Revolutionary Trends Shift the Customer Experience, Increasing Brand Loyalty for 2016

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S INSURANCE TECHNOLOGY SITE

As the year ended, multiple technologies and integrations signified that this is a great time to be a tech or customer service professional. We are now living in a time when you can read social media posts on the sides of your shoes, while simulating a walk on the moon. As a tech professional, you might be striding through your day, because in our lifetime, we have seen technology evolve from prehistoric to futuristic – and it isn’t anywhere close to stopping.

As businesses adopt newer technologies and are able to increase quality and productivity they are learning that, just like in traditional business models, the customer experience is everything. We now have a host of new innovations making our day just a little bit better. Think of how far AI and mobile has come in just the last five years – and little over a year ago, there were a lot of people still confused over what IoT actually was.

According to the Interactive Intelligence (NewsAlert) Group, Inc. There are five trends that we need to look out for in 2016. This cloud services group, diligently works to improve customer engagement, communications and collaboration for its many global clientele. They have done their research, and we’re here to give you the breakdown.

“It’s clear that companies are making customer interaction experiences a priority, and the trends we’ve identified will be critical if businesses want to stay competitive,” said Dr. Donald E. Brown, Interactive Intelligence founder and CEO. “Of note is that all these trends rely heavily on the cloud, analytics and big data. These now form the underpinnings of nearly all things customer experience-related and will continue to be key components of any successful customer engagement strategy.”

  • Customer-Centricity Breaks the Ice and Creates Unity

Focused on an optimized customer experience, there is no one department instrumental in the success of customer relations. In fact, everyone — from the contact center to the external stakeholder — is to be held accountable for the experience and satisfaction of each customer, individually. Customers need to find ease in using a product, and if they can’t they need to be able to find someone, who can explain it to them.

How customers interact with the brand is extremely important. Whichever method they choose for interaction will stand as the mouthpiece for that brand. For this, digital workstreams powered by integrated user engagement, communications and collaboration – most communications platforms will also be powered by cloud technologies.

This will encourage better cross-department and multidisciplinary communications – both inside the workplace and externally. Everyone will be brought up to speed at once; and everyone can gauge needs for improvement – immediately.

  • IoT will Continue to Expand the Omnichannel Experience

One-third of companies are reporting to use IoT within their 2016 operations planning. Using always-connected wireless technologies has brought a ton of efficiency to the workforce. But, in 2016, organizations are using them as an additional means to interact with customers, internal groups and partners.

Companies are using this technology, as coexisting with locational-based prompts. Many of these prompts will direct customers to one-on-one interaction with a live person, social media, documentation and exclusive offers. The customer will continue to the forefront of office place efficiency and continue to improve the customer experience in 2016.

  • We Will See Artificial Intelligence Like Never Before

As every day objects begin to take life, we are literally seeing teddy bear’s learning our every move and having full-blown conversations with a non-existent person. But, how can this help the customer experience? As machine learning hits its prime, advanced speech analytics are able to trigger alerts and specific messaging. Companies can further identify patterns and predict customer behavior.

Engaging with machines directly, the customer will experience better self service options than in the past, as AI can intelligently identify a customer’s need and break down methods of utilization, repair or expansion. Algorithms are leading AI to understand not just what a customer is saying – but also what they are not saying. In cases where after-hours leave no customer service agent available and where customer service agents are unnecessary, AI is becoming increasingly prominent. Many times, customers do not know the difference.

  • Sophisticated Do-It-Yourself Customer Service Empowers Customers

While this goes hand in hand with all other methods, “do-it-yourself “ customer service is becoming more convenient, timesaving and preferred, especially amongst the tech savvy millennial crowd. Brands are also learning that providing DIY methods saves the company on staffing costs and keeping wait times down in the contact or call centers… also benefiting traditional customer service methods in keeping customers satisfied, who do not want to be on hold for longer than average periods of time. Customers are empowered when they feel good about their ability to use your product effectively and save time  and money on repairs.

 Brand loyalty and niche networks are actually being built upon DIY platforms, this would obviously attract more finance to the company, as well. Web, mobile and SMS platforms are excellent ways to reach millennials, as they regularly search for content based on their direct needs. Not only will this be a larger trend in 2016, but it will also be a great tactic for many companies, who are including it into their overall marketing plan.

