TM Forum Digital Transformation Asia 2018: No Longer Optional for Asian Carriers

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

  • Digital transformation is no longer an option for emerging market carriers today.
  • It is not just about adopting new technologies. Carriers must also transform to drive sustainable change.

This year’s TM Forum Asia event took place in Malaysia on November 13-15 with ‘digital transformation’ as the main theme. While the topic is not new in the industry, it is actually the right time in Asia. For many years, carriers have been offering enterprise solutions such as cloud, mobility, UC&C, and IoT and positioning themselves as digital transformation enablers in the market. However, many carriers in the emerging Asia markets are still quite behind with their internal journeys. These carriers are still stuck with their legacy infrastructures, processes, and mindset. Continue reading “TM Forum Digital Transformation Asia 2018: No Longer Optional for Asian Carriers”

Microsoft’s Bottom-Up, Top-Down Approach to Change Its Siloed Culture

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Microsoft Garage provides a hub for employees to work on different small-scale, innovative projects and share ideas.
  • By driving cultural change and encouraging developers to innovate, Satya Nadella is breaking down the “confederation of fiefdoms” which has plagued Microsoft for years.

Late last week, Microsoft released a new Microsoft Garage-incubated iOS app called ‘Spend,’ an automatic expense tracking app. The Garage, a relatively unknown function within Microsoft, is a hub for employees across the company to work on different small-scale projects and share ideas. Continue reading “Microsoft’s Bottom-Up, Top-Down Approach to Change Its Siloed Culture”

Xpand: Can the Provider Expand?

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

• Xpand is Axiata’s enterprise arm providing network-based services to Asian regional enterprises.

• There is still a big gap between Xpand and other regional/global carriers.

You may have heard of Axiata, but most likely not Xpand. Axiata is a telecom group with stakes in eight countries across emerging Asian markets (Celcom, Malaysia; XL, Indonesia; Dialog, Sri Lanka; Robi, Bangladesh; Smart, Cambodia; Ncell, Nepal; Idea, India; and M1, Singapore); while Xpand is the carrier’s regional enterprise arm providing network-based services such as connectivity, cloud, UC, mobilitym and IoT. Xpand positions itself as a one-stop shop for all communication solutions to MNCs and regional enterprises in Asia, This places the provider in the same market with other Asian and global carriers such as Singtel, NTT Communications, Tata Communications, Telstra, VGE, PCCW Global, and Bharti Airtel. Continue reading “Xpand: Can the Provider Expand?”

Can Cisco Try, Try, Try Again in Software-Based Collaboration and Communications?

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Failure to act, execute, innovate, or differentiate in a mature market creates a crisis.
  • Cisco must clearly and confidently communicate its collaboration strategy to reassure its customers, partners, and industry pundits.

Following a 2007 restructure, Cisco emerged with a new model focused on placing software at the heart of its technology groups, having previously focused specifically on hardware. Indeed, the vendor correctly recognized and reacted to the upcoming changes affecting the technology industry ably demonstrated by its Voice Technology Group (now called the Collaboration Technology Group, or CTG), implementing agile software development practices in a far more software and services-oriented market. Continue reading “Can Cisco Try, Try, Try Again in Software-Based Collaboration and Communications?”

The AI Arms Race: Microsoft Brings Its Cognitive Assets to Benefit Office 365 Users

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Microsoft is adding significant business value across its portfolio by leveraging Azure’s cognitive services and providing benefits to those customers with top-tier Office 365 plans.
  • Without integrating ‘machine learning-as-a-service’ (MLaaS) offerings within business applications and relying on developers to do the heavy lifting, competitors will soon find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Last week, Microsoft announced upcoming capabilities that leverage its MLaaS to provide video and audio transcription of content stored in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint. Microsoft also previously announced the capability to use its Azure cognitive services to determine where photos were taken, recognize objects, and extract text from photos. Continue reading “The AI Arms Race: Microsoft Brings Its Cognitive Assets to Benefit Office 365 Users”

Is the Writing on the Wall for Digital Whiteboards?

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Without significant development, interactive whiteboards (IWBs) are unlikely to gain traction, as the ability to replicate (albeit digitally) a physical whiteboard lacks business value.
  • IWBs will struggle to gain traction, as app sharing, touch-screen devices, and styluses are more likely to be utilized by many.

