Almost Live from Mobile World Congress: IBM and AT&T Collaborate on Smart Cities

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobile World Congress is energized and energizing this year, with many announcements relating to enterprise mobility and M2M.
  • Among them was IBM and AT&T’s alliance to go to market together in specific verticals in M2M – initially, city governments and midsize utilities.

Municipalities and mid-size utilities are two vertical segments that are hard to “crack”. So-called “smart city” deployments include some really interesting use cases such as traffic management, public safety/surveillance, mass transit, utility and parking management, garbage collection, and venue/event management. In theory, cities could benefit greatly from technologies such as M2M that can bring about process improvement point solutions. They could also benefit from running analytics from collected and crowd-sourced data housed in a central database, for example to identify patterns that could improve city management, reduce costs and even generate revenues. While it sounds like there could be a solid ROI for these kinds of deployments, most municipalities in the U.S. and around the world are budget strapped. Many of the department heads that might benefit from this sort of knowledge are not tech savvy when it comes to deploying M2M and running meaningful analytics on collected data. Read more of this post

The SDN Application I Want to See

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • SDN applications are not exciting to enterprises and aren’t generating much interest.
  • SDN applications that drastically improve operations and application performance are a vendors’ ticket to success.

We know that network congestion impacts application performance. The physical network matters because bottlenecks in the physical network will impact overlay networks regardless of what some folks at VMware want you to believe. We also know that some applications have more stringent demands than others. Real-time media such as IM, voice, and video are affected more by long delay and delay variability (jitter) than lack of capacity. Audio and video CODECs can adjust for some degradation based on network conditions, but let’s face it, those adjustments are a precursor to unrecoverable poor quality. We also know that other applications are more tolerant towards delay and jitter like email or HTTP. Read more of this post

Unified Communications Solutions Should Be Tailored to the Workforce

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Most UK SMEs believe that improved collaboration tools are a critical part of a successful business.
  • There is a growing demand for collaboration solutions amongst UK SME employees, but personalities in the workplace will affect UCC adoption.

Unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions are gaining critical mass.  I have written previously that businesses may risk ceding the advantage to their competitors if they do not consider adopting UCC technologies.  However, this does not necessarily mean that a blanket rollout is appropriate.  Many providers now offer custom profiles for different types of employees, such as Virgin Media Business’ UC services for ‘desk huggers’ and ‘desk hoppers.’  However, enterprises should keep in mind that employees are not just their job description, but also different people as well.  A survey published jointly by BT and Avaya has highlighted, for example, that there is a generational gap when it comes to adopting and getting the best out of UCC solutions. Read more of this post

Is the Cost of a Breach Becoming Yet Another Cost of Doing Business?

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • The steady rise of data breaches poses a danger that C-level executives will come to view those as a cost of doing business.
  • But with those costs on the rise, organizations can’t afford the price tag, and they have to get better at managing risks in the new reality of mobility, cloud computing and consumerization of IT.

A few years ago at RSA I met an auditor who told me that at the time a lot of organizations that she dealt with considered fines from non-compliance with regulatory mandates to be part of the cost of doing business.  With the frequency in the number of breaches associated with such lapses in compliance increasing at a steady clip, are we approaching a time when organizations will view the cost of breaches as yet another part of the cost of doing business?  Have some organizations reached that conclusion already?  The Identity Theft Resource Center reported that breaches increased by 30% in 2013 over 2012 across a range of industries, with its total number of breaches reported at 619.  The total number of records exposed were 57,868,922, which included the 40 million reported by Target. Read more of this post

MWC 2014: MEAP Will Thrive on New Channel Partnerships and Deployment Services

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Partnerships will be a key theme at MWC, both technology and SPs/mobile operators.
  • Cloud services will be part of MEAP deployment options in 2014.

If innovative developers can write an app that lets a distributor know when the Snickers bars are getting low in a vending machine, can’t someone write a mobile app that shows me the shortcuts between Hall 3 and Hall 8 so I can make my meetings on time?

Okay, clearly I’m a newbie at Mobile World Congress, so much so I actually watched the virtual walk-through of the conference centers this morning, which is why I’m in a panic right now.  So, while I’m hunting for that Fira Gran Via app, I’m looking forward to checking out other new, innovative apps and enhanced mobile app platforms which will help kick enterprise mobile projects into high gear. Read more of this post

G.fast Squeezes Big Juice from Copper Pair; TeliaSonera Launches Helsinki Pilot

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Widely available 500 Mbps speeds over copper remain several years away, but a handful of European incumbents are looking at the technology very carefully as a realistic means to get high-performance access economically leveraging existing copper plant.
  • The inflection point for widespread availability is going to hinge on sensible market regulation, so that domestic incumbents are encouraged to invest in G.fast while alternative ISPs and telcos have incentives to deploy G.fast-based offerings via LLU.