  • Every “Take-Out” Ready Through Mobile

With the traditional business structure broken and many more professionals are entering the work-from-home revolution, remote access to company infrastructures is proving more beneficial to the business structure than previous methods. Millennials, leading this movement, are always on the go. They want to spend more time traveling and with family.

Mobile technologies have allowed a complete office space to travel with us; cloud technologies allow us to access the office. Collaboration, communication and productivity, are again, improving. Mobile apps are going to be more mandatory in the past. Not having an app for your business may actually leave your organization in the dust.

Allowing customers to interact with the brand, especially live, is extremely beneficial to every organization, which instituted into their 2016 operations action plan. In fact, conference calling, white boards, tech support and other forms of customer and client interactions are at the forefront of 2016 and one of the most integrated technologies of the year.

In wrapping up the list, improving customer engagement and experiences should absolutely be at the forefront of concern this year. Restructuring the face of your customer service methods can be life or death for many companies. Interactive Intelligence holds a weekly live webinar that can help your organization gauge your current customer service methods, as well as show you how to integrate these growing customer engagement trends into your own business plan. Find out how to attend by visiting this page.

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What Can Businesses Learn About Omni-Channel Marketing from Signet’s Extensive Brands?

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Previously Published to The Mad Marketer

Earlier this month, Signet Jewelers acknowledged that omni-channel marketing was a major factor in increased sales for 2016 – and especially for end of year holiday shopping. In fact, they claim that it has, according to The Wall Street Journal, “Amazon-proofed” their endeavors. In the eight weeks leading up to Christmas, this Bermuda-based diamond retailer grew its sales by 5 percent in comparison to previous years.

This year, Signet Jewelers has racked in $1.95B, a sharp increase for any business of this caliber. Signet is also known as the umbrella operation for subsidiary group, Sterling, which includes Kay Jewelers, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, Zale’s, Piercing Pagoda and regional brands, like JB Robinson, Marks & Morgan and Belden Jewelers.

Mall-based and outlet stores in the United States and Ernest Jones stores in the United Kingdom rose by 4.9 percent from 2014 to 2015, as opposed to the previous increase of 3.6 percent. This not only proves that people are still physically purchasing luxury items in a mall setting, but they are doing so at increasing rates.

Thanks to omni-channel marketing, however, more awareness is being created on the online forefront and drawing guests to physical, brick-and mortar locations. This is especially true with the future bride to be in search of the perfect ring that will brand her marriage for the rest of her life – or until “death do them part.”

While on the topic of online influence, it is interesting to note that online sales actually increased 10.9 percent, which also reflects at $13.7M, from a previous year’s $126M in earnings.

Subsidiaries are responsible for over 60-percent of these increases, showcasing exclusive and specialty items per location and creating demand. This is a great feat, considering regional brands have actually dropped 8.7 percent. These locations, where costs are most likely lower, based on local positioning, proved that people are willing to pay for the name, even if the quality is exactly the same.

A 2014 acquisition of Zale’s has reported mixed results, drawing in averages between 6 and 9 percent for each revenue stream under the Zale’s brand, including the more affordable Piercing Pagoda. Most Zale’s profits came from bridalware and gold jewelry. It seems that most of their subsidiary brands, have actually plummeted with differences as low as 16 to 18 percent – reflective in dollar amounts as high as $72M. This makes onlookers wonder if this is because there is going to be a complete merger in the future or if this is primarily due to a lack of omni-channel marketing in a very tech-savvy marketplace.

Companies who are not marketing themselves through digital platforms, whether participating in e-commerce or not, are continually seeing a decline in sales and adoption. Longtime loyalists are finding similar products elsewhere for a lower price. Many of these loyalist enjoy the convenience of a discreet purchase in the comfort of home or in transit to the workplace.

CEO of the Sterling branch of Signet, Mark Light, discusses the favorable 60% increase in adoption and sales through the brand storefronts and online shopping. He claims that this is attributed to the “execution of our product, marketing, and omni-channel selling strategies, as well as our superior customer experience. The implementation of store operations initiatives in the third quarter combined with investment in our recently launched innovative merchandising and marketing programs positioned Signet well for a strong fourth quarter and beyond.”

