Tag Archives: SIP Security Certification

AI Social and Contextual UC #376 – IBM Security Reports Serious Spike in SIP Attacks – Webinar with #1 UC Social Influencer – CEO Twitter Scoreboard December Update

 (c) AI Forum & Unified Communications Forum

December 2 – 2016 – Issue #376


AI Forum – Exploring the Wild World of Artificial Intelligence and other Communications, Mobile, Contextual-Intelligence and other communications companies.
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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 !
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


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.

– 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.
200+ in

CEO Twitter Scoreboard

What’s Your Score?


December 1

#1 CEO is Sir Richard Branson

John Legere said it best,
“Consumers aren’t going to connect with a robot #CEO.

Jack Dorsey tells why CEO’s should Twitter, “When a leader, CEO or someone in a leadership position takes to the platform they have the opportunity to humanise their organisation, make it feel smaller and relatable to people.”

Click on any image for entire list with “Star” Ratings and Twitter followers.
Microsoft Rooms Advance Meeting Tech

First, remember the comment, “it is the economy stupid.”  In the case of telemeetings or room tech “it is the room stupid.”  Fixing everything inside the room will not fix the room and therein lies so many problems – lighting, HVAC, noise, auto traffic and more.  Second, there are so many article on “making meetings better” it makes your head spin.  Yet none of them make a difference.  The reason is simply that companies must provide “driver training” to managers otherwise as I have said before, “if you are boring F2F you will still be boring via teleconference and technology only makes it worse.” Meanwhile Microsoft is working on improving meeting tech, there are there projects in development.

To improve the meeting room experience, we are developing the following features to incorporate into customer products and services:

– Automated and integrated device provisioning, commissioning, and remediation.

– Collecting and warehousing both historical and real-time telemetry about meeting room devices, which we display end-to-end in OMS.

– Real-time device monitoring that incorporates alerts, alarms, and input from the IoT.

– A meeting health index, operational health index, scorecards, and diagnostic views that measure meeting experiences consistently across an enterprise.

– Unified management, reporting, and analytics tools for Skype for Business deployments on a single screen in the Office 365 administration portal.


Bottom-line – All good goals yet maybe work on environmental controls including those mentioned above would also be great, if not, must-have goals.


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:


Microsoft Teams Sink Slack – 5 Tips for Teams

Historical Origins – Douglas Engelbart

If you thought this is all new – think again.  Douglas Engelbart one of the greatest of all innovators and inventor of the mouse also built a team system.  From our original research, “Augment was developed under Douglas Engelbart at Stanford Research Institute in the 1960s. Originally known as NLS (for oNLine System), Augment became the kernel of the worldwide ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). Augment is not a teleconferencing system in the strictest sense of the word. Rather, it is an extensive package for the joint processing of computer-generated text. Most teleconferencing systems are organized around communications requirements, but Augment is text-oriented. It was the designer’s intent to create a system that would take a computer terminal and change it into a tool that would “augment” the human intellect.
Back to the Future 
Instead of overpaying for Slack, Microsoft does what Microsoft is good at seeing what others do and clone it and then beat their competition to the ground.  Don’t believe me ask Novell, WordPerfect, Lotus and so many more.  Slack actually got stuck in their own thinking they were the only game in town.  Microsoft also has their huge almost infinite installed-base which they can use to their own gain.  Here are some numbers:
– Exchange is the undisputed leader in corporate email and according to Gartner has “80 percent share of companies using cloud email with revenue above $10 billion.”
– SharePoint provides intranets and content management solutions to more than 200,000 organizations and 190 million people.
– Yammer is the social network for work, enabling cross-company discussions for 85 percent of the Fortune 500.
– Skype for Business provides real-time voice, video and conferencing and hosts more than 100 million meetings a month.
– Office 365 Groups is our cross-application membership service that makes it easy for people to move naturally from one collaboration tool to another.In 1982, I won a national award for this concept and so the idea has been around for a long time but Slack tapped into the core problem of email overload, team collaboration, group project management and more.  Still true today but written 40 years ago, numerous studies, carefully executed over the past decade in both field and laboratory situations, have substantiated how teleconferenced or groupware meetings aka MS Teams are better from face-to-face meetings:
– Meetings are shorter, as people tend to concentrate specifically on the task at hand
– Meetings are more task-oriented
– Meetings are better structured
– Meetings are more orderly, even though less hierarchically organized and less status-oriented
– There is generally more equality of participation
– More opinion exchange occurs in teleconferences, and persuasion is more successful
– In a computer teleconference groupware collaboration, there is more time for reflection and thought before the necessity for response and decision making.  There is much more in the ebook – click on image for really understanding how to use MS Teams, Slack or another similar concept.Meanwhile, here is what MS saying, “Microsoft Teams provides a modern conversation experience for today’s teams. Microsoft Teams supports not only persistent but also threaded chats to keep everyone engaged. Team conversations are, by default, visible to the entire team, but there is of course the ability for private discussions. Skype is deeply integrated, so teams can participate in voice and video conferences. And everyone can add personality to their digital workspace with emojis, stickers, GIFs and custom memes to make it their own.”  Team collaboration is much more however, it will take a lot more training which people have avoided for more than the 30 years since the writing of the book and will remain the bane of why meetings and meeting technology fail because people, for the most part are really dull and boring and they bring that to the meetings they attend or worse, run.  Another key point is that “have you ever come away from a F2F meeting with entire different impressions to what occurred than your colleague.”  How we each understand verbal communications versus how we interpret written language is another key benefit. The written word though certainly subject to interpretation such as what the Supreme Court and the legal system does also provide a system of legal argument and reference which is also useful in a business. In other words, the written word can transform space and time.  Meeting content can be shared with those not in attendance or those new or need to be involved in the discussion.Groupware aka Computer Teleconference

