Tag Archives: twitter customer support

Business, Cloud, Apps, Ucoms, Social UC #366 – Blockchain: New Technology Insights – Twitter Tunes Up Social Customer Support

 (c) SIP, Unified Communications Apps & Cloud Communications Forum

September 23 – 2016 – Issue #366

 

 

Selling SIP, Skype User Forum, Unified Communications Apps & Cloud Communications Forum provides thought leadership on SIP, Unified Communications Apps, CEBP Apps, Cloud Communications, OTT-Over The Top Apps from SIP Trunk Providers, Social Media, Network Providers, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple and other Communications, Mobile, Contextual-Intelligence and other communications companies.
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New CEO Twitter Scoreboard

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Updated September 1

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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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Virtual Receptionist for Skype Business

One of the most troubling issues in running any business is the front desk, receptionist, security desk, door access, package deliveries and business office. Just add a SIP connection to your favorite door access system or control device and you are good to go.  Click on image for more:

Here are some of the highlights:

– Audio/Video PoE station with one-way video to communicate with guests
– For lobby reception, back dock and outdoor locations
– Intuitive touch screen
– Door opening through Skype4B or via soft keypad with individual customized buttons
– Direct connection to Skype4B so a Gateway is not required
– GUI, logos and ringtones individually developed to match the corporate design

Hardware

– Intuitive 10″ 1024×600 Multi-touch color display
– IP65 front camera
– 3x USB and 1x RS232,422,485 port
– Digital I/O (2 in/2 out) for door opener
– RJ45 (PoE LAN 10/100/1000)
– Microphone
– Fanless
– Power 12V-24V DC-IN (3-pin terminal block) or Power over Ethernet (24VAC optional)
    Operating Temperature: 0°C to +50°C
– VESA mount (75x75mm)

Software

– Windows operating system, Microsoft SfB/Lync basic client and sample code for door opener with preconfigured ring buttons connected to SfB/Lync
– Easily customize the GUI to your Corporate Identity via HTML – Button call destination, background, logo and bell button

Requirements
– Lync 2010/2013 or Skype for Business
– PoE LAN or separate power supply
– Mounting options

Bottom-line – This is a must-have for every Skype Business installation as sometimes the receptionist needs to go to lunch and you don’t want to have to sit their yourself.

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Twitter Tunes Up Customer Support

Twitter has become, if not a great place to engage with customers for sales, the new standard for customer support, engagement and experience.  Here is what they saying.  “Customer Feedback requests receive a response more than 60% of the time. Early use has also shown that customers who are sent a Direct Message link follow through to actually send a message roughly 30% more often than those who are asked to send a message via text only.  Businesses already helping customers on Twitter, or those who want to encourage people to engage, can enable these features via Twitter Dashboard, under

Settings. These new features enable businesses to tell users they provide help on Twitter, indicate when they’re most active, and ensure people know they have the option to send them a Direct Message.

Businesses can now indicate that they provide support, which adds that information to suggestions when people search for a business, @yourname in a business in a Tweet, or find a business in Direct Messages. Additionally, businesses can display hours of availability on their profile to help set people’s expectations for when they are likely to reply. These businesses’ profiles will also display a more prominent button to start a Direct Message so people know the business offers support privately.  Twitter mentioned a great example of customer support from T-Mobile, “we put customers first in everything we do, whether that’s our iconic Un-carrier moves or how we serve customers. We help customers on Twitter with real time responses – within minutes of the 1st interaction – that get insane engagement & resolution rates! Twitter’s customer support features help us tell this awesome customer care story.”  Michelle Mattson Director of Social Media Customer Care, T-Mobile


Bottom-line – Social customer support is the new wave.  It’s faster, easier and less painful for all, so what are you waiting for.

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Cloud vs. Customer Location Business Voice Communications
40+ Comparisons 

This is a comparison of two approaches to business voice communications today: in-office or in-the-cloud. We’ll try our best to limit the techno-babble language while listing dozens of factors involved. Traditionally, businesses had PBXs (private branch exchanges) and key phone systems which were the interface between your business and the telephone company. These systems allowed intercom dialing between users, transfers of any call, call control to limit long distance calling, billing management to track calls, voice mail messages, and more. Today, with internet telephones, users can make calls via the internet using office computers, generic IP telephones while using the bandwidth you already have for your data networking.

In reviewing more than 20 papers on this topic and drawing on two decades of experience, we have found that there is great confusion on cloud, hosted, VoIP, internet telephone, CTI-computer telephony integration and other terms used. Essentially, each of these concepts uses the internet for voice just like your web searches, cat videos, and email. That is, the same internet bandwidth “pipe” can be used for voice, data, video, web surfing and everything else. Instead of having two or more pipes for voice, data, POS-point of sale, security, FAX and other communications, you consolidate your uses into fewer of them. Separate pipes can be good for route diversity, a separate FAX line and/or an emergency when the internet and/or power fail.

Here is a running list of Cloud versus Premises based voice services. They are presented in random order as your priorities and preferences are not the same for any order we would present:
ISSUE
CLOUD
CUSTOMER
Reliability
Best Efforts
Industry Standard Guarantee
Scalability
Rapidly
Difficult
Bandwidth (1)
Same Pipe
Separate Pipes
TCO-Total Cost of Ownership
Variable
Fixed
Ease of Moves/Changes
Easy
Easy
Migration from current
Not Easy
Not Easy
Firewall
Required
Not Applicable
Regulatory compliance
Uncertain
Yes
Vmail to email integration
Easy
Easy
PC integration
Easy
Add-on
Remote Users
Easy
Easy
IT Integration
Easy
Add-on
Power
Required
Generally Built-in
International Calling
Uncertain
Integrated and Controlled
Instant Messaging IM
Built-in
Add-on
Room Video
Add-on
Add-on
Softphone
Key feature
Add-on
Mobile
Easy
Add-on
Disaster Call Redirection
Carrier-based
Carrier-based
Billing/accounting
Complex
Easier
Auto attendant
Built-in
Built-in
Future Feature Integration
Built-in
Extra
Conferencing
Built-in
Built-in
Contact Center integration
Built-in
Extra
CRM
Add-on
Add-on
FAX
Extra
Built-in
911
Not Easy
Built-in
Security
Add-on
Built-in
Phone & IT Cabling
Integrated
Integrated or Separate
WiFi
Add-on
Add-on
Cordless
Add-on
Add-on
Deskphone
Many Choices
Fewer Choices
QoS-Quality of Service
Uncertain
Guaranteed
QoE-Quality of Experience
Uncertain
Guaranteed
Speaker Paging
Add-on
Built-in
Remote Troubleshooting
Complex
Easier
Onsite Repair
Uncertain
Generally Available
Local Tech Support
Uncertain
Generally Available

Bottom-line – Every business is different with specialized needs. Manufacturing, education, hospitals, and other business environments can have very complex and even regulatory-driven requirements. Cloud or Customer Premises based voice communications are designed for specific applications based on the cost, benefit, need, and want. Each offers unified communications (UC) that have been evolving over the past 20 years and promise only to get better. With more than 500 UC providers & carriers, you can get your UC from another continent! But everything has to work across the enterprise from the desk, to the computer, to the mobile phone, to the IT integration. The critical factor in cars, mobile devices, computers, phones and other devices is getting them installed properly so that they can grow/contract and change as you do, with the ability to get them serviced in a timely fashion.

Footnote:
(1)  Bandwidth for UC is often overlooked as customers generally already have bandwidth they don’t completely use. Most UC providers leverage this expectation and let the customer figure it out when calls start to “jitter”, echo, or gargle. These QoS (Quality of Service) issues must be taken into account. Yes, UC can scale up and use that extra bandwidth but you don’t want the CEO to have a garbled call with an investor or customer.

Bottom-line – Everyday there is yet another article on this complex issue.  In comparison there was a webinar on IT cloud v. data center with similar issues.  Here is the chart and link to the webinar archive if you are so inclined.  Thus, there are no answers only more issues which like anything don’t become less but rather more complex.

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Skype for Business iOS Update

Way cool if you love video conferencing but way bad idea if you are really boring at it. Remember if you are boring F2F you will still be boring via video and one executive said, “even more so.”  My advice is video is really great showing problems not people so show the crack in the concrete, manufacturing problems, potholes and any other issues which why you are out in the field anyway. 
Here’s the update 9/5:
– Initiate a group IM or video conversation and invite additional participants
– Join, rejoin and initiate a Skype for Business Meeting to communicate and collaborate on amazing ideas
– Simultaneously view shared content and speaker’s video during a conference
– Control the meeting (mute or remove attendees) and know more about participants’ modalities
– Look at your upcoming meetings and join via one click
– Find your recent conversations and pick them up from where you left off
– Search your contacts by name, email, or phone number
– Enhanced security via Active Directory Authentication Library

Bottom-line – Use video for what it is really great for and not for showing your pimples.

