fashion line, we would all be drinking and wearing it. The role of social influencer and the CEO should be aligned as the IM can be the ombudsman, foreign correspondent and advocate. As IBM, Huawei, Avaya and others are finding the role of IM helps them in many ways traditional marketing doesn’t and can’t. This is the ultimate value of the influencer to help the CEO in extending their message, bypassing traditional corporate communications with staff and increasingly manage crises.

Concern
– respond to concerns expressed by customers and build and monitor system for sales, supports, IR/PR and compliance issues.

Aside from other gaps in corporate marketing, the IM can also fill-in where others can’t. Notwithstanding regulatory restrictions, IM can be on the forefront in the media where often the business press takes the company to task. IM can be the independent view responding to complex situations such as layoffs, store closing, product failures and other negative situations.

Crisis
– provide crisis response team to address 7×24 tracking to avoid situations such as Target, Wells Fargo, Chipotle and other corporate devastating consequences with live “tweetchats” demonstrating responsiveness.   In case you missed the current political environment, foreign countries are cyberattacking not just political parties but nearly every company or institution that exists. One small school district (state withheld from security reasons) has been attacked by multiple foreign countries repeatedly. If you think you is not going to happen to you, think again. The role of the IM in this area is manage the mess and to guide and assist the client in “damage control.” You can never have enough friends when stuff happens and in the case of what is going on in presidential politics your company needs this more than ever as you may just be a tweet away from brand, customer and/or

stock crisis. That is, cybersecurity attacks are one thing but other political attacks could be much worse. This means you should have an IM team ready and monitoring your business 7×24 so you can wake up and manage any mess.

 

Summary – these and other issues will be presented by Evan and Tom during the webinar. If you need immediate attention, you can visit http://www.evankirstel.com/ or email cross@gocross.com 303-594-1694 to get started and be ready today.

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Linkedin Selling Unified Communications Group – Buyers Welcome
Please join our Linkedin Group if you are selling and even buying UC gear/gizmos/gadgets/gagals and more.  Beyond networking opportunities, news, and educational resources, this group is about helping its members increase sales. Vendors, VARs, Agents and anyone selling and marketing unified communications solutions are welcome. If you are a buyer, you join and see what’s available.
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FonComfort and QuickLink Upgrades
The following new functions and improvements have been added :

FonComfort Professional 2.8.0
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– FonComfort client now automatically reconnects after losing connection (e.g. notebook in WiFi)
– During transfer, the call window of the called person shows the forwarding person
– Ongoing calls can be expanded to a three-person conference
– DTMF dialing after setting up the connection (e.g. PIN input for accessing a web conference)

FonComfort QuickLink 2.6.0
– Make calls on behalf of others
– Ongoing calls can be expanded to a three-person conference
– FonComfort client now automatically reconnects after losing connection (e.g. notebook in WiFi)

For a demo of either product, click here to email:

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IBM Sees Serious Spike in SIP Security Attacks – Get Seriously SIP Smart Before You Are Hit
IBM Security reports, “There are numerous protocols used in voice-over-IP (VoIP) communications. According to IBM Managed Security Services (MSS) data, the most targeted VoIP protocol is Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which accounted for over 51 percent of the security event activity analyzed in the last 12 months.  In actual attacks on VoIP communications, we note various types of disruption. Spikes in July and September were mostly the result of specially crafted SIP messages that were terminated incorrectly. Persistent, invalid messages are known to cause vulnerable servers and equipment to fail. The spike in October 2016 was largely influenced by SIP messages with invalid characters in the SIP “To” field. These could be reflective of suspicious activity, necessitating further investigation.”  Click on either image for complete article from IBM.


Nothing to SPIT At

When it comes to unsolicited information, we’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with or
reducing email spam in our inbox. But what about spam over internet telephony (SPIT), also known as VoIP spam? These unsolicited, automated phone calls made from internet-provided numbers are just as annoying as junk mail.
VoIP technology allows malicious individuals to conduct caller ID spoofing with minimal cost and effort. This enables attackers to obtain information or facilitate additional scams against their targets. A February report, for example, highlighted issues with certain VoIP phones that had insecure default configurations, which allowed attackers to make, receive and transfer calls, play recordings, upload new firmware and even use victims’ devices for covert surveillance.
VoIP services are also subject to abuses such as toll fraud, which involves taking control of network access to avoid paying for telephone calls. VoIP phone consumers should avoid blindly relying on the manufacturer’s default security settings and use strong passwords.
An attacker can carry out a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack by flooding a company’s telephone service with thousands of junk calls per minute from automated IP dialers. A phone DDoS attack could cripple an organization that relies heavily on its phone systems. The method has even been used to prevent fraud victims from calling their banks
after large sums of money were stolen from their bank accounts.”
Be prepared for SIP attacks by being smart and having a SIP security plan.  Here are just some of the 100+ compelling reasons for attending and achieving certification via the
Certification Corporation Certified SIP Professional program – Click on image for courses.
40+ SBC/Edge and SIP Trunking Security & Troubleshooting
1 – Calljacking*
2 – Jitter/echo
3 – Buffer overflow
4 – CODEC mismatch – asynchronous transcoding problems
5 – Audio – choppy, clipped, screeching, robotic, etc.
6 – VAD issues
7 – Noise – White/Pink/Brown
8 – Clipping and Dipping
9 – DSP – serialization
10 – Propagation
Others will be explained and explored in class.
*Like ABC News story on NYT, HuffPost, Twitter are you prepared for DNS IP Highjacking SIP Calljacking attacks prevention, detection and recovery are presented.
52+ SIP Security Recommendations and Solutions to SIP Attacks
1 – Malformed message attacks
2 – SPIT-SPam over Internet Telephony
– Robocalling SPIT
3 – Memory “leak” buffer overflow attacks
4 – VOMIT-Voice Over Misconfigured Telephony
5 – DOS-Denial-of Service attacks (overload, part SYN, FIN)
6 – TDoS – Telephony Denial of Service attack
– Part of an extortion scheme
– Spoofed Caller IDs to hide their origin
7 – Eavesdropping
8 – Masquerading (Trojan Horses) as a phone, user, server, as a customer
9 – Media injection – insertion of audio/video (hate – xrated) into call flow
10 – SIP redirect – fork call forwarding to another location
Others will be explained and explored in class.


10 Business/Customer Reasons
1 – Increase the revenue “uptake” or performance level cycle
2 – Increase the speed of sale or implementation
3 – Provide a more comprehensive strategic view of project scope
4 – Reduce customer support costs
5 – Increase customer satisfaction
6 – Increase user service/product usability-acceptance
7 – Increase customer retention
8 – Demonstrates company commitment to education and professionalism
9 – Demonstrates career commitment
10 – Increase employer value to stakeholders
for more or call 303-594-1694 for registration in Boulder or inhouse class at your location.  These courses are Made in the USA !
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Cognitive UC “Think” 

IBM WOW-World of Watson hit like a hurricane with exciting new products, partner solutions and a new view of the way we about “think” everything.  Yes, that’s a picture of Thomas J. Watson along with his father built IBM into the powerhouse and the legacy lives in their namesake of IBM Watson.
One of the more interesting session was on Telecom.  Without diving into all the terms cognitive computing is the most relevant to Watson and where AI-artificial intelligence is going.  Cognitive computing was a top topic as IBM’s Watson took center stage on all kind of issues including unified communications.  Yet what is cognitive computing?  Here is one answer – Cognitive issues are similar to the physical issues; they relate to the integration of complex symbols, language, visuals, and other fuzzy factors. The integration of historical influences with genetic characteristics also takes place on the cognitive level. In machine terms, the influences are not only historical but also futuristic, and include the ability to imagine future situations, not only as an extension of known facts but also as a projection of the unknown.  If you thought this would be easy.  It is not.  Nor is any part of AI-artificial intelligence.   Watson is a “work in progress” or always “under construction” as humans we are never satisfied to know what we know; we always want to know more.   This means Watson is going to have to run to keep up.

As Quincy Allen CMO of IBM Cloud noted, “World of Watson spotlights the future of cognitive computing. But cognitive apps are here. They’re delivering powerful insights and amazing experiences, on IBM Cloud. Take the Seiko M-Tracer Golf Swing Analyzer, an app that connects with IBM Cloud to let golfers immediately analyze performance data like attack angle, club path and club head speed. Or take the app Walk and Explore New York, a personalized tour guide that customizes an itinerary just for you. If Watson predicts bad weather will affect your trip, it will automatically adjust your itinerary.”

Automate customer interactions

Watson and really any form of AI is really hardly more than asking Siri or any other voice AI app where should you go for dinner. However not knowing that you hate Italian, it would like suggest a place you would not go to.  However, here is a bottom-line bot — Create a bot powered by natural language understanding in minutes, then deploy via multiple channels and devices, such as messaging platforms like Slack, mobile devices/SMS, and even physical robots.  In other words, Watson is a co-pilot not a pilot for your work.  AI bots and the like will learn from you and then be more help with the range they know about.  They like humans are not psychic so don’t expect them to do things they don’t understand when often you don’t understand them either.

Bottom-line – Watson isn’t the only technology that IBM and others are working on.  It’s a vast array of issues and there will likely be millions of apps (maybe a few less) to solve even the smallest problem in your daily life.  Here is a roadmap of what IBM is up to.

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Denial of Service Attacks DDoS Simplified

Yes, DDoS-Distributed Denial of Service attacks are on the rise largely due to the press and politics driving hacking of the Democratic National Committee reportedly but not confirmed by unknown and unnamed Russian attackers.  However, they are coming to your website so you need to know what they are and have a plan not just to respond but thwart them before they start.

Here’s the basics.  TCP sets up with the Destination Port number via SYNchronizes the connection, manages the transmission of data sending SEQuences (parts), sends an ACKnowlegement to confirm receipt of data  and when FINished disconnects the session.
Here’s a self-repeating view of the complete process.  This explains the TCP set up process, how firewalls provide TCP port filtering, the TCP “sliding window” process and TCP FINish.  Click on the image for an animated tutorial.

