Feed aggregator

Primary tabs

Mobile UC Needs More Control For Contact Recipients

One of the key changes taking place with mobile business communications, is that, in addition to facilitating all modes of person-to-person contacts, it is also enabling real-time “push” notifications from communication services and automated business process applications (CEBP). Such notifications can take a variety of forms, depending on how things are set up for the user’s mobile device. The problem, however, is that contact recipients are rapidly becoming overwhelmed by such notification messages, which can be both disruptive and consume too much of the recipient’s valuable time. A recent article on making smartphones “smarter” can be found at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/14/technology/personaltech/smartphones-overstate-their-iqs.html Legacy telephony gave control for contact initiation to the caller, with little information about the callee’s availability or preferred alternatives for contact. The call recipient played a passive role and was subjected to disruptive calls unless their connection was already “busy” with another call. For “busy/no answer” situations, the caller ended up in “voice mail jail.” Now that mobile smartphones can handle all forms of contact, anywhere, any time, both contact initiators and recipients have greater UC flexibility in how they want to communicate. When it comes to interacting with automated online applications or “mobile apps”, the mobile end user has control over contact initiation. Smartphones and tablets have opened the door to proactive notifications from automated business processes and communication services. The problem is that mobile users ability to handle various forms of contact will vary depending on both their availability, as well as their environmental situation. (Can they talk, can they hear, can they look, can they touch?)  However, when a business process or a service is the initiator of a notification, the mobile recipient needs to be able to control the mode of interaction they can us, but also be protected from manually dealing with unimportant or unwanted notifications. Just as online users get tons of emails they are not interested in, so too, will the mobile user be deluged with notifications about such such unwanted contacts. The challenge, then, is how to easily and efficiently control and dynamically manage “notification” screening for mobile recipients. “Contextual” Contact Screening My email system screens out any email form senders that are not in my address book, but puts them in a “Suspicious” message list, unless they are known spam or malware. In addition to such basic messaging protection, the mobile recipient should be able to “screen” incoming notifications of any kind, based upon recognition of the source of the notification, coupled with the recipient’s priority assignment for that source. Back in the day of telephone answering services, we had the concept of an “expected caller” to allow such callers to be handled with priority for getting connected, rather make them leave a voice message. More recently, AVST, a provider of enterprise call processing and messaging systems and services, allows users of their Atom  Total Office Manager solution to dynamically “screen” incoming calls to be handled on an individual basis, without necessarily connecting the caller to the callee. These options include: Letting the callee listen to the voice message being left by the caller with the option to connect immediately to the caller Let the caller acknowledge the caller with a personalized recorded message for the caller to hear immediately While these options are very useful for legacy phone calls, they are not enough for today’s mobile users  with multimodal smartphones and tablets who communicate in a variety of ways. With visual notifications from a business process or service, the primary function is to make the recipient aware of a situation that may or may not be a real-time contact (e.g., an incoming contact (voice, video, IM), or a message (SMS, email, voice/video message, social message). The real problem is that, regardless of whether the mode of contact is “real-time” or not, the recipient may no wish to accept the contact immediately or or ever.  So, the old concept of using “caller ID” for call screening needs to be extended to include the subject of the contact and to be applied to all forms of contact, not just voice calls. While we still want the contact initiator, whether it is a person or an automated process, to select the mode of contact they want, the mobile recipient must still have the option to screen the contact for acceptance, and, if appropriate, switch the mode of conversation or message retrieval and response to one that their mobile circumstances require. So, I expect to see such capabilities being handled in the future by automated “Personal Assistants” that will minimize the need for the human recipient to manage these dynamic chores manually.

Collaborative Text Messaging Started Historically With “Time-Sharing” In 1964

“UC&C” is all the rage these days, as mobile end users with smartphones and tablets interact with each other and with automated online applications across location-independent organizational boundaries with various flavors of messaging and real-time voice and video connections. Of course, most people think this is all because of new online computer and communication technologies and mobile, multimodal endpoint devices. But, guess what? It really started before the establishment of the Internet and wireless mobility, when “interactive computing” was first developed for mainframe computers under the label of “computer time-sharing.” I happened to be involved in that early time-sharing development, and even helped introduce real-time text messaging between remote (online) users who were sharing the same interactive online) applications. Today that capability is called “instant Messaging” and, if you ask anyone what “time sharing” is, they think it is “vacation ownership.!” Anyway, my UC Strategies blog post back in October of 2011 about time-sharing, as a precursor to the Internet and email, caught the attention of a computer historian who contacted me to learn more of what we had done with communications in those early days of interactive computing. The result is this interesting contribution to the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing.Computing. Go to: http://athena.union.edu/~hemmendd/History/messaging.pdf So, see how what started out as a “blog” post, ended up as a historical document !

