Wet Your Beak, or Drown Trying

A. Braunberg

A. Braunberg

Summary Bullets:

  •  If a vendor can possibly tie its messaging to BYOD, it has.
  • Vendors need to be careful though; the game is changing.

One of my takeaways from attending Interop a couple of weeks ago was the pervasiveness of BYOD as an addressable use case in vendor pitches.  At some point, a line from The Godfather Part II came to mind.  Neighborhood crime boss Don Fanucci tells the young godfather (played by Robert De Niro), “You should let me wet my beak a little,” by which he means he wants a piece of the action. It’s a colorful phrase, and it’s exactly the attitude of many technology companies today. Read more of this post

Optimum Lightpath Aims to Make ‘Focus on the Customer’ More Than a Catchphrase

B. Washburn

B. Washburn

Summary Bullets:       

  • Focus on the customer/ is a catchphrase, but it’s exactly what Optimum Lightpath is doing in an effort to bump up sales and support.
  • Optimum Lightpath has been listening to customers all along, which inspired several of its more recent service launches.

Optimum Lightpath, the business services arm of Cablevision, has been through several major shifts in how the company does business.  The company first became prominent as a competitive access provider; then, it broke out into its next level of growth by betting early on Ethernet services.  In 2011-2012, Optimum Lightpath is again changing as a company – this time not on a product level but in terms of perspective, as it re-focuses sales and support efforts to get closer to its customers by helping clients address their challenges.  At an analyst breakfast held at this May’s Cable Show 2012 in Boston, MA, Optimum Lightpath executives discussed the state of the company, the success to date of its products, and its direction. Read more of this post

All Work and No Play Makes Jack Slightly Less Innovative

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • The consumerization of IT, Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn, bring-your-own-device: What do these uber-trends have in common?  They shake up the status quo by placing the employee at the center of the universe, bringing them together and merging their personal and professional personas.
  • This progression toward a people-first workplace has greatly influenced enterprise social networking platforms, making them more ‘humanized,’ but that is not enough.  True innovation needs free experimentation and exploration; in other words, a state of play.

In the late 90s, the extent of play within the enterprise was limited to ‘Windows shopping’ for the perfect Windows 95 desktop background color, e-mailing an ASCII art visage of Jerry Garcia, or perhaps even holding an after-hours Doom session on the company’s 10 Mbps Ethernet LAN.  Since then, of course, we’ve had ‘the internets’ to entertain, at least for organizations allowing free and full access to those climes.  However, trolling the Twittosphere in search of fleeting pop-memes is not actually play and does not actually make you any smarter, more productive, or even more informed.  That only happens when we play. Read more of this post

Time to Bridge the Security Divide That Separates CISOs and Directors/CEOs

P. Musich

P. Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • There is a huge gap between the views of senior executives/boards of directors and CISOs when it comes to managing cyber risks
  • To bridge that divide, CISOs need to speak the language of business risk, while executives must remove the blinders that keep them from seeing the depth of the problem.

A couple of recent studies that came to light underscore the very large disconnect between boards of directors/CEOs and the CISO when it comes to managing cyber risks. In the “Governance of Enterprise Security: CyLab 2012 Report,” conducted by Carnegie Mellon CyLab for RSA, some very disturbing findings came to light from the energy/utilities sector.  That study, scrutinized whether boards and CEOs were carrying out fundamental cyber governance tasks and discovered that 71% of those boards rarely or never reviewed privacy and security budgets, 79% rarely/never reviewed roles and responsibilities, 64% rarely/never reviewed top-level policies and 57% rarely/never reviewed security program assessments.  This, in a highly regulated and essential industry. Read more of this post

Push To Talk (PTT): Is it Still a Viable Market?

K. Weldon

K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Back in the days before, and for awhile after the Nextel acquisition by Sprint, the U.S. carriers were very excited about PTT as a market opportunity in the SMB and enterprise segments9
  • With AT&T planning a new PTT service rollout, we wonder aloud if the take-up is likely to be significant, and who the users will be

Back in the days before (and for awhile, after) the Nextel acquisition by Sprint, PTT was a hot trend, associated with Nextel’s ruggedized devices, the familiar sound of the “chirp”, and Nextel Direct’s 0.92 second call setup and 0.58 second mouth to ear latency. PTT was in use by SMBs and public safety organizations with near-instant field force communications requirements. It also became a fad among teenagers and “twenty-somethings” as a form of social networking, long before Facebook, but alongside SMS and MMS. Sprint managed to keep some of the original iDEN PTT customers, but mostly on the business side, as the hip factor in the youth market faded in favor of other, more modern ways to keep in touch with friends and communities of interest. Both AT&T and Verizon Wireless also launched PTT services early on, but the original iDEN service was always considered the gold standard. When Sprint first attempted to lure its own PTT base to a CDMA version, it couldn’t keep up with the quality of the original.  Sprint’s Network Vision plans include a better 3G EVDO Rev A version of PTT (along with a lot of other benefits for the existing base, who should be moving from the slow as molasses iDEN network to a faster and more feature-rich technology anyway). However, so much of Sprint’s base has already defected that the fact that Sprint will be sunsetting iDEN altogether in 2013 does not ensure loyalty via an upgrade to Sprint’s latest QChat version.