Although gold is far from a “wearable,” its value is known to put countries at odd and nations to be captured. As we enter digital and everything omni-channel, we have the power to capture cities through commerce, trading value for product without ever leaving the comforts of air conditioning. It only makes sense to include traditional jewelry brands into the digital mix – creating and perfecting the omni-channel mix for what has proven to be a multi-billion dollar industry.

In just eight weeks, Signet Jewelers have reached almost $2B in sales. It makes you wonder what they have done throughout the years. As much of their omni-channel strategy came prior to the holiday season, we almost wonder what the results would have been if it had been instituted sooner. Perhaps we will find out next year.

It’s this continuous adoption and evolution of technologies that bridges industries, both traditional and nontraditional, and keeps businesses booming better than ever before. If you aren’t using omni-channel methodologies in your marketing mix, perhaps you should develop a sure plan of attack now – before your competition beats you to it! 

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Cloud-based e-Discovery Creating Efficiencies for Law Firms

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PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S CLOUD COMPUTING MAGAZINE

Bloomberg (NewsAlert) and many other news outlets are questioning whether or not 2016 is the “year of cloud-based e-discovery.” This makes sense, given that 2015 was the year cloud-based innovations erupted into the mainstream. Experts are predicting that e-discovery will soon adopt and completely immerse itself into the cloud universe.

Law firms especially have taken to hosting secure servers externally, eliminating security concerns by hosting on internal servers or breach of privacy in confidential information through access by local IT professionals, who might be tempted to manipulate files and change details in local cases.

External cloud servers have become unbiased custodians for cases that may last several years on end. Concerned with the security related to accessing clouds through the Internet, there are some law firms that are quickly realizing that external sources are indeed more secure than hosting in-house, although completely against the move in previous months. External sources are becoming more secure as technology is being strengthened to meet the growing concerns for secure portals.

In meeting cost efficiencies, legal teams are also finding that hosting on external servers is cheaper to maintain than hosting internal machines and hiring the operators to engineer them.  Firms are aligning with their exact needs by finding providers that can meet those exact needs, thus eliminating the need to create these needs in-house. They are also learning that external sources allow for a more concrete “uptime” than they have experienced through proprietary servers.

Lack of resources and a full staff of necessary professionals to operate systems under a set budget is one thing that sets internal servers apart from external clouds. They are now able to integrate programming and the ability to provide access to attorneys while out of the office. With increased security and lower costs for e-discovery systems, clients will also save in service prices, ensuring long-term relationships with clientele.  

Cloud-based e-discovery solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions to e-discovery tools for law firms, however. Some smaller law firms may realize that they don’t need such a complex server to meet their immediate needs. Likewise, larger firms, who have put a CISO, Chief Information Security Officer, in place to ensure security at all times, may also realize that they can efficiently do everything in-house, especially in the situation where their caseloads are enormous and that migrations would be extensive. This includes the need for large storage solutions.   They still face concern of internal data breach.

Larger firms, who may choose not to make e-discovery available through a cloud, may still institute a system that includes cloud technologies, whether through integration or through a separate system altogether. Because many enterprises are realizing the need for “always on” connectivity, remote access of the work environment continues to provide further documentation and control of cases from outside the office place. This benefits firms, whereas external contributors or remote personnel are associated with a specific case.

Through this they have systems in place to ensure proper communication, internal collaboration and – of course productivity… the ongoing theme of cloud innovations. 

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Linux Foundation Executive Details 5 Virtual Networking Predictions for 2016

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PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED ON TMCNET’S NFV ESSENTIALS SITE

Open source projects have always been in demand, but they have become even more so since our top technologies have allowed for more integration, as opposed to previous “as is” programming. That said, we are seeing one of the biggest growths for open source software development in the area of Networking. Here, network functions virtualization (NFV) is allowing networking to be transformed and is being impacted by open source projects at record speed.

As Heather Kirskey, Director of NFV for OPNFV, the Linux Foundation, in a recent blog provides five virtual networking trends to keep an eye on in 2016 as the pace of virtualization innovation really is accelerating.  In fact, Kirskey cites a recent report by the researchers at IHS Infonetics who are forecasting a fivefold increase in the NFV/SDN market by 2019 with more than $11B in revenue.