Groupware is a term used for this concept as well as computer teleconference. There are many advanced of this concept. Members of a computer teleconference also have access to complete documentation of their common project. The host system software keeps track of who has seen what material through a “status” system. Thus, the progress of the conference can be tracked by any participant. In some systems, the status indicator notes the stage of the meeting. Computer teleconferencing allows members to work privately, without formal scheduling requirements. Table 3-5 from the book was the result of research into better understanding the goals of management versus those of attendees.  People can also pair off to work on portions of the main topic of discussion. In other words, there may be many ongoing “discussions” within a multi-topic computer teleconferencing system. Subconferences can be open to anyone with a password into the system or restricted to a specific group. The software tracks who belongs to which conference, and within each conference it logs who has seen which items. Computer teleconferences may contain text, numbers, graphics in any form. Content may range from items of general interest for a loose group of colleagues to the draft of a precise electrical specification. Because any item can be a mix of text and programs (a program is, in a sense, a particular kind of text), one item can call up other text items or other software. By sharing, the individual user can easily integrate private work with that of others.
The underlying technology whether Teams/Slack or others doesn’t really get the heart of the problem.  Both concepts are just like having Word or PPT but you need to know how to write or build a presentation for the tool to be useful. Here are the 5 Tips though you really need more than these tips to be effective.  Documentation, or typically lack of, is an important aspect of meetings, and computer teleconferencing systems decrease confusion over what occurred at the meeting by providing a verbatim transcript rather than a notetaker’s interpretation of what transpired in the conference. If clarification is necessary, it can be quickly accomplished by posing questions to individual members of the teleconference. It is also possible to review an earlier meeting. A computer teleconference can shape the decision-making process. Its structure sets out guidelines for approaching a problem as well as for logically channeling the users’ input along the way.

Precursor to AI-Artificial Intelligence

Our view is that the focus should not be on the artificial intelligence (Al) aspects of the computer, such as its capacity for data analysis and storage-the very aspects that “shape the image of the technology.” Rather, he believes, the appropriate metaphor is the one that considers computer teleconferencing an “artificial” model of normal human communication:

The interesting feature of “Al” is not the use of computer hardware, but the conscious construction of new programs and conventions by which to simulate familiar communications systems, and to make possible new systems not previously conceived.

Bottom-line – Slack was the startup that now finds itself in the “crosshairs” of Microsoft who though not always often can take a product concept and push it to the masses.  I applaud Microsoft for this cool concept which I have been involved with for 30+ years.


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.


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, hacker may send
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, hacker may send 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.

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.

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.
IBM Analytics Podcast 
with Evan Kirstel @evankirstel
5G, augmented reality, virtual reality-we live in an always-on universe that can’t feed appetites for information fast enough. What consumer insights can telecommunications providers gain and act on from studying subscriber behavior? In this podcast, influencer Evan Kirstel touches on the digital transformation that is required of communications service providers (CSPs) in this new data-driven world of marketing. From adopting new technology to reforming institutionalized thinking, he sets up to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Some of the questions we discussed:
  • We’re truly in a golden age for the industry, and it shows no signs of slowing down. When we think about innovations like 5G, fiber, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), how do you see these technologies feeding consumers’ insatiable appetite for content across all available platforms and devices?
  • The constant streaming and collection of data fills a constant pool from which artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can draw actionable insights. What do these changes mean for the future of telecommunications?
  • Now, all complex systems such as what we see around the world in telecommunications eventually suffer outages, breakdowns or worse, especially as they are challenged by increasing consumer demand. How can companies proactively stay ahead of these challenges to reduce churn from fickle customers who will switch providers in the blink of an eye?

Bottom-line – It is a interesting podcast filled with lots of cool quotes.

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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