Communication is life

From the minute we are born we start communicating. A look, a gesture, a sound and, eventually, words. Communication is a process of “life” exchange dated back to prehistoric times. Year after year the communication tools and technologies change and this evolution is rapidly transforming the actual social behavior of humans.

No need to go as far as cave paintings but the evolution from pen and paper to smartphones in the last 4 decades has divided generations into distinct nomenclature. Baby boomers had buttons on their desk to call secretaries to take notes; but for Millennially notes became voice recordings activated by calling Siri and pressing nothing.  It does not matter if  it was photos using dyes or charcoal, images describe feelings and are obviously much more powerful today and can be broadcast to millions in a New York minute.

Our social fabric today can be extremely accurate with photos, animated gifs and videos, plus you don’t need to wait weeks to receive a letter from your loved one; you can see if your message was sent, read and answered in seconds. Virtual Reality is here, and actually began with individual media types over the Internet many years ago. Reading emails made me feel closer to those I connected with 10 years ago, and this came more personal with video, and joining smell, test and touch will enable us to communicate in ways our grand parents could not imagine and might fear. Today we strive to be more connected, more understanding, and tolerant, each based step still on the age old communications link from one to another, but perhaps this time with feeling.

What is next? Built-in  (to our bodies) devices  that allow hands-free activity, writing texts with simple hand gestures in the air or reading shopping lists displayed in the corner of your eyes while walking around the supermarket? Most of these things are possible and most are being pushed thru R&D labs today. But, no matter what path technology takes, communication is a human feature and we will change faster thru more powerful communications.

Social change happens most effectively with education of kids not us old dogs

Like many companies in San Francisco we are pretty involved individually and collectively as a company to do “green stuff” related to helping improve our environment. Yes, geeks can be green too! Most of us grew up influenced by our peers and became more and more conscious of the things we need to fix to make our air cleaner and use energy more sensibly. As a company we try to push these social responsibilities further by acting and focusing on the things we can do locally. Interestingly it often means very unique things as we are a global team with some of us driving EVs in France, other biking to work in Berlin and some of us in Moscow skipping cars for the metro.

Recently one of the topics around the water cooler was the mobile app “Plume Report” . This cool app is increasingly popular not just in our SF office but also Berlin and for some of our staff in France where its origins begin. The app is pretty simple, yet powerfully educational in that is demonstrates visually how cars affect the air we breathe in the daily commute cycles. For some of our staff it was very frustrating to see how Nice is more polluted in the summer months than Paris which is notoriously filled with chronic air pollution from congested streets filled with cars and scooters.

An interesting tangent to our Plume Air chat was whether anything we are doing is going to make people wake up a bit more and realize the air and cars in our cities are a bit out of control. Some of us said that when some friends see the Plume report information for the first time they are shocked. But one of the subsequent “results’ is that people see no way “out of it” for themselves and accept the way things are; albeit a capitulation of defeatism.

This actually is perhaps more dangerous than the fact most people are not aware of the toxicity of the air. Meaning, it is quite probable that the vast majority of the population is simply blind, and Plume is doing great things to combat that problem on that battlefront. But what is more concerning is what will people do “after the fact”; or what is the expected behavior “modification” after learning? If that modification is “nil” or acquiescence to facts that are not “controllable” or the person does not see any feasible way to contribute constructively, then we have more work on our hands then thought.

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Showing kids what behaviors are good, cool and expected by example…..deliver change over time.

After hashing out the issues we came to a conclusion that education is the single most powerful tools we have to effect social change, whether that is environmental issues, or otherwise. One example we discussed was how California has chopped down smoking by teens nearly 75% in the last 2 decades. Where other countries like the south of EU have higher rates of teen smoking. Why? The efforts that were poured into education, and demonstrating the the behavior was not cool. Even to the point of demonizing smokers to the extent nobody wanted to be in that crowd.

Growing up in California most of us recalled how recycling back when we were kids was literally a real war to get everyone to participate. Now, if you do not recycled it is viewed as “weird” by the .com generation and perhaps borderline illegal by Millennials. Just ask our colleagues in Berlin to imagine they have a new neighbor that throws rubble into the recycling bin and says it does not matter…..