Plus, it is noted that when it comes to NFV, activities are moving beyond telecommunications. The Linux Foundation is deeply involved in accelerating NFV having created a collaborative project over a year ago to fan the innovation flames. They launched a “carrier-grated, integrated, open source platform” aimed at accelerating the innovation of new products and services from over 56 separate companies who have come together in the Open Platform for Network Functions Visualization (OPNFV) project. It plans a second, more evolved launch later this year with increased functionality, testing and interoperability.

Kirskey provided five predictions regarding this substantial infrastructure technology shift.

Her first prediction is that “containers become a key technology component in any NFV platform.” She sees it changing how we uses guest operations in virtual machines, because we will now be using applications instead of actual containers. This will provide easier to use – yet customizable – solutions to previous container features. This usually means that more will get done in a shorter amount of time. And, who doesn’t love productivity?

Next on the list is that “NFV” and “SDN” will be the top skill sets amongst telecom job seekers.” She feels that this shift in virtualization will not only impact how we use technology but also how we hire for technology. As explained, productivity is a key driver going forward.  Many organizations will most likely work to either integrate better virtual functions through networking, or they will simply switch over completely. This will mean expertise on how to optimize new capabilities will be at a premium.  

Third, Kirskey is looking at the first round of limited production deployments in OPNFVs beta stage tol go live. This is exciting on its own, because it is estimated that over 38 new products are getting ready for release. And, with implementation will come the use cases where ROIs become validated.

Fourth on the list is that with the new releases we are going to see the first non-telecommunications end users. And, OPNFV as a result will begin to see diversity in membership.

Finally, Kirskey predicts that an even higher caliber of NFV-related service outages will occur. This will be the “signaling of a turning point in adoption.” New issues will manifest, as several new audiences begin to access and manipulate the programming. These are what Kirskey characterizes as unfortunate but predictable “growing pains” which according to her are a “silver lining,” the logic being that any large scale outage signals that the technology is maturing.

The good news is that despite the last point about bumps on the road, realities are that the silver lining assessment is not off base.  NFV is maturing quickly, the results are going to become readily apparent in the not too distant future and open source solutions are going to be the fuel that keeps the engines of innovation and deployment running optimally.

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HTML5 Continues to Transform Traditional Print to Scalable Interactive Experiences

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PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED ON TMCNET’S HTML5 REPORT

We have been seeing publishers, such as ISSUU, distributing independent magazines across platform via HTML5 since as early as 2010. But as PUB HTML5 crosses this threshold, it reminds us how important it is to create efficiency for our audiences. As mobile platforms continue to be our choice window into the outside world, it becomes ever so necessary to keep our media responsive in ensuring its consumption on the go.

Allowing magazines to be circulated within a global world, many publishers, such as PUB HTM5 and ISSUU are enjoying the potential that HTML5 can bring to their catalog of material – both commercial and independent, as they create “flipbooks,” magazines, catalogs and other publications.

Thanks to HTML5-based platforms, we are granted access to a plethora of devices, including smartphones, tablets and now wearables. We are able to deliver animated transitions, while keeping our content optimized to search engine visibility. We are further able to build large audiences that can now subscriber to push and e-mail notification once a new issue has been published.

Without the need for flash, companies such as PUB HTML5 have found ways to keep responsive content scalable in meeting visibility and aesthetic requirements of each deliverable. Publishers can now expand the potential of their published content by adding video, audio and slideshows. A traditional magazine now becomes an interactive experience.

For publishers, who have gained reputation through newsstand success and are now seeing a rapid decline in subscription and readership, there is hope – and even more opportunity than before. They are given wings and are able to directly engage their brand loyalists in amazingly new interactive instances. Instead of discussing a musician’s new album, they could, indeed, give access to exclusive tracks from that album to audiences all over the world.

The ability to shift our platforms and shift our content to suit our personal needs for consumption is almost spoiling.

