Learning how to make the future do what you want

The best way to predict the future is to be a participant in the creation of what comes next. Nevertheless, we can learn a lot from the past, and how the “old guard” sometimes manages the new. If you were around in the Dotcom days, we simply did not have a reference model to look at for technical tools. In fact, everything was totally new and un-expected in the business world and change came fast, hard and “all of a sudden” it was just “like that”.

Today Unified Communications is quickly coming to the Contact Center. Yes, for the statisticians in all of us, we still cling to the phone as the “reference model”. But, we should not forget how quickly change comes. Have you talked to anyone recently from say 13 to 19 years old? Ask them what they think about using a phone to talk to somebody, or what an email address is used for other than setting up some account or giving to the cashier at the store when they press you for it. Putting the Contact Center into the hands of the consumer on the most prolific entity currently known makes not only good business sense, but is perhaps yesterdays news.

While it is true that the Contact Center does have telephonic media channels that are still considered “king of the hill” we can learn a lot about the behaviors of the market by looking at communications trends. When we were in Silicon Valley in the late 90’s, for us email and portable phones were our standard. Yet, anyone will tell you that in those days we did not have “40+ year old” executives that had this in their blood because they simply never grew up around technology as we did.

If you took funding off Sansome street in Palo Alto, the first thing they would do is send you a pack of suits (advisors) to join the management team. Well, these guys (and some girls) would show up with pencils and big thick note pads (looking like a bounded book) and scribble all day and look at us in scorn….. and even in some cases ban email usage in the meeting rooms! For the “suits” the method of working entailed meetings, discussions of SAP, and “processes” that were mind boggling. But, our work, over email and sometimes from home or in the car was scandalous.

FACT: today the amount of phone traffic has plummeted in contrast to the traffic over chat or images shared as a “message”. When the phone rings in my house and I look at my kids to pick it up; they say “it cannot be for me as my friends would never use the phone”. As bizarre as it was for the “suits”, because my parents could not keep us off the phone. So, if they will be taking over the old guard (us) in short order, does it not mean as they communicate to the support, billing or purchasing department their methods and demands will require change?

 

 

Working with our partners in the network operator segment we have developed Unified Communications for Contact Centers. Our unique focus on mobile loyalty application and WebRTC  that works for todays media choices of voice and email, yet also has chat, video and Biometrics that makes authentication “a touch” not “a snap” of the finger easy! Partner with us today to build a Cloud based Contact Center for your region and be a part of the future not the history.

Great partners make life more fun

For over 17 years, our partner Mauritius Telecom has been delivering the cutting edge Unified Communications services. Together with the CommuniGate Pro multi-tenant platform our partnership has evolved into a core B2B offering for subscribers. At CGS we have adapted to market changes and waves of innovation over the years; but one thing that has never changed is that we keep our partners close and use their insight for the development of the product roadmap. This week we spent some time with our colleagues and partner learning how their National Cloud will be a leading example of Unified Communications in the Cloud with regulatory compliance demands met.

Of course at an average 32c in the day and 30C at night we had to dress light and carry small bags!

Sometimes geeks take things too far and bring their briefcase to the beach thinking maybe there are great wifi signals around!

What does one do when in Mauritius Island with good friends and colleagues? Diving of course!

Searching for a Cloud near Nemo….

Alcatraz never looked so pretty; but defiantly bring a boat with you either way!

At CommuniGate Systems we like to keep in touch with our partners and take a close look on how our platform benefits their business, always looking for ways to strengthen our relationships and develop even further.

Stay tuned to see who we will visit next!

2017 – the year the Cloud becomes a National asset

This last year (2016) we saw a global surge and race to move business applications to the Cloud with new development models like dockers, containers and all sorts of new languages and frameworks. Plus, we also began to see businesses starting to realize, and take advantage of the movement to WebRTC capable systems; such as Contact Center products! However, in the last year we had no peace when it came to hacks, attacks, and large scale “outages” that wrecked havoc and made us soberly realize growing pains will trip us up here and there.