It is amazing to see how humble copper continues to guarantee its own survival based on good reasons to maintain it in the face of growing optical fibre investments.  Last July, A1 Telekom Austria and Alcatel-Lucent achieved 1.1 Gbps speeds over good quality cable along a distance of 70 metres and 800 Mbps over 100 metres in test cases.  The ITU-T founded the G.fast group in 2011, and the program has the support of several operators, chipset manufacturers and equipment vendors.  But, here’s the rub: Rollout is bound to become a contentious issue, fraught with legal battles between incumbents and alternative providers and overseen by domestic market watchdogs.  When it comes to deploying equipment and chipsets supporting G.fast, why would the incumbent invest only to be forced to hand the keys to the treasure chest to rivals ISPs and telcos?  Let’s leave the legal battles to one side; suffice to say, this will continue to keep the legal heads in Brussels, and throughout Europe, busy for a while to come.  Luckily, the early phases of DSL and the enforcement of LLU have formed a foundation, and G.fast regulation will surely be built upon similar models.  Across Europe and the rest of the world, copper pair quality, distances from exchanges and construction also vary wildly, so there will only ever be a patchwork quilt rollout for G.fast, with differences a certainty country by country.  Wholesale divisions, such as BT Wholesale, may play a fundamental role in developing white label versions that alternative telcos and ISPs can then take to a wider national market, which will help to encourage a healthy competitive landscape that ultimately benefits the buyer. Read more of this post

Will a $1,000 Price Be the Tipping Point That Thrusts Video Conferencing into the Mainstream?

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Of the more than 60 million conference rooms in the world, it is estimated that fewer than 5% are equipped to provide business-quality video conferencing.
  • High cost, interoperability issues, complex set-up requirements and poor video quality have been major deterrents to the widespread use of video conferencing.

It was just a few years ago that several global telecommunications equipment providers were proclaiming video to be the key element of enterprise telecommunications expenditure growth that would fuel the marketplace through the next decade.  Back then, the emphasis seemed to be on specialized video conferencing rooms with large surround screens that provided an ‘immersive telepresence’ video experience simulating life-size, face-to-face meetings of small groups of individuals.  The problem was that these systems cost in excess of $250,000 when the video technology, room setting and acoustics were included.  My immediate thought when initially introduced to these large room settings was that the market was limited to a very small segment of the enterprise marketplace.  More precisely, while video was still an untapped source of market stimulation, these systems were not simple enough, open enough or inexpensive enough to create that hockey-stick shaped upturn in the market demand that everyone was hoping to see. Read more of this post

Verizon M2M Roundtable Showcases a Solid Strategy and Industry Momentum

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Verizon treated analysts to a one-day roundtable at its Innovation center for M2M in Waltham, Massachusetts on February 11
  • Executives provided information and insights on the carrier’s specific vertical industry initiatives and traction, and analysts toured the facility to view a broad range of M2M solutions across industries and use cases.

Verizon’s analyst roundtable on its Connected Solutions business was an unusual opportunity to learn in depth information on its key areas of focus for M2M. Specific sessions covering its top vertical markets (i.e., utilities, healthcare and automotive telematics) not only provided analysts with a better understanding of these markets, but also supplied proof points to generate a favorable impression of Verizon’s initiatives, strategy and market traction within each vertical and in the overall M2M market. Read more of this post

Why SDN Deployments Will Take Longer Than You Think

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Mainstream SDN is ten years out, because enterprise IT does not see a compelling need, buying habits are entrenched and extended product lifetimes are stretching refresh cycles.
  • SDN is still nascent technology and has yet to move into the early adopter phase.  In fact, from an adoption standpoint, I would say SDN is still in the innovator phase and is thus far from crossing the chasm to early majority.

In my discussions with others (colleagues, vendor employees, other analysts, enterprise IT) about SDN, the discussion usually wanders around to timing.  I think it is safe to say that many believe SDN adoption is going to take off – i.e., go mainstream, meaning greater than 50% penetration – in two to three years.  When I shake my head and say it’ll be more like ten years, I usually get a look that says, “Hey, Fratto’s gone soft in the head;” then, they point to some corner case as proof, or worse, to someone else who thinks SDN is two to three years out.  Here is why I think mainstream SDN is ten years out: lack of a compelling need, entrenched buying habits and extended product lifetimes.  Read more of this post

Contextual Routing Takes Contact Center Efficiency, and Customer Satisfaction, Up a Notch

Cindy Whelan

Cindy Whelan

Summary Bullets:

  • Context is an important element in helping contact center agents respond to customer needs efficiently; it also supports cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
  • Customer online activity provides a wealth of information; using this data in real time to address negative experiences supports customer retention and protects brand perception.

Everyone should be well aware that every time a mouse is clicked on a website or a call is made to purchase a product or service, both transactional and personal information is collected in a database.  Contact center operators collect a wealth of information from customer interactions; this information is often stored and reviewed at some later date for a variety of purposes, including employee training, outbound marketing campaigns and customer satisfaction surveys. Read more of this post