The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is To The Bone
, and wonderfully idiosyncratic collection of The Kinks doing a lot of acoustic material, a la Unplugged: Industry analyst Olga Yashkova will be
the featured speaker for a Frost & Sullivan Webcast titled "Customer Experience Management and Service Assurance: A Happy Marriage?" It will be held Tuesday, February 9 at 11:00 a.m. East Coast time.
"The service assurance market offers tremendous opportunities for vendors," Frost & Sullivan officals say, emphasizing that it is "an extremely competitive market with high barriers to entry."
This is so partly because service assurance is a broad concept in a fragmented market: "There are over 50 participants in this market. In addition to being fragmented, different types of vendors cover various aspects of service assurance."
Recently, the analyst firm has found, "there has been a shift toward all-IP networks, delivering VoIP, IP video, data, and wireless applications, that have demonstrated better performance and throughput than legacy networks. From a service assurance vendor perspective, the emergence of these highly technically complex technologies creates a multitude of opportunities in such a difficult financial period."
Converged networks are known for their complexity, and because of the increasing number of IP-based applications on them and the augmented emphasis on quality of end-user experience, the need for effective service assurance solutions is expected to increase.
This briefing is pitched to "Service Assurance Vendors, Test Equipment Vendors, Component Manufacturers, Network Equipment Manufacturers, Original Equipment Manufacturers, Wireless and Wireline Service Providers," officials of the analyst firm say.
"The level of QoE ultimately determines whether customers will keep the service or leave for another operator... A holistic view of the network and complete end-to-end network and applications monitoring is necessary to deliver positive customer experience, and prevent customer churn," Yashkova says.
One of the largest electric cooperatives in the nation, Lee County Electric Cooperative, has chosen
the ENERGYprism Customer Care and Energy Vision Operational Efficiency prodcuts from Aclara, a vendor of Intelligent Infrastructure and part of the Utility Solutions Group of ESCO Technologies.
Officials of Aclara say their customer portal and meter-data-management system will help LCEC "transform its advanced metering infrastructure into a foundation for smart-grid development." These additions to the utility's information systems will allow Lee County Electric "to turn consumption data into powerful knowledge for utility workers and customers alike," they say.
Based in North Fort Myers, Florida, LCEC has been collecting daily consumption data from its 210,000 customers since 2002 via the Aclara Two-Way Automatic Communications System technology, a fixed-network AMI that transmits meter readings over power lines.
With the addition of the Aclara Software MDMS, "the utility gains the ability to validate, store and integrate data from many utility systems, giving utility managers better decision-making power," LCEC officials say.
The Aclara applications also give each utility customer online information on household energy use, as well as tools to understand bills, "compare usage to similar households, pinpoint where energy dollars go based on a home profile, and learn ways to make smarter energy choices," according to company officials.
In addition, Aclara's "Bill-To-Date" feature lets customers see how much their electric bill is at any point in the billing cycle, determine what the final bill may be at the end of the billing period, and set a customizable threshold that triggers an alert from the utility.
"We're opening up an all-new dialogue with customers," says Dennie Hamilton Sr. VP & CEO for LCEC, "by giving customers the power to have us call, text or e-mail with alerts before a high bill arrives."
Hamilton also notes that the MDMS positions the utility to support emerging technologies. "It won't be long before people come home from work, plug in their cars and expect vehicles to be charged for a morning commute," he says. "With the MDMS, we'll be able to implement an hourly meter-reading schedule, and we'll have two-way communications into each household. That means we'll be ready to balance charging load as more and more plug-in vehicles hit the road."
Market intelligence vendor IDC, working with supercomputing experts from Teratec, France, Daresbury Laboratory, UK, Leibniz-Rechenzentrum, Germany, and Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, has been awarded
a contract by the European Commission to develop a strategic agenda for high performance computing in Europe.
The study is scheduled to be a seven month contract, which will provide policymakers with an analysis of the HPC industry from 2010-2020, a view on the technology requirements from the HPC industry in 2020, and a strategic agenda for HPC in Europe.
The study is intended to provide the research and analysis needed to "increase the HPC capabilities available for the advancement of open science and to increase the competitiveness of the European Union in the supply and use of HPC systems," IDC officials say:
"The study has a mandate to look at the key strategic developments in HPC through to 2020, as well as examining the investments, structures, and coordination needed to develop supercomputing e-infrastructures across Europe."
Chris Ingle, associate vice president of Consulting at IDC, says this is "a critical moment for high performance computing leadership. Europe has been a leader in this field in the past and, with the right investments, can continue to develop a strong HPC industry and benefit from the use of HPC in science and throughout society."
Gabriella Cattaneo, director of Competitiveness & Innovation Policies & Strategies, Europe, at IDC Government Insights, notes that a policy agenda for HPC "will help support the European Commission's goal to develop EU ICT infrastructures for e-science, strengthening the European scientific research and high-tech capabilities."
The research contract requires a detailed comparative analysis of HPC investments and funding structures globally, as well as the impact of HPC on scientific and industrial leadership. Earl Joseph, program vice president of IDC's Technical Computing group, says that although the United States and Japan have vied for supercomputing performance leadership over the past few years, "other countries are quickly developing their own HPC industries and capabilities in order to increase their economic competitiveness and scientific leadership."
A recent survey of more than 1,200 business professionals in the United States, Japan, South Korea and China has found that video chat/conferencing is "rapidly being adopted
worldwide," for both business and personal use.
The survey, conducted by Research Now and sponsored by Global IP Solutions, concluded that business professionals across multiple industries are adopting video in an effort to communicate and collaborate more clearly and effectively.
Joyce Kim, Chief Marketing Officer at GIPS, says the results of this survey "underscore the increasing value of video in business communication. With demand for Unified Communications and desktop video conferencing on the rise, video quality issues such as delay and freezing must be addressed in order for users to effectively connect and collaborate."
The survey found that 79 percent of those who use video rely on consumer applications such as Yahoo!, Gmail, AOL and Skype, while 21 percent used video conferencing systems such as those offered by Cisco and Polycom.
Well over half, 61 percent, indicated video delay and video freezing as the largest concerns of video chat/conference use. In the US, 40 percent of business professionals surveyed indicated that their company will be deploying a video communication solution within the next 6-24 months.
Research Now programmed the online survey on behalf of Global IP Solutions to 1,200 senior business professionals in a variety of industries and employment positions across the United States, China, Japan and South Korea. The survey was conducted in late 2009 and all respondents were working in office environments that required them to operate a computer frequently during the workday.