The remainder of this tutorial explains the consequences of hacker attacks.  Hacker comes from the term hack which is slang that software programmers use to describe writing computer programs.  Cracker comes from safe/vault crackers to break/crack into a vault safe.  White Hat Hacker is a good or trusted programmer and Black Hat is a bad or untrusted disgruntled person whose desire is to cause injury or disrupt computer systems.  Grey Hat is a programmer of uncertain intent.
Hacker sends TCP-Transmission Control Protocol SYN-Synchronize message from a friendly site or “spoofed” with internal IP-Internet Protocol Address.
If target site is 198.20.0.0, hacker may send 198.20.0.255.
In other words, hacker(s) appears to be internal or friendly users.
DOS-Denial Of Service begins with a hacker who sends TCP-Transmission Control Protocol SYN-Synchronize message from a friendly site or “spoofed” with internal IP-Internet Protocol Address. If target site is 198.20.0.0, hacker may send 198.20.0.255. In other words, hacker(s) appears to be internal or friendly users.  Target (victim) responds with TCP ACK-SYN ACK-Acknowledgement – SYN-SYNchronize message.  In other words, target (victim) treats hacker as a friendly visitor or internal user. There is typically a 40 second window while the receiver (victim) waits to receive an ACKnowledgement from the sender.  This is a normal TCP process while the receiver waits to begin data transmission.  During this time, up to 8 sessions can be created.  If more than 8 sessions are created, then blockage occurs.  The sending of multiple TCP-SYNchronize messages is often called SYN-Flooding or DoS-Denial Of Service.  NOTE: Newer systems support more than 8 sessions and the wait window is often shorter.
In some cases of DoS-Denial of Service the target victim is bombarded with ping reflections from all the systems at the directed broadcast address.
The result is that not just one system but two or more systems may be attacked.
This is also called DDoS-Distributed DoS.
Too many simultaneous requests can cause system failure and/or users cannot get access causing DENIAL OF SERVICE.
IoT Driven DDoS Attacks
In simple terms, here’s how your cable modem, baby monitor, IP video camera, WiFi coffee makers or other devices often referred to as IoT-internet of things can be used to accelerate DDoS attacks.  Hackers use “brute force” attacks on these devices which often have weak passwords such as password123, cable123, etc.  By trying again and again, hackers try thousands of passwords until they get access.  Once they get access they can use these devices just like your PC to attempt to access a victim website.  Doing this with thousands of other devices, they attempt or succeed in blocking one or even thousands of websites.  There are many approaches you can use to possibly prevent them such as honeypots and other diversionary approaches.  It is way beyond the scope of this tutorial to suggest all of them but be prepared especially as you put all your “eggs in one basket” with voice et al. on your internet circuits and you should be very ready for “calljacking” the insertion of unwanted, malicious and damaging content or redirection to other locations.
If you want to know more you will have to take the class to find out.  Click on the image to get SIP smart.
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Machine Learning UC

Usually tech PR is just more “my tech is better than other tech.”  However, as we move from just talking to chatting, video, multi-media, VR/AR and more we need to explore how rather than just using NLP-natural language processing to “parse” sentences, is understand what a dog rather than cat is, we need to know more about machine learning and understanding of visual content.  Qualcomm says, “Moving video analytics processing from the server to the camera at the point of capture opens up a new class of ‘conscious cameras’ with tremendous benefits in terms of reduced data streams, better image recognition and immediate alerts and actions,” Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.  “With advanced connectivity, and computing technologies incorporated into the camera right at the point of capture, we push more intelligence to the edge, allowing deep learning to support highly accurate object recognition.”

Qualcomm also has a video analytics manager API and connected camera Software Development Kit (SDK): A feature-rich set of camera processing and analytics software capabilities including multi-stream, overlay, video HDR, temporal noise reduction, low bit rate codecs, voice activation, face detection and recognition, intelligent motion detection and object tracking. With such intelligence on the camera, customers can move from expensive, server-based video analytics in the cloud to efficient camera-based analytics. By only streaming data when qualified events happen, the camera platform is designed to reduce network bandwidth requirements and help minimize cloud storage costs.

Note Qualcomm is not saying they have AI or even a camera but the processing power along with a SDK and Linux support to push data to an analytics data to an platform which could be developed into a AI knowledge system.

Bottom-line – Content management and deep understand of image meaning is a long way off because the AI system may see something but not understand the meaning much less what the meaning has to you or any one else.

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IBM Push-SMS-Social Media Integration 
This case study and Best Practices comes from a very interesting white paper from IBM marketing and click on the image for the complete paper.  While I like the paper in general, there are some specific which I have added at the end to reflect differences of opinion and real-live experiences.  You can decide for yourself what works for you.
“Bridgevine, a reseller for cable and telecommunications companies, was challenged with prospective customers not following through with conversions – in this instance, calling in to the call center to schedule an installation appointment. So, the team decided to implement an automated email and SMS campaign with the goal of being more proactive.  Bridgevine placed a short form including both email address and mobile number on its Time Warner microsite. If a prospect completes the form and opts-in to receive future.  communications, but doesn’t immediately schedule an appointment, the individual is automatically placed into an automated re-touch program. In this program, the lead receives an automated SMS and email – both triggered via the IBM Marketing Cloud digital marketing platform – upon submission of the form. The first SMS is delivered within one or two minutes of the form submission. The lead continues to receive automated SMS and email messages for up to three days, unless it becomes a conversion before then. If the prospect in the program calls to schedule an installation appointment, the IBM Marketing Cloud platform is tied to Bridgevine’s call center via an API, therefore automatically removing the prospect from the program. The program has resulted in a 300 percent increase in conversions, with a call-back rate of 33 percent. More than 30 percent of the prospects who provided their email addresses also opted in to the SMS program.
SMS Best Practices
– Promote SMS opt-in across key touch points, including email, POS signs, ads throughout stores or in mall locations, or on transaction receipts.
– Create exclusive content for SMS rather than regurgitating offers you’re communicating through other channels.
– As applicable, build basic SMS programs like Text to Join, Text for Info, Text to Vote, Text to Screen, or Text to Win.
– Engage in a two-way dialogue with customers via interactive campaigns designed to look for specific keywords and respond intelligently.
– Look for ways to integrate SMS into your existing automated campaigns to drive stronger response.
– Send transactional SMS or SMS reminders by leveraging APIs to allow messages to be sent from your own infrastructure.
– Review and analyze aggregate SMS campaign data and use this data to drive more relevant content in both SMS and other channels
Push Best Practices
– Tie mobile data to your users’ profiles to see who they are and how they’ve used your app.
– Leverage app interest data, app interactions, and even average order value to feed automatically into the cloud for a more robust view of your on-the-go audience.
– Achieve a truly closed-loop marketing strategy across all channels by integrating push campaign response information and in-app behaviors with other channel interactions and customer data.
– Send visually rich push notifications with video support to enhance the experience.
– Increase profit margins with targeted marketing actions like “quick click to purchase” or “set a reminder to buy.”
– Send targeted, engaging push notification campaigns that leverage each customer’s unique profile data from all channels, not just mobile.
– Create multi-step and cross-channel automated programs and campaigns for customers at each stage of the application lifecycle.
Social Media Best Practices
– Connect your social media engagement and publishing platform to your systems of record, enabling you to track the social behavior of leads that interact with your brand and use these insights in cross-channel digital marketing campaigns.
– Use social media brand pages and feeds to drive SMS opt-ins and mobile app downloads.
– Offer a social-sign option when contacts are registering/logging in, which reduces the friction on mobile devices.
– Employ social look-alike modeling to find new high-value prospects and advertise your mobile app and SMS programs to them, in addition to driving email opt-ins.
– Look for mobile-friendly social tools, such as Twitter Lead Generation Forms, which bring up a form already populated with the user’s social account data (name, email address, Twitter handle, etc.).
– Communicate social promotions in the in-app inbox of your app downloaders.
– Integrate social and mobile efforts into one coordinated, multichannel marketing effort.
In today’s landscape, there’s a good chance your customers are consuming social content on mobile devices. According to one study, 91 percent of smartphone owners ages 18 to 29 used social networking on their phone, while 55 percent of those 50 and older had done so. Furthermore, integrating social media channels with your mobile marketing can give you the power to turn social insights into action by creating cross-platform dialogues, building stronger advocacy and improving loyalty.”
Bottom-line – Thanks to IBM for writing and researching this white paper.  Indeed, they also spoke of omni-channel marketing coordination between different platforms.  However, the real challenge is that each of them – SMS, push, social media and all the others have their own dynamics.  That is, a blog post is different that a Tweet, SMS or push and the language used can be and should be different.  Each should be used for its function and that means a person must decide what is pushed, texted, tweeted, blogged, etc.  Do you see the problem? When you add in location marketing like “we see you are in aisle 5 would you like to buy ….” or “if you come to our store instead we will give you 20% off on anything you buy.”  The permutations and content message options are boggling.  Adding in cultural and even geographic language issues one need be very careful to engage, not alienate.  No doubt a cloud platform is a must-have and even IBM Watson might be helpful, however, this is where AI (read my book) will likely fail us and in our marketing efforts as purchasing habits will always be personal and ever-changing.
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Blockchain: The Future of Democracy In Technology
By Evan Kirstel @evankirstel
This week I had the opportunity to attend the Blockchain World Congress in NYC, focused on the underlying technology behind Bitcoin which has the potential to be one of the most exciting technological advances of this century.
Blockchain is disrupting the financial sector and has the ability to disrupt all major markets, including supply chain, logistics, retail, legal, entertainment, energy and power, and many more.
Blockchain is a peer-to-peer network where data is processed, validated, verified, secured at each step or peer rather than a single administrative authority. Each transaction is passed along from one peer to the next which can data is validated and then pass along until it reaches the receiver. This peering architecture is ideal for all kinds of business transactions and encompasses IoT-internet of things where things which depend more on connecting with other peers than one authority.

However, blockchain technology remains nascent. During its ongoing rapid development, significant obstacles arise even as minor and major advances are being made on a regular basis.
Here are just a few of the many benefits:
– Reduce transaction processing time significantly
– Reduce risk of data and financial loss
– Reduce risk of data hijacking via public and private encryption
– Reduce administrative and overhead costs
– Simplification of business processes
– Improved scalability
– Allow for both public and private Blockchains
Nitin Gauer, Director of an IBM team helping make Blockchain real for business noted that banking and finance markets are driving adoption, removing key obstacles to adoption for other industries:

The distributed ledger technology is set to transform the financial industry and change the way banks conduct global payments. Moreover, it holds massive potential to change other sectors, such as retail, healthcare, agriculture, legal, and logistics.

Meanwhile investment in the technology is continuously growing as well. As of the first quarter of 2016, the investment in bitcoin and blockchain companies surpassed $1 billion.