Catering to our audiences through scalable media and browser responsiveness, we can ensure a positive, eye-catching – and addicting – experience every time. As we build mobile applications to supplement what the physical world can’t offer and our browsers to provide a means of access without the need for download, HTML5 continues to bring excitement and potential into the world of digital media content and delivery.

Brands are finally adopting the “content is king” mentality. But, we’ve been saying this for years. Taking that content and delivering it in new ways is what it will take to stay ahead of competition and gain in brand loyalty throughout the decades.

What PUB HTML5 and ISSUU are doing is giving brands a voice, whereas they would have lost it otherwise. Giving us delivery potential through their digital newsstand, we now have the opportunity to gain a new monetization strategy. Through their existence, we give our audiences new options… options that allow for online and offline consumptions through a mobile platform and the option to be printed in the physical form.  

Business are now given the potential to create packages for strategic partnerships and in delivering proposals in a new light. HTML5 has not just changed the face of how we present written materials, but it is slowly changing how we interact with documentation, marketing materials and educational platforms. The world is evolving – and so is our content. 

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Time for an SaaS Update?

Cloud Contact Center | TMC Net

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S CUSTOMER SUPPORT SOFTWARE

It’s no secret – and definitely nothing new – a good help desk is necessary in allowing the corporate world to flourish, one business professional at a time.

At smaller companies, Help Desk Support and IT may, in fact, be the same department. But, at larger firms, they are as much the same as night and day. Help Desks are responsible for serving their own internal clientele in the best way possible. They also may serve as the company’s Tech Support department for external customers with incoming concerns with a company’s product lines, services or website functionality. They are often the first point of contact with tech concerns – and many times the only point of contact.

Susan J. Campbell recently discussed how your days are numbered if your differentiation isn’t based on quality service. No matter which audience you’re serving, if you are the first point of contact or the last – your focus better be on quality and maximized performance.

But, how can you do this when your desk isn’t organized and files are thrown all over the place? How can you do this when your own team isn’t on the same page, or when it takes 20 steps to complete just one task? How can better communication take place with your customers if support tickets are continually getting lost?

This most recent shift in cloud technologies and integrations has been teaching us that there are so many new and amazing tech options, helping us do our jobs better and with greater efficiency. Productivity is key. If your time behind that desk is not maximized, you are wasting your own potential.

In a Help Desk setting, we are also able to benefit from the potential that clouds bring to our communications and collaboration activity. Not to mention, cloud technologies are cutting costs to department budgets and are improving speed within the organizations over all infrastructure. Using software environments from 1999 is not going to cut it. In order to evolve your business model, you must evolve the way you are handling business.

If your team hasn’t yet discussed the need for a new direction in Help Desk SaaS (News – Alert), perhaps it’s the right time to start that conversation. Continued improvements to processes are what make a business run more effortlessly and with greater productivity. As the first line of defense, it is your responsibility to provide the company with better support to the outside world.

Everyone’s input is important and everyone on the team makes a difference. Include your team in the discussion for department needs in improving the Help Desk environment. Together, you will want to discuss whether the company needs new customer support software, integration or a whole new environment altogether. Discussing department needs will bring awareness to issues that have been avoided for a long time. Notes should be taken. Processes will be improved. Perhaps solutions such as TeamSupport would actually be an option in helping teams to continue this necessary dialog and eliminate miscommunication. Find out. Start the conversation. 

All stakeholders should feel a sense of ownership. Give everyone the chance to list their needs and which features they would most benefit from in their day-to-day work routine.

Prioritize the items on the list. Eliminate what is not important. Vote on which are the most important and why. These are all tips shared by Information-Age.

Help Desks can consist of both expert and intermediate abilities. What may have been mastered by you 10 years ago may be something new to someone else. Communicate these differences. You may find compromise to be an important factor in this part of process. You may find communication to be an even larger part of that process.

Come to the meeting armed with options. This will allow the team to weigh out benefits and costs of these technologies. Encourage everyone to research solutions beforehand.

In some cases, a business SaaS with a great reputation of updates and integrations is a better solution than a do-it-all platform. Then again, the opposite can be true. What are your needs? Do not pay for what you aren’t going to use.  Focus on the services you need to provide better service to your own customers.

