Apple Business Chat: The Next Big Disruptive Force in Customer Service?

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

• Apple Business Chat will launch in 2018; it will allow businesses to add live support features that enable customers to communicate, utilize Apple Pay and more.

• Any iOS 11 user will be able to start a chat thread with businesses they find through Siri, Maps, Safari, and Spotlight search.

The Internet revolution has transformed the way customers shop, share their experiences and look for support. Websites, mobile apps, and social platforms shape the way customers do business. Different customers have different communication preferences and in today’s digital environment, many companies are recognizing this shift in customer preference and are implementing new technology to foster greater customer engagement.
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Nokia Innovation Forum: Enabling Digital Transformation Through Telcos

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

  • Nokia uses its strength and experience in network solutions as well as its strong relationships with telcos to drive digital transformation.
  • In emerging markets where digital transformation is slow, Nokia needs to work more closely with the telcos and focus on particular solutions and verticals.

Nokia held its Asia-Pacific Innovation Forum in Singapore on the October 24, 2017. Various topics and use cases around IoT, 5G, cloud, network and security were discussed by not only Nokia executives, but also its industry partners, its telco customers, start-ups, government agencies and end users. Despite the diverse topics, the presentations and discussions throughout the event focused around digital transformation themes. Read more of this post

The Bad Habits of Using Business Buzzwords

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

• Collaboration vendors’ use of vague industry jargon tricks people into believing something important is behind the technology they represent, rather than describing how technology can be applied to solve business problems.

• Vendors should instead use plain, instructive language to explain how their technology can be a strategic asset that helps organizations meet their business objectives.

Every industry has its own unique jargon and buzzwords. Sometimes it’s useful, serving as a shortcut to ‘make sure we are all on the same page’; however, I have sat through far too many empty, jargon-laden vendor presentations and become annoyed at how ambiguous jargon inhibits effective vendor communication. Read more of this post

Telstra Liberates the Workforce with Fixed-Mobile Convergence

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

• The workplace is going through transformation, leveraging technology to enable workers to be more mobile and collaborative.

• Telstra’s FMC solution helps to overcome several challenges in integrating UC&C and mobility solutions which overcomes some pain points faced by enterprises.

Telstra launched its Liberate fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) solution at Vantage 2017 with the aim to free workers from their desks. This launch is timely because workplace transformation is underway and enterprises want to achieve workforce mobility. This benefits individuals who want greater work-life balance, and for an organization, it means productivity and competitiveness. Many Australian organizations see this as a strategic move that will motivate staff, enhance collaboration and reduce overheads.

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Facebook Grows up and Goes to Work, but Will It Win Over Businesses?

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

• As Facebook is nearing the limit of consumer advertising, the company is turning its focus on the business market as an alternative revenue stream.

• Facebook’s Workplace and WhatsApp Business are likely to become a disruptive force to the communications and collaboration, and contact center markets.

According to Facebook, the average person spends 50 minutes a day on its Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger platforms. There’s no question that the rise of platforms like Facebook has a transformative effect on the way we interact socially; however, it is nearing the limit of consumer advertising as a source of revenue, Facebook is turning its focus on the business market as an alternative revenue stream. In October 2016, Facebook introduced Workplace by Facebook, a mobile and web-based service offering the best of Facebook for the business world. Incorporating News Feeds, Groups, Events; audio, video and messaging plus live streaming; the company has mustered a prodigious toolset to offer prospective customers. The company has amassed a large number of household names as customers: Booking.com, Columbia Sportswear, Danone, and Starbucks are all using Workplace by Facebook to connect, share ideas, and collaborate. Furthermore, Facebook has revealed it is working on an enterprise messaging service (known as WhatsApp Business), and trialing with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Yoox Net-a-Porter Group. When brought to market, WhatsApp Business could be considered a prime channel for customer service, sales and marketing, and support given the apps 1 billion daily active users. Consequently, Facebook is likely to be an increasingly disruptive force to not only traditional communications and team collaboration vendors (Atlassian, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Slack, Unify and others), plus the contact center market. Read more of this post

What Does Microsoft Need to Do to Win in Collaboration and Communications?