Security risks and governance of the Cloud model has been a controversial area for the FinTech and healthcare market segments by the very nature of their preceding regulatory nature. However “the move” to the Cloud has extended the “call for control”, regulation and of course protection of IPR and trade secrets for all of us; even the local pizza delivery shop does not want their website hacked and pizzas delivered to wrong places by the hands of pranksters.

One of the fastest growing demands for technology platforms  like CommuniGate Pro which supports the Cloud or SaaS provider market segment models is a drive towards a “National Cloud” model.  For many of the countries in the EU, Africa and the Middle East regions there is a “slam on the brakes” sense of urgency to control the move to the Cloud. This “reaction” is somewhat based on “justifiable” response to the control of content and/or property rights dealing with the “physical” location and extension of laws governing everything from metadata to “just being in the wrong place at the wrong time”.  I had a client whom had their systems taken offline simply because their “portion” of the “shared” architecture happened to reside on servers and systems that were under investigation for illicit behaviors by a totally un-related customer “sharing” such systems on the providers data center in the USA whilst this particular company was based in Belgium. Once the systems were “seized” there was no “recourse” for this “collateral victim” that fell into a hole of darkness (website offline) simply because they were “situated” next to a “bad neighbor”.

Our view is that we rationally expect most countries in 2017 will begin to see that it must own, control, and often times regulate the private versions of a Cloud within their country to mitigate risks. This will start with industries that are regulated, such as previously mentioned banks or healthcare systems, but that move will quickly encompass any business that wants to be under the umbrella of National laws and not the hosting providers country of origin laws. Of course, on the positive side we see and believe that the exploitation of these regulations are morphing to the values of having a National Cloud as an asset.

 

Building stuff is fun, but modifying to suit the need is smarter

There is clearly value in building applications that are “built to suit”. The purpose and manner of your operations is what makes you who you are as a company and normally that drives your values and competitiveness. Also, customer needs are intrinsically understanding these matched with the relationship they have with you over-ride trying to bend your organization around the way some application or system works.

We recently visited the BMW Werk in Munich and one of the things we were “pressing” our guide about was the technology in use with all those cool robotic systems. We learned that the logic and the software was custom made and tuned initially by the Swiss vendor many years ago, but then BMW formed internal competence to write their own algorithms based on their specific requirements. Contact Centers in large deployments, say like a mobile network operator, can have 100’s of centers doing all sorts of tasks: from provisioning, billing, and support to sales activities, logistics for maintenance crews, and even internal HR and travel divisions. These systems were grown into the company requirements. But that has always been costly, yet necessary in that the needs of the operation are not generic enough to have out of the box delight.

I remember my days in corporate IT and indeed one of the downsides to turn-key applications like a CRM or ERP was you had to mold the staff to that vendors methods of “workflow”. Obviously there was a need to get closer to building vs. “assimilating” and the entire spectrum of software evolution ran for years now around all sorts of buzz word compliancy themes like “mash ups” & “plug-ins” or “widgets” & “integrations”.  Today we are still left deciding how much to get our hands “sticky” with when it comes to the next great API and preference panel du jour.

Today we have an amazing set of technologies available that no longer require a massive truckload of IT junk to get started. The advent of the Cloud model for delivery of applications by vendors removes a lot of the back end hassles that made adoption or migrations nightmarish. However, we believe that applications must “suit” the need and that means there should be available at all times some skin in the game from the consumption side to mold either the applications themselves or participate in the roadmap decision tree for us as the software app creator of the platform to get involved.

CommuniGate Pro was designed to be a hosting platform at the core and from day 1 with the right “mentality” for Cloud services no matter if you are the platform hosting company to the end consumption client. The technology is multi-tenant and has a full development SDK and set of APIs that allow the best of the best geeks to have fun, but also provide revenue stream possibilities for customization services that make Cloud providers more than resellers, but rather have intrinsic value thru professional service delivery.

Everyone has their “secret sauce” and style as a product company. Since our inception we have always been focused on the architecture of the product that would deliver the best performance reliably. After 25 years of developing software we have not budged one inch on that philosophy for better or worse. Many times we have had major internal debates to acquiesce a bit on that stance in order to develop some new capability or feature. Time and time again that has fell not on silent ears but firm adherence to our value.