Blockchain technology growth is accelerating because it based on a very simple concept of blocks of data connected via an ever-extending chain links which track and enforce encryption and security. Blockchain like any supply chain can take many forms and support any industry. For example, Bitcoin uses Blockchain (1) and in high-speed stock trading where security, performance and reliability is also vital, NASDAQ (2) is going to use “Blockchain technology to assist in expediting trade clearing and settlement from the current equity market standards of three days to as little as ten minutes. As a result, settlement risk exposure can be reduced by over 99 percent, dramatically lowering capital costs and systemic risk. In addition, this technology could allow issuers to significantly lower the risk and the administrative burden of what is largely a manual and multi-step process today.” Another example is in health care and research where trust in research is often and should always be verified. As researcher put it, Blockchain is a “tamper-proof public ledger” which all can access and once data is entered into the ledger is nearly impossible to tamper with. The authors also noted, “we confirm the use of Blockchain as a low cost, independently verifiable method that could be widely and readily used to audit and confirm the reliability of scientific studies.” (3) The authors went on to demonstrate an example where the cost was free taking less than five minutes to complete and verified as accurate. (3)

The Linux Foundation is spearheading the development of “open standards” approach to Blockchain called the Hyperledger Project to create an open standard for distributed ledgers for a new generation of transactional applications. With more than 80 major companies as members and more joining weekly, Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, commented about Blockchain, “Peer-to-peer in nature, distributed ledger technology is shared, transparent and decentralized, making it ideal for application in finance and countless other areas such as manufacturing, banking, insurance and the Internet of Things.” The Hyperledger Project will address “cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers.” (4)

Here are, among other things, some key points of Hyperledger:
– Peer-to-peer networking
– Distributed “ledger” technology
– Open source
– Scalability
– Establish means for trust and transparency
Chris Ferris, IBM Distinguished Engineer, CTO Open Technology, and Technical Steering Committee Chair, Hyperledger Project, noted “By providing a community for members to collaborate and contribute to an open source Blockchain solution, we’re able to advance the technology collectively and ultimately drive quicker adoption and higher value across industries.”
However, before you think everyone is onboard with this issue, Blockchain will take enormous education and integration with legacy enterprise IT systems whether they be financial or an industry. If you want to get involved, jump in and join Hyperledger Project”
Blockchain is an exciting new approach to democracy in technology from devices, systems and authorities to collaborate on “open source” standards as well providers to build into viable business solutions which users can trust at a very low cost.
(1)   Bits on blocks – https://bitsonblocks.net/2015/09/09/a-gentle-introduction-to-blockchain-technology/
(2)   http://ir.nasdaq.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=948326
(3)   How blockchain-timestamped protocols could improve the trustworthiness of medical science http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4866630/
(4) Open Source Blockchain Effort for the Enterprise http://www.telecomreseller.com/2016/04/20/open-source-blockchain-effort-for-the-enterprise/

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AI Social and Contextual UC #391 – New Huddle Rooms – Amazon Tackles Contact Center – Kirstel Report – HashNewsGram

 (c) AI Forum & Unified Communications Forum

March 31 – 2017 – Issue #391

 

AI Forum – Exploring the Wild World of Artificial Intelligence and other Communications, Mobile, Contextual-Intelligence and other communications companies.
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Welcome to the SIP, UC Apps & Cloud Communications Forum
@Techtionary Twitter account topped 14,000+ followers up 200 followers this week and if you are on Twitter, please follow and we will follow you back.  Get proven results in gaining-retaining Twitter and other social media followers – click here.

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#HashNewsGram
“We didn’t make Twitter, we made it better.”
 
#HashNewsGram is a Twitter #hashtag gathering app for iPhone coming next week.  You can select your favorite topics and put them in folders/subfolders and organize your Twitter newsfeed.  Then tap on Folders to see all folder/subfolder and see the posts.
HashNewsGram has been submitted for review to iTunes Appstore and expected release March 31.

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Kirstel Report Released
Evan Kirstel with more than 110K Twitter followers, released a new newsfeed.  Here is what he says. “In our efforts to constantly expand our “thought leadership” and content development efforts, we designed and now distribute a new media report.  Instead of “sliding down” 100s of Twitter posts, we organized the leading news stories into a new website.  We are totally committed to bringing exciting, innovative and actionable news faster, easier to you.  Click on image and take a look and let us know what works and what doesn’t – we are totally committed to being “social “listeners” not just talkers.”  You can subscribe as well.
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AudioCodes Adds Huddle Room Tech

The majority of meeting spaces in a typical enterprise are small rooms that can accommodate up to six persons. AudioCodes Huddle Room Solution is a cost-effective solution ranging from two-person huddle rooms up to 15-person small group meeting spaces
The solution delivers:
– Familiar user experience base on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Familiar user experience based on AudioCodes 450HD IP phone UI including conference management, participants’ photo display, click-to-join and more
– High definition call quality and audio with SILK voice codec
– Advanced microphone technology to provide crystal clear sound
– Fully managed by the AudioCodes Managed IP Phone solution for efficient deployment and ongoing IT operationsBottom-line – Huddle spaces or quick meetings are key to faster communications.  Adding solutions to make these types of meetings more effective and efficient is always appreciated.
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Amazon Takes on Cloud Contact Center 
If global domination is not enough, Amazon Web Services wants to tackle contact centers.  Like with any major player they will find that being able to do something, does not mean you should. Here is what they have to say for themselves. Click on image for video. Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. Amazon Connect is based on the same contact center technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations. The self-service graphical interface in Amazon Connect makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics – no specialized skills required. There are no up-front payments or long-term commitments and no infrastructure to manage with Amazon Connect; customers pay by the minute for Amazon Connect usage plus any associated telephony services.
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Oracle Gets AI

Data and Context-Driven
Process enormous amounts of web-scale data in real-time and synthesizes context to deliver the best and most personalized outcomes.
Action-Oriented and Omni-Channel
Anticipate user behaviors and deliver actionable and individualized outcomes. Data and events are tracked from everywhere so recommendations are coordinated across channels.
Continuously Adaptive and Self-Learning

Continuously improves outcomes as the system reacts, learns and adapts. There is a value exchange between the end user and the adaptive intelligent app-the more the end user interacts, the more value they receive.

Built for Business Users

Immediate value out of the box, with no need for a legion of data scientists!

Adaptive
Learn from your behavior and “others like you” in the moment.
React, change, and adapt based on continued use-click by click.

Deliver increasingly relevant and optimized outcomes in real-time.

Intelligent
Process and derive insights from web-scale 3rd-party data.
Synthesize context: weather, life events, real-time actions, social activity, and much more.
Identify and serve up-in real-time-the best individualized outcomes.


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Apple “Clips” Taking on Snapchat, Instagram and …

Well, yet another “pic” app which the world does not need.  Apple says “Introducing Clips. A new iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more. One cool feature is Live Titles let you easily create animated captions – just by talking as you record. Choose from a variety of styles, all perfectly timed to the sound of your voice.

Bottom-line – Seriously too many pic apps and encouraging so many more bad pics and even more apps.
 
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Workflow Now Part of the Apple Orchard

Workflow is your personal automation tool, enabling you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create powerful workflows for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Workflow includes over 200 actions, including those for Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud Drive, and Health, to name a few.

For example, you can use Workflow to:
– Make animated GIFs
– Add a home screen icon that calls a loved one
– Make PDFs from Safari or any app with a share sheet
– Get directions to the nearest coffee shop in one tap
– Tweet the song you’re listening to
– Get all of the images on a web page
– Send a message including the last screenshot you took

– And so much more…

Your workflow creations can be launched from inside the Workflow app, from other apps using Workflow’s Action Extension, or from our new lightning-fast Today Widget. You can even export a workflow as a standalone app on your home screen.

Workflow opens up infinite possibilities of what you can do with your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.
Bottom-line – Another app in search of a user, however, with the Big Apple Corporate buying them, well another app gets a nice new parent.  Seriously, has anyone used this app?
 
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Free Visual Traceroute
 
In case you don’t have one or need a new one, here’s a cool free one.

 
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Enterprise Enters CPaas Business

Bandwidht.com ordered up a cool white paper on CPasS and its time for even the SMB to get serious about this approach.  Its a long paper so click on the image and read yourself.  Here is just a few paragraphs of the highlights.  “For enterprise-class CPaaS providers, the ability to reliably deliver communications services is reflected in a willingness to guarantee their solutions with service-level agreements (SLA). Under the typical terms of a SLA, the provider will ensure the uptime and reliability of their CPaaS services in writing, with financial penalties for failing to maintain these metrics. The ability to offer a SLA is in stark contrast to many of the over the-top CPaaS offerings, which can only provide a best-effort level of service, with little guarantee that an API-driven connection will be available or sustained. Service-level agreements represent a provider’s confidence that their service will meet or exceed their customer’s needs and expectations.

Dedicated Operations Teams
Many of the CPaaS providers in the market operate in much the same way as the app developers they are supporting. With limited resources, ongoing operations and customer support consist largely of community-based support; in some cases, basic helpdesk services, email-driven support tickets and limited phone support are made available. However, for medium businesses and larger enterprises, dedicated support and operations teams, around-the-clock support and status updates are the norm. Enterprise-class CPaaS providers distinguish themselves from the rest of the CPaaS market by offering support structures that match the expectations of their typical customers, with dedicated support representatives for larger accounts, 24×7
network operations centers (NOC) and technical operations support.”

Bottom-line – Many Fortune 100 have long been their own “telco” and now that this approach is more scalable, affordable and practical, if you have 1,000 users time to be your own provider.  Time for providers to wake up and smell the bandwidth.


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Chatbots or Tiny “Borgbots” in Disguise

Not ever wanting to take the thunder from a great writer, here is just 1 of 5 key points on building chatbots.  It is a great article by Natalie Skarzynski but the section most relevant to UCaaS is this section.  Specifically the role of humans and chatbots in a customer support role.

4. When will the chatbot escalate to a human? 

“Even the most sophisticated bot will eventually encounter a problem it cannot solve. That’s why it is crucial to determine those limits, and decide what will happen when your chatbot reaches one of them.
An escalation to a human agent might be triggered when a customer:
  • Requests a phone or video call
  • Uses language that indicates frustration or anger
  • Asks the same question multiple times
  • References a potentially sensitive or dangerous issue, such as an allergic reaction or a medical emergency
  • Asks a question the bot doesn’t know how to answer
In some of the above examples, the bot is called upon to infer an aspect of the customer’s situation or state of mind based on something they have said. Sentiment analysis, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning play an important role here. For instance, the customer may describe their symptoms instead of saying the exact words, “I’m having an allergic reaction.” The bot must be smart enough to recognize what’s happening and escalate the customer to a human.
And when the hand-off happens, brands must ensure a seamless transition. Best practices include:
  • Allowing the customer to continue the conversation using the same channel
  • Avoiding asking the customer to repeat their story (since two-thirds of consumers say they are extremely frustrated by having to repeat information across multiple channels, according to data from Accenture)
  • Enabling the customer service rep to pick up where the bot left off by providing them with relevant context and interaction history
Another aspect of escalation to consider: how obvious will it be to your customers when they are talking to a bot vs. a human? Depending on your objectives, you may want to explicitly tell customers they are communicating with a bot; for instance, if you’re promoting a new animated movie, you could invite people to chat with one of the characters. But if, for example, you’re helping a customer set up Bluetooth in their new car, you may want the entire interaction to feel the same as a conversation with a human.”
Bottom-line – There is no doubt a never-ending supply of technology and seldom developers of all this stuff ever-ever consider that someone has to put this technology to work and work well as well as satisfying users who are organizing a revolt as if you ever ask them, do you need more apps, the answer other than being ready to duck the flying cheery pies headed toward your face is a resounding NO.