Two UC Perspectives – BYOD End Users and Business Processes

Originally, person-to-person communications required the contact initiator and the contact recipient to use the same kind of endpoint device and a single mode of communication. That applied to both real-time telephony, as well as asynchronous messaging. In the beginning, contact addressing with people was also location-based, until wireless came into play. Today, we are seeing communications becoming both mode and location independent, as well as enabling business processes becoming contact initiators that can generate event-based, personalized “notification” messages. Whether it is an automated business process or a person that initiates a message to a person, UC flexibility at the recipient’s end is still important as mobile users become accessible anywhere, any time, any way. Regardless how a contact is initiated, it is still important for the recipient to maintain control over how a voice/video call, IM, or message is handled. After all, it is the recipient’s time, preferences, or situational environment that will dictate how the contact should be handled, not just what the contact initiator expects. We must therefore look at two kinds of  application-based communications, one where the application allows some form of contextual contact initiation, e.g., “click-to-contact” a person in the initiator’s choice of mode, the other kind of application-based contact is where it is the business process, not a person, that proactively initiates a contact with a person. The latter is better known as “CEBP” (Communications Enabled Business Process). CEBP has been rightfully included in Gartner’s UC Magic Quadrant  2014 report discussed by Marty Parker on this web site. http://www.ucstrategies.com/unified-communications-strategies-views/gartner-uc-magic-quadrant-2014-a-clear-picture-of-the-changing-landscape.aspx However, most of the UC offerings do not yet seem to provide much CEBP capability, and are primarily focused on person-to-person contacts. We should expect to see more as customer contact centers become “Interaction Centers” for mobile and visual self-service applications (rather than voice-only IVR) and shift to more dynamically flexible and contextual “click-for assistance” over an IP network, rather than placing a phone call over the PSTN. What must be remembered is that the flexibility needs of mobile communications and BYOD apply not only to internal employees, but also to external business partners and increasingly important to consumer/customer interactions. What I describe as “Mobile Customer Service,” is now becoming a mainstay for UC enablement, not only for “click-for-assistance” options in self-service enterprise mobile apps, but also for delivery of personalized, proactive notifications to BYOD end users. So, both forms of CEBP communications are ideal candidates for mobile UC flexibility, one for contact initiation, the other for contact recipients. For this reason, planning for UC must be far more than simply replacing desktop telephony systems, but must move into the domain of mobile business process applications that will become the contextual starting points for UC-enabled, person-to-person contact flexibility.    

Becoming an Internet telephony service provider via the use of asterisk based business solutions: a layman’s guide