Discuss a minimum feature set and select a solution that will provide you with a better feature-to-budget ratio. Factor in whether or not there is compliance or licensure necessary in using each option. Are there security requirements? What security is included?

Preparing your case to decision-makers will often allow your department to go outside of their budget if the external decision makers find it a good investment.

Always know what you want to do and why you want to do it. Continuous monitoring of system performance will help to validate adoption down the road. It will allow you to enrich the support off your clientele, both internal and external. Process improvements will strengthen this ability and allow your team to better succeed in support. Customers will continue to be satisfied; and your support team will, too.

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Sharegate Escorts Proprietary Information to Enterprise-friendly Platforms

Cloud Contact Center | TMC Net

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S OFFICE365TODAY

At a time when less is becoming more, we’re seeing the tech industry shift to efficiency and centralization. This week, Sharegate released a tool that will most likely gain popularity over the next few months. This tool, like so many others, is promising on better collaboration, communication and productivity. But, most importantly, as cloud-vested as it is, it is focused on ownership and security.

First of all, we need to acknowledge David Roe at CMS Wire for filling us in on the smaller details of this new innovative tool. Next we have to explain why this tool is so important. Let’s break it down.

Sharegate is, in a way, a bodyguard. He’s coming to usher information from Google (News – Alert) Drive, peacefully escorting properties from one user account to a more powerful enterprise account on Office 365. At Google Drive, or Google for Work, these properties were connected and made available through a web of connected users. At Office 365, they will now be stored on a central enterprise cloud with only primary ownership by each user. Sharegate is making sure this data gets to its destination safely – and without getting lost along the way. 

If you’re wondering why anyone would care so much about moving data to the Office365 platform when they are receiving great service at Google for free, then you will have to look at the current business model opposing Google Drive.

At Drive, individual users are owners of proprietary information. Once they delete their account or disconnect themselves from a workgroup, their data is no longer accessible to the team. Additionally, if they delete those files, they are no longer existent. What happens when someone moves on from a company into another position elsewhere – or what happens when someone is fired? They have the power to take that data with them and to disconnect previous shares from each file and drive.

While Google is amazing for the individual user, it is not effective for the enterprise model.

Sharegate is shifting focus by allowing the ownership of these files by individual users, but moving them into possession of the enterprise itself. This bars users, who are no longer part of the company or workgroup, from accessing secure documents and proprietary information. This gives more security to the enterprise systems that have been showing concern where cloud systems are lacking security.

Roe points out one very key fact. Drive was never really meant to be a cloud. In fact, Drive was originally Google Docs and an online storage and device synchronization with open source word processors and spreadsheets. When they partnered with Microsoft (News – Alert), they became Google Drive and increased productivity from within. Competing with Office 365’s new presence in 2014, they became Google for Work through rebranding and focused on collaboration.

With Office 365’s split into a more prominent product on its own, we have been seeing more adoption and partnership from companies all over the Net, as they integrate this product into their own service strategies.  So, again, it comes back to integration.

Not only are enterprise companies given more protection over internal company data, they are also able to integrate with broader product and service lines by using Office 365, as opposed to Google Drive… even if they have to pay a little more to do so. Systems are seeing less breach through this process.

While Google currently reports that over 2 million users are regularly using the Google for Work service, which includes a claim of an estimated 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies, only 23 of over all prominent businesses are actually accessing Drive on a regular basis. While they may have files on the system, most IT departments are slowly migrating files into the new system. The problem is accessibility, inconvenience and time inefficiencies.

A Bitglass report from August 2015 shows a 300-percent growth in Office 365 adoption and utilization by enterprise and small business users with Skyhigh reporting a total 87.3 percent of businesses regularly accessing the system for all their collaboration and file sharing needs.

While 4 million paying enterprise users are said to use Google for single in-app sign on and service features, most of these users are more active on Office 365 according to multiple studies. It is most likely that this four million simply kept their previous accounts, while using Drive for personal and freelance use in their Android (News – Alert) and Google-powered devices.

With Sharegate’s new migration tool, it will be interesting to see whether this influences the reported 4 million still accessing Drive’s current services or if the 2 million active users dwindles down. Making migration more efficient could impact Drive’s adoption and utilization quite drastically.