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MS Teams Sinks Slack

Slack in spite of their arrogant approach to the marketplace, gained traction as the need for group collaboration has been a “missing link” since the dawn of time.  We built such tools in the 1970s on “cloud” systems then called time-sharing.  Flash forward MS Teams is really cool and is built into Office 365 so makes it a real nice addition. Here are more details.  Click on any image for more.

Microsoft has introduced more than 100 new features to Teams since November, including an enhanced meeting experience, with scheduling capabilities; mobile audio calling, with video calling on Android now and coming soon to iOS and Windows Phone; email integration; and new security and compliance capabilities. The company has also delivered new features to make Microsoft Teams more accessible, such as support for screen readers, and high contrast and keyboard-only navigation. Guest access capabilities and deeper integration with Outlook, and a richer developer platform, are targeted for June of this year. For more details on the new features, go to the Office Blog.

Microsoft Teams brings together people, conversations and content, along with the tools that teams need. It’s integrated with familiar Office applications and is built from the ground up on Office 365 and Microsoft’s global, secured cloud. Microsoft Teams is built on four core promises:
  • Chat for today’s teams. Microsoft Teams provides a modern conversations experience, with threaded, persistent chat to keep everyone engaged. Team conversations can be either private or visible to the entire team, and users can access multiple teams, making it easy to switch between projects.
  • A hub for teamwork. The Office applications and services that teams use every day – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, and OneNote and Power BI- are all built-in, so people have the information and tools they need.
  • Customization for every team. Microsoft Teams offers the ability to customize work spaces with tabs, connectors and bots from third-party partners as well as familiar Microsoft tools like Microsoft Planner and Visual Studio Team Services. More than 150 integrations are available or coming soon, with companies like SAP, Trello, Hipmunk, Growbot and ModuleQ building on the platform.
  • Security teams trust. Microsoft Teams is built on the hyper-scale, enterprise-grade Office 365 cloud, delivering the advanced security and compliance capabilities that customers expect. Teams supports global standards including SOC 1, SOC 2, EU Model Clauses, ISO27001 and HIPAA.

Bottom-line – Slack is toast to be heaped on the pile like WordPerfect, Novell and so many others that MS targeted like the Borg and destroyed.  Slack’s real problem was that they were, IMHO, so arrogant and absorbed like so many startups in their own splendor they failed to realize like the Titanic the “iceberg” in front of them and likely to sink.

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Vonage Meets Alexa – “Alexa, tell conference manager to start my call.”

From Vonage Business, another cool evolvement of the Internet of Things, and it harnesses the power of the cloud (which is what we’re really, really, ridiculously good at). Vonage Conference Manager is actually pretty simple. It works like this:
  • Get an Amazon Echo. Each “smart” meeting room has an Amazon Echo placed in it permanently.
  • Sync the Echo. The Echo is mapped to the physical phone within each room and an organizational directory, which accesses calendars, meeting information and contacts, all through the cloud.
  • Enable Vonage Conference Manager. Once the Echo is synced, the Vonage Conference Manager skill is enabled once through an iPhone or at alexa.amazon.com.
  • Include the room on invites. When you schedule a meeting, be sure to add the room so it knows about the meeting, so you can use the Echo while you’re in the room.
  • Start talking. When it’s time for your meeting to start, just walk into the room and say “Alexa…” to begin. Bam! You’re all set.
Bottom-line – Cool idea can’t wait to try.

 

 

 
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There’s meetings and then there’s meetings via teleconference:
Boring face-to-face = boring via teleconference
After your next meeting, ask a colleague “what did you understand that meeting was about”?   The principal feature of teleconferencing or conferencing technology is that it allows interactive communication and helps everyone get on the same page. Even though participants in a teleconference are geographically separated, they can still meet to “get their heads together.” Unlike unidirectional communication, such as a letter or a television broadcast, in which a person either sends a message without getting any cues from the recipient or is a passive recipient of information, interactive communication allows people to be both senders and receivers of information simultaneously. Interactive communications gives each person the opportunity to initiate and respond to information as the process unfolds.  Teleconference participants can converse, talk things over, negotiate, joke, see one another, and exchange numerical and graphic information. When people use teleconferencing to “meet,” a synergy of minds is created. Users find that a greater sense of involvement and trust develops among people who are using teleconferencing to carry out a project as compared to a project that relies upon unidirectional communication.
Teleconferencing lets more people participate in the decision-making process. Advantages of group decision making, compared to individual decision making, include the availability of a greater range of experience than that held by any one individual, a more diverse set of intellectual approaches and capabilities, and a greater tendency to subject ideas to scrutiny and debate. Decision making is improved with teleconferencing, because it encourages participation of those people who are not directly involved in the decision-making process of a particular project; for example, research and development engineers can participate in a conference about marketing. Teleconferencing also allows people, such as the administrative staff who would not normally attend a distant face-to-face meeting participate in the decision-making process. Their participation ensures that they understand the subject discussed, especially the nuances and overall thrust of the decision-making process, often not captured in a written report of a meeting.  This, in turn, means that the decision is more likely to be implemented efficiently and effectively.  Ultimately the reason why meetings suck is that the presenter is not organized, has no agenda and worse has not planned for gaining and organizing feedback as to what attendees heard or thought they heard.
Making Sure Communications Succeed
I have a saying that I have used for 40 years, “communications will always fail except by chance.”  We think we are communicating when; in fact, communications is a two-way, not one-way, process.  For me to communicate effectively I have to get feedback from you to let me know what you heard and what you think it means to you.
To that end, I appreciate the opportunity to help Boulder Phone, your provider of conferencing services and products, help you to do a better job at communications.  We can help you be less boring and more effective in your communications.  We can help you as a value-added service review your presentations, review your scripts or even help you write them.  Speaking of scripts, we know they work.  Writing a script helps you organize and rehearse your thoughts to help you speak more clearly and focused.  You may not need this kind of help but Boulder Phone wants you to know we can help you not just with the technology but with communications as well.
We offer you this indepth book if you really want to know more about the subject.

 

 
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BusyLight – Stop Office Interruption Insanity  
I really hate open space offices.  Aside from the smelly food and people, constant interruptions cause serious office insanity.  The cool folks at Unified Communications sell BusyLight from Plenom and put together a very funny slide show presentation. You can click on any image for all their slides, here are a few highlights.

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ZoomLite – Siri-enabled Magnifying Camera Flashlight

ZoomLite (click on image for iTunes) is a free iPhone/iPad apps local weather info, camera, large format clock in both digital (see right) and classic formats (see below) and 3-level magnifying flashlight app. It will be also integrated into the next versions of MedsMinders.com and SleepTracs.com.
TO USE: press “Home” iPhone button until Siri comes online & say ZoomLite.  This is really helpful when you need to get up in the middle of the night and instead of fumbling around, you say Zoomlite and you can easily see the time, check the weather, read a meds bottle or just not stumble and fall. Oh, you cannot open the native iPhone flashlight using Siri another advantage of ZoomLite.
You will be able to see weather, large font clock, take a picture and easily read labels, meds bottles, check meds, cuts/sores, household issues and other fine print articles and other hard to read documents or any other reason to see something closeup with 3-step magnifying flashlight.
ZoomLite is one of the many award-winning apps such as Basketball Fans, ReallyReal, Sports Fans Club, Football Fans Club, iSeekSugar, BiEyes, iFlipTips, SleepTracs, iSeekSugar, MedsMinders, RewardsVIPClub, and many others from TECHtionary.
You can find much more at reallyreal.com or techtionary.com.
ZoomLite is also available or private/white and customizing – email cross@gocross.com


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Get Going on UC VR 

This is thrilling along with Microsoft Hololens (see article down below) you can build your own UC-unified communications VR-Virtual Reality apps and integrate them into your own specific business UC-use cases.

Qualcomm Introduces Snapdragon 835 Virtual Reality Development Kit (VRDK) for the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 mobile platform. The new Snapdragon VRDK gives developers early access to a VR head mounted display (HMD) built with the Snapdragon 835 mobile platform that is supported by an upgraded VR software development kit (SDK) that works with the HMD.

“With this new VRDK, we’re providing virtual reality application developers with advanced tools and technologies to accelerate a new generation of VR games, 360-degree VR videos and a variety of interactive education, enterprise, healthcare and entertainment applications,” said Cristiano Amon, executive vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and president, QCT. “We see great potential for the exciting new experiences made possible by truly mobile, untethered virtual reality that’s always connected to the internet, and we’re excited to help mobile VR developers more efficiently deliver compelling and high-quality experiences on upcoming Snapdragon 835 VR-capable products.”

The next generation of mobile virtual reality applications will be increasingly complex, with extreme power consumption constraints and challenging performance requirements that must be met in order for the VR applications to become truly immersive. Advanced heterogeneous mobile platforms like the Snapdragon 835 are capable of supporting immersive VR experiences in standalone head mounted displays (HMDs) that require neither fans nor cables.

