The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Aimee Mann's great Live At St. Ann's Warehouse CD:
A couple New Zealand researchers are working on solving timeout issues for mobile phones.
Specifically, they hope overloaded cellphone networks and untraced emergency calls from mobile phones could "soon be a thing of the past," according to research being carried out at Auckland University of Technology professors Nik Kasabov and Steve MacDonell.
The two researchers have joined MediaLab, Telecom, Lucent and two other New Zealand universities to look into mobile communications issues including location determination, network optimization and customer relationship management (CRM).
Professor Kasabov says the work being done with Lucent is using AUT's research expertise to "develop and test innovative computational methods and tools which can be applied to improve mobile network performance."
"We focus on the problems of predicting mobile calls traffic density at any geographical location, for minutes, hours and weeks ahead, and on identifying new consumer network usage patterns," Kasabov says. "Having access to large volumes of data will enable us to further explore aspects of both customer and traffic behavior in relation to network activity and to the provision of new mobile services."
The research topics build on work done by Lucent Bell Laboratories technologies, Dynamic Optimization and Per Call Measurement Data (PCMD). Lucent has been performing Dynamic Optimization research in conjunction with Telecom NZ since 2004.
The research project involves a continuous cycle of New Zealand-based testing and analysis, which is fed to the US for further analysis and interpretation at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. It is then fed back to the New Zealand team for more testing and enhancement.
"Dynamic Optimization gives mobile network operators a whole new way to manage the traffic on their network," says Lucent New Zealand general manager Jonathan van Smit. "It allows the network to respond dynamically to changes in when and where people are using the network. For example, when there's a big rugby game or a traffic jam, there are a large number of people using their mobiles in a concentrated area. Until now, mobile networks haven't coped very well with this."
With Dynamic Optimization, networks can "borrow" unused capacity from areas where it isn't currently needed and redirect it to areas of high use, van Smit explains: "It's a completely new approach that results in fewer dropped calls and better service for customers."
It's Saturday, so we kind of get the crazy news… The Billable Hour Company has opened what is bills as (sorry), and what almost certainly is, "the world's only online greeting card store featuring humorous and customizable printed greeting cards especially for lawyers and other legal professionals."
Gee, lawyer jokes. What a novel idea. Who ever would have thought to make jokes about lawyers? You mean, those were jokes? Oh, sorry, I thought they were real-life anecdotes.
Anyway, the store uses print-on-demand technology that allows customers to send highly personalized cards to their clients, colleagues, prospects and friends. Company officials say addresses can be uploaded from Microsoft Outlook "as well as other CRM programs."
Creating a customized card is easy: Choose from more than 150 cover images appropriate for a variety of holidays and occasions, from Christmas to birthdays to your brother-in-law losing his federal appeal. The "especially for" categories help the customer hone in on just the right card, whether the recipient is a lawyer, judge, paralegal, court reporter, client, juror, witness, or a couple legitimate Italian businessmen named Vinnie and Guido who run a cement business in New Jersey.
The cards are also organized by practice area and topic.
Next is personalization. The customer -- that's you! -- can write a special message for the inside of the card, whether it's a brief "congratulations on making partner" or "See you in 15 years, loser," or "Sorry, it was my first criminal defense," or a Valentine's Day love poem, to be printed in any of eight different fonts and 131 ink colors.
131 colors… how many colors can you name? Heck, those old Crayola boxes, the really cool ones with the sharpener right in the box, had 64 and I never knew any kid who used all 64 crayons. One does not need periwinkle or burnt siena in the real world.
The customer can also upload a signature or logo to appear underneath the message. To make the card even more personal, the customer may even upload a photograph, which will be printed on the card's inside left panel. At each stage, the customer can preview the card on the screen before proceeding.
"Lawyers and other legal professionals who are looking to make a truly lasting impression, whether during the holidays or as a part of year-round marketing, can really inject their own personality into these greeting cards," remarked Billable Hour partner Mark Solomon.
Whether it's a good or bad thing for a lawyer to "inject" his "personality" into a card is left up to the discretion of the lawyer.
Solomon's partner (and wife), Lisa, said in an increasingly "niched" world, it's getting easier for people to find information and products that are relevant to their particular interests on the web. "Where else can lawyers find Christmas cards, paralegals find Mother's Day cards, and judges and court reporters find cards that speak directly to them?"
Of course, as Ms. Solomon pointed out, "you don't have to be a lawyer to appreciate the humor in a greeting card showing a chalk outline and a police officer saying 'Another murdered spammer . . . and another 150 million suspects,' or one depicting a pair of fiery gates topped by a sign proclaiming 'Welcome to Hell: Proud Sponsor of the Internal Revenue Code.'"
Hanover Group's contact center has been recognized as the best of its size in New Zealand, winning the Supreme Diamond Award at the prestigious Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Contact Center Awards, held in Auckland last night.
Hanover's contact center took out the 50 seats or less category, as the best customer service provider across all industries in New Zealand. Hanover also won the Best in Industry (Financial Services) category for the fourth year running.
These awards are the latest in a series of successes that firmly establish Hanover as a leader in the provision of customer service through contact centers, according to completely unbiased observer Andrew Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer, Hanover Group.
The methodology behind the judging of the CRM Contact Center Awards is exhaustive and based on the actual performance of staff handling enquiries.
Hanover took out the Contact Center Manager of the Year 2006 (less than 25 seats) at the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) Contact Center Awards earlier in the year. In 2005, Hanover won the Contact Center of the Year (less than 50 seats) at the same awards.
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