Read more of this post

All I Ask For Is a Stable Connection

M. Spanbauer

M. Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • With today’s modern professional so dependent on remotely located files and real-time, Web-based applications (sales force, Web portals, etc.), downtime is painful.
  • Device failures, misconfiguration issues, congestion, and interference all make the job of the IT infrastructure specialist more complex as dependence on the infrastructure increases daily.

On a recent trip, while I sat waited for my flight to depart (the airport shall remain nameless), I hopped on the wireless network, connected via VPN, and started to download some material from the company intranet.  About 50% into a large file download, the network link was lost, dropping the VPN, and of course stopping the file transfer.  The signal strength was good; since I was short on time, I did not break out the wireless troubleshooting tools to see how much additional noise was in the area that may have interfered.  Instead, I pulled out my phone, tethered via strong 4G (yes, I’m lucky), and grabbed the file in a minute.  However, I could see that several others in the immediate area had issues with the WLAN and were growing frustrated.  It struck me how dependent we are on having convenient access to remain productive in these moments of lull time (unless you can get through an airport in 15 minutes consistently, you know what I’m referring to).  Unfortunately, public area WLANs are not yet universally enterprise-grade and a solid connection is not a given.  I had grown accustomed to being able to connect in the airport and assumed it would be working as usual.  We have this same assumption in our enterprise environments; why not in the highly trafficked areas? Read more of this post

Cloud-based Contact Center Services: Is Three Nines Enough?

Brian Riggs

B. Riggs

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud-based contact center service providers offer comparatively limited reliability guarantees
  • IT buyers should carefully weigh their options to find the most reliable options

Summarizing his experience at Enterprise Connect, my colleague Ken Landoline said (in effect) that at the event it was impossible to swing a dead cat without hitting a provider of cloud services of one sort or another, and that lately providers of cloud-based contact center services are gaining in number. Interactive Intelligence has long had a cloud-based contact center service on offer. InContact specializes in cloud-based contact center services and has been seeing rapid growth as it expands its operations and signs up new partners. A dozen or so service providers are in various stages of releasing cloud-based services based on Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Solution for Contact Center. Read more of this post

Anatomy of a Breach: What We All Can Learn from the Utah Medicaid Records Theft

A. DeCarlo

A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:       

  • The March 2012 breach of Utah’s Medicaid health care record system, originally thought to expose the records of 24,000, actually involved the personal information of hundreds of thousands more recipients.
  • Human error appears to have played a major role in opening the door to the cyber thieves.

The fallout from the recent theft of 280,000 medical records containing social security numbers and as many as 500,000 additional patient files from the Medicaid server at the Utah Department of Health continued with this week’s resignation of Stephen Fletcher from his position as the state’s Chief Information Officer.  Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert held a press conference this week to disclose plans to ensure that the attack is not repeated.  The governor announced plans for an independent audit of technology security systems, the appointment of a new health data security ombudsman, ongoing investigation by law enforcement, and personnel changes, which besides Fletcher’s resignation, reportedly also include the firing of a contractor. Read more of this post

Mobile Operating System Choice

A. Braunberg

A. Braunberg

Summary Bullets:

  • Nobody ever got fired for buying BlackBerrys. Embrace device diversity but incentivize best practices

Anyone old enough to remember the phrase: “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM equipment”? If uttered by an IBM sales person it could be considered classic fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). But it was based on an industry axiom at the time: IBM hardware was the known quantity and the safe purchase. For a long time, nobody got fired for buying BlackBerry either, but the ‘consumerization of IT’ has thrown those old assumptions out the window and organizations are back to really taking a hard look at the features of each mobile OS and trying to keep the FUD at bay. I sat in a panel at Interop last week that basically asked the question: is it safe to hitch your wagon to any one mobile OS, BlackBerry or otherwise? Read more of this post

Speech Analytics: The Time for ‘Listening’ to the Voice of the Customer Is Upon Us

K. Landoline

K. Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Hundreds of millions of minutes of customer care conversations are recorded annually in contact centers, but less than 0.1% of recorded conversations are ever replayed and analyzed.
  • Automated speech analytics, which can mine most of these conversations for useful information, is finally getting the attention of customer care executives as the technology improves and the ROI is validated.

I have been following the speech analytics market as it pertains to customer care and contact centers for the better part of a decade.  The application has only come into its own as it gained credibility through successes in the past two or three years.  Recently, there has been an uptick in sales at companies that provide the technology to monitor the ‘voice of the customer,’ such as CallMiner, Nexidia, NICE, Utopy and Verint.  There has also been a flurry of merger and acquisition activity among companies that provide contact center solutions and those that deliver customer feedback applications.  Verint acquired Vovici, a provider of feedback management solutions; Avaya purchased Aurix, a speech analytics company based in the UK; and Hewlett-Packard bought analytics platform provider Vertica.  I believe the industry is now leaving the embryonic stage and moving into a more mature phase of growth that will continue for the next decade. Read more of this post