The HMD included in the Snapdragon 835 VRDK consists of:
  • Display: Four megapixel (2560×1440) WQHD AMOLED display (two megapixels per eye)
  • Cameras: Six degrees of freedom (6DoF) Motion Tracking:
      • Two monochromatic, stereo- one mega pixel (1280×800) cameras with fish-eye lenses for each
      • integrated sensor IMU (gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetic compass), with fast interface to the Snapdragon 835 mobile platform sensor core
  • Eye Tracking: Two monochromatic VGA global shutter cameras with active depth sensing
  • Memory:  DRAM: 4GB LPDDR4 and Flash: 64GB UFS
  • Connectivity: Wireless with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB3.1 type C (power)
  • Audio:  Integrated Qualcomm Aqstic™ audio codec (WCD9335)
  • I/O:  Trackpad on right side of HMD

Technologies that are crucial for an optimal VR user experience will also be supported in the software development kit portion of the VRDK. These include:

  • DSP sensor fusion: Utilizing the full breadth of technologies built into Snapdragon 835, the new SDK helps allow developers to create more responsive and immersive experiences with six degrees of freedom (6DoF) by easily accessing the right combination of camera positional data along with high frequency inertial data from gyroscopes and accelerometers via the Snapdragon Sensor Core and predictive head position processing with the Qualcomm® Hexagon™ DSP
  • Foveated rendering: Designed to provide enablement of a rendering technique useful for VR that senses the user’s gaze direction and then focuses on processing the maximum visual detail only in the region of interest, via new Snapdragon plugin support for both Unity and Epic Game Engines
  • Fast motion to photon: Supports improved asynchronous time warp with single buffer rendering and other techniques for fast transformation of rendered images in 3D space, which can help reduce latency by roughly 20% when compared to with previous Snapdragon products
  • Stereoscopic rendering with lens correction: Supports 3D binocular vision with color correction and barrel distortion for improved visual quality of graphics and video, enhancing the overall VR experience
  • VR layering: Generation of menus, text, and other overlays so that they render correctly in a virtual world, reducing distortions that would otherwise make them difficult to read
  • Advanced Application Profiling and Power management: Integration with Snapdragon Profiler and the Qualcomm® Symphony System Manager SDK to provide application developers with greater visibility into the VR processing pipeline, along with cohesive CPU, GPU, and DSP power and performance management to help achieve stable frame rates for VR applications running in low-power, thermally-constrained devices
The VRDK is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2017 through the Qualcomm Developer Network and it is engineered to help developers attain improved VR performance and power efficiency for upcoming VR OEM devices built with the Snapdragon 835 that are expected to ship in the second half of 2017.
Bottom-line – what are you waiting for?
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IoT UC in the Enterprise – Security Planning

In a very well-research and complete paper on IoT. There are many UC elements involved in any IoT project.  In other words, you need to plan for IoT in any UC project. Click on the image for the complete text.  In the meaning, here are few highlights.  “Today’s enterprise IoT landscape is a crowded and potentially confusing mix of specialist service providers, enterprise technology companies, cloud providers, telcos and systems integrators. All are in the business of helping companies to integrate IoT devices with traditional enterprise systems via communications channels (usually wireless), gateways and custom IoT software platforms, with analytics and security baked in at multiple levels.

According to the 2016 Machina/TIA survey, enterprises currently tend to choose systems integrators as trusted IoT partners, followed by ‘IoT/M2M end-to-end providers using standardized cellular technologies’, business software platform companies and ‘IoT/M2M end-to-end providers that use low-cost proprietary networks and technology’.  Together, these four categories of IoT solution provider account for three-quarters of the survey population (Figure E). Whatever species of IoT solution provider you are, there’s a multitude of technologies to master, some or all of which may be required in any given deployment. Gartner’s Nick Jones, for example, highlights IoT device management, low-power short-range and wide-area networks, IoT processors, IoT operating systems, IoT gateways, event stream processing, IoT analytics and data science, IoT platforms and IoT security tools.”

Here are some of the issues related to security and my own “design in” thoughts for security:

Security in IoT Deployment
1 – Make it a feature – design it in
2 – Don’t buy security through obscurity – design in real passwords
3 – Cheap insurance – design in protection
4 – Play hacker – design in the hacker will attack you
5 – Go for minimum – design in small removable components
6 – Check components – design in never-ending testing and cross system testing
7 – Plan for upgrades – design in test before every new feature
8 – Hardware – design in current and future changes
9 – Map system end-to-end – design in EOL-end of life
10 – Design in IoT “estate planning” – design in interaction with other non-IoT systems

Bottom-line – Design-in security at every step and in every way and then think beyond the IoT component “box” otherwise it just another disaster that at the worst could really kill people.

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Special – Manager/Assistant Dashboard for Microsoft Skype for Business

FONCOMFORT QuickLink greatly improves call handling efficiency with 1 click actions to call, pickup and transfer calls. The Live Tiles allow users/ managers and admins to quickly see the presence status of their colleagues, if calls are forwarded and if given the rights, to see who they are speaking with. This rich information allows for intelligent decision making and if a manager/person should be interrupted or not when transferring calls.  Click on image for more details.


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AudioCodes Connects Any Closet to Cloud Communications

Read First: Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition makes it possible to connect any existing telephone circuit to Cloud PBX in Office 365 using a single server and minimal configuration. This allows for the user’s voice capability to be managed out of Office 365 while their phone calls continue to use their existing phone number, circuits and PSTN provider contract.

Microsoft’s recently announced Skype for Business Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling offerings continue to have a major impact on the voice ecosystem. However, many companies are hesitant to make an immediate and full transition to the cloud. Microsoft understood this challenge and implemented a strategy to offer a hybrid solution, where cloud-based PBX services are complemented by an enterprise’s existing on-premises PSTN connectivity.

The AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances for Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition integrate with Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition recommended architectures, providing on-premises connectivity infrastructure. Enabling integration with heterogeneous systems and legacy PBXs, which are critical for a smooth migration to the cloud, AudioCodes’ Microsoft-certified SBCs offer enterprise-grade security and reliability.

Additionally, AudioCodes’ SBCs can add value by delivering enhanced features such as advanced dial plan settings, high availability on incoming calls, support for analog devices and support for call recording from the PSTN side. The combined solution of Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition with AudioCodes’ infrastructure ensures a smooth migration for enterprise customers who want to move their users to the latest cloud unified communications platform from Microsoft Office 365, while preserving on-premises connectivity with their local service providers.
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Custom-Curated Newsletter Powered by IBM Watson
Accelerate Sales/Marketing Efforts

 Evan Kirstel announces a new service to help you accelerate sales for your team and channel partners.  I can create a custom curated and company focused newsletter delivering to you actionable information for your own sales team or channel partners.  In addition, via my Twitter team and multiple accounts, I can push that out optionally to
up to 250,000 Twitter followers
to direct prospective customers to your CTA-call to actions, customer-closing content and landing page(s).
To create this exciting information, I use xiQ’s Marketing Intelligence Platform,

powered by IBM Watson. The platform is enterprise-wide and is applied to its global leadership, sales, marketing and industry business unit executives. By implementing the cognitive computing-powered xiQ platform, Genpact is now able to identify real-time market intelligence that further strengthens its ability to support client growth, efficiency and business agility.

Background – “Thought leadership is a key driver of Genpact’s ‘Lean Digital Transformation’ vision,” said Gianni Giacomelli, Chief Marketing Officer and SVP of Product Innovation, at Genpact. “xiQ delivers real-time market intelligence to our leadership team,
reducing the time to process critical information while improving decision making. With xiQ, we have digitalized the process of keeping our teams on the cutting edge, winning customer confidence and driving business growth.”
xiQ’s Marketing Intelligence Platform leverages multiple IBM Watson Alchemy language APIs like Entity, Keyword, and Concept Extraction as well as Sentiment Analysis to help companies like Genpact analyze unstructured data from the Internet, social media and public records. This analysis, combined with xiQ’s other content marketing abilities, empowers sales and marketing teams with real-time insights that can improve engagement with customers and prospects. For example, by tapping into Watson’s Sentiment Analysis service, Genpact can analyze tweets and news from their clients, proactively identify their customer needs, personalize their engagement and enhance their customers’ experience.

Call or DM on Twitter to get started today and accelerate your sales efforts.

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Hololens Adds Live Spectators

Mixed Reality Capture (MRC) to aid in the visualization of holograms that the wearer is seeing from a first-person perspective to connect the experience of someone wearing a HoloLens with that of an audience (whether that audience is 1 person or 100 people) and also allows you to see what the people wearing HoloLens are doing and how they are interacting with their mixed reality experience.  Click on image for more.

Bottom-line – Cool idea love to get one.
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Amazon Chimes-In

As if the world needs yet another web conferencing service which is so overcrowded it’s hard to believe, Amazon never deterred announced their Chime service.

Here are the key features and pricing.
Online Meetings
designed to help you run productive and efficient online meetings from your mobile device or your desktop. Meetings start on time, they’re easy to join with a single tap or click, the visual roster shows who is participating, and anyone can mute background noise. It’s easy to participate, and you can join from anywhere.

Video 
allows you to conduct video conference calls with a single tap or click. You can use video conferencing for up to 16 people on your desktop, or 8 people on mobile devices, with easy to see video tiles displayed on your screen. High-quality wideband audio and high-definition video allow you to focus on the conversation instead of straining to hear what is being said.

 


Chat Rooms
allows you to create Chat Rooms to easily bring groups of people together to work on projects. @Username mentions allow you to alert the right people in the room, and you can share files by simply attaching them to the conversation. Chat Rooms are available on all your devices, and chat history is searchable.
Presence  
uses smart presence to indicate your status, where green means you’re available, and red means you’re busy. You can also manually set your presence to indicate that you’re not available, or hide your presence status entirely.

Bottom-line – Amazon not always wins but they are determined so be prepared.
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NecTECH: Nectar Assessment Partner – Know More Support More

Nectar Expands its Certified Advanced Assessment Partner Program with Learning Plan – click on image for website

As Doug Green Editor/Publisher of TelecomReseller once said, “you can’t sell what you don’t know.”  Same is true in nearly every aspect of a business.  You need to know a lot to support a lot and Nectar Services, an innovator in unified communications with their Unified Communication Management Platform (UCMP) that improves service delivery across integrated voice, data, video and application solutions by providing critical performance information to your executives and technical resources is bringing education certification to the UC industry.

Purpose

Many UC platforms, including hosted UC providers are devaluing network assessments because they slow down the deployment and eliminate some of the end client budget that would go toward the hosted UC subscription.  To articulate and quantify the value of having a qualified partner perform network assessments, Nectar created the Nectar Assessment Partner Program.

