Wednesday, February 26, 2014

All You Need Is Lync - Altogether Now...

Lync is all you need, Lync is all you need.

You can't get that out of your head now, can ya? Music is my thing, and I just thought that title worked really well for what Microsoft was messaging at last week's Lync conference, or love-in, if I was keeping in character with Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles.

On that note, I'm not the only one who likes to link (or Lync - ugh) past and present with the Fab Four. Did you see this 2 minute rave-up on Jimmy Fallon the other night? - a little too cool for comfort, but spot-on...

Back to the topic at hand - Lync. For this month's column on InformationWeek, I wrote about how a lot of good things are coming together for Lync, but interestingly, they seem to be more focused on video than voice, which of course speaks loudly for how they see the world moving without the need for phone systems.

I'm equally concerned that whether they focus on voice or video, MSFT and their telecom partners/rivals might miss a bigger boat, namely Facebook. Having bought WhatsApp, they now have a huge user base on par with Skype, and by adding voice the other day, things sure could get interesting if people start relying more on text for their primary mode of communicating.

Enough. It's time to head over to the IW site, and you can read my article here. If this gets you going, please join the conversation, and I'll be sure add more thoughts in the commentary.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How Bob Newhart Would Respond to UC

If you follow my writing, you'll know that I often talk about the challenges of getting end users to see what vendors and IT people see in Unified Communications. The value proposition is intuitively strong, but the benefits are pretty fluid for most people to grab on to.

For this month's UCStrategies column, I'm taking a different approach with some humor. Millennials may not know much about Bob Newhart, but that will change after reading my post. For those of you old enough to remember, no explanation is needed, and I think you'll totally clue in to what I'm doing.

Just imagine how a telephone conversation (of course, what else could it be with UC?!?!) would go between Bob as an end user, and Walter the IT manager. Got that? Now flip over to the UCS portal, and have a read and listen to my post.

ETS is Coming - Energy Thought Summit, March 24-25

I'm part of the team at Zpryme Research that's putting together our first smart grid conference. If you're in this space, you will not find a better lineup of speakers anywhere, and this is truly shaping up to be a great event.

If you've never seen Steve Wozniak speak, this is your chance, and with my discount code, you'll save 20%. You can read up on the full lineup of speakers and sessions here, along with registration details.

The discount code is: ETSjon, and I hope that helps get you to Austin!

I'll be blogging and tweeting regularly prior to the event, and if you join us, I will not be hard to find.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Google Hangout - Future of the Contact Center, Feb. 27

It's so rare that I get involved in local events, and go figure, when it happens, we're doing a Google Hangout. Well, it's snowing pretty good today, so just as well to stay in!

Whatever, I'm just happy to be here, and Toronto-based Fonolo is hosting another analyst roundtable next Thursday at 2pm ET. Not only is it good to see a local vendor bringing much-needed innovation to the contact center space, but also that they're making use of the new tools.

For events like this, there's absolutely nothing wrong with Google Hangouts, and if you're in tune with what works for Millennials, don't be surprised to see this become a standard contact center option before long.

Fonolo's President, Shai Berger is leading the roundtable, and joining us will be fellow analysts Blair Pleasant, Dan Miller, and Keith Dawson. Should be fun, and in the open-ended spirit of all things Google, the roundtable will go as long as folks care to hang out.

Here's the link with full details and the registration form - hope to see you there!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Webinar - Increasing Customer Engagement in the Contact Center

I mentioned the other day I've got lots on the go, both with webinars and upcoming events. This post is for a webinar that had a false start recently, but has been rescheduled and upsized.

This time around I'm the moderator, and if you want to hear some best practices about creating customer engagement in the contact center, you'll want to join us next Thursday, February 27 at 2pm ET.

Joining me will be Neal Shact from CommuniTech Services (an SAP Partner), Sandy Reisenauer from Wacker Neuson, and Sandeep Arora from Knack Systems.

The webinar is being hosted by TMC, and is titled: The Search for the Holy Grail: The Journey to Increase Customer Engagement with Personalization in the Contact Center. I can't make it sound any sexier, but if you want to know more, here's the webpage, along with a link to register.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Next Webinar: Evolution of VoIP, March 4

Things sure go in waves for me - it's quiet for a while, then busy, and then new things to become even more busy. The last state describes what this week has been like, and all of a sudden, there's a whole lot of new things going on, and I'll be posting about them here as events develop.

