Next Generation Communications Blog

IBM, Mitel, Wearable Tech round out Latest ITEXPO News

Its been an amazing ITEXPO so far - wow. In case you missed some of the happenings from day 1, here are...

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3 Reasons UC Deployments Fail

Just getting ink on a Unified Communications deal is just the beginning. So many deployments go wrong or worse the company...

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Small Cells are Key to Attracting and Keeping SMB and Large Enterprise Customers

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

To say that operators of macro-cellular physical networks are facing all type of challenges these days would be an understatement.  These range from spectrum scarcity issues, competitive pricing pressures, the need to build out LTE networks ASAP as platforms for new services and to meet the insatiable appetite of users for things like streamed and real-time video, getting ready for the Internet of Things (IoT) etc.  They also are busy figuring out how to keep users, particularly enterprise users on their smart devices always and all ways on their networks in an increasingly fickle world where alternatives abound, including for value-added traffic lost to Over-the-Top (OTT) providers.  

It is to keep enterprise customers on the mobile service provider networks for enhanced services that good in-building wireless solutions are seen as both a powerful business tool and a competitive advantage.  This is particularly true when it comes to retaining small-to-medium business customers (SMBs).

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Changing the SIM game

The iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models comes with a SIM  that “gives you the flexibility to choose from...

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WebRTC and the Enterprise

I was reading an article titled, “How WebRTC can serve the Enterprise” but when I originally saw the headline I thought...

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Jeff Pulver, Andy Abramson, Craig Walker, Alon Cohen, Mike Tribolet, Andy Voss and Danny Windham at ITEXPO Next Week

Panel to celebrate 20 years of IP communications/VoIP and discuss its future. Next week at the 29th ITEXPO, I get the pleasure...

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Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes on Importance of Bringing Ultra-Broadband to Africa

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

It may be almost cliché to say we live in a global economy, but many times when globalization is discussed the focus is on developed and emerging markets and not that often, if at all, on under-developed regions.  In fact, in the past few years until the recent drop in oil prices, much of the financial community’s and economic development interests has been focused on the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).  This leaves out not just most of South America, but the promising rest of Africa which contains a wealth of rare minerals and other natural resources waiting to be literally and figuratively mined.

However, for most of the African continent countries to move from under-developed status, along with toward political stability and having a educated citizenry, infrastructure needs to be in place which it currently is not. This means not just giving the populace access to clean water and energy, but in a digital world ubiquitous and affordable access to businesses and individuals to high-speed broadband communications is now not just a foundation but a pre-condition that is essential for moving ahead.  

In this regard it is enlightening, refreshing and significant that Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes recently wrote a corporate blog stressing the company’s interest in working with governments and commercial interests to help accelerate economic development across the continent.  This about not just about the Oscar winning movie of several years ago “Out of Africa”, but is also about around, into and across Africa. 

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Alcatel-Lucent's 'Digital Life' Delivers on the Promise of a Truly Connected Home

By Beecher Tuttle

Recent technological innovations – like Web-enabled TVs, file sharing solutions and unified communication applications – have given consumers a feel for what integrated connectivity can bring, and they have developed a taste for it.

With this in mind, Alcatel-Lucent's research wing, Bell Labs, developed a concept called Digital Life Service, a home networking service that enables consumers to connect, share and control a home's appliances and infrastructure. Digital Life allows users to integrate heating, lighting, home monitoring and entertainment – and control these services remotely.

Alcatel-Lucent recently conducted a market research study in China to assess consumer appeal for the service. The survey included residents of eight Chinese cities and focused on identifying projected demand, key target segments as well as drivers and barriers to service adoption.

How Workforce Optimization Strategies Can Improve Quality Management, Scheduling and Employee Performance

By Beecher Tuttle

To succeed in the current economic climate, enterprises need to make customer service a top priority. This task is complicated by the myriad of new channels that today's customers use to contact companies, including social media, email, phone and corporate websites.

In addition, organizations today often maintain a dispersed workforce, making it even more difficult to track and assess communications between employees and customers. In this complicated environment, enterprises need to find ways to evaluate the performance of customer-facing employees, influence their engagement levels with clients and develop routing rules for accurate employee scheduling.

Maximizing employee potential can be aided by a workforce optimization (WFO) strategy that brings training, quality management, customer survey tools, job scheduling, job forecasting, quality assurance, career development and analytics all under one roof.

A WFO strategy, also known as an Employee Effectiveness Model, helps companies identify workforce needs before they become serious while also providing insight into employee gaps and profiles. WFO solutions can also recognize passively engaged employees, giving management the knowledge necessary to filter out lower-tier employees while motivating top-tier workers.