CommuniGate Pro is developed in C++ and is a signal multi-threded package standing as not only the single model in such a design in the market place perl group, but we also have the un-contested performance spec awards to support our decisions on design. Unified Communications really is all about having a single backend that can extend protocols to support multi-medial communications that are understood on the core platform without submission to separate systems or servers. Our design also is all about “Dynamic Clustering” that has “all active” members breaking the mentality of failover or “passive” designs.

This unique capability and design has brought me to hear from 100’s of data center teams over the years the same message: “it is the only system on the core network that has never been down”. In the markets we serve, having a system with up times running over 8+ years is not only cool, but sensibly just for operations that are supposed to be 24×7 non-stop. Leveraging processor affinity we have been able to eclipse all known products in similar spectrums on todays multi-core server hardware up or down to the level of RaspberryPI.

With the move to less infrastructure and more ease of use the CommuniGate Pro platform is uniquely ideal for the Cloud hosting provider to developers that want to bring IPR to the market for Contact Center deployments or proved web and mobile Unified Communications to business processes without boatloads of bloatware. Join our ecosystem today as a certified solutions provider by coming to one of our training and certification courses in 2017.

Waves of innovation in communication technologies change us

I like to think about how we operated as kids in my days of using fixed line phones and voicemail machines to get organized for parties or meetups on the beach.  In California we perhaps were limited in the technologies, but never limited in imagination. We had ways to organize music events at the beach or in some house that had the parents away for the weekend. Progress in innovation has made our kids world today all about internet based communications and connectivity to information.

We were recently watching old movies during the holidays and my kids were just amazed at the people in “Beverly Hills Cop” not even having a mobile phone to call people on the move. Life for them is really all about being connected and having the ability to share info over communications channels that are “many”. For that era where I was about the same age as my kids, it was not imaginable to be 13 and have a magical little device (expensive one) that can essentially put me in touch with friends globally in live video or even see where they are walking using location services. We had paper maps! GPS was military stuff for rocket guidance, not finding a nearby starbucks. My kids have unbelievable power to communicate that has changed the way they “operate” and collaborate.

During these last few weeks of 2016 we have seen “shopping mall mass organizations” that are in the news because they are both linked to social media and also that the purpose was to form fights and disruptions at scale. These “instant crowds” are snapped together with little effort on the organizational side other than posting some compelling inspirations over tweets or instagrams. It appears that in many cities across the USA 100’s of teenagers are “snap organizing” fights and protests at local malls by simply broadcasting the “calling” to join over social media. These had me think about the numbers: 600+ teens organized at the swipe of the finger is amazing. It has changed how we operate, and the communications technology opens doors for things like business organizations, events, and feedback in channels for what we live and breathe: contact center unified commutations.

But with change and power there are risks, downsides and people emerge that try everything to stop or slow progress. For each new revolution the resistance is remarkably the same. If you lived thru the change that happened with email being introduced you will recall the pleas to regulate or abolish it. The same arguments were used for VoIP; we heard it cannot be allowed because of regulations for emergency calls, and of course it would be a tool for criminals. The same is being said about social media and how it is a phenomenon that creates mischief.

Today we are seeing the real need for security in social media.  To protect and preserve confidentiality certainly, but also to mitigate impersonation and data theft. Yet, whenever encryption is spoken about there is a chorus of people that claim it leads to criminality and we should keep our commutations somehow like an open post card that anyone can read, copy or manipulate. Kind of inverse to innovation huh?

For 20+ years we have seen email emerge, mature, then age and to some become a roadblock to efficiency; nevertheless email  became and still is the defacto standard to inner-operate communications between people, groups, and even large organizations. It also became the way to create accounts and establish an “identity” over the internet or even for your local government organization to add to your profile on their record base. Email at the end of the day is simply an Internet address space, and that concept will continue to evolve, I hope..

In many ways email was extended and enhanced to accommodate all the demands we put on the system that was really just a replacement for postcards, paper letters, envelops, postboxes, and mail men to move it around in the digital sense vs physical. We pushed those envelopes to also take “packages” of data, ISO images, HTML content and more. Email changed the way we live, and thru growing pains we adapted our society and processes as a personal or business entity. The evolution of email was real-time commutations and effectively the chat UX bloomed and blossomed into many different “gardens of social media groups”.