Taking these examples into todays’ context, for those of us that drive electric cars, we should remember that each kid that comes to my EV and says “wow, is that an electric car?” is a opportunity. Take it to explain why it is not just cool, but if they believe it is better than what us old school folks did to be cool with plumes of smoke and sounds for our exhaust pipes; then we have planted seeds of change that collectively become more powerful than what we do individually. The fastest way to cleaning the air is to change the behaviors, and that will only become significant in numbers if the kids today believe it is the norm for their generation tomorrow.

Customer Experience – exasperation amplified because of fraud mitigation at the Contact Center

CCO of the Contact Center operations asks……. “How are we supposed to know who is “really” on phone with a degree of certainty, while not making them pissed answering 99 questions?

Juxtaposition – friendly but  secure Contact Center identity management in the year 2016

 

Angry business woman screaming in rage when she being on the phone. Business concept in communication.
How many times to I have to say what type of ice cream I ate at my first birthday party??!!! Did you never hear about rocky road??? We are sliding down that now madam, I want to speak to your supervisor!!!!!! Now!!!

 

When banks are implementing new layers of security into the call center identity process these days, they are discovering the rates of dissatisfaction from the customer side are spiking in correlation to the very measure intended to “help protect” the client. Alas, across all sectors of the market, the phenomenon appears. Nevertheless, in the financial technology marketplace it is very much a epidemic  because of the very nature of dealing with money….simply put. Additionally, there are commonly added pain to the injuries; augmented by compliance and confidentiality regulations, not just the self imposed internal security decisions. The sheer amount of “hops around Contact Center authentication” we are faced with would make anyones head spin today.

The root of the issue with identity of a person on a telephonic call session is that most of the information provided verbally can be spoofed or impersonated. Instead of just saying our account number or social security number, we are asked about our first car or favorite dessert. Why is it not simple? Financial institutions and many other industries are inundated with all sorts of fraud, especially via hijacked personal information or collusion. The answer then is you must have a Biometric multi-factor identity challenge session that is very simple or non-intrusive to the client.

Fortunately most large banks we have spoken to agree that the best place for this is in the mobile loyalty applications, and 2nd to that is the ability to integrate into the self service web applications for things like transactions or conformation of fraud alerts that are either IVR or push message based.

 

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One of the holy grail metrics to achieve for any large contact center is to reduce time on the phone. Since most all banks and financial institutions have mobile loyalty applications, the platform is there to be extended to the Contact Center. This has made the task of accurately identifying the caller on the phone super simple, while also providing new capabilities such as cognitive processing without live CCTR agents thanks to technology like IBM’s Watson.

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Multi-Tenant Contact Center

Providing a SaaS solution at scale is more about change management than what sort of redundancy or virtualization you choose. In the CCTR (Contact Center) spectrum of the market a Cloud solution has to be highly flexible and adapt to ever changing environments. While some enterprise CCTR deployments might appear on the “face of it” to be similar, likewise CRM or telecom, each will have unique IVR structures, agent topologies, and skills based routing that differ. This of course means if you want to provide a Cloud based CCTR offering the reality is each and every instance or customer will have unique configurations that demand a multi-tenant platform.

datacenter-01-01Often times we find in the data center many “solution applications” which are intended for a single “domain” or company because the architecture is simply not a platform with multi-tenancy capabilities. Problems begin for managed services for even single enterprises as the grow and demand solutions that can segment yet provide a system image of the organization. Good example of that is expansion internationally, or mergers with new requirements. With that in mind, the work around it deploying an instance of a server for each domain. Many if not all major VoIP backends are like that, making complex VoIP applications with any significant IVR or web logic more difficult to support as a Cloud system for 1,000’s of clients.

A true hosting platform would have the ability to define realms (domains) each of which having their own administrators and users as a core function. Further, a hosting platform will also have an architecture that can mange multi-telcos with parallel billing and redundancy. At CommuniGate Systems we take it even a step further and enable each container to have its own brand and applications that run independently of other domain realms, yet run on that same “CGatePro system image”. That way fully white label, yet manageable at extreme scale with thousands of domains on a single Dynamic Cluster image.