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

• Microsoft needs to consolidate and rationalize Office 365’s overlapping functionality to avoid the potential chaos associated with having too much choice in its portfolio.

• Microsoft should decouple telephony from Skype for Business, add PSTN calling to Teams and end-of-life Skype for Business online to differentiate in the team collaboration platform market.

With Microsoft Ignite about to start in Florida (25th September), it’s interesting to try to read behind the lines of some of the sessions and speculate as to how Microsoft really will start ‘to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more’. At the moment, it’s hard to achieve more when Office 365 contains so much feature and functionality overlap between products such as Office 365 Groups, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams and Yammer. Read more of this post

VMware VMworld 2017: Infrastructure Leader Poses New Threat to PaaS Providers

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • VMware leverages its infrastructure strengths in taking on containerized services.
  • VMware neglected to outline a roadmap for DevOps technologies: microservices, serverless computing, and APM.

VMware significantly stepped up the competitive threat it poses to the application platforms market segment, announcing its first commercial offering alongside sister company Pivotal, as well as technology partner Google, via a container services collaboration, Pivotal Container Service (PKS). The emphasis is on easing configuration requirements that have delayed adoption around containerization, which ensures the continuous delivery of services and apps, while addressing IT operational concerns involving the modernization, management, and portability of legacy and new apps between multiple clouds. PKS, available year-end, supports Kubernetes container technology on vSphere and Google Cloud Platform (for more, see VMware VMworld 2017: VMware Container Collaboration Addresses Configuration Pain Point, August 30, 2017). Read more of this post

I Can’t Hear Myself Think! – The Cost of Lost Productivity in Open Offices

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • A 2014 study by Steelcase and Ipsos found that workers lost as much as 86 minutes per day due to noise distractions.
  • Companies should carefully consider sound masking and headsets with active noise cancellation (ANC) to maximize productivity for the various environments and work styles of their employees.

In open office environments today, many workers try to screen out distractions by immersing themselves in music underneath their personal headphones in an attempt to concentrate. Office acoustics definitely influence an organization’s efficiency; a 2014 study by Steelcase and Ipsos found that workers lost as much as 86 minutes per day due to noise distractions. Unfortunately, many companies adopt open office environments, as many as 70% of U.S. offices according to the International Facilities Management Association. That equates to days of lost productivity. Why then do we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars designing offices and equipping employees with the latest and greatest productivity tools only to ignore the working environment our employees have to endure? Read more of this post

‘Mitel or MI-o-Tel?’ – Adding a Voice to IoT

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Mitel is offering a cloud-based platform that integrates Internet of Things (IoT) technology with call routing and call control applications.
  • Hub One is working with Mitel to voice-enable IoT devices at Charles De Gaulle airport and provides text-to-speech alerts on the opening of defibrillator cabinets.

At its Elite conference in San Antonio last week, Mitel disclosed details of its platform that integrates IoT technology with call routing and call control platforms. Utilizing IoT APIs that plug into its interaction engine and business rules engine, Mitel demonstrated how IoT can be integrated with real-time communications to literally give IoT devices a voice. On stage, Mitel showed how Amazon Alexa, mapped to Mitel’s AWS-based cloud service, could trigger mass notification messages to interested parties. While this specific demonstration sent out multiple notifications of bad weather alerts to those attending a picnic (very pertinent given San Antonio’s weather!), Mitel’s IoT infrastructure is being utilized in perhaps a less frivolous way at France’s largest and most important airport – Charles De Gaulle (CDG). Read more of this post

Enterprise Connect 2017 – IT Needs to Act Less Like Vader and More Like Yoda!

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

• Enterprise Connect 2017 focused around three common themes: cloud, collaboration as-a-service (CPaaS) and team collaboration apps.

• IT needs to act as ambassadors for the users they support to counter the potential issues associated with shadow IT.

Despite being a predominantly technical event, Enterprise Connect 2017 saw vendors concentrating on more business focused messaging and the value that IT departments can offer to enterprises. As both a speaker and attendee at Orlando last week, three key themes stood out to me as a focus for organizations in 2017. Read more of this post