The Nectar Assessment Partner Program is a specific partner designation, indicating a partner is capable of:
  • Selling the value of a Network Assessment
  • Architecting a Network Assessment
  • Deploying Perspective (Controller & Agents)
  • Running a Perspective Network Assessment
  • Interpreting the Outputs of a Perspective Network Assessment (Qlik-/RIG-based)
A Network Assessment Partner is a Nectar partner that:
  • Has a planning and deployment practice for Avaya, Cisco, and/or Microsoft
  • Has enough network knowledge to effectively assess a network and recommend areas of remediation
  • An advanced Network Assessment Partner would have the ability to remediate for the customer.
  • Has passed the Nectar technical and sales competencies
Learning Plan
To earn the Nectar Assessment Partner designation, a partner must have at least 2 employees pass 5 courses with assessments:

Nectar 101

Nectar 101 is introductory overview of Nectar, our solutions and the value we bring to the market.  Specific topics covered include:
  • Who is Nectar?
  • Why Nectar? (solution value proposition)
  • What is Nectar? (high level module overview)

Perspective 101

Perspective 101 is an extension of Nectar 101 and provides more depth around the Perspective product and its value proposition to the market. Specific topics covered include:
  • Terminology Review
  • Component Roles
  • Typical Deployment Examples
  • Reporting Options

Perspective: Designing for a Network Assessment

Once someone understands the Perspective product, the first step in any successful assessment is an effective design.  This course walks attendees through how to design a network assessment, especially within the context of Skype for Business Online and the Microsoft Skype Operations Framework.  Specific topics covered include:
  • Nectar Network Assessment Partner Program Overview
  • Understanding the Network Assessment
  • Understanding the Customer Environment
    • Understanding the Topology
    • Understanding the Sites
    • Understanding the Users
    • Understanding the Traffic
  • Understanding the End State
  • Designing the Perspective Deployment
    • Components
    • Reference Architectures

Perspective: Deploying for a Network Assessment

After the design has completed and validated, the partner can deploy the necessary components and run the network assessment.  This course covers the practical aspects of deploying the solution and running a network assessment.  Specific topics covered include:
  • Deploying the Perspective Controller
  • Deploying a Perspective Agent
  • Configuring and Launching a Perspective Network Assessment
    • Components of A Perspective Network Assessment

Perspective: Interpreting the Results of a Network Assessment

Any assessment is only really as effective as the results it produces, how those results are communicated the end client, and how those results drive effective remediation where necessary.  This final lesson and assessment shows partners how to interpret the results of a Perspective network assessment in a way that is meaningful to their clients. Specific topics covered include:
  • Review and Confirmation Configured Sessions
  • Advanced Analytics
  • RIG-based Reports
Nectar is a global market leader in providing the most comprehensive monitoring and diagnostics software solution for Unified Communication services, enables IT and operation organizations to proactively ensure the end-user experience. Its flagship offering, the Unified Communications Management Platform (UCMP), improves visibility and service delivery across integrated voice, video and data application solutions by providing unique and critical performance information. Nectar provides monitoring and diagnostics for millions of enterprise endpoints to over 1,400 enterprises in over 86 countries-including some of the largest global banking, search engine, service provider, healthcare, and manufacturing organizations in the world.
Bottom-line – Knowing what you are doing is more than a must-have for yourself it is something that customers rely upon to keep them in business, I applaud Nectar’s approach and educational leadership.
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IBM Seriously Smart UC  
IBM and Genband are really full-on with global UC solutions delivery.  Here are a few excerpts from their announcements and links to IBM solutions.  They offer to:

– Build on an open, cloud-based mobile collaboration platform designed for hybrid cloud, so you can integrate existing investments. Deploy it recognizing that mobile is how most people today interact with each other and with content. And ensure that your apps don’t just work-they should work even better together.

– Integrate data sources and conversations from virtually everywhere.  The right open platform makes it easier to integrate existing technology and data from across and outside the organization. Create a smooth experience regardless of channel or the repositories you use, and enhance context, interactions and decision-making

with outside expertise and data sources such as insights from the weather, medical research or social networks.

– Apply a cognitive approach to high value business activities. Prioritize content and conversations to orient people to what matters most to them. Use natural language and mobile interaction capabilities and extend cognitive functions to your most pressing professional and organizational challenges. Deploy teaming applications and enhancements that understand, reason and learn across the spectrum of individual and team workflows.

– Enable cognitive computing features in your app using IBM Watson’s Language, Vision, Speech and Data APIs.
Bottom-line – Few remember that IBM made and sold PBX’s in Europe in the 1970s and now they are expanding their breadth and depth with complete UC solutions with help from Genband and others.  More choices, more approaches to UC are needed and Watson brings cognitive expert systems within the reach of any user.
 
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Six Core Concepts for Social Media Influencer Program & Webinar

By Evan Kirstel @evankirstel & Tom Cross @techtionary

Abstract

IM-influencer marketing is the means to accelerate revenue, lower costs, organize corporate communications and extend company goodwill to name a few benefits. This article explores these issues and a preview of the webinar (click on any image for details on the webinar) with Evan Kirstel Top Social Media Influencer and Tom Cross.

Here are some of the key points presented and discussed in the webinar with Evan Kirstel along with other key topics including the CEO as the ultimate social influencer and “tweet meets” sales lead generation via social media. The term “influencer marketing” (IM) or key opinion leaders (KOL) is the term often used by social media leaders rather than celebrity or movie/sports/rock star endorsements and other leaders of any kind including business, religious and others. Celebrity or star endorsements are not new but certainly less pronounced in the tech space. If Steve Jobs had survived there is no doubt newer, more exciting and more diverse products would be coming from Apple. His role is not unique as the CEO sets the stage for each company. Yet many tech companies believe that their tech speaks for itself not recognizing the role of advisors, consultants and social media influencers on customer decisions. The role of IM and IM professionals is to help core clients look beyond their own silo of solutions to work with customers and others to build more global solutions. The impact can be significant in reducing sales cycles, improve customer service and ultimately vastly increase overall customer and global experience.
Here is a brief summary and analysis of six key points for IM:

Connections
– create and connect with other social media influencers and guide with monthly “tweetchats.” It is truly amazing how many CEO and others fail really fail to understand that social media is social not broadcast media. Social media almost by definition means engaging with others not just preaching to them. Twitter even more than Linkedin is ideal for connecting with potential customers and engaging with them to solve their needs. IM extends the process by educating and ultimately gaining and retaining them. Customers don’t call you anymore they tweet their grievances and if you ignore them the entire world knows that you don’t care and even more importantly, prospective customers can see that as well. Companies that don’t understand are like companies who didn’t have websites 20 years ago and don’t update them today. In other words, engaging with customers throughout their lifecycle is a must-have approach to business going forward.

Content
– turbocharge your content reaching hundreds of thousands of users on Twitter and tens of thousands on Linkedin.

Content and curation go hand-in-hand as content, rather data only becomes knowledge after a human has understood, analyzed, shared and hopefully used it in decision-making. Big data is often used to suggest that we have too much information or TMI and that AI-artificial intelligence will somehow distill, synthesize or somehow organize it for humans. Yet AI is not a panacea not likely to give you any deeper understanding of the issue than you have now. In influencer marketing (IM) the knowledge of the influencer is always at risk when content from any source big or artificial is used to answer key questions. An influencer of any kind whether sports, movie or tech star will never have enough information to make specific decisions only general assessments and observations. However, to help all those involved get “on the same page” can be accomplished via IM. There is much to-do about IoT-internet of things but will the smart car talk to the smart home and what protocols, terminology and user commands be common to both. This would be the role of IM to organize different and complex systems, protocols and industry forums can help those involved (influenced) build common solutions. Smart companies can use or build IM to build bridges between companies and players to solve customer issues more quickly. This means that constant content research and development should be part of any IM program.

Curation – review and curate company content, provide guidance and enhanced thought leadership via influencer team.

 Curation actually comes from the term caring and now is applied to anything gathered from multiple sources into one place to writing blog posts. Curators organize ideas to help viewers and users gain insights. Curation can come from articles, thought leadership, research and knowledge base sources. Influencer marketing comes from ongoing research into content curation ensuring its real and

not fake news or distorted in anyway, yet add serious analysis and what is often called thought leadership. Without this content becomes useless or worse can cause confusion and conflict. For curation to be effective the context of its use must also always be in-play. Knowing or context or how the content will be used not only aids but accelerates the use and further application as well as pursuit of further curation and the IM can be of value as a real content curator.

Collaboration – collaborate with internal and external social leaders.

Like said so many times, keep your friends close and enemies close most often attributed to Niccolò Machiavelli author of The Price is also filled with priceless concepts on management and collaboration. Collaboration is not just working together but realizing that there will also be a hierarchical approach to management as the CEO and other C-levels will always rule the roost as collaborative they appear to be. Ideas come in, they bubble up, muck about and if merit, a business case emerges. The role of IM in this process is to guide, validate, collaborate and be the “out of the box” viewpoint on the subject. This delicate role is not as arbitrator or buzz-killer but to give input or collaborate as needed.

C-Level
– assist and guide the CXO on their social media efforts along with gaining-retaining followers via CEO Twitter Scoreboard.

The ultimate social influencer is the CEO who as mentioned like Steve Job sets direction, goals and inspiration to insiders and most importantly to outsiders. If Steve Jobs came out with bottled water or fashion line, we would all be drinking and wearing it. The role of social influencer and the CEO should be aligned as the IM can be the ombudsman, foreign correspondent and advocate. As IBM, Huawei, Avaya and others are finding the role of IM helps them in many ways traditional marketing doesn’t and can’t. This is the ultimate value of the influencer to help the CEO in extending their message, bypassing traditional corporate communications with staff and increasingly manage crises.

Concern
– respond to concerns expressed by customers and build and monitor system for sales, supports, IR/PR and compliance issues.

Aside from other gaps in corporate marketing, the IM can also fill-in where others can’t. Notwithstanding regulatory restrictions, IM can be on the forefront in the media where often the business press takes the company to task. IM can be the independent view responding to complex situations such as layoffs, store closing, product failures and other negative situations.

Crisis
– provide crisis response team to address 7×24 tracking to avoid situations such as Target, Wells Fargo, Chipotle and other corporate devastating consequences with live “tweetchats” demonstrating responsiveness.   In case you missed the current political environment, foreign countries are cyberattacking not just political parties but nearly every company or institution that exists. One small school district (state withheld from security reasons) has been attacked by multiple foreign countries repeatedly. If you think you is not going to happen to you, think again. The role of the IM in this area is manage the mess and to guide and assist the client in “damage control.” You can never have enough friends when stuff happens and in the case of what is going on in presidential politics your company needs this more than ever as you may just be a tweet away from brand, customer and/or

stock crisis. That is, cybersecurity attacks are one thing but other political attacks could be much worse. This means you should have an IM team ready and monitoring your business 7×24 so you can wake up and manage any mess.

 

Summary – these and other issues will be presented by Evan and Tom during the webinar. If you need immediate attention, you can visit http://www.evankirstel.com/ or email cross@gocross.com 303-594-1694 to get started and be ready today.

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Linkedin Selling Unified Communications Group – Buyers Welcome
Please join our Linkedin Group if you are selling and even buying UC gear/gizmos/gadgets/gagals and more.  Beyond networking opportunities, news, and educational resources, this group is about helping its members increase sales. Vendors, VARs, Agents and anyone selling and marketing unified communications solutions are welcome. If you are a buyer, you join and see what’s available.
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MS Teams in a Contact Center
 As a long-time fan of Matt Landis one of the really great MS MVPs but also great thought leader in UC I get his newsletters and found this particularly interesting.  He wrote – With Skype for Business Cloud PBX, members of a Microsoft Team can be used as the Call Agents in a Call Queue (Preview at this time). This means if a Microsoft Team contains the members you want as Call Agents in a Call Queue, just assign the Microsoft Team as the “Call Agents” in a Call Queue and you are done! Talk about integration. Talk about setting up groups one time and reusing them! I’m impressed.
Click on image for complete article and job aid.
Rightsizing Video Conferencing

  Right-sizing video is like finding one shirt that fits all – never happen.  Video conference rooms rather video interaction needs to be adaptable to user needs rather than one video conference room to fit all of us – never happen.  If I am critical of ALL the video  conferencing providers is it because they still miss the point about video conferencing – show the problem, not the people.