Will Drive become another Google service that ends up failing them? Most likely not, because they serve the individual user – But, less enterprises will be accessing Drive for their daily operations and collaborative needs. Then, again, Google is already showing signs that they aren’t about to let this happen. The competition begins.

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New York City Will Be America’s First Smart City

Next Generation Communications, IP Transformation, Advanced Broadband Networks, Digital Lifestyles, Eco-Sustainable Telco Solutions, Dynamic Enterprise, Service Delivery Environment, Advanced Broadband Networks, End to End Transformation, Advanced Business Models, Business Transformation, Services Transformation, Service Delivery Platform, Killer Telco Environment and Managed Telco Services

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S NEXT GENERATION COMMUNICATIONS

As smart and responsive cities continue to expand across the globe, LinkNYC has emerged as one of the most innovative moves yet in evolving the New York Metro Area. As the company begins to roll out free gigabit Wi-Fi across the city, we are enamored with everything that comes with it.

A city full of Millennials and the need to accommodate outdoor charging ports, LinkNYC has stepped it up a notch, as they knock out over 7500 payphones around the five-city borough and install multiple technology kiosks in their place. Connected by superfast citywide Wi-Fi, these “Links” serve as information stations, communication platforms and even city directories.

Paid (NewsAlert) for by advertising, Links are powered by highly effective OOH advertising networks and will be sustained on revenue alone. What is said to be a “rich, context aware platform,” all Links will feature digital signage on 55” HD displays and will bring the city over half a billion a year in revenue. These totems, as ZDNet has labeled them, will not be a burden to tax payers, as funding will be generated from partners, supporters and advertisers directly.

Sponsored by The City of NY and CityBridge, personal devices can be used with the systems. USB ports will allow for on-the-go charging and lead the city to become a more efficient and safer place to live. 9-11 will be a short swipe away and public service announcements will be immediately posted to warn passersby of harm in the immediate area.

Each kiosk will have a tablet to access e-mail, browsing the Web and a Vonage (NewsAlert) app for telephone calls. Users will have to provide their own headphones, however, or everyone else nearby will hear the conversation. Tons of new apps are set to rollout over the next ten years and are expected to bring continued innovation to communities all over the Big Apple. Connectivity is said to be 100 or more times faster than LTE (NewsAlert) servicing and standard public Wi-Fi… even at 150 feet away.

CItyBridge, a New York-based technology company, is comprised of technology experts, media professionals and communication groups, who are focusing on connectivity and the user experience. The companies forging together under this entity are Intersection, QUALCOMM and Civiq Smartscapes. The company is led by a parent company, Titan Outdoor. With this powerhouse behind them, Links are now considered “for New Yorkers, by New Yorkers.”

With the growing concern for security and privacy, CityBridge only collects data related to logins and passwords that access their system. And while they do collect complex analytics to better improve and maximize their servicing, data remains anonymous to the user so that nothing will become identifiable to any particular user within the system. Better yet, this information will not be sold.

According to ZDNet, The City of New York will be simultaneously be implementing free broadband service to households all over the city. From now through 2019, a proposed minimum of 100mbps will be delivered through each network and will keep the city connected to the rest of the world.  While directly unaffiliated with Links, power to Link towers will be made possible. The move to implement citywide broadband servicing will cost the city $500M, matched by $500M from a private source. It seems that after Links have been positioned, broadband servicing will pay for it. Now, that’s smart. 

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AT&T & VoLTE Pairs Clearer Calls with Simultaneous Web Browsing

Telecom Signaling, Diameter Signaling, LTE Diameter Signaling, Diameter Signaling Router, Telco Signaling, signaling transfer point (STP), signaling gateway, (SGW), Telecom Signalling, EAGLE Signaling Platform, Signaling System #7, SS#7, SIP, 3G LTE, 4G LTE, 4G LTE-A, VoLTE, VoIP

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S TELECOM SIGNALING RESOURCE CENTER

Combining our favorite features from Facebook, Google Hangouts, Skype and iPhone systems, AT&T has been rolling out its new VoLTE service, which currently reaches more than 27 million subscribers in the United States. Allowing us to engage in improved calling quality, we are now able to utilize our LTE networks while in HD.   

