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Cisco's Managed Services Push

June 17, 2008

It has been an interesting day so far here at NXTComm. The first meeting of the day was with Cisco who plans on becoming a much bigger player in the managed services spaceā€¦ Al Safarikas the Sr. Director, Wireline Segment Service Provider Marketing at the company shared some thoughts on how Cisco is helping service providers worldwide deploy managed services.

One issue that came up is what precisely is the definition of managed services. From Cisco's point of view it is as follows:

Information technology which is remotely managed and provisioned, delivered as a finished product - operated by skilled professionals from a NOC.

Safarikas mentioned where the equipment sits is immaterial and this makes good sense.

Other points worth noting from our conversation are as follows:
  • Predefined SLAs that are negotiated with end users
  • It does not matter where the box sits or who owns them
  • Companies want managed services to support business initiatives

From there we discussed how Cisco helps its partners deliver managed services.

The company has expanded on the popular Cisco Powered program and helps its partners with sales and marketing, providing channel managers and other services to ensure a partner's success. AT&T Telepresence is a great example of this.

I asked what pain Cisco takes away for customers and to this Safarikas replied, "Partner with Cisco and improve your chance for success with managed services - We have the best technology, understanding of the marketplace, best capability of building [our customer's] operating capabilities through Cisco professional services."

This was a pretty memorable meeting and Cisco should be commended for looking to help the industry by defining terms such as managed services.















XM and Sirius to Merge

June 16, 2008

It took a long time but the XM Sirius Satellite merger proposal now has backing from the FCC. The two will have to divest themselves of some stations and agree to keep a lid on prices for a few years in order to get this transaction done. Both firms are winners here and in the short term, consumers win as well since they will have access to greater content as a result of forthcoming radios which work with satellites from both companies.

In the long-term, consumers will be losers as prices will increase more quickly than they would with two satellit competitors.

Hyperconnectivity, Live and in Person

June 11, 2008

You can't escape the reality that interconnectivity between humans will increase at a more rapid pace as time goes on. The myriad ways in which we connect with one another, e-mail, social networks, blogging, IM, SMS, telephone, voicemail and others are mushrooming.

It seems obvious that today's teens will demand social networking in the workplace meaning IT departments will have to support these myriad communications mechanisms while dealing with the repercussions of compliance management. Not allowing social networks into your company may even be a deal-breaker when hiring the best talent in the market. We may see a time where publicly traded companies fearful of social networks will lose workers to smaller companies who are more social-network friendly.

Another challenge is web browsers on phones.



Sipera Looks To The Channel

June 11, 2008

Keep In Touch

June 11, 2008

If you haven't noticed, there will be more and more touch-enabled devices in your future. The craze seemed to get the biggest boost from the popularity of the iPhone interface which spawned a number of similar interfaces from competing phone companies and even from the companies making mobile browsers.

Stacey Higginbotham, goes into detail on some of the new touch developments on her blog over at GigaOM. She further speculates that touch can be a great way to control things like lighting and HVAC.

I don't disagree but I would like to point out that it is great to see the potential of a new UI being realized because of the success of a phone. People have told me Apple is not a tech company but an interface company applying their unique perspective on various markets.



Build Communities With Google's Help

June 10, 2008

Let's say your company plays in a few different spaces such as information technology, security and storage. And let's say your company has decided to build a community of interest which is dedicated to a specific subject area as you are hoping like-minded people will visit the community regularly and begin to associate your company as a leader in the space and hopefully some of these people will become new customers.

In this example, your resources are limited and even if they aren't, you need to choose one of these above areas to build your community. Assume each of them has equal market sizes and growth rates and you need to determine where the highest level of search interest lies.

Using the updated Google Trends, you can now see a graph over time of search volume on a relative and absolute basis and this information can be exported for analysis.

You may find for example that storage interest spikes around the year-end holidays but also seems unusually high in May of each year... This information can be useful in your business as it helps you see how people are searching for various terms.