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Level3 Scales Video Globally

Level3 has found its own reality in providing content providers with global reach.  As the say, “Content providers and subscribers alike benefit from the ability for rapid channel turn up – both to meet business requirements for new content, and to remain more
agile where time-to-market for content is critical. And our fiber-based network can be scaled to deliver bandwidth-intensive, next-generation formats with ease.”

  • Vyvx Linear Channel Distribution is a scalable, fiber-based solution enabling growth management while minimizing infrastructure investment and operational complexity.
  • Linear Channel Distribution leverages Vyvx’s foundation in software-defined networking (SDN) to provide broadcasters added visibility into where their content is going, as well as complete real-time control over which pay-TV and OTT platforms are authorized to receive which content sources.
  • The service eliminates the hassle of setting up new point-to-point or satellite distributions.
  • MVPDs and OTT providers can simplify operations and reduce operating expenses through fiber-based delivery.
  • Providers can receive content from multiple U.S. and international programmers and broadcaster sources over a common Vyvx infrastructure with Vyvx Linear Channel Distribution*.

Content providers and subscribers alike benefit from the ability for rapid channel turn up – both to meet business requirements for new content, and to remain more
agile where time-to-market for content is critical. And our fiber-based network can be scaled to deliver bandwidth-intensive, next-generation formats with ease.
Global Reach:
MVPDs and OTT video providers can expand their channel lineup with access to Vyvx’s on-net global community of broadcasters, rights holders, cable TV channels, local stations,
live encoding/media platforms and more. As the live TV viewing market evolves across more devices and locations than ever before, broadcasters can leverage linear channel distribution to
reach new markets by delivering their programming to strategic MVPDs and OTT video providers.
Tech Specs:
– Support for ASI, SD-SDI, HD-SDI and IP inputs and outputs
– Optional MPEG2 and MPEG4 encoding and decoding available
Portal View provides:
-View of available channels
-Reservation dashboard enhanced to support ability to see
subscriptions to transport streams
-Ability for content owners to manage subscriptions
-Enhanced Service Management Capability:
-Automated best path replication selection
-Ability to designate specific replicators
-Greater service management visibility into replication zones
-Enhanced bandwidth support for UDP/RTP scenario

Bottom-line – After a very long and hard road Level3 is giving customers the scale and reach needed for increasingly more complex content delivery.

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CEO Twitter Scoreboard – Update “CEO as Voice & Visionary”

CEO Visionary View

In a number of meetings, conversations and email exchanges I sought to determine what CEOs see in their own social media efforts. Here are some of the ideas given privately:
  • “The CEO is the “visionary” for the company and as the CEO that vision gets lost in all the corporate media related to our products and solution.  Twitter has given me the freedom to bypass all the corporate communications “silos” and speak directly to all our employees as well as other interested stakeholders.  I understand compliance regulations often limit the message but investor relations is a separate matter.  Twitter gives me the freedom to talk about how we are doing and how we are helping customers and all humanity.  It gives me the freedom to talk from my heart about what we are doing and what we could be doing more of.”
  • “No better person who, if alive, would be using Twitter is Steve Jobs.  He was a passionate communicator and was the ‘soul’ of Apple then and still now.  If you have an iPhone or iPad you have Steve with you and that is what the CEO can do and must to have an impact on global society.”
  • “I see the CEO as the ‘soul’ of the company as all the people who work here must have compassion for our customers and everyone we see or touch.  ‘Pay it forward’ is not just a cup of coffee but a reason to help everyone, ever chance we can.  Twitter gives me the means to get that message across not once but everyday and everyway.  Yes, I have learned that lesson that it is not just once-and-done but continuous communications to tell everyone our message.”

There were many other ideas expressed by CEOs and in different ways as they all saw the need to find their own “voice” in creating messages understanding all too well that it was a complex process.

Customer Communications
Support – Twitter is a must-have to respond to customer comments, concerns and questions. Rather than call you, customers post on Twitter using the famous hashtag #fail to express their concerns.  Yes, this is a public rebuke to your solutions which if you don’t respond, can spiral out of control causing further damage to your business brand and reputation.  Responding quickly and politely is critical to your reputation.
Sales – Social selling works, you can find potential customers, engage with them exploring your solution to solve their problems and helping them as well.  Sales is more than selling it is helping your customers grow as well.  You are also being watched by your competitors so take note to do a really great job.
Corporate – You are measured by the number of followers you have and if you only post blather or corporate sales or worse just retweeting OPC-other peoples’ content, customers will think less of you and simply buy from someone else.  If you think it is just for promoting your corporate blogs and blather, you are likely missing out on how customers really feel about you as its not broadcast media anymore, it is social media.

If you still ask “why” Twitter, the answer is both easy and hard.   The easy answer is – it is a really new way to connect with your customers and provide great customer service.  The hard answer is customers just buy from someone else.

CEO Xcelerator

In today’s business-political-social world, you are measured by many factors including the number of Twitter followers you have.  In fact, many surveys have found that websites in general are perceived as passive customer communication tools with Twitter being a far more proactive customer-engaging tool.  These surveys have also found an increasing number of customers go to your Twitter account before they go to your website doing “due diligence” on you looking for call-to-actions, thought leadership and content useful in their purchasing as well as customer complaints regarding your solution.  Your client may not have a Twitter business account but they may have a personal account and their advisors may as well.  You can also see how in some small way John Legere’s Twitter efforts have also impacted the price of the stock.

As noted Twitter expert Evan Kirstel just named #5 of Top B2B-Business-to-Business Influences more than 80K up 10K followers in August stated, “Twitter is not just way to meet new prospects and partners, it IS the way you run your company. If you aren’t engaged, your competition likely is!”  That is, CEO’s are beginning to see the real value of Twitter not just for their company but for their role as CEO in the company they run.  The New Social Media Engaged CEO as “The ultimate value of any CEO is the price of the stock and social media can impact that.”

If you are a CEO or C-Level we can help you and your company use Twitter to gain-retain followers and customers, here is an option called CEO Xcelerator from Evan Kirstel:
“As a CEO one of my greatest challenges to customers, staff and others, is communication.  With the help of Evan I am now communicating more effectively and engaging with more audiences which is having a positive impact on our business.  Evan recognizes the ultimate value of the CEO is having an impact on the revenue and brand value of the business.”
Here are some of the services provided:
– Personal and confidential executive mentoring and consultation on goals, style and messaging for ondemand and scheduled planning sessions
– Personal guidance on postings
– Custom curated content development from planned, ongoing and crisis communications planning
– Hourly, daily, weekly custom curated Twitter and Linkedin posts
– Review of Twitter Notifications and content guidance and compliance
– Review of Twitter Impressions metrics to understand content traffic
– Personal introductions to customers, strategic partners and key social media leaders
– Review and reports, as needed to measure gain-retain value
For a private and confidential consultant contact Evan 978-761-1524 or kirstel@gmail.com To get started follow Evan on Twitter @evankirstel and on Linkedin.

Bottom-line – Twitter is a must-have for any business and increasingly so for the CEO.

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10G Homes and Oh, 100 Gigabit Coming Soon 

The broadband industry is on the worst rat race possible. No matter how fast the speed they get into your home or office, the more you want.  15 years ago, I said there is an “infinite demand” for bandwidth and that was in the days of dialup.  The cable industry tech development group called the Cable Labs is faced with the daunting task of supplying this never-ending demand for broadband. The Cable Labs is run by Phil McKinney, president and CEO spear-heading DOCSIS 3.1 is in early deployment stages for some cable operators, and that the technology is expected to expand across the country within the next two years to offer one-gigabit, two-gigabit or up to 10-gigabit symmetric upload and download speeds. That level of speed can enable new use cases and services, he said, while adding that consumer equipment and in-home access points will have to be able to handle the higher speeds in order to truly implement a next-generation in-home connected experience. Click on the image for the complete article, “In the video, a father rides home in his self-driving car, which promptly begins a data upload once it pulls into the driveway. Inside, a mother is in a live work meeting via a “collaboration wall” that displays necessary information while in an immersive virtual reality. Their daughter is having a virtual reality chat with her grandmother, and eventually the entire family joins in a multiplayer game that turns their home into a white-washed laser-tag-like environment. The video focuses on augmented reality gaming and person-to-person interactions, learning and other futuristic services, many of them enabled by VR glasses and nary a wire to be seen. These possibilities aren’t just a vision for what the cable industry could provide, McKinney noted; the video is meant to be a vision of what other companies can build if the home network can support next-generation wired and wireless network speeds.”