AT&T has been busy bringing simultaneous delivery of LTE connections to our communications needs. Broadening the range of frequency for voice, clearer conversations are now made possible.  This means that you are less likely to hear someone ask you to repeat what you just said. Customers will also be able to switch back and forth between voice and video calling without losing their connection.

While it hasn’t reached all markets yet, AT&T is working diligently to unleash VoLTE “market-by-market,” testing each market before launch and maximizing the user experience before it is widely adopted.

In addition to an improved voice experience, AT&T is implementing three more features to their VoLTE service. One of these include Wi-Fi Calling, as AT&T jumps on the bandwagon with Verizon, who has also recently adopted this form of Wi-Fi communication, as an alternative to users experiencing service outages and interference with servicing in their area. Sprint has already been offering this service for a few years now.

Advanced messaging will also allow users to tell when and if their messages have been delivered across networks, providing more accountability to the system and verifying receipt of important texts that can often get lost in the mix.

Finally, AT&T implements NumberSync into their VoLTE system. Working very much like SimulRing on Vonage and Google Voice through Hangouts, NumberSync will allow users to link compatible devices to a primary mobile number. Not only can calls be routed to several devices, but calls can be made from several devices and appear to be coming from the same mobile number. Text messages are no exception.

Phones that are dead, broken and powered off will continue to ring and ensure that no calls are missed and no texts are delayed. 

While none of these technologies are necessary new, AT&T has combined our most beloved features into a central system for improved calling experiences. With faster speeds being accessible on our devices while on a call and frequencies expanding for clearer calling capabilities, AT&T has a good shot at being one of the most in-demand phone carriers in 2016. Additional mobility will be given to conference calling and business interactions

Unfortunately, while AT&T has already rolled out HD calling to most of the United States, there are many subscribers, who will go without the ability to engage in HD clarity, because they have a device that is incompatible with the feature. It is likely that upgrades will take place in the next few months with subscribers interested in adopting this new service. But, it is not likely to actually happen right away, as much of our population tends to be late adopters, as opposed to early ones.

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Business VoIP Enhances the Customer Experience

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PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO TMCNET’S BUSINESS VOIP

Cutting costs for businesses, while allowing flexibility to the professional world, cloud contact centers have been becoming increasingly beneficial to enterprises all over the planet.  Not only has cloud collaboration pushed regional boundaries, but it has also cut expenses for travel that otherwise would have meant lost time of department heads and leaders, who are instrumental in leading various teams around the country.

Cloud contact centers allow innovative moves towards conference calling and unified communications directly from the cloud. Business VoIP is made possible through these systems, often saving call centers and business operations up to 60% in costs of traditional phone systems. Additionally, calls can be recorded and save within the system, voicemail accessible directly through a centralized e-mail platform.

Because of cloud efficiency, it has been predicted that 25% of most IT budgets will be set aside for cloud-based systems. Growing from a storage-based technology, professionals have been learning to increase productivity by working within the cloud directly. Because these systems can be accessed across a variety of devices, many professionals are opting to work “on the go,” utilizing tools and communications platforms within the cloud system, where they are also able to store confidential documents and proprietary information.

Quickly connecting consumers with answers to their questions and solutions to their problems, cloud centers are saving the business valuable time, which also translates to money. This also leads to greater profits, as brand trust is adopted with loyalty and tenure.

As time passes, the business model is transformed and continuously upgraded. Business VoIP and IT systems integrating into these cloud-based models are finding that depreciation is almost nonexistent. While integrations will continue to improve systems, outdated equipment is no longer an issue.

With the ability to disseminate valuable information throughout the system at once and because most interactions can now be accessed on demand, there is less of a need to hire multiple trainers to bring employees up-to-speed on new programs and procedures. Increased controls ensure efficiency through shareable content on internal servers.

Again, with a centralized system, valuable information, knowledge bases and case studies can be accessed while communicating with clients, partners and customers, improving the overall experience and quality of interaction.

While more than 13% of all major corporations are still skittish when it comes to trusting the security of cloud-based systems, security is actually increased and customer data is more protected than ever. Not only is it safe from corruption during migrations and depreciating databases, data can be wiped from the devices of employees, who are no longer with the company. 

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