The Customer Experience Disconnect

By Jeremy Melville, Senior Analytics Manager, Market and Consumer Insight, Alcatel-Lucent

There is a big gap in customer experience perception between Service Provider Employees and Business Customers. “So rarely does a customer have to wait more than a minute or so”, said one Service Provider Employee. “My impression of them [the Service Providers] is of a long time sitting on hold”, said a business customer. One theme came up in our research time and again – we were getting almost polar-opposite messages.

Alcatel-Lucent Market and Consumer Insight conducted focus groups and telephone interviews in major cities in India and the United States with Service Provider Employees and Small/Medium Enterprise (SME) Customers in June 2011. Our objective was to better understand the key drivers that lead to delivering a great customer experience on both sides of the coin; from a front-line Service Provider Employee’s perspective and an SME Decision-Maker’s perspective. What we found is astonishing.

A few points of difference include…

Employees feel they deliver a good experience, and SME Customers feel Service Providers need great improvement. Employees believe they take ownership of problems and resolve issues, while SME Customers believe that Service Providers don’t take responsibility for problems and aren’t forthcoming about what’s really going on. Employees feel they answer calls quickly, while SME Customers find they sometimes have to wait a long time in calling queues. Employees believe they transfer customer calls efficiently, and SME Customers are frequently frustrated by having to repeat who they are and why they’re calling.

Alcatel-Lucent: Enabling the Customer Experience Transformation

By Susan J. Campbell 

As a customer service provider (CSP), you are in a considerably advantageous position to capture, mine and analyze data about your network and your subscribers. You have multiple touch points that provide valuable information and as you gather insights regarding your customers’ preferences, experiences and predicted behaviors, you’ll be in a much better position to transform the customer experience.

An Alcatel-Lucent white paper, Customer Experience Transformation via Analytics, explores this concept in depth, focusing on the fierce competitive environment that exists for CSPs in a dynamic market. Service providers today have to work harder than ever to keep customers happy.

Dynamic Communications Essential for Railway Transportation

By Susan J. Campbell 

The concept of innovative next generation communications does not always address the potential in railway telecoms infrastructure; but by ignoring the potential in this space, opportunities for unexploited synergies between the railway telecoms infrastructure and passenger communications are lost.

A recent Alcatel-Lucent white paper, Dynamic Communications for Innovative Railway Transport, explores the business case for adopting new systems as it changes by the maturing of enabling technologies. The migration to an LTE-supported wireless backbone offering multiple services leverages key technologies that are already being tested and validated. Initially, this offering was used for innovative applications; soon it will be capable of acting as the data bearer for signaling systems in the future.

Building Effective Business Ecosystems Through Open Innovation

By Mae Kowalke

Many visions exist for what the next generation of business communications technology will look like. The potential for resources like 4G LTE networks get a lot of talk time these days. But what will it take to actually turn all these visions into reality?

Alcatel-Lucent’s stance is that there are four vital elements to driving the development and adoption of faster, better communications technologies:

4G Technology: Benefits for First Responders

By Mae Kowalke

Quick: in an emergency, what’s helps the most to save lives?

No, it’s not food, water, or shelter. According to George Ed Ryan, Director of Communications for the State of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, the most vital element related to public safety is: information.

This is especially true when it comes to preventing terrorist attacks.

Leverage the Cloud in the Back Office

By Susan J. Campbell

Taking a platform to the Cloud is a strategy that is gaining more and more attention in the enterprise segment, yet the network back office stands to gain significant value from this migration. It’s no longer enough for the enterprise to drive innovation through cloud-based applications on the customer side of the service provider business; it’s time to take it to the back office.

A recent Alcatel-Lucent Enriching Communications article, Bridging the Cloud to the Network Back Office, explores the fact that cloud services that deliver end-to-end Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to cover the network and IT will differentiate. At the same time, dynamic management for the cloud incorporates a flexible data model and the automation of OSS/BSS.

Tools and Techniques for Securing Data in the Cloud

By Mae Kowalke 

The acronym CIA is probably associated most commonly with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. But, in the realm of security for cloud services, CIA stands for Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability. These lie at the core of how to most securely store and transport data in cloud.

End-to-End Security for the Smart Grid

By Mae Kowalke

Around the world, electricity distribution infrastructure is being transformed using "smart grid" technologies. Although this is happening more quickly in some areas than others, the purpose is the same: secure energy supplies and ensure they remain viable.

This goes beyond security, of course, to profits – as such things always do.

“The bottom-line benefit is more efficient use of energy,” noted Peter Johnson, Vice President of Alcatel-Lucent’s Smart Grid division, in a GridTalk e-zine article, “Protecting the smart grid with today’s solutions,” about smart grid security.

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