I've got a few upcoming webinars, and in this post I'll just talk about one of them. On March 4, I'm doing another Ziff Davis webinar on the evolution of VoIP. This one has been on the calendar for a bit, and early registrations have been great, so it will be well-attended for sure.

As you may know, I'm a regular contributor to IT Toolbox, which is a major Ziff Davis hub for B2B content. They cover the gamut in terms of topics and modes of content, including webinars. For more details about my VoIP webinar, along with how to register, here's the landing page. Hope you can join us!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

2014 VoIP Outlook: Analyst Roundup (including JAA)

Industry portal GetVoIP is one of many out there providing information to help people make buying decisions about VoIP. These sites often provide lots of pricing and feature comparisons, and it's nice to come across one that actually provides some independent analysis.

GetVoIP's CEO, Reuben Yonatan came up with a good way of doing this - soliciting insights from various industry analysts about what we see in store for businesses as they consider VoIP in 2014. I was included in this group, and our collective wisdom has been rounded up in their 2014 Outlook post.

I've been away a few days and just back to blogging now. Their 2014 outlook ran earlier this week, and if you haven't seen it yet, here's the post. Am sure they'd welcome your comments, so don't be shy.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

VoIP Security and Cybersecurity in the Spotlight - are you Listening Now?

Well, that's certainly been the story for me lately, and it's as good a time as any to post about it.

Starting with this week, I was interviewed by both the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star about a cyber attack that hit Bell Canada a few days ago. More specifically, the attack hit one of their third party partners, and the hackers posted the usernames and passwords of over 20,000 business customers on the Web, along with credit card numbers of business customers.

This may seem like small potatoes compared to the recent breaches among the likes of Target and Neiman Marcus, but it all comes from the same swamp, and until we - you and me - get smarter about how we protect our personal information online, this activity is going to keep escalating.

Working with third parties is a fact of business life these days, and as a sidebar, it's good to know that the unnamed partner was based in Ottawa - and not some faraway country you've never heard of. With the Sochi Olympics about to kick off - in a faraway city you had never heard of before they got (I mean bought) the games, concerns about surveillance - and that's saying it nicely - have never been higher.

Not to mention closer to home, where the Canadian government is trying to assure us that the metadata they're monitoring NSA-style on our mobile devices is not spying. Makes you just want to walk away from anything related to the Internet. I'm almost there, and looking at the copper wiring still stapled around the perimeter of my apartment, y'know, I could just about do it - all I need now is a rotary phone....

Anyhow, back to the news - for the record, I was quoted here in the Globe on Monday, and here in the Star yesterday.

Now, let's take things down a notch from cybersecurity to VoIP security. If you don't associate VoIP with security, then you need to think again. Not only is VoIP highly vulnerable to threats for telephony-based security like toll fraud, but it's often the weak link in the overall IT security perimeter. This makes it an attractive point of entry for hackers going after much bigger game, and that's when this becomes a cybersecurity threat.

You may save a ton of money on telephony with VoIP, but if you're not careful, you'll be exposing all your corporate data to a community with very sophisticated tools - along with some that are free or OTS - and they know how to use them. As Bell Canada found out, once the breach has been detected, the damage has already been done. Like anything else, when a competitive advantage can be established, you win more than you lose, and in this arena, the hackers have the edge.

On that note, I'll continue the theme of being newsworthy with a profile that ran yesterday in IT World Canada. I recently authored a White Paper on VoIP security for an Ottawa-based company called VoIPshield, and the publication ran a nice backgrounder on them, along with some context for why VoIP security is an issue. The article also interviewed their CEO, Rob Gowans, and he added some color to Howard Solomon's analysis.

Regarding my White Paper, it's getting a lot of readership, and you can learn more it about from my earlier post when it was published in December. If you want a condensed read about what your really need to know, I can steer you to a couple of articles; this writeup from FierceITSecurity, and my own article about the topic which ran about two weeks ago in No Jitter.

I'm not a technical expert in this area, but I see enough in my research to know these threats are real and they're with us now. With all the above items bubbling up around the same time, I thought it was high time to pull them together and help get the word out.

Are you listening now?