If you have read my blog before, you know TMC has been building communities (Global Online Communities, Channels) for companies in the communications and technology space for some time now.







T-Mobile Lawsuit Repercussions

June 10, 2008

Rob Adler has an interesting take on the T-Mobile/Starbucks WiFi lawsuit at his Vantage blog. His point? That the PR hit of winning a lawsuit which takes away WiFi from millions of users will be extreme. I can't help but wonder if the general public would ever be aware of the lawsuit.

Talkswitch Interview: Jan Scheeren

June 9, 2008

Right now the small business market is the shining star in communications -- plenty of growth is predicted in this space and small businesses for the most part are behind the tech curve -- meaning they need to catch up. For over a decade, Talkswitch has been serving this space with innovate, small PBXs designed to be easy to install and support.

Jan Scheeren the President & CEO of the company has been to TMC headquarters frequently to tell us about new products and upgrades. Scheeren knows the small business communications market better than most and on this podcast I was able to pick his brain on the SMB communications space and learn a great deal about his thoughts, the competitive situation, etc.

It is definitely worth a listen.



Switchvox AA300

June 9, 2008



Greg Galitzine  broke the news regarding the new Digium Switchvox AA300, a new appliance dedicated to companies with about 150 users. The box also supports 45 simultaneous calls, 10 recorded and 15 simultaneous conference calls.

Tom Keating speculates about how this product may compete with the Digium Asterisk Appliances such as the AA50 but to me it seems the distinction is the flexibility and complexity of the Asterisk Appliances is greater. If this is not your cup of tea, chose Switchvox instead.

The small business segment of the market has the most activity and this move makes good sense for Digium and the company's resellers as it allows the them to offer solutions for companies who don't want to pay for a system which is bigger than their current needs.

In fact the Switchvox family now has three members, the AA60 which is smaller than the AA300 and the AA350 which is larger. In addition, there are also hosted and free editions of this product line and it seems that Digium's purchase of Switchvox has turned out to be quite successful as new products are rolling out and they seem to be able to cover virtually all your communications needs.







T-Mobile Suing Starbucks

June 7, 2008

T-Mobile is already not thrilled AT&T will replace them as the service provider of choice in Starbucks stores, now the GSM-based service provider who was early to embrace WiFi is losing revenue due to the new AT&T/Starbucks promotion of free WiFi in its stores.

While the news came out around February 11th that AT&T and Starbucks would provide free WiFi service, according to these court documents T-Mobile learned of this arrangement on or around March 30th.

Here are the salient points from this lawsuit:

  • In early 2008, Starbucks, AT&T and T-Mobile negotiated some agreements allowing a structured and seamless transition allowing AT&T to replace T-Mobile as the WiFi provider in Starbucks stores.
  • During the transition period, T-Mobile and AT&T would each promote the other brand via web pages which are displayed when a user logs onto the wireless network.
  • In addition, this page would allow customers to be authenticated by an existing subscription with either service provider.
  • AT&T and T-Mobile would not pay each other for using one another's networks.
  • Starbucks rolled out a promotional plan allowing its customers using a Starbucks card to register the card at starbucks.com and at this point the customers are directed to an AT&T page.
  • Since every US market is covered by T-Mobile except for Bakersfield, CA and San Antonio, TX, T-Mobile loses the opportunity to be marketed in front of these customers in other markets.
  • In addition, these cards are available to everyone, not just AT&T customers.
  • The agreement stipulates only AT&T customers are to have this right.
There is more but you get the idea... The point is if you have a T-Mobile account today, why not cancel it and use these cards instead to ensure you have access to the internet for free.

Based on the documents it is apparently T-Mobile thinks that Starbucks and the relationship they have with the behemoth of a coffee house is important to their success. Om Malik finds it funny that a coffehouse is a key pawn between two telecoms. He has a point.







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