Bottom-line – What a kettle of fish as they say.  We have an insatiable “need for speed” until we can transport ourselves from one place to another and I wonder we will go then?

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MS Buys Genee – Skype, Facebook Messenger Bot & More 

Microsoft bought Genee to add another tool to their toolkit but does it actually muddle the already murky waters regarding language recognition tech.  They say “Genee uses natural language processing and optimized decision-making algorithms so that interacting with a virtual assistant is just like interacting with a human one. For an example of how Genee works, let’s take a look at a common scheduling problem. Say you want to meet a potential customer, Diana, for coffee. Simply send an email to Diana and copy Genee, like you would a personal assistant. Genee understands that you want to “Find a time to meet with Diana for coffee next week” and will streamline the process by emailing her directly with appropriate options that work with your calendar and preferences. Genee will even send out the meeting invite on your behalf – freeing up your time. A coffee meeting scheduled in a snap.”

  Click on any screenshot for more.

This also came from the Genee blog, “Facebook introduced Messenger bots to great fanfare in April. Since Genee was already an artificial intelligence (A.I.) bot with chat capabilities on SMS and Twitter, it was a no-brainer to also make Genee available on the Facebook Messenger platform as a bot to help users with their scheduling and reminder needs anywhere they are. The Genee bot’s username is @genee.bot and is now available and waiting to chat with you 24/7.”

Bottom-line – What a kettle of fish as they say.  At some point, you will have so many apps who are talking to you and you them you may get lost in the middle of the conversation.  What if you take this app to a meeting and it starts rattling off in the middle or worse during a concall and you get in an argument with it at the same time Siri or another VR-voice recognition is also yaking at you its a real kettle of fish and what happens may come to bite you.

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Corporate Communications ROE-Return on Engagement
Not wanting to take the thunder away from any author or views, however, as a journalist I like to do a CSI on thought leadership to uncover real realities.  I like the idea of ROE-return on engagement as it sets a monetary value on communications and especially meetings. Yet while we can say there are lots of meetings, nearly all would agree to a larger extent that they are a waste of time.  But we need meetings to collaborate and share information.  However, since we are so disorganized about our meetings we cannot assess their value.  Do you see the never-ending circle I am talking about like a dog chasing its tail.  We go to meetings, hate them but go back again and again because we are expected to go.  My personal complaint is that they are often so boring they have literally put people to sleep.  Meanwhile, Ron Gaboury, CEO, YorkTel wrote a pretty good white paper on ROE.  Click on any image for complete white paper worthy of a good read.
Here are some of the highlights:

Step 1 – Evaluate Communication Patterns & Technology Usage

The initial step in the return on engagement process is a brief assessment of why people

are communicating, with whom they communicate, the tools they use for
communication, and where they have difficulty communicating. Gathering this
information helps identify specific business needs that collaboration tools can
support.
Step 2 – Determine Your Benchmark For Success
Before installing or upgrading any technology, determine the organization’s
benchmark for success.By determining the benchmark for success an organization is more likely to have a plan in place to optimize the usage of the technology that is newly installed or upgraded.
Step 3 – Calculate Costs & Savings
Understanding the value obtained by implementing collaboration tools helps
management understand why the collaboration tools should be viewed as a

necessity, not just a nicety. In this step those calculations are made to quantitatively show how use of collaboration tools can increase financial value to an organization.

Step 4 – Find Internal Champions and Benefits

Finding internal champions who already value the use of the technology and understand the benefits, helps others become successful.

Bottom-line – Not a brief assessment as Rod suggests but rather an indepth detailed communications assessment getting to the heart of the issues must take place before any meaningful ROE can be measured or achieved. In addition, continuous user training on preparing for and running great meetings.  If you have thoughts or need help, email me at cross@gocross.com.

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No One Wants To Connect With Robot CEO

 


Twitter Survey – Don’t Get Twitter – Your Customers Do
Twitter did a survey and found some interesting ideas for your consideration.  Click here for complete survey, however here are some of the highlights:
– Discovery – 66.4% of survey respondents said that they have discovered a new SMB on Twitter
– Engagement – 78.5% tweeted at a business
– Purchase – 93.3% plan to make a purchase from the SMB they follow
– Support – 49% have tweeted to a business many times


Bottom-line

Support – Twitter is a must-have to respond to customer comments. Rather than call you customers post on Twitter using the famous #fail to express their concerns.  Yes, this is a public rebuke to your solutions which if you don’t respond, it can spiral out of control causing further damage to your business.  Responding quickly and politely is critical to your reputation.
Sales – Social selling works, you can find potential customers, engage with them exploring your solution to solve their problems and helping them as well.  Sales is more than selling it is helping your customers grow as well.  You are also being watched by your competitors so take note to do a really great job.

Corporate – You are measured by the number of followers you have and if you only post blather or corporate sales or worse just retweeting OPC-other peoples’ content, customers will think less of you and simply buy from someone else. If you think it is just for promoting your corporate blogs and blather, you are likely missing out on how customers really feel about you as its not broadcast media anymore, it is social media.

If you still ask “why” Twitter, the answer is both easy and hard.   The easy answer is – it is a really new way to connect with your customers and provide great customer service.  The hard answer is customers just buy from someone else.
 
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MS Beams Up Another One

Microsoft is taking the universe by storm. Microsoft acquires Beam interactive live streaming service Finally getting off the couch and buying up what comes there way and even those on the couch.  Here is their latest. “Beam has evolved game streaming from a passive, watch-and-chat experience into one with real-time participation by the viewer; directly into a streamer’s game play and live broadcast.

Bringing Beam, their award-winning team and their inventive technology into the Xbox family supports our ongoing commitment to make Xbox Live more social and fun. Using “Minecraft” as one example, with Beam you don’t just watch your favorite streamer play, you play along with them. You can give them new challenges and make real-time choices that affect their gameplay, from tool selection to quests to movement; all through simple visual controls. In the highly anticipated “Sea of Thieves,” which is all about emergent adventures in a shared world, you can watch the drama play out between different crews from multiple player perspectives.

One of the best parts about Beam is that interactivity is easy for streamers to enable and customize, and is designed to work with any game.  We make it possible for streamers to involve viewers in their gameplay, no matter what game they’re playing.

Want to let your viewers choose your weapon, make quests for you, or even fly a drone around your room? You can do that, all in realtime. Our SDK allows developers to create interactive experiences for existing games with as few as 25 lines of code. We have native apps for: iOS, Android, Kindle, AppleTV, as well as support for Google Chromecast from both our iOS and Android apps and HTML5.”

Bottom-line – MS is getting better at buying things and letting them do what they do best.  So far Skype is a great company for the empire and maybe Beam will give them something to keep xBox viable or not.  Streaming is critical to making Skype more valuable but not sure if the platform Beam provides is viable for anything but gaming.

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Hololens Not Just Tech But Business Tech

hololens Hololens is still a work-in-progress but great progress is being make to make it a viable business. Of course aimed at developers who are invited to join the HoloLens community to help build the future of holographic computing. Get your Development Edition and start developing for Microsoft HoloLens now.
  • Kiosk mode. With HoloLens kiosk mode, you can limit which apps to run to enable demo or showcase experiences.
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM) for HoloLens. Your IT department can manage multiple HoloLens devices simultaneously using solutions like Microsoft InTune. You will be able to manage settings, select apps to install and set security configurations tailored to your organization’s need.
  • Identity. Azure Active Directory and next generation credentials with PIN unlock.
  • Windows Update for Business. Controlled operating system updates to devices and support for long term servicing branch.
  • Data security. BitLocker data encryption and secure boot is enabled on HoloLens to provide the same level of security protection as any other Windows device.
  • Work access. Anyone in your organization can remotely connect to the corporate network through a virtual private network on a HoloLens. HoloLens can also access Wi-Fi networks that require credentials.
  • Windows Store for Business. Your IT department can also set up an enterprise private store, containing only your company’s apps for your specific HoloLens usage. Securely distribute your enterprise software to selected group of enterprise users.
  • hololens
Bottom-line Very exciting to see an integrated business-technology solution, not just a tech one.
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Bands Get Serious about Microsoft Band
Electropop artists Broods (composed of Georgia and brother Caleb Nott) have collaborated with Microsoft for their latest music video “Heartlines” to produce a new experience for their fans, powered by the Microsoft Band. The device tracks heart rate, calorie burn, sleep quality, and exercise. During singer Georgia Nott’s performance, the team translated her biodata and energy – as captured by her Microsoft Band – into stunning geometric visuals in the music video.  
The brother-sister duo, who released their second album Conscious on June 24 via Capitol Records, wanted to rethink the music video experience and create a deeper, more emotional layer for their second single “Heartlines”, co-written with fellow New Zealanders singer-songwriter Lorde and Joel Little.
ABOUT LISTEN

“As part of the Music x Technology program we’ve been working with artists to push the boundaries of the music experience. The collaboration with Broods was particularly exciting as the band were eager to explore how Microsoft technology could create a more intimate and engaging experience for their fans.” said Amy Sorokas, Strategic Partnerships Director of Microsoft Brand Studios.