An Internet telephony service provider (ITSP) provides Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and digital telecommunications services to either residential or commercial enterprises. Digital telecom services eliminate the costs associated with traditional phone services and allow individuals or companies to make substantial cost savings with no loss of quality. With a general knowledge of ICT it is a relatively straightforward manner to set-up in business as an ITSP. At each stage of the process other services exist to enable the correct management of your telecommunications business. A common benefit citied by ITSPs for selection of this business model is the scalable nature of the service and how it allows an enterprise to build their business free from the traditional high capital expenditure costs of ownership that other telephony solutions would entail. Stages to Consider when setting up as an ITSP There are three stages to consider when setting up as an ITSP. These are the choices over which VoIP platform or switch to use, which VoIP carrier to chose and the selection of end user equipment. These decisions are all explained in more detail below. Furthermore, information is given on a number of suppliers at each stage to enable the potential ITSP to make and informed decision. 1. What does VoIP Platform or Switch do? Firstly, you will require a VoIP platform or switch. This platform provides the class five features for your service. Class five includes features such as voicemail, hunt groups and call-forwarding. A number of companies who offer VoIP platforms are reviewed below to assist in the selection of this first stage in becoming an Internet telephony service provider. 2. Why is VoIP Carrier important? The next requirement to establish as an ITSP is to engage a VoIP carrier. This is known as a class four service. Considerations to make when selecting a VoIP carrier are coverage and origination. For this reason it is important to check the footprint of a particular carrier in your target market before engaging their services. Factors such as quality and the availability of support should also be given careful thought before any decision is taken. Many companies will offer automated support as part of a free package and some companies even offer free support from human operators. With the large number of VoIP carriers in the market it is worth spending sometime comparing the features and support packages that come as standard. 3. Selecting End User Equipment The final requirement is the choice of end user equipment or software. Some ITSPs may prefer to allow the client to use their own equipment whereas others provide this directly. Using an analog telephone adapter (ATA) allows existing equipment to be used in the ITSP system within substantial additional costs. Alternatively, an IP phone is a popular choice that gives access to the class five features directly from the phone unit. Companies who can help you become an ITSP Below, the details a number of companies who provide the services required to become an ITSP are given alongside of the factors that might affect your decision to engage these services. Enswitch from Integrics Enswitch from Integrics offer a soft-switch that provides commercial carrier grade telephony services. The features include multi-tenant hosted PBX, toll-free and number translation services. Using a service such as Enswitch allows an ITSP to scale their services and facilitate high volumes of concurrent calls. A2Billing from Star2Billing A2Billing is another service that is available for free and uses open source software for Asterisk to provide billing services for class four and class five softswitch services. The enterprise offers residential, commercial and prepaid billing. Getting started with a service like this is as simple as downloading the software and reviewing the enclosed documentation. Multi-tenant PBX from Thirdlane Thirdlane offer supported solutions for their multi-tenant PBX. The company has become a popular choice for ITSP because of their powerful end user features which include features that go beyond the basic VoIP package. The company also sells telephony equipment and other devices suitable for the ITSP to offer to their clients. Their built in support function aims to reduce the amount of reliance upon operators. Furthermore, the company offers pre-programmed support in multiple languages to allow an ITSP to expand their business on a global basis. ICTBroadcast Service Provider Edition from ICTBroadcast Integrated companies such as ICTBroadcast provide packages of services that include all the features an ITSP requires. ICTBroadcast are an established company who are known for the quality of their coverage and the level of support offered. ICTBroadcast even offers free technical support. Furthermore, they support Voice, SMS, Email and Fax broadcasting and deliver a wide range of real time metrics to enable ITSP to offer exception service to their clients. Their scalable auto dialer allows both billing and routing. It makes use of multiple nodes of open source Asterisk PBX that eliminate the bottlenecks a single Asterisk PBX can cause. A variety of packages are available that run across a multiple number of servers, further details of the specific software running on each server can be seen here. The open source architecture of ICTBroadcast allows ITSP enterprises to deploy solutions that are tailored to their particular market and to meet the needs of business customers who frequently require specific customization within their ICT systems. QueueMetrics from Loway For an ITSP data and user metrics are very important. The same is true for your clients. Those managing call centres use a range of metrics to assess the efficiency of campaigns and to ensure their employees are operating according to company protocol. QueueMetrics from Loway offer a range of services designed for the requirements of operations managers call centre team leaders, call agents and IT managers. The same software allows these distinct groups to see the metrics that are important for their role. For example, agents can see the inbound call traffic volume and data on the calls they are handling. Team leaders are given access to data on agent availability; real time reporting and remote monitoring for call quality purposes. Summary In summary, becoming an ITSP and generating a sustainable revenue stream from business or residential customers is now an option open to any individual who wishes to spend a little time researching the market. The proliferation of companies who offer support for Asterisk based business solutions and the use of Opensource software means that customized features are possible for each client of the ITSP without substantially increasing expenditure. An ITSP can be created on a global basis to meet the telephony needs of clients in a wide range of situations and by choosing a reliable provider of VoIP platform and carrier seamless integration into existing networks is a simple matter.