Another big change coming is brought to us from our kids: the way “news” information is distributed and consumed. For better or worse, the rise of sharing and opening up our lives began with reality TV. But all that has moved over to social media rapidly; TV screens, syndication and advertising have new meaning now. Stars are born with likes and follows at scales never imagined with “spins” in radio jockey days back on the beach in LA. A star today is a “social media influencer” and can be more powerful in 40 characters than “60 minutes” was on Sunday night.

Recently we have seen how twitter has thrust itself into the forefront of “news distribution” as a result of the political “reality show” that happened in 2016. Large media corporations have resisted fiercely the rise of social media, mocked it, claimed it is disinformation at best and fake malicious warfare in most cases in their view. But that is perhaps a lost war already when you turn on the TV and see every anchor sitting there with a twitter post on the screen as the topic of discussion for the day.

Imagine that in 100 places around the world this morning a prime minister, maybe a king, or the chancellor, perhaps the president of that country is looking at Twitter to see what was posted overnight by other leaders. At first this behavior was met with disgust and viewed as amateurish. This week I have taken a smile to see that those leaders around the world are now posting their thoughts and comments too on twitter and that is a good thing in my view as the sources are now front and center and this will change the way we operate, think, and make decisions.

Christmas and New Year event – Nice Côte d’Azur 2016

The CommuniGate Systems Christmas event this year was wonderful; not only was the weather awesome for some fun outside, but with our partners and clients it made the tours around Nice exceptionally memorable! This year we made the theme “niçois” which is the name of the culture in Nice that has specialties to eat, dress, and there is even the dialect to speak. Kind of a blend between French and Italian cultures with a lot of influence from the sea and marine lifestyle.

Durning the week we found the region to be a lot more peaceful and calm. The locals were happy and helpful in the markets around the Cours Saleya and Libération to greet and speak with us about the unique niçois facts about their history, products and the buildings around the “old town” part of the city. However, many of us found that the marché in Libération was very beautiful and reminiscent of markets in Paris along the rue Mouffetard.

Of course there was a good amount of fun with hats and Christmas themed poses under just about everyone’s iPhone; stretching the limits on storage and iCloud quota! But like any team of geeks we had more fun talking about the technology to filter and change the pictures perhaps than anything else.

Like all our events we try to mix in some sport activity and took this trip on the electric bikes that got us up to Mont Boron and around the Castle in the Port region and along the Sea towards Ville Franche and Monaco. We learned that the “e-bike” is really all about assistance to the rider and not like a motor bike or scooter. We had a good mix of Beach cruiser bikes, to BMX style and sport versions that have Bosch motors that can be, let me say, “enhanced”. Like all good electric devices, there is a logic board and controller and that means some good old fashioned programming changes can be a lot of fun ….. But if all else fails  you can always grab a soldering iron and use your high school tech-ed course principals and figure out how to “exchange” the resistors  for added “options”.

Spectacular views are some of the best features of the rolling hills in the region around Nice. The great part is that the climb up the hills is super fun with the electric bikes and the amount of places we could manage to visit in one afternoon was at least 3x more with a large group of people peddling with a little help from the technology from bosch.

One of the downsides of the precipice of mont Boron is that you really do not want to leave and stay on schedule. So like any good amount of southern European cultural influences we adopted the tardiness of our stop for lunch and arrived quite late back on the Port at “le Plongeoir”.

The restaurant is a great place to relax on the sea and not just enjoy the views but some awesome French cuisine. To keep with our theme, we exposed some of the culture of the restaurant history. Durning the belle Époque era there was actually a small ship attached to the rock and later on diving boards for guest to jump off into the sea that can still be seen today.

Our evenings were spent in the “marché de Noël” enjoying the Christmas themed snacks and foods. We also really liked the new fountain and park in the city center that was accordingly decorated to be Christmas like yet still clearly a sea side community.