This collaboration is the latest in an artist series featured on Music x Technology, an initiative that celebrates forward-thinking artists who are using Microsoft technology to transform the way we create and experience music. With monthly artist collaborations, the program seeks to empower artists with unique opportunities to create one-of-a-kind experiences for their fans.
For more information visit www.microsoft.com/musicxtech.
For all media inquires, please contact Sarah Bronilla at VOCAL: Sarah@VOCALnyc.com.
Listen helps brands + artists grow through creative and culturally relevant applications of music + sound. For more information visit
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Ultra-Compact UCBox-SIP Gateway, SIP telephony for Microsoft Skype for Business

Doubt that many of you know Bressner but they have development a number of cool Skype For Business apps. Now they provide an UCBox-SIP Gateway, a new compact gateway for Microsoft Skype for Business. The UCBox-SIP Gateway contains Bressner-developed technology created based on years of market experience to simplify and optimize the customer’s experience. It is designed for use with standard SIP devices and SIP trunks to extend Skype for Business to Enterprise Voice. The new SIP gateway is configured in a few minutes and requires no extensive knowledge of networking, which enables small companies, to quickly and easily to put into operation. A simple certificate assignment and the default standard routing eliminate extensive and complex installation.

bressner

 The simple, straightforward interface shows a manageable number of configuration parameters to prevent mistakes during setup and administration. Maintenance or modifications are also done in a few easy steps as required from time to time. It fully supports the common telephony features along with FAX and LDAP. Incoming faxes are forwarded via AD-access to the e-mail inbox of the corresponding user. In addition, the gateway has a built-in test function to verify desired functions. SIP trunks and terminals are preconfigured to eliminate complex integration tests. In addition, even devices that are not certified by Microsoft, such as ATA adapter or SIP compatible DECT, as well as wired devices are supported by the gateway and can be integrated seamlessly. This eliminates the need to buy new end devices before being able to switch to a complete Skype for business UC solution. The UCBox-SIP Gateway can be used in conjunction with Bressner’s FonComfort suite to show ‘presence’ information on all registered devices in the Lync / Skype for Business client. This also allows the combination of parallel ringing of a DECT phone and SfB / Lync client with simultaneous “Busy-on-Busy”, to avoid call attempts when the user is on the phone. In combination with a local Skype for Business Server, the SIP gateway can also be integrated with Office 365 or other Skype for Business Hosting providers. This delivers all the advantages of a solution in their own office environment, such as emergency telephony, customized extensions of Skype for Business and lower WAN bandwidth usage. The system ensures safe and reliable operation of Skype for Business in the cloud. With the new UCBox-SIP Gateway Bressner has further expanded its Unified Communication solutions to help small and medium enterprise easily integrate their system and deploy flexible Skype for Business solutions quickly and efficiently. bressner

Compatibility: Qualified for Microsoft Lync: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/office/dn788945.aspx The UCBox-SIP Gateway is compatible with standard SIP Trunks, Skype for Business 2015, Lync 2010 to 2013, Microsoft Exchange and other SMTP email servers. A Silverlight-enabled browser is required. Further details regarding the UCBox-SIP Gateway can be found here:

http://bressner.com/ucbox-sip-gateway/

 
About Bressner Technology
Bresssner Technology GmbH, headquartered in Gröbenzell near Munich, is a system integrator and value-added distributor of industry-standard IT solutions and products for applications in the fields of measurement and automation technology, automotive, transport, digital signage, logistics, medical, M2M and IoT. The product range includes the following core areas: “Industrial and Embedded Computing”, “Panel PC and display solutions”, “Communication Solutions” and “Telecom and Skype for Business Solutions”. With its own software development for Lync / Skype for Business, Bressner Technology has established itself as a Microsoft GOLD Partner. The company is characterized by a high level of service and qualified advice by engineers and technicians. Our own production provides ESD protection and is based on the most modern production facilities and quality assurance procedures. Bressner Technology is ISO 9001 certified by using defined production processes to optimize quality. Founded by Josef Bressner 1994 currently employs over 40 employees and has offices in UK, USA and the Czech Republic. Contact: Mitch Friend +1-561-953-1866
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If you thought you had seen it all or certainly had enough here comes Bots to drive you and your customers/users crazy.  There is now a series of partner-inspired bots into the Skype Bot directory on our Android, Windows, iOS, Mac and Web apps. Currently, we are focused on creating Skype Bots in our directory that deliver interesting experiences, in a variety of scenarios. You can communicate with a bot by having a regular chat conversation, in the same way you would when talking to another person. The more you use bots, the better they get at anticipating your needs. We want bots to become the quickest way to handle simple tasks, like shopping or managing your calendar, and the most effortless way to complete complex tasks, like planning a vacation from scratch.

They also announced three key updates to the bot framework, including group functionality, to make your chats even more helpful. Now, rather than switching between different apps or clicking through multiple Web pages, the bot does the work for you. Bringing a bot into a group conversation allows you to do things together with your friends, family, or co-workers like never before. Using a group bot, you and your friends can collaborate on a task such as planning a trip or choosing a restaurant or even play trivia together.

Here are some of the key updates:

Groups
Make Skype Bots that are more productive-or just entertaining-for groups of users. Bots can now be a part of and respond to group conversations.
Cards
Create visual cards for compelling user to bot interactions with image cards, carousels, and receipts.
Carousel card – Hero card – Receipt card
Natural Language
Skype has collaborated with Bing to showcase a preview of Bing Entity and Intent detection so that natural language understanding is built right into Skype Bots-an industry first.
Third-party authentication
Connect users to your service by having them sign in right on a card. This means they authorize their credentials once and continue to enjoy their bot experience without further interruptions.
Bottom-line –  I pushback on things that are more like a technology “in search of” a user or application or something.  We just don’t need more technology we need more technology we can all benefit from and well, here we go again.

Finally, I found a simple explanation for a bot.  This one is for Skype but you can have a bot for anything.  They wrote, “What is a Skype bot? Connect to artificially intelligent bots to do all kinds of things. You can start chatting with a bot just like you chat with friends – simply click on the bot and start typing.”  And, here is a page you may want to bookmark, “There are lots of bots available for you to add as contacts, and we’re adding new bots all the time so be sure to check back regularly.”  These examples are hardly reflective of what people actually do though we like “speed dial” and other “time-saving” ways to save us from otherwise very tedious and repetitive tasks.