In previous articles, we observed that the interactive whiteboard (IWB) market appeared to be dividing into three distinct segments:

  1. High-end video endpoints with multi-touch screens (e.g., Cisco Webex Board);
  2. High-end computing devices augmented with AV hardware (e.g., Microsoft Surface Hub, Windows Collaboration Displays, and Google Jamboard);
  3. All-in-one devices leveraging existing physical whiteboards (e.g., Highfive in partnership with Dolby).

Last Thursday, Microsoft announced the general availability of its Whiteboard app for Windows 10 after its prior preview in December 2017. With the ability to draw, type, add and manipulate images, annotate, recognize shapes and tables, and add sticky notes, Whiteboard can run on numerous stylus-based devices such as Surface Hubs and laptops today, with iOS support planned in the future. Continue reading “Is the Writing on the Wall for Digital Whiteboards?”

The End of the Best-of-Suite Approach in Collaboration and Communications?

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

• With best-of-suite vendors offering adequate capabilities for the average collaboration and communications user, a best-of-breed strategy may be superfluous.

• Modern software suites still offer organizations the capability to choose best-of-breed components if the suite does not fit the specific needs of the business.

A favored and common IT strategy has been adopting a “best-of-breed” approach; in other words, purchasing and integrating several products from multiple vendors to achieve the ideal architecture. However, with the likes of Google G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, and other cloud vendors offering software bundles with mature, compelling product features from top to bottom, a “best-of-suite” approach is becoming an attractive substitute. The software industry has witnessed such shifts before. WordPerfect, widely loved and adopted as a standard word-processing application in the 1980s, lost out to the aggressive bundling of Microsoft Office in the 1990s. As good and comprehensive as WordPerfect was, its interoperability with other software products was limited; companies couldn’t make it work with the other products they needed. Could history repeat itself with today’s collaboration and communications solutions? Fortunately, few vendors offer all-encompassing, yet proprietary and closed suites today. Software suites now offer numerous advantages for IT departments, such as per-month, per-user pricing; vastly reduced management, administrative and security overhead; plus the foundation for future development of new capabilities such as artificial intelligence (AI)-powered features. Continue reading “The End of the Best-of-Suite Approach in Collaboration and Communications?”

Huawei IoT: Capabilities Across the Solution Stack, but Low Mindshare in the Region

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

  • Huawei’s capability across IoT stacks offers a competitive advantage in the market.
  • Huawei has the potential to drive IoT adoption in the region through carriers. However, it has yet to leverage this unique advantage outside China.

The IoT ecosystem is complex, as it involves all technologies within IT and bridges IT with operational technologies (OT). As a technology company with core business in telecommunications equipment, IoT for Huawei is not just enabling NB-IoT features in carriers’ cellular network. The vendor is also leveraging its company-wide capabilities to play across the IoT stack. Its IoT portfolio includes the chipset, an operating system (OS) called LiteOS, an NB-IoT network through its radio access solution to carriers, security (through its 3T+1M approach), a platform, cloud, professional services and even an initiative to drive the ecosystem (through its OpenLab). While Cisco and Nokia can closely match this capability, Huawei’s key advantage is with its IoT chipset and OS. Continue reading “Huawei IoT: Capabilities Across the Solution Stack, but Low Mindshare in the Region”

Why Company Culture Is Critical to Successful Collaboration Technology Deployments

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Company culture is pivotal to the successful adoption of collaboration solutions.
  • Task cultures are more likely to succeed in reacting to change and adapting to the organizational challenges required to transform a business using collaborative solutions.

Technology alone does not allow a business to change and transform. It won’t make organizations more efficient, productive, creative, or innovative unless businesses are able to assimilate the technology into their culture. Company culture is pivotal to the successful adoption of collaboration solutions; indeed, oftentimes there is too much focus on technology rather than addressing change and rethinking how employees, partners, and customers work together. Continue reading “Why Company Culture Is Critical to Successful Collaboration Technology Deployments”

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.
Continue reading “Apple Business Chat: The Next Big Disruptive Force in Customer Service?”