Winter training academy in Tunisia

Another successful Academy session with new alumni to take a stronger approach to the delivery of Cloud based Unified Communications.  Many of our candidates have been working with CommuniGate Pro for more than a decade and relish the chance to become accredited on the platform thru our training sessions. While some enter the course felling the first level would be too much of a walk in the park; the graduation topics are always centered around how challenging the curriculum actually can be.

For some of us that live in Southern Europe the environment in Tunisia was like being at home. But for our colleagues from the Moscow office the fact that Dates were outside the window for the picking was a “pleasant surprise” along with the fact that you could keep the windows open in December!

No trip to Tunisia can finish without a visit to the Souk. Very traditional and historic; the souk El-bey is right in the vieille ville (old town) and right next to the prime minister offices. A real treat is to sample the “Tunisian sweets” and bargain a little for some spices or scarfs. The local currency is accepted of course, but if you have a few Euro’s in your pocket you can get some movement on the negotiations. Just be careful to use a good calculation on the exchange rates as the vendors talk fast and are sharper than a tack when it comes to money!

The night views of the sea are as spectacular as are the daytime sun covered beaches. Tunisia is very much a tourism paradise with a massive amount of history that keeps you busy at night reading up on the cultural melanges that makes this country a superb choice for not just a visit but to have good business partners like our new graduates from the CommuniGate Systems Academy!

 

 

When will Watson be hungry?

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This week many geeks traveled to IBM Paris in search of intelligence.  Something a bit more; more than what we we have seen as glorified scripts and hashing tables today. Somehow all of us geeks are expecting to walk in to some demo and “finally” the computer will speak and think, not in feeble steps, but somehow in a way that will shock us to gratification.

Of course I am taking about the IBM Watson partner event!  This was an opportunity to see what is new in the “Big Blue” world of Artificial Intelligence or “cognitive” as they coin it these days. For some of us geeks we simply are salivating for the day when we get some sort of response from AI that makes one snap to attention in surprise. That would be the moment of unexpected capitulation that the machine has indeed crossed a crevice that brings us pleasure that we have finally spawned a new form of life. Until then there are some truly amazing advances or steps that demonstrate how we can be more responsive to big data and complexities in the world we live in so far!

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Most interesting for many of us was the assortment of cakes and cookies. Ahhh….got you on that one; just to see if you are reading. Well there were some really amazing French pastries  and the presentations that actually made them better was where we got to see Watson in action!  I really have had more power points in my life than pain chocolat; so being able to get real examples was the highlight of the event for me.

Several partners showed us how interactions with customers can be streamlined and that of course had me thinking about Customer Experience and the Contact Center issues we all face today. Specifically authentication, validation, and routing to the right knowledge bases.

Stay tuned as we will be making a few steps of our own in the direction of cognitive capabilities for better workflows in the Contact Center. Leaving the Watson Partner event that evening we had a good time thinking about how Watson would grow over the next 10 years and learn about us and our world. I wondered if he indeed became aware of himself and the environment around him; would he too be more inclined to ask for brownies or macaroons if he had the choice? Would he be hungry in the sense of interest to taste vs. pure nourishment? We indeed learned a good deal at the event and we pass our gratitudes over to our partner colleagues in the IBM French team!

Alumni Autumn 2016 CommuniGate Academy – Munich

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Our team helped get our partners accredited this week in Munich at our Autumn 2016 academy training sessions. The class was a great mix of people from Universities, integrators, ISPs and Cloud service providers. We had a good time learning about how the platform is used in each particular setting; and what types of external systems are integrated with CommuniGate Pro. For example, on the hosting companies premises we discussed how provisioning and billing systems are working for their needs and with the partners from the Universities we shared security and policy concepts for a diverse campus topology.