Bottom-line –  Shortcuts, bots, speed dial, acronyms are tools in all part of our crazy world.  Whether we use them is hardly a matter as the concept of bots will change to the point where we use them more.  It seems to me that “Siri” is also a bot which is use find and dandy.
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Key Connections to Keep You Top of Mind
After extensive and exhaustive research with hundreds of twitter followers and conversations with sales and CRO-chief revenue officers, TweetMeets brings together proactive lead generation with 7×24 social media.  “Everyone is really frustrated with current lead generation processes,” noted Evan Kirstel @evankirstel one of the top #5 leading social media influencers.  “Sales and social media marketing are still missing the links for effective lead-to-close connection, TweetMeets will close this gap and shorten the sales cycles and increased ROI.”  Focusing on B2B lead generation, TweetsMeets will provide:
– Social product matching – review of product/solution and sales strategy.
– Social media lead discovery – determine qualified customers and channel partners
– Social media content development – actionable CTA-calls-to-action and content recommendations
– Social media introductions – personal introductions
– Social media promotions of clients to select audiences
– Ongoing social media promotion and evaluation
TweetMeets services are priced per-lead, per-introduction, per-close or other means.
Specifically, introduce you to CXO level contacts on Twitter and LinkedIn as well as channels, business partners, and industry analysts.
One of the many comments regarding the TweetMeets approach include:
– “If you can dominate a trading area, it’s much more difficult and expensive for competitors to take customers away from you.  TweetMeets give you a competitive edge”
– “Our biggest competitor in software is not a very good technical company.  But it’s one of the best marketing companies I’ve ever seen.  TweetMeets keeps us on target”
“They learn, they assimilate, then they copy.  Once they get done with all the other blips on the radar screen, you become another blip.  If you get ‘amazoned’ you need to be shopping for a cemetery.”
TweetMeets is an affordable complementary lead generation process to current leadgen processes.
To schedule a complimentary conference call contact Evan Kirstel via Twitter @evankirstel or kirstel@gmail.com or 978-761-1524.
Bottom-line –  Linking sales to marketing has always been a challenge.  Here is a great way to make sure they really are linked.
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No doubt you or others are already working on Pokemon chat UC apps.  If you aren’t here is a way to get started in this exciting though likely short-lived global phenomenon.  This website provides a RESTful API interface to highly detailed objects built from thousands of lines of data related to Pokémon. We specifically cover the video game franchise, though we’d like to cover the card game too. Using this website you can consume information on Pokémon, their moves, abilities, types, egg groups and much more.  Click on the image to get started.

Bottom-line –  Games, game theory and machine technology are exciting tools to use in rethinking, redesigning and creating solutions for current complex management dilemmas. However, as Alan Turing and others struggled with early computing concepts; coded programs can only reflect what the coder/design knows or can anticipate. As like the forecasts for the growth of cars long ago, there were no forecasts for traffic jams much less “road-rage” which are critical issues for today’s transportation planners as these are issues to be considered today. In practical terms, this means in the case of transportation forecasting games to factor in “road-rage” as an element in the game. In global economic games, what else likes ahead can hardly be imagined because it will not like be what we think it will be really like. That means something like from “The Imitation Game” comes this, “sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” The future for machine intelligence, man-machine integration, cyber-implants (for medical, food chemistry, health, learning, war, etc.) and other concepts is really beyond any imagination we have today because we often need to think not from what we know but what there can be. If you need a rewards/loyalty gamification app, click on the image to the right.
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In case you want to see the list of all the approved S4B apps, click on the image.

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I wish Actiance and Nectar would merge so they could bring all their must-have solutions together in one place.  Nectar’s suite of cloud-enablement solutions are designed to assist enterprises migrating to an Office 365 cloud or hybrid environment. The suite of solutions under Nectar’s award-winning UC Management Platform (UCMP) focuses on planning, assessment, active monitoring and diagnostics to help ensure an optimum Skype for Business end-user experience. The demands for UC voice, video and collaboration continue to grow at a rapid rate and planning and assessment play a critical role early in the process to ensure an enterprise’s network is ready for a UC migration. Because networks are dynamic, monitoring the heartbeat of the environment can often identify a potential issue before it becomes a major problem. Active monitoring of the enterprise network or cloud delivery path is then key during the migration and post-deployment phases.
Assessment
  • Enterprise Network Assessment
  • Enterprise Cloud Assessment
Active Monitoring
  • Active Enterprise Network Monitoring
  • Active Enterprise Cloud Monitoring
Diagnostics & Real-Time Quality
  • Real-Time Session Quality for Hybrid Environments
Planning – Prior to Migration & Deployment
  • Infrastructure Inventory & Management of Legacy Environment
Bottom-line – Customers always have and likely always prefer “one-stop shopping” to wasting time figuring out everything.  IT shops have enough to do and increasingly get less of what they really need – sleep. Speaking of Nectar says they “enable up to a 36% time savings in network operations, which translates to 36% more time that’s available for business innovation.”  I never can figure out why they say that because it assumes that people are just sitting around 36% or whatever figure they use.
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Late in 2015, the two Microsoft divisions in Denmark were ready to move into a brand new office building. The building accommodates 850 employees from Microsoft Denmark and Microsoft Development Center Copenhagen in what Microsoft calls “workplace of the future”, and they all have to work in an open office environment with only 309 seats, but 230 meeting rooms.

Thomas Schnegelsberg, Director Microsoft Customer & Partner Experience, had no doubt that they would need a tool to avoid interruptions among the employees in the new environment, and he found a solution.

“The reason why Microsoft has deployed Busylight in our new office building is because we are sitting in open office space, and we need to help our employees reduce the interruptions they experience every single day at work. It helps people respect each other’s time.” Thomas Schnegelsberg has no regrets about that decision.
“The employees have adapted to the solution in a very positive way because it has given them an opportunity to control their own time and control the way they work”, he explains.
Niels Kjelstrup, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft, is especially excited about the way Busylight contributes to increasing Skype4Business user adaption.
“Busylight is an excellent example of a piece of hardware that actually can improve the user adaption of Skype4Business overall because you get a physical thing that shows if you are online or not, so it is easy to see who has logged in. But also when you are receiving calls or instant messages – then you get an alert in Busylight,” he describes.

Click on either image for website.

Bottom-line – Time-Wasting Interruptions cause enormous stress. Professor Gloria Mark of University of California, Irvine, studied a group of office workers over a 13-month period and found that technological multitasking led to work interruptions every 10 ½ minutes. To make matters worse, it took the average worker more than 23 minutes to get back to their task after being interrupted.

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Skype is trying to figure out group calls and large scale meetings in order to be more competitive. You can now record meetings, share your screen, and annotate PowerPoint for real-time collaboration with up to 250 people. Use whiteboard, polls, Q&A, and built-in IM during your meetings to make them more productive.

Bottom-line – The challenge is mixing their solutions into one unified communications offering.  Sounds like you have too many cooks in the kitchen as customers have always looked for one-stop shopping.  Hopefully they will find out how to make a “happy meal.”

APPROVED for iPhone/iPad and Health, Fitness Tech Healthcare, Caregivers
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Never been much of a fan of Level 3, they have always had a “we know it all attitude” even after losing money for more than a decade.  They didn’t get the point that there is an “infinite demand for bandwidth” a quote I made in 2001.  In addition, they were stuck focused on the conduit rather than the content.  Now maybe things are changing though will have to see much more of this to believe the really understand what they are doing.  Here’s their latest.  The Over-The-Top (OTT) market is moving in the direction of virtual reality (VR) according to “The OTT-Video Services Market-Today’s Trends and What is Next for 4K, HDR, HFR and VR” study released today.

The global study, commissioned by Level 3 Communications (NYSE: LVLT) and conducted by Unisphere Research, in partnership with Streaming Media, interviewed 628 people from media and entertainment companies across the globe. Respondents were asked to weigh in on the current state of OTT as well as some additional topics ranging from business, technology and competitive challenges and the revenue viability of offering OTT services. The study built on research conducted in 2015, probing respondents on next generation content like virtual reality (VR), 4K, high dynamic range (HDR) and high frame rate (HFR) video.
Among the most compelling results is the opinion of respondents, “VR-video will become a mainstay of streaming video.” While VR is expected to become a mainstay, researchers also found potential barriers to adoption including lack of consumer access to players, delays in the availability of VR devices and bandwidth limitations for OTT VR content delivery.
Key Findings:
Below is a sampling of the findings from the OTT study; a comprehensive overview of the data and analysis can be found in the full report.

– 45 percent of companies surveyed are offering OTT services, which is a 10 percent increase over 2015, indicating significant adoption.

Of the companies offering OTT services:

– 52 percent are researching, getting ready to launch or have already launched VR-video content

– 67 percent believe VR is here to stay, however, acknowledged primary business and technical challenges including lack of consumer awareness, interest and fear of competition from free services, user generated content and bandwidth caps.

– Close to 50 percent of respondents have plans for 4K broadcasts, 4K VOD streaming and/or 4K live-linear or live event streaming.

– On the HDR and HFR front, almost 70 percent of respondents confirmed they offer or plan to offer both HFR in existing HD video, as well as offering HDR content for greater color depth.

– 87 percent of respondents stated offering OTT services is a viable revenue opportunity.

– About half of respondents [48 percent] expected their OTT revenue to grow between 11 to 50 percent from 2015 to 2016, and almost 20 percent of respondents anticipated growth to be more than 50 percent year over year.