CommuniGate Pro was built for hosting and has a full programming environment that delivers capabilities at scale no other Contact Center solution for application hosting providers can match. What this means is that you can have applications built for HealthCare running while also servicing FinTech needs with completely different applications all running on one Dynamic Cluster as a Cloud platform. Now, as change management comes into play, machines and applications can be changed with no downtime. Yeah, zero downtime is really how a Cloud solution should perform. Users do not want hear about “being offline on the weekend for maintenance”. Unfortunately many of the large Cloud based systems out there today simply do not provide uptime that a hosting platform must have.

Have a read about how this all works in our PDF

 

CGate Multi-tenant platform

Reducing fraud one finger at a time

The top security issue banks and financial departments have today is prevention of fraud at the contact center. Conversely, for us consumers calling into get support or discuss payments with a billing center is painful. The IVR hell and hoops agents make us go thru is time consuming and frustration galore. With all the tricks of fraud today, we are asked to say not just ever more complex passphrase info, but we are now asked to reveal personal info too. Like what we like or not.

Our mobile loyalty app framework is a turn key solution that reduces pain in identity or transaction approval challenges, while delivering a robust anti-fraud system. It works like this. When you call into the Contact Center and identify yourself with traditional means or by the caller ID of the phone you are using the agent can send a push notification to your Biometric enabled device. This device is registered to you, and will be promoted to scan your finger. Upon a successful Biometric conformation on the mobile device the Agent is informed that you are indeed whom you claim to be.

The same mechanism can be used for transactions or alerts. Couple examples of that are stuff we see more and ore of these days. Like your credit card being blocked because of suspicious activity and having to either call into the bank, or click things off an email or SMS. But also just like you can make purchases in the Apple iTunes store, imagine now you can also approve transactions while on a call with billing department or bank teller.

 

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Partner News! – IVR Technology builds HealthIT results with Biometrics

Our recent partnership with IVR Technology has produced some amazing results in such a short time. These guys are experts are building telephony applications and have a broad experiences with Contact Center platforms in the Health care market. After a few whiteboard chats we decided we needed a simple demo that would show how Biometrics approvals can be integrated into a common use case scenario while being very simple to use.

Normally when you go to get a blood test you are sent to a lab the tight be outside your doctors office. These means that critical “patient information” is in the hands of somebody that might not have all the information about you to make identity checks. There have been incidents when “results” from a test were “pick up” form somebody impersonating the intended recipient. To make matters worse for the health care provider, there are many rigid compliance regulations to conform with. As always, the more regulations, there is often less flexibility to use technology that is simple and quick to use.

With the IVR Technology results one application we show how a Biometric scan can be used to identify the caller, and then launch a telephonic application to play results of the tests.

Have a look and let us know what you think!

https://activeauth.ivrtechnology.com

Results Line

World Hosting Days 2016 – Rust Germany

This year we went to the WHD with our Bulgarian partner ICN.bg and had a great time not just being geeks and talking about hosting, platforms and APIs but we also had a little fun too.

Never would I imagine to have the chance to meet Pelé which me being Brazilian was a major lifetime experience never to be forgotten!

 

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The “fun and games” atmosphere of the event, that took place at Europa Park in Rust, gave us the chance to take a look at what others are doing and to better relate and understand what our customers and partners expect from us.

 

When parking is about fitting the square in the round hole

There are many places in the world where the cars are as numerous as the people living in town. Nice France has a tradition of putting cars into any conceivable spot available. Sometimes this means when you come out of a store you will find a car double parked and blocking you. Other times it means you find cars in all sorts of weird, if not hilarious positions.

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I will never forget seeing this quite expensive BMW slammed in between a parking pole and another car. I measured, and there was exactly 3cm of clearance. Alas I never did see how that one pulled out. But I have been given the pleasure personally to have my car literally slammed and pushed (in realtime) to make room for a fellow citizen of the Côte d’Azur on more than one occasion.

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