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Many of our partners have been using CommuniGate Pro for more than a decade, and some thought starting from the first level of the curriculum would be too easy.  Nevertheless, we found that everyone went away believing that the administrator level I was a challenge with rewards and not a cake walk in the park.  We will hold our next Academy in the Spring 2017. The following structure will be offered throughout the year:

  • Administrator Level I – for all those that use the platform in production as an administrator
  • Engineer Level II – for those wanting a little more on the API’s,  CG/PL development language and customizations
  • Business Applications – Advanced CG/PL applications – Contact Center 2.0 + IVR applications

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All of our events begin with some fun and “geekness” activities. For Munich what better than to have a look at some German engineering and manufacturing? We spent the first day over at the BMW Werk; which means the “production factory” where many of the cars are actually produced with cool robots; simply awesome! You can take the tour yourself, check out the details here “BMW Werk”

Later in the day we had a “BMW Genius” give us a  briefing about Electric Vehicles and the roadmap of their iSeries cars. We got to mess around with the i3 and yeah that really slick i8 supercar was there too.

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We were not allowed to take any photos or video of the Werk tour. ☹️☹️☹️ But this video below over at youtube is actually really good and will give you the idea. Highly recommended if you get to visit Munich!

The view of the city of Munich was beautiful even when wrapped in the clouds. Those buildings are really colorful just like back in Nice. Join us for our next event and until then follow us on Twitter @communigate

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Secure messaging opportunity for Cloud Hosting providers

Messaging systems are the core of the business no matter which size you look at or shake it. Most people would still prefer to have the lights off for a day, versus their email being offline in the business hours. Candles and flashlights might actually be fun, but not being able to get email from clients or partners, or in the support department is not cool at all. As email and realtime messaging have grown in pervasiveness so has its challenges for security become far more augmented with the inception of the Cloud deployment model that many businesses look towards today.

Many of us grew up on freemium Webmail services in our personal lives and the so called “corporate messaging” systems in the office that were primarily desktop application based. Somewhere along time the lines of distinction in these technologies became blurred. Current day “messaging systems”are nearly all “capable” of being Web accessible, or they are built this way entirely. Yes, you can still find IMAP and SMTP settings on most Cloud services, but try to explain that stuff to a user  coming in workplace these days and you could paint a Halloween mask with the blank starry eye looks.

The movement to the Cloud is not only great for consumption in a mobile workforce, but it also helps contain the data and access points which are fundamental to security. However, the challenge for a Cloud service is the barrier to acceptance of having data in the “hands” of a provider and the perception of “unscrupulous” access to this information. Hosting companies can look to these areas of “customer concern” as centers of opportunity in their offers with encryption, escrow systems, and secure archival-retention solutions as regulations are more often demanding on financial services and medical organizations to store and have available years of data involving the messaging systems.

Expertise and service level agreements are key subscription based values.  As an simple example, having expertise and certifications for messaging systems is perhaps something that you would not find in a Architect’s office, even one with 50+ staff. You might also use this measure to think about medical practices, or logistics companies of global size, all of which need secure messaging as a core infrastructure for business communications.

Cloud providers that have core competence in messaging systems have a card to play over a company mainly focused on racks, connectivity and grid power metrics. Fact is more and more businesses are not with in -house competencies for backend messaging expertise, and this drives the need to seek out offers that are reliable, secure, and available in a SLA format. Freemium services have their place, and we would not recommend a fencing war with those guys as the scale of the battle is massive and everyone is looking at a nickel profit like its a manhole cover.

Follow the money and provide clear value on the hot topics the market requirements demonstrates. Today the largest concern of Cloud services revolves around security and providing a reliable system that just does not go down is key. Hosting companies already have a core competence around infrastructure and redundancy; so play that card and translate this into the service as a whole. As companies push their roles up higher in the stack to “managing users” and control panels in the system, the provider must also absorb the pieces of the application stack that is being thrust upon them and see it as a good thing. That means getting in bed with SMTP and breathing deeply all the joys of messaging for the good, bad and ugly.

Key advantages of the CGatePro Messaging system for Cloud managed services companies:

  • Multi-tenant platform allowing 100’s of thousands of domains
  • Zero downtime change management Dynamic Cluster
  • Ability to white label and brand the Web experience by domain
  • Secure message storage with Escrow features
  • S/MIME system for encryption of email
  • Policy control with SMTP
  • WebRTC based interface Pronto! enables Unified Communications
  • Works with cPanel environments with adapter integration kit
  • Chat server built-in with clients for iOS and Android, plus Web widgets for support or sales desks

Partner with us today and get your team in our training academy to build the next generation of messaging in your cloud.