– Some impending OTT service offerings are expected to begin emphasizing live OTT content over on-demand content. If this occurs, it will signal the first time the OTT industry has highlighted live content instead of on-demand content and catch-up services.

– Forty percent of respondents have a multiple-CDN (content delivery network) approach for their OTT video services.

Click on this image for more Level 3 services.

 

Bottom-line – Level 3 may be on their way to integrated streaming solutions though would like to see them create their own content solutions.

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We present a short 17-minute podcast of a webinar on Twitter.
If you still ask “why” Twitter, the answer is both easy and hard.

The easy answer is – it is the new way to connect with your customers and provide customer service as they don’t complain by just calling you they increasingly complain via Twitter with the famous hashtag #fail which can go viral.  If you think it is just for promoting your corporate blogs and blather, you are likely missing out on how customers really feel about you, this is the hard answer because customers just buy from someone else.

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Microsoft Gaming CRM

Game theory is not just an academic experience nor one just for computer games.  Here is a new approach to gaming and UC from Game Effective.  They say, “Communication in an organization is essential. It can be extremely effective to use gamified eLearning as a way of communicating objectives, goals and expected results, such as the need to sell more of a certain offering etc. This, in turn, creates a line-of-sight between corporate objectives and performance, driving better engagement. To read more about the “line of sight” concept read this interview with Yahoo’s ex-VP Customer Experience, here.
3. It is important to integrate gamification projects seamlessly with the company’s
Learning Management Systems (LMS) to encompass the employee workday. This means that while metrics and activities on one app – the customer service desktop, for instance – are gamified, LMS activities can and should be brought into the fold, and “served” within the gamification project.
Click on image for complete white paper.
4. Micro Learning is the delivery of learning material broken down into small, bite-sized pieces that can be accessed when and where users want it. Micro-learning gives employees a sense of autonomy, control and satisfaction, because they get to choose what to learn and when. We’ve written more about that later in this guide.
5. Gamification can be used in events by encouraging team participation. Microsoft used gamification in a strategy event. The company managed to get 100% engagement in its Top Leadership Sales Strategy Summit – a meeting between the top 50 leaders of the group to bond, discuss strategy, learn more about changes to the company’s offerings and products, and in general to bring management up to date on the vision, financial results and strategy for the year. Since no-one wanted to let their team down, engagement levels hit 100% almost immediately,

participants answered questions about the presentations and discussions, corrected wrong answers and collaborated to increase their team scores.”

Bottom-line – Gaming is involved in nearly every aspect of the next-gen business and building gaming solutions will be part of UC technologies.

Get Your Startup Ramped Up Via Microsoft Ventures

If you are looking for angel/venture capital funds, there is a new source – Microsoft.
F
rom the Microsoft blog site:
By Nagraj Kashyap – Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Ventures
“When I came to Microsoft earlier this year, I was driven by the opportunity to establish a corporate venture group that would create an additional channel to engage the start-up ecosystem. It would support not just company objectives, but our customers, partners and the ecosystem more broadly. The idea was that we would take an approach which would augment our own product and technology efforts, and enable us to place both strategic and financial bets with early stage companies.
In Microsoft’s history of engaging with and supporting start-ups, we’ve done a lot of investing, but not a lot of early stage. Because we would often invest alongside commercial deals, we were not a part of the early industry conversations on disruptive technology trends. With a formalized venture fund, Microsoft now has a seat at the table.
Going forward, this will help us identify and harness those trends as early as possible. To ensure we capitalize on these opportunities, Peggy Johnson and I have created a new team called Microsoft Ventures, a small but nimble team focused on building and extending our muscle of investing with impact. As with the rest of the Business Development team at Microsoft, our view is outward into the market – we focus on the inorganic growth of Microsoft, looking at where we can provide a step function, versus incremental progress.
On one side of the spectrum, we help early stage companies with tools, technology and consulting through Microsoft Accelerator*. And at the other end is where you’ll typically see our larger investments and acquisitions. Microsoft Ventures now fills a gap we’ve had somewhere in the middle of that range.
There are often questions around corporate venture programs versus venture capital firms, and whether or not they are at odds or create disadvantages for entrepreneurs. In our case, we are driven by the desire to help early stage companies take advantage of Microsoft’s financial, technical and GTM resources. While we have aspirations to have global impact in new and different ways, we don’t believe we need a large team to do it. In fact, we feel pretty firmly that true advancement will require the efforts of many organizations within Microsoft being smart and focused in what they do best and collectively work to help startups scale.
Over the last several months, Peggy and I have worked closely with her leadership team to define what Microsoft Ventures would stand for, where we would invest in talent, what geographies we would target and where we would focus our investments. We are starting with a presence in SF/Bay area, Seattle, New York City and Tel Aviv and with the goal of expanding to other geographies in the coming years.
Given that the move to the cloud remains the single largest priority for the industry, identifying the bleeding-edge companies who complement and leverage the transition to the cloud is key to our investment thesis. Companies developing product and services that complement Azure infrastructure, building new business SaaS applications, promoting more personal computing by enriching the Windows and HoloLens ecosystems, new disruptive enterprise, consumer productivity, and communication products around Office 365 are interesting areas from an investment perspective.
In addition, and on a more horizontal axis, you should expect to see us invest in companies who are doing work in the areas for machine learning and security.
We’re not aiming to hit a specific number of investments annually, but you should expect steady activity over the course of the year in the areas I outlined.
In the coming days and weeks ahead and beyond, you will see us showing up as an investor in companies that complement these spaces and those that aim to disrupt how business is done today.”
* The Microsoft Ventures name was assumed from an existing team within our Developer Evangelism team. That team has now been rebranded to Microsoft Accelerator. Microsoft Ventures will focus on start-up investments while Microsoft Accelerator will focus on start-up enablement, primarily through our seven accelerators around the world.
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SIP Seriously
If you are doing any SIP you better really know how it works and we offer this introduction to help you get going as many are still now in the planning stages.  SIP-Session Initiation Protocol is the real-time communication protocol for VOIP-Voice over IP.  SIP has been expanded to support video and instant-messaging applications.  SIP uses a text-based programming language designed to perform basic call-control tasks, such as session call set up and tear down and signaling for features such as call hold, caller ID, conferencing and call transferring.  However with SIP, the intelligence for call setup and features resides on the SIP device or UA-User Agent, such as an IP phone or a PC with voice or instant-messaging software.  In contrast, traditional telephony or H.323-based telephony uses a model of intelligent, centralized phone switches with dumb phones with SS7-Signaling System 7 in PSTN-Public Switched Telephone Network telephone switching and H.323 or Media Gateway Control Protocol in IP telephony providing call control/routing.  For more go to www.sipforum.org

SDP-Session Description Protocol is intended for describing multimedia sessions for the purposes of session announcement, session invitation, and other forms of multimedia session initiation.  SDP is a protocol for describing multi-media sessions and as such does not incorporate a Layer 4 Transport protocol (usually UDP), and is intended to use different  media protocols as appropriate including the SAP-Session  Announcement Protocol, SIP-Session Initiation Protocol, RTSP-Real-Time Streaming Protocol, electronic mail using the MIME-Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions and HTTP-Hypertext Transport Protocol.

