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!