Look at these pics with outside windows — are they clueless?

Another with bad lighting and out of focus users – remember people look bad on video and bad lighting doesn’t encourage them to do more.

Lifesize has added more features to their technology portfolio.  Here goes.
With Lifesize, Skype for Business users can:
– Make and receive video and voice calls directly with Lifesize conference room systems
– Call into a virtual meeting room and connect with guests outside of your organization on voice or video
– Call into a virtual meeting room and connect with any third-party standards-based (H.323/SIP) conference room system
– Share your screen to and from Skype for Business with the conference room and outside guests on Lifesize
The Lifesize App is available on browsers (Chrome®, Internet Explorer® 11), desktops (Windows®, Mac®) and mobile devices (iOS, Android™), empowering guest users to easily communicate even if they don’t use Skype for Business.

Schedule calls with your colleagues via the Lifesize Outlook Add-in, which automatically populates the instructions for joining the Lifesize meeting.
– Synchronize meeting room calendars (Microsoft® Office 365 or Microsoft® Exchange Server 2013) with Lifesize® Icon™ conference room systems to display upcoming meetings on-screen and join from Lifesize Icon or Lifesize® Phone™ HD via the touchscreen interface.
– Add Lifesize Icon conference room systems to your Skype for Business contact list to enable quick access to commonly used meeting rooms.
– Add more scalable, interoperable virtual meeting rooms to complement your Skype for Business environment.
– Empower users to invite outside guests to join via Lifesize through the technology of their choice.

Lifesize adds to the capabilities of Skype for Business by providing:
– Direct calling between Lifesize Icon conference room systems and Skype for Business users on their desktops
– Lifesize pan, tilt and zoom HD cameras in combination with advanced beam-forming microphone array technologies and an easy-to-use touchscreen user interface, creating a superior quality of experience that’s only achievable with a dedicated conference
room solution
– Various presentation layouts and the ability to view more video participants on screen with up to 50-way group calling.

Bottom-line – more tech features does not solve really real human communications it just makes it worse.

 

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FonComfort and QuickLink Upgrades
The following new functions and improvements have been added :

FonComfort Professional 2.8.0
– Improved search while transferring: Now lists the most called contacts including 1-click dial function
– Suppress second calls when you are already dialing a number
– FonComfort client now automatically reconnects after losing connection (e.g. notebook in WiFi)
– During transfer, the call window of the called person shows the forwarding person
– Ongoing calls can be expanded to a three-person conference
– DTMF dialing after setting up the connection (e.g. PIN input for accessing a web conference)

FonComfort QuickLink 2.6.0
– Make calls on behalf of others
– Ongoing calls can be expanded to a three-person conference
– FonComfort client now automatically reconnects after losing connection (e.g. notebook in WiFi)

For a demo of either product, click here to email:

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IBM Sees Serious Spike in SIP Security Attacks – Get Seriously SIP Smart Before You Are Hit
IBM Security reports, “There are numerous protocols used in voice-over-IP (VoIP) communications. According to IBM Managed Security Services (MSS) data, the most targeted VoIP protocol is Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which accounted for over 51 percent of the security event activity analyzed in the last 12 months.  In actual attacks on VoIP communications, we note various types of disruption. Spikes in July and September were mostly the result of specially crafted SIP messages that were terminated incorrectly. Persistent, invalid messages are known to cause vulnerable servers and equipment to fail. The spike in October 2016 was largely influenced by SIP messages with invalid characters in the SIP “To” field. These could be reflective of suspicious activity, necessitating further investigation.”  Click on either image for complete article from IBM.


Nothing to SPIT At

When it comes to unsolicited information, we’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with or
reducing email spam in our inbox. But what about spam over internet telephony (SPIT), also known as VoIP spam? These unsolicited, automated phone calls made from internet-provided numbers are just as annoying as junk mail.
VoIP technology allows malicious individuals to conduct caller ID spoofing with minimal cost and effort. This enables attackers to obtain information or facilitate additional scams against their targets. A February report, for example, highlighted issues with certain VoIP phones that had insecure default configurations, which allowed attackers to make, receive and transfer calls, play recordings, upload new firmware and even use victims’ devices for covert surveillance.
VoIP services are also subject to abuses such as toll fraud, which involves taking control of network access to avoid paying for telephone calls. VoIP phone consumers should avoid blindly relying on the manufacturer’s default security settings and use strong passwords.
An attacker can carry out a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack by flooding a company’s telephone service with thousands of junk calls per minute from automated IP dialers. A phone DDoS attack could cripple an organization that relies heavily on its phone systems. The method has even been used to prevent fraud victims from calling their banks
after large sums of money were stolen from their bank accounts.”
Be prepared for SIP attacks by being smart and having a SIP security plan.  Here are just some of the 100+ compelling reasons for attending and achieving certification via the
Certification Corporation Certified SIP Professional program – Click on image for courses.
40+ SBC/Edge and SIP Trunking Security & Troubleshooting
1 – Calljacking*
2 – Jitter/echo
3 – Buffer overflow
4 – CODEC mismatch – asynchronous transcoding problems
5 – Audio – choppy, clipped, screeching, robotic, etc.
6 – VAD issues
7 – Noise – White/Pink/Brown
8 – Clipping and Dipping
9 – DSP – serialization
10 – Propagation
Others will be explained and explored in class.
*Like ABC News story on NYT, HuffPost, Twitter are you prepared for DNS IP Highjacking SIP Calljacking attacks prevention, detection and recovery are presented.
52+ SIP Security Recommendations and Solutions to SIP Attacks
1 – Malformed message attacks
2 – SPIT-SPam over Internet Telephony
– Robocalling SPIT
3 – Memory “leak” buffer overflow attacks
4 – VOMIT-Voice Over Misconfigured Telephony
5 – DOS-Denial-of Service attacks (overload, part SYN, FIN)
6 – TDoS – Telephony Denial of Service attack
– Part of an extortion scheme
– Spoofed Caller IDs to hide their origin
7 – Eavesdropping
8 – Masquerading (Trojan Horses) as a phone, user, server, as a customer
9 – Media injection – insertion of audio/video (hate – xrated) into call flow
10 – SIP redirect – fork call forwarding to another location
Others will be explained and explored in class.


10 Business/Customer Reasons
1 – Increase the revenue “uptake” or performance level cycle
2 – Increase the speed of sale or implementation
3 – Provide a more comprehensive strategic view of project scope
4 – Reduce customer support costs
5 – Increase customer satisfaction
6 – Increase user service/product usability-acceptance
7 – Increase customer retention
8 – Demonstrates company commitment to education and professionalism
9 – Demonstrates career commitment
10 – Increase employer value to stakeholders
for more or call 303-594-1694 for registration in Boulder or inhouse class at your location.  These courses are Made in the USA !
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Building Successful Social Media Influencer and CEO Leadership Program and more

Key topics:
– Influencer Marketing Program
– The New Social Media Engaged CEO
– Tweet Meets – Social Lead Generation & Selling

Dates:

December 13 – 9A Eastern & December 14 – 3P Eastern 30 minutes each.

evan kirstel

You will learn:

1 – How to Build a Successful Influencer Marketing Program? – Connections – create and connect with other social media influences – Curation – review and curate company content, provide guidance and enhanced thought leadership via influencer team – Content – turbocharge your content reaching hundreds of thousands – Collaboration – collaborate with internal and external social leaders – C-Level – assist and guide the CXO on their social media efforts along with gaining-retaining followers – Concerns – respond to concerns expressed by customers and build and monitor system for sales, support/service, IR/PR and compliance issues – Crisis – provide crisis response team to address 7×24 tracking to avoid situations such as Target, Wells Fargo, Chipotle and other corporate devastating consequences with live “tweetchats” demonstrating responsiveness Real results for monitoring, managing and making the most of your KOL-key opinion leaders program.  CEO Twitter Scoreboard


2 – What Defines the New Social Media Engaged CEO?

– “The ultimate value of any CEO is the price of the stock and social media can impact that.” – CEO Scoreboard – CEOs are measured the number of followers they have. – “Consumers aren’t going to connect with a robot CEO”

3 – Tweet Meets – What Defines Social Lead Generation & Selling?

– It’s a “one-on-one” world – Marc Benioff CEO Salesforce tells why Twitter is #1 CRM for sales and support. – Twitter is a must-have for support and service but missing the point about sales.

Presenters
– Evan Kirstel @evankirstel – named #1 Top Influencer in UC and many other B2B categories including CIO, IoT, cybersecurity and other areas and says “Twitter is

not just way to meet new prospects and partners, it is the way you run your company, department and maybe even your life.” More at evankirstel.com

– Tom Cross @techtionary – content curator and developer, journalist, speaker and thought leader in startups, artificial intelligence and manages more than 20 Twitter accounts for more than 100K followers. “In building the CEO Scoreboard, you learn so much about how CEOs use and ignore social media guidance and customer engagement.” See more than 300 CEOs on Twitter Scoreboard at techtionary.com

Registration Attendance is by invitation-only and $99 and includes a private conversation to be scheduled at a later date. Please DM either presenter or email cross@gocross.com

for more information.
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Broadsoft Jumps into Team Tech

Broadsoft never really has much of a public face as they provide the UC behind Comcast, Vonage Business and many other international VoIP provided but never less a real powerhouse in the UC business is bring out a team solution.  I called and given that Broadsoft Connections next week they were a bit muted saying they will have something big to say, so this is all I have to write about:

BroadSoft Business can scale to all market segments, from large enterprises requiring a complete cloud solution for their mobile, multi-site workforce, to SMBs seeking enterprise-grade cloud capabilities without the cost and complexity of premise systems. BroadSoft Business includes three core applications: UC-One, Team-One, CC-One, with BroadSoft Hub providing contextual intelligence across the entire platform so users can access the information and apps they need in one place.
  • BroadSoft UC-One – A mobile first unified communication application that extends across all of a business user’s preferred devices and delivers integrated HD audio and video, one number, messaging, screen sharing, file sharing, and conferencing, along with contextual intelligence.
  • BroadSoft Team-One – A powerful team collaboration application that goes beyond today’s enterprise messaging applications by leveraging persistent team workspaces and contextual intelligence. Team-One places the tasks, files, messages and notes a business user needs in one place, along with video conferencing, click-to-call, screen sharing and integrations with over 50 popular business apps.
  • BroadSoft CC-One – A cloud contact center solution that uses predictive analytics to lower operating costs and improve business outcomes, while enabling businesses to engage with customers from any channel they choose – voice, email, text, mobile, web, or social media – for a true omni-channel experience.
  • BroadSoft Hub – An enterprise-grade cloud service that integrates with BroadSoft Business apps to provide contextual intelligence for real-time access to the information relevant to each interaction – making meetings and conversations more productive. At the same time, pre-built integrations provide quick access to a user’s favorite apps to accelerate workflow.