SDP is simply a means of explaining a multicast session via different media types such as SIP, RTSP, HTTP, MIME and others.
This is the format with examples of “descriptions.”
SDP-Session Description Protocol is intended for describing multimedia sessions for the purposes of session announcement, session invitation, and other forms of multimedia session initiation such as shown here.  Click on either image for indepth tutorial.
SIP-Session Initiation Protocol Proxy Server Forks (select different paths) Invite(s) to multiple User Agents (telephones).  Forks can be sequential or simultaneous (concurrent).  Session established to first UA-User Agent to respond with OK.  Cancel is sent to non-responding (no answer) User Agents.  Forks are useful in a call center environment, call hunting or sequential/simultaneous ring.
Some SIP servers/PBX systems may use a special type of server called a B2BUA-Back-to-Back User Agent.  Like a central server or PBX acts as a central signaling connection and supervision system (or mimic) to “act like” a receiver to one end and the caller on the other), B2BUA’s may be able to provide gateway functions to connect calls to the PSTN-Public Switched Telephone network or convert to other protocols such as Cisco’s Skinny, H.323 or proprietary call signaling.
While B2BUA is a migration strategy for some PBX systems.  In many cases SIP servers based on the evolving standard may not be able to provide all the features even though comply with IETF-RFC-Request For Comments. This is especially important for a multi-vendor SIP environment.   In addition, the “open” programming capability of SIP makes it very possible that the way a feature like automatic callback is programmed for one customer could mean group call in another SIP system.
A SIP Proxy Server call flow is where Proxy Server sets up call.  Proxy Server is an optional SIP-Session Initiation Protocol component that handles routing of SIP signaling but does not initiate SIP messages.  The SIP Proxy acts like (hence the term proxy) as an intermediate server that is responsible for forwarding SIP requests to the destination UAS-User Agent Server on behalf of the UAC-User Agent Client.
Shown here is SIP call flow using a Redirect Server.  A Redirect Server is an optional SIP component that does not route SIP messages.  Redirect Server returns a redirect (via 3xx class address change in routing) to UA-User Agent or UAC-User Agent Client  for direct routing (SIP is designed for end-to-end signaling without intervention by a server).
Here is an example of SIP-Session Initiation Protocol used for enhanced, multi-user, multi-media conferencing.  Note internet access or VXML-Voice eXtensible Markup Language applications can be directed based on an Exception-triggered instant conference such as a disaster.
The devices in a SIP network generally consist of:
UA-User Agent is a logical (not necessarily physical) function that initiates or responds to SIP communications.  A UA can be either a client or server that maintains a “session” status in the SIP communications.
UAC-User Agent Client is also a logical and physical function that initiates or responds to SIP communications.
UAS-User Agent Server is a logical and physical function that initiates or responds to SIP communications.
Proxy Server acts like (hence the term proxy) as an intermediate server that is responsible for forwarding SIP requests to the destination UAS-User Agent Server on behalf of the UAC-User Agent Client.
Redirect Server is an optional SIP component that does not route SIP messages.  Redirect Server returns a redirect (via 3xx class address change in routing) to UA-User Agent or UAC-User Agent Client for direct routing (SIP is designed for end-to-end signaling without intervention by a server).
Registrar Server is a user agent server that accepts SIP REGISTER requests and updates.
B2BUA-Back-to-Back User Agent acts like a central PBX connection server processing incoming and outgoing messaging between other user agent servers.  The B2BUA maintains “answer supervision” (overseeing) the dialog state and participates in all dialog communications.

Bottom-line – If you are serious about SIP, you should be seriously smart.  We offer these courses and certification to get SIP smart and tested as well.

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Nectar is Serious about SIP QoS
Nectar is serious about SIP QoS, we totally agree.  According to the survey, the most common complaint continues to be audio quality associated with configuration issues. Further, the survey suggests that the underlying problem may be related to poor design and implementation. Nectar is solving these problems and more with its Unified Communications Management Platform (UCMP). It provides IT professionals with complete visibility into the performance SIP networks by tracking both signaling and media – enabling real-time, proactive monitoring and managements. In addition, Nectar’s UCMP framework supports Session Border Controllers (SBC’s) for unsurpassed visibility into the heath and performance of both the SBC infrastructure and session level diagnostics at the carrier demarcation point.  Click on either image for White Paper.


Key Features/Benefits

– Provide real-time call quality measurements on both the Public and Private side of the SBC to isolate problems as internal or
external
– Proactively monitor the health, performance and capacity of the SBC infrastructure
– Track and monitor SIP errors on both the Public and Private side of the SBC
– Monitor and trend SIP signaling responsiveness for excessive delays in call setup and/or teardown
Results
– Identify and address all potential SIP issues – signaling, media, hardware, or Service Provider
– Become proactive rather than reactive
– Spot issues before your users report them
– Clear visibility for faster first line diagnostics

– Faster resolution and improved user experience

Bottom-line – Wasting money on more bandwidth does not and will not solve your SIP QoS issues.  Yes, you have to work for it but when the CEO calls and you don’t have an answer for the third time as you will remember as I have often said, it is a RGE-resume generating event and you are out the door.  Spend the money and the time and you might get to stay. Also, add SIP security tools to you war chest as that could be the reason you have QoS issues to begin with.
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UC AI

 

At the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, MIT researchers presented a new chip designed specifically to implement neural networks. It is 10 times as efficient as a mobile GPU, so it could enable mobile devices to run powerful artificial-intelligence algorithms locally, rather than uploading data to the Internet for processing. The new chip, which the researchers dubbed “Eyeriss,” could also help usher in the “Internet of things” – the idea that vehicles, appliances, civil-engineering structures, manufacturing equipment, and even livestock would have sensors that report information directly to networked servers, aiding with maintenance and task coordination. With powerful artificial-intelligence algorithms on board, networked devices could make important decisions locally, entrusting only their conclusions, rather than raw personal data, to the Internet. And, of course, onboard neural networks would be useful to battery-powered autonomous robots.
You ask how AI and UC work together?  Adding intelligence to the conversation, communication or collaboration adds contextual value, speeds knowledge ahha-factor, can cross cultural/language barriers and speed decision making.
As MIT suggested, “Neural nets (see image) were widely studied in the early days of artificial-intelligence research.  In the past decade, however, they’ve enjoyed a revival, under the name “deep learning.”  “Deep learning is useful for many applications, such as object recognition, speech, face detection,” says Vivienne Sze, the Emanuel E. Landsman Career Development Assistant Professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science whose group developed the new chip. “Right now, the networks are pretty complex and are mostly run on high-power GPUs. You can imagine that if you can bring that functionality to your cell phone or embedded devices, you could still operate even if you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection. You might also want to process locally for privacy reasons. Processing it on your smartphone also avoids any transmission latency, so that you can react much faster for certain applications.”
Bottom-line – Barriers to AI are disappearing everyday.  However, AI is more and more elusive as the challenges aka Zika virus we face every day change more radically and in more complex ways than we as human can imagine much less as a machine could or would.  One can only hope that AI likely not help you solve the problem but reduce the number of potential solutions in order to pursue solving the problem. Here is some background on the types of networks that come into play in problem-solving:
 – Network systems allow information to be networked in a vast number of ways, although a large number of connections can be too complex. Network and hierarchical systems are tree-trunk systems. The systems vary in their ability to move the user from one branch to another throughout the system; as in thought-processing systems, one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many configurations can occur. It is this linking, interweaving, or
networking of records that can confuse the designer. Important elements in the process include flexibility, the ability to search, the integration of new records, and the accommodation of new levels of data relation.
– Hierarchical systems offer a top-down, layered approach, like a cake. Getting from the top down or from the bottom up can be relatively easy, but adding layers can mean baking a new cake.
– Relational systems are like a housing development designed with rows and columns. It can be easy to modify such structures, but it is a slow process to search through them.
In expert system environments, efficient retrieval capability depends on the type of data management system that is used. It should be noted that redesigning a system to accommodate new kinds of information can nullify expert information content.
In considering future data management systems, an infinite matrix multidimensional system is expected to emerge that will offer a mindlike capability, though not necessarily as powerful as the mind. The mind currently offers more than just a fast-retrieval data management system.  In the blink of an eye, the mind can remember the name of a person one hasn’t seen in ten years, as well as forget what you ate for breakfast.  Click on image ebook on artificial intelligence.
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Free Course Sample in SocialSelling via Social Media for Sales Pros Onsite/Online
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IBM Top-10 Insights on Social UC Selling

Thanks to Simon Porter for this article.  Click on his picture or image for complete article.  Below are 10 key reasons why he believes social selling should be a priority for all B2B sales organizations.

 

1- It’s proven
This time last year, you could potentially argue that social selling was still new and unproven, but not any more. There are countless individual and team examples of how social selling is having a direct impact on closing deals, finding opportunities, increasing the velocity of deals closing and more. At the end of last year, a company followed me on twitter (@simonlporter); I engaged with them to discover that it was a target prospect, and within three months the team had closed a large contract. This was a company not on any target list provided by marketing and had not been a client of IBM previously.
2- The leads are the same, but come at a fraction of the cost
Some of the best tools are free. You can simply use tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer to find buying signals from prospects you care about. There are also many paid tools that can be used to find and engage leads through social media. Even the paid-for tools can be used to attract the very same customers at a fraction of the cost of paid search and other digital campaigns.
3 – Your competitors aren’t there (yet)

It is still surprising how many companies aren’t using social selling yet, even in the IT industry. This will change over the coming quarters, but right now your customers and prospects are sharing buying signals and pain points using social channels (including complaints about an incumbent product or service) and you may well be the first and/or only person to respond.