Future of SIP Trunking

There are many questions when it comes to future of SIP trunking, IoT, Cloud, and WebRTC like whether SIP trunking could evolve in future or completely vanish. SIP For time being SIP trunking is still in practice in inter-company and intra-company communications. In future, it is quite possible to see changes in SIP trunking. Every enterprise will have an IP trunk and SIP may be used only in the form of signaling protocol. Many of the experts in the field consider SIP may be employed to handle all the device, which communicate non-voice, or non-video devices with in the PSTN. IoT (Internet of Things) It is the billions physical devices and objects that are connected through internet network. They can be connected to special networks like sensor network or RFID. Today, wireless service providers will have to charge differently for their services in future. A utility company may seek a special data plan for its network use. May this demand could lead to new pricing arrangements. Service providers will need more bandwidth, both wired and wireless. Short messages will be high because they will occupy tens of bytes and transmission overhead would be over 50 percent of the IoT data. For bandwidth to increase the devices like routers, switches and interface cards will have to keep up with this. Industrial internet is perfect example of new evolved internet. It is not something new, but stands above individual devices. It optimizes the system’s operation for greater efficiency. Industrial internet is all about systems and devices; they sense and report on humans. Advantage it carries is that the sensors can be easily deployed to measure and report on health and operations of the system or machines. It also provides remote control facility. Security implications of IoT are already covered by regulations. IOT provides high amount of data from different systems that is personal and professional. If service providers sell this data to hackers, it could be catastrophic. Hackers could interpret this data and use for their advantage. Identity theft, account hack, or change in GPS coordination could become a headache for the user. This is a big challenge for the data collector and the user. However, as the use has increased the regulations and security measures have helped in reducing these dangers. WebRTC WebRTC is considered as the labor saving device. It can help you save money, time and improve experience. It focuses on improving the contact center experience. It could work as excellent sales delivery system. It could help you with complex sales or services such as in medical, scientific devices etc. Use of voice and video chat with agent while accessing a website, will help you retain customers. WebRTC is very good in keeping up the changes. Cloud Cloud has found its way into the market with a bang. Many have migrated from on-premise systems to cloud. For enterprise and SMB, it is much more attractive to move function to cloud or multiple clouds. Cloud has replaced PBX but many CEBP (Communication Enabled Business Processes) will have to integrate PBX cloud and other cloud business application support. CEBP applications will works in the form of infrastructure as a service or platform as a service or software as a service. Multiple cloud service will host parts of application leading to a network of clouds. However, this does create some issues, which needs to resolve. Many clouds will have to be connected to from a single enterprise. In addition, moving data and information between clouds will have to ease out. Resource sharing will be a big problem to resolve. Bio: Michelle Patterson is an avid technology blogger and writes extensively about IP/VoIP and Unified Communication. She works with some leading companies to understand the trends of these modern communication technologies. Here she has explained about SIP Trunking for her readers.

Ways to Improve Your VoIP Network

VoIP, the new revolutionary way to place calls anywhere in the world just by using internet service, is just amazing. The VoIP technology uses the internet to transmit voice signals in the form of data packet. VoIP technology comes with its own set of technical issues and there are several problems that affect this communication system. They range from disturbed internet connections or unclear voice or the echo problem. However, there are countermeasures to tackle this kind of unwanted situations and make your voice-over IP calls clear and of improved quality. The ways are described below as how you can improve the quality of VoIP calls. 1. Be sure that you network can handle voice and data simultaneously: It is important to know whether the network you are using is capable of carrying voice and data together. To use separate network for voice and data is expensive, both at the start and while it is running. Then just one network connection is enough for the job as it saves money as well as delivers quite high level communication experience. Now, to see if your network is capable of such a feat, then you need to know the bandwidth of the connection you are using. This is the parameter of measuring those quality and the other considerations are Scalability, reliability and flexibility. 2. Ready the management tools before starting of the service: There are several call management and monitoring tools available in the market. These are of two types, hardware-based and some software-based. Hardware-based tools are bulky and costly to arrange and are getting out of date, leaving the floor to software of call monitoring packages. Characteristically, software of call monitoring avails these services: VoIP call centre, recording calls, call conversations monitoring, and backup the call records, reporting of call activity, remote access etc. they also monitor the voice quality in real time and at both ends. Real time or active call monitoring serves to check various parameters such as echo, jitter, delay, packet loss and etc. these services ensure the smoothness of the call made. 3. Put voice traffic precedence by enabling QoS: To be simple, QoS is the prioritization of certain type of traffic. This configuration enables the high priority of voice over other types and classes in VoIP system. So, voice gets high priority and then it is heard clear in the internet. 4. The staffs should be trained: It is up to you to cater to your staffs the most expensive and highly efficient VoIP system installed in the office premises. But this secures no guarantee as to whether you will be experiencing high quality voice calls or not. Even after installations of those cutting edge technology systems, you are at the hands of your staffs for the experience. Then it is imperative to train the staffs who are going to operate the system. Skill and to know about the system matters most and this will ensure the smooth flow of the system. They should be aware of the basic technicalities of the hardware and the software used in the system. 5. Be sure that the network you are using is secure before starting the system: The last part is to be on the safe side. The chances of hacking cannot be determined in this era where every other person knows something about computer. So, it better to be safe. Being hacked and leaking of sensitive information is not a pleasant matter. So, voice traffic should be protected by encryption; to use a virtual private network which will ensure more security; make use of properly configured firewalls; lock down the IP-PBX servers to lessen the chances of attacks of viruses and DoS (Denial of Service). About The Author Michelle Patterson is an avid technology blogger and writes extensively about VoIP and Unified Communication. She works with some leading companies to understand the trends of these modern communication and network technologies.

Latest Blog and News Section