Built into BroadSoft Business are bOpen, bMobile and bSecure capabilities that can enable service providers to deliver carrier-class security and reliability; the openness for businesses to be able to integrate their favorite business apps (CRM, email, calendars, Twitter, etc.); and full mobility to connect advanced unified communication and collaboration (UCC) capabilities to a user’s mobile devices. As a multi-tenant UCaaS solution, BroadSoft Business can deliver significant cost and scalability benefits to both service providers and business end-users.

Bottom-line — As you can see I am really keen on team communications.  For those who may have missed it, there are four types of human communications:
1:1 – email
1:X – distribution lists, newsletters, magazines
X:1 – group communications
X:X – bulletin boards
In other words, team communications fits into the X:1 category and an area which has been missing truly effective and efficient tools.  Slack, MS Teams and now BS Team-One portend to help.  There are all missing some key elements but will see if they can finally help streamline business task and communication management.
Click on the image for my books which all discuss this issue.

The real bottom line is:

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Cognitive UC “Think” 

IBM WOW-World of Watson hit like a hurricane with exciting new products, partner solutions and a new view of the way we about “think” everything.  Yes, that’s a picture of Thomas J. Watson along with his father built IBM into the powerhouse and the legacy lives in their namesake of IBM Watson.
One of the more interesting session was on Telecom.  Without diving into all the terms cognitive computing is the most relevant to Watson and where AI-artificial intelligence is going.  Cognitive computing was a top topic as IBM’s Watson took center stage on all kind of issues including unified communications.  Yet what is cognitive computing?  Here is one answer – Cognitive issues are similar to the physical issues; they relate to the integration of complex symbols, language, visuals, and other fuzzy factors. The integration of historical influences with genetic characteristics also takes place on the cognitive level. In machine terms, the influences are not only historical but also futuristic, and include the ability to imagine future situations, not only as an extension of known facts but also as a projection of the unknown.  If you thought this would be easy.  It is not.  Nor is any part of AI-artificial intelligence.   Watson is a “work in progress” or always “under construction” as humans we are never satisfied to know what we know; we always want to know more.   This means Watson is going to have to run to keep up.

As Quincy Allen CMO of IBM Cloud noted, “World of Watson spotlights the future of cognitive computing. But cognitive apps are here. They’re delivering powerful insights and amazing experiences, on IBM Cloud. Take the Seiko M-Tracer Golf Swing Analyzer, an app that connects with IBM Cloud to let golfers immediately analyze performance data like attack angle, club path and club head speed. Or take the app Walk and Explore New York, a personalized tour guide that customizes an itinerary just for you. If Watson predicts bad weather will affect your trip, it will automatically adjust your itinerary.”

Automate customer interactions

Watson and really any form of AI is really hardly more than asking Siri or any other voice AI app where should you go for dinner. However not knowing that you hate Italian, it would like suggest a place you would not go to.  However, here is a bottom-line bot — Create a bot powered by natural language understanding in minutes, then deploy via multiple channels and devices, such as messaging platforms like Slack, mobile devices/SMS, and even physical robots.  In other words, Watson is a co-pilot not a pilot for your work.  AI bots and the like will learn from you and then be more help with the range they know about.  They like humans are not psychic so don’t expect them to do things they don’t understand when often you don’t understand them either.

Bottom-line – Watson isn’t the only technology that IBM and others are working on.  It’s a vast array of issues and there will likely be millions of apps (maybe a few less) to solve even the smallest problem in your daily life.  Here is a roadmap of what IBM is up to.

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Denial of Service Attacks DDoS Simplified

Yes, DDoS-Distributed Denial of Service attacks are on the rise largely due to the press and politics driving hacking of the Democratic National Committee reportedly but not confirmed by unknown and unnamed Russian attackers.  However, they are coming to your website so you need to know what they are and have a plan not just to respond but thwart them before they start.

Here’s the basics.  TCP sets up with the Destination Port number via SYNchronizes the connection, manages the transmission of data sending SEQuences (parts), sends an ACKnowlegement to confirm receipt of data  and when FINished disconnects the session.
Here’s a self-repeating view of the complete process.  This explains the TCP set up process, how firewalls provide TCP port filtering, the TCP “sliding window” process and TCP FINish.  Click on the image for an animated tutorial.

The remainder of this tutorial explains the consequences of hacker attacks.  Hacker comes from the term hack which is slang that software programmers use to describe writing computer programs.  Cracker comes from safe/vault crackers to break/crack into a vault safe.  White Hat Hacker is a good or trusted programmer and Black Hat is a bad or untrusted disgruntled person whose desire is to cause injury or disrupt computer systems.  Grey Hat is a programmer of uncertain intent.
Hacker sends TCP-Transmission Control Protocol SYN-Synchronize message from a friendly site or “spoofed” with internal IP-Internet Protocol Address.
If target site is 198.20.0.0, hacker may send 198.20.0.255.
In other words, hacker(s) appears to be internal or friendly users.
DOS-Denial Of Service begins with a hacker who sends TCP-Transmission Control Protocol SYN-Synchronize message from a friendly site or “spoofed” with internal IP-Internet Protocol Address. If target site is 198.20.0.0, hacker may send 198.20.0.255. In other words, hacker(s) appears to be internal or friendly users.  Target (victim) responds with TCP ACK-SYN ACK-Acknowledgement – SYN-SYNchronize message.  In other words, target (victim) treats hacker as a friendly visitor or internal user. There is typically a 40 second window while the receiver (victim) waits to receive an ACKnowledgement from the sender.  This is a normal TCP process while the receiver waits to begin data transmission.  During this time, up to 8 sessions can be created.  If more than 8 sessions are created, then blockage occurs.  The sending of multiple TCP-SYNchronize messages is often called SYN-Flooding or DoS-Denial Of Service.  NOTE: Newer systems support more than 8 sessions and the wait window is often shorter.
In some cases of DoS-Denial of Service the target victim is bombarded with ping reflections from all the systems at the directed broadcast address.
The result is that not just one system but two or more systems may be attacked.
This is also called DDoS-Distributed DoS.
Too many simultaneous requests can cause system failure and/or users cannot get access causing DENIAL OF SERVICE.
IoT Driven DDoS Attacks
In simple terms, here’s how your cable modem, baby monitor, IP video camera, WiFi coffee makers or other devices often referred to as IoT-internet of things can be used to accelerate DDoS attacks.  Hackers use “brute force” attacks on these devices which often have weak passwords such as password123, cable123, etc.  By trying again and again, hackers try thousands of passwords until they get access.  Once they get access they can use these devices just like your PC to attempt to access a victim website.  Doing this with thousands of other devices, they attempt or succeed in blocking one or even thousands of websites.  There are many approaches you can use to possibly prevent them such as honeypots and other diversionary approaches.  It is way beyond the scope of this tutorial to suggest all of them but be prepared especially as you put all your “eggs in one basket” with voice et al. on your internet circuits and you should be very ready for “calljacking” the insertion of unwanted, malicious and damaging content or redirection to other locations.
If you want to know more you will have to take the class to find out.  Click on the image to get SIP smart.
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Machine Learning UC

Usually tech PR is just more “my tech is better than other tech.”  However, as we move from just talking to chatting, video, multi-media, VR/AR and more we need to explore how rather than just using NLP-natural language processing to “parse” sentences, is understand what a dog rather than cat is, we need to know more about machine learning and understanding of visual content.  Qualcomm says, “Moving video analytics processing from the server to the camera at the point of capture opens up a new class of ‘conscious cameras’ with tremendous benefits in terms of reduced data streams, better image recognition and immediate alerts and actions,” Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.  “With advanced connectivity, and computing technologies incorporated into the camera right at the point of capture, we push more intelligence to the edge, allowing deep learning to support highly accurate object recognition.”

Qualcomm also has a video analytics manager API and connected camera Software Development Kit (SDK): A feature-rich set of camera processing and analytics software capabilities including multi-stream, overlay, video HDR, temporal noise reduction, low bit rate codecs, voice activation, face detection and recognition, intelligent motion detection and object tracking. With such intelligence on the camera, customers can move from expensive, server-based video analytics in the cloud to efficient camera-based analytics. By only streaming data when qualified events happen, the camera platform is designed to reduce network bandwidth requirements and help minimize cloud storage costs.

Note Qualcomm is not saying they have AI or even a camera but the processing power along with a SDK and Linux support to push data to an analytics data to an platform which could be developed into a AI knowledge system.

Bottom-line – Content management and deep understand of image meaning is a long way off because the AI system may see something but not understand the meaning much less what the meaning has to you or any one else.

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IBM Push-SMS-Social Media Integration 
This case study and Best Practices comes from a very interesting white paper from IBM marketing and click on the image for the complete paper.  While I like the paper in general, there are some specific which I have added at the end to reflect differences of opinion and real-live experiences.  You can decide for yourself what works for you.
“Bridgevine, a reseller for cable and telecommunications companies, was challenged with prospective customers not following through with conversions – in this instance, calling in to the call center to schedule an installation appointment. So, the team decided to implement an automated email and SMS campaign with the goal of being more proactive.  Bridgevine placed a short form including both email address and mobile number on its Time Warner microsite. If a prospect completes the form and opts-in to receive future.  communications, but doesn’t immediately schedule an appointment, the individual is automatically placed into an automated re-touch program. In this program, the lead receives an automated SMS and email – both triggered via the IBM Marketing Cloud digital marketing platform – upon submission of the form. The first SMS is delivered within one or two minutes of the form submission. The lead continues to receive automated SMS and email messages for up to three days, unless it becomes a conversion before then. If the prospect in the program calls to schedule an installation appointment, the IBM Marketing Cloud platform is tied to Bridgevine’s call center via an API, therefore automatically removing the prospect from the program. The program has resulted in a 300 percent increase in conversions, with a call-back rate of 33 percent. More than 30 percent of the prospects who provided their email addresses also opted in to the SMS program.
SMS Best Practices
– Promote SMS opt-in across key touch points, including email, POS signs, ads throughout stores or in mall locations, or on transaction receipts.
– Create exclusive content for SMS rather than regurgitating offers you’re communicating through other channels.
– As applicable, build basic SMS programs like Text to Join, Text for Info, Text to Vote, Text to Screen, or Text to Win.
– Engage in a two-way dialogue with customers via interactive campaigns designed to look for specific keywords and respond intelligently.
– Look for ways to integrate SMS into your existing automated campaigns to drive stronger response.
– Send transactional SMS or SMS reminders by leveraging APIs to allow messages to be sent from your own infrastructure.
– Review and analyze aggregate SMS campaign data and use this data to drive more relevant content in both SMS and other channels