4- It reaches prospects earlier in their buying cycle
Once someone is ready to buy, you might be too late. If someone gives an explicit buying signal, more people are likely listening (and the prospect is most likely to be reaching out more actively and to more potential solution providers). But on social media, you’ll hear about pain long before the prospect may think to research a solution. That puts you in a fantastic position to deliver immediate value and preference, not to mention higher conversion to sale.
5 – You get to solve problems versus sell solutions (a great position to be in)
At the end of the sales cycle, you get to sell solutions. But before this, you need to earn the right to do so by solving problems first. Only by identifying and quantifying problems that the prospect may or may not have known that it had do you earn this right. It provides first-mover advantage, and this is where social channels allow you to do much of the work up front.
6 – It doesn’t require a big following or a big social presence
You don’t need tens of thousands of Twitter followers, nor do you need to publish 10 times a day to be relevant. While I would encourage you to publish regularly and to try to drive up your following, social selling isn’t actually about talking, it’s about listening. And listening means you spend far more time looking for other people’s buying signals versus publishing your own. However, you need to be focused-only a small fraction of what happens online matters to you. Use tools such as Hootsuite to spend your time listening to relevant people, looking for relevant social signals and waiting to respond by providing the right value in return.
7 – It scales infinitely
You can literally identify and nurture an infinite number of prospects via social channels. You are no longer gated by how many people you can call, or how many you can keep track of using Post-It notes, calendar reminders or even your CRM system. That scalability makes the efficiency and ROI of social selling incredibly lucrative.
8 – It gives your sales reps more control over relationship building
The signals you’ll find through social media are all over the place, and most of them won’t have anything to do with work. But that’s a good thing. Get to know what your prospects care about at work and at play. What else has their attention professionally, and how does that relate to what you’re selling or enabling? Also note what makes them tick elsewhere-family, football, whatever? Get to know how to build relationships, preference and velocity with your prospects.
9 – It increases velocity of engagement, preference and purchase among prospects
As long as you’re authentic and focused on the customer-centric problems that ultimately lead to change and purchase, you will convert faster and at a higher rate than traditional prospects.
10 – You cannot opt out: If you’re not an active social seller, then you’re a bad one

Even if you’re not an active social seller, you’re already being judged by your social profile. Prospects that you meet in more traditional selling situations are already checking your social profile and making judgements about you based on what they see. If you aren’t present or have a poor profile, then it will reflect badly on you.

Simon Porter is Vice President, IBM Commercial Sales, Europe. Simon is leading a team responsible for IBM’s software, services & hardware business with organizations of less than 1,000 employees in Europe-the fastest growing market opportunity of over USD70 billion. Simon led the transformation of this business from a direct sales to a Business Partner-led model, working with new types of business partners and new marketing methods, to capture this high growth opportunity for IBM and our partners.  Follow him on Twitter

Bottom-line – Social selling is not new.  Social selling is the way we have done most sales.  What is new is using social media to aid, guide, focus, close and gain-retain business.  If you would like to get a social media sales smart click on the image below.

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TR Chat-Action Tracking App

We and TR have built an excited new iPhone/iPad app.  It has more advanced chat that WhatsApp and others.  It has optional gamification and rewards tracking and a myriad of other issues relevant to any business, channel or enterprise use case.  Click on

either image for more.
Bottom-line – Slack and other action-tracking apps have gotten all the action though the concept takes hardly any imagination.  Slack solves the endless email problems even for the smallest group interaction/collaboration.  However, in the TR app it takes it further adding Acticons-action items which are unique and enhance communication further.
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Other Apps with Slack Features including Survey App Approved 

Slack is not the only app with agenda tracking, group coordination and other features.  In fact, we can build one for you.  In addition, Techtionary is pleased to announce approval of its new Survey Center.  This is a complete survey solution for both iphone/ipad app and PC browser users with innovative tools for engaging survey respondents. Here are some of the screenshots.  Each question can also have pictures, Act-icons, video, audio, and different background colors. Click on image for more images.
This app also has:
– Comprehensive content features with text, video, pics, audio, priority colors, location, Acticons-Action icons to give action traction
– Personal, group and global chat
– Push, news messaging and notifications
– Discussion centers
– Event management
– Calendar events
– Product and content catalogs
– Group project management and collaboration tools
– Custom membership public and private content areas
– Rotating top event banners
– Easy to use admin and much more.  The app was designed and developed by Techtionary and if you want to know more about getting an app for your customers, channel partner and staff communications, email cross@gocross.com or call 303-594-1694.
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This article is on Twitter and those who see Twitter gaining as a marketing and sales presence.  Twitter is now a dominant source for sales lead generation.  Only a year ago and still today some companies have no idea how to use Twitter or even have an account.

If you don’t believe that chart here is another from a different source.

Here are some of tips for writing, posting and managing your own Twitter account. However, any and every marketing campaign is only as good as the Call To Action (CTA).  The most common complaint by customers about advertising, branding, PR, social, email marketing, bill boards, tradeshows and many more is – I got lots of sales leads but no or few customers.  It is up to you to take responsibility to design and deliver CTA that result in real customers.  Then you can take that message to the media/medium and test the results.  Then do it again and again.  You don’t run much less win the marathon if you just sit wondering what might happen – then nothing will.  As noted Twitter expert Evan Kirstel with more than 35K Twitter followers stated, “Twitter is THE way to meet new B2B prospects and biz partners. If you aren’t engaged, your competition likely is!”

1 – You can never have enough followers
and you can never respond fast enough when people complain about anything you do. The hashtag #fail is used by anyone to complain as Twitter is the new means of providing great customer service, engagement and experience. Twitter is also the new news service for all kinds of corporate communications.
2 – You are measured by your customers, competitors, stakeholders and industry on the number of followers you have.

3 – Search engines search Twitter which improves you page ranking. There is much debate about how Google, Bing and search works with Twitter, however, Twitter

posts can easily be used to send followers to your blog, news, customer case studies, white papers and other thought leadership on your website or other places.

4 – Gaining followers

is more difficult as viewers don’t always follow back.  However, a good start is follow those who follow you and see what they have to say.  And, sparingly RT-retweet their content aligned with your own “thought leadership.”
5 – Twitter is not just “do it once and you’re done” it is a river stream that follows 7×24 which means followers may not see your posts.   Like car insurance ads on TV run over and over again a thousand times, the same can be done about Twitter posts because there are also new users joining Twitter every day.
Click here for a short article on using Twitter for self-promotion and not “winging it” and best practices as well as issues regarding SEC, FINRA and other compliance requirements.
6 – Twitter is about “keeping you top of mind to keep you first in line in customer awareness.” Since you do not often know when a customer is ready to buy, then posting on Twitter keeps them informed of what you are doing and keeps you on their mind when they are ready to buy.  Here is one example:
Hey #Boulder we are at @alfalfas doing a #cheese demo say you saw us on Twitter for 2:1 BOGO-buy one get one special.
7 – Twitter helps you gain brand, brand and thought leadership.  You can never promote your “thought leadership” enough to get and keep your market presenceHowever, writing and posting thought leadership begins with being totally focused on customers, their experiences, their needs, hopes and dreams.  If you don’t know what they think, just ask them, engage with them and get them involved in every aspect of your business and if you do you have a better a chance at succeeding than those who don’t.
8 – Increasingly customers go to Twitter posts before going to website. Since Twitter contains new content customers increasingly look at what you are “tooting” about as they look at what you are all about.
9 – Twitter turns viewers into customers and 50% of users read/post via mobile, smartphones or tablets.
            According to the survey, SMBs that have followers on Twitter enjoyed sales increases and endorsements. In particular, 72 percent of people are more likely to buy from an SMB in the future if they have followed or interacted with the business through Twitter.
            Furthermore, 82 percent of respondents are more likely to recommend an SMB if they have followed the firm’s Twitter account. In addition, 86 percent said they are more likely to go to an SMB if it is recommended by a friend through the social networking site. Click here for survey.
10 – Posting is also more complicated – Here are 10 surprising new Twitter stats to help you reach more followers and click on image article.
In want to know more about using #hashtags and Golden Rule for better tooting  click here for another article on new stats for Twitter.
Bottom-line – Twitter is the fastest, best way to post promotions, press, products, specials, buzz, events, reports, support issues and more as well as provide “best in class” customer service.
If you want help doing Twitter, we can help train even do “ghost posting.”  Call Tom 303-594-1694 or email cross@gocross.com  or follow @techtionary (6,700+ followers) for a free consultation.
Follow us on Twitter

Click on Linkedin logo to join group.

 

 

 

 

 

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