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ICT Innovations working to release ICTFax Version 3.0

ICTFax Version 2.0 was released based on Plivo communictions framework but later on plivo has postponed supporting their project causing serios issues to community members those were using plivo in their systems as well as ICTFax users . ICTFax users faced many issues those were releated to plivo communications framework but there was no support . We , at ICT Innovations observing all this started working to replace plivo with our own custom framework so that ICTFax users will not face problems in future and now time has come to announce that we have completed most of work and we are testing new framework with ICTFax and will release it soon . ICTFax Version 3.0 will be released replacing existing plivo framework with our own code that will make ICTFax a more flexible, stable and powerful solution.

Open source and ICT working together for social justice

The recent phenomenon of Information Communication Technology (ICT) – and in particular Open Source (OS) – as a tool to reach community goals such as social justice and public vigilance has reached new heights during the past couple of years. ICT4D, or Information Communication Technologies for Development refers to the use of ICT and OS in socioeconomic, international or human rights development projects. All major areas of development work can be enhanced by the appropriate deployment of ICT and a cursory Google search reveals the success of many of these ventures to date. The OS movement was created in response to efforts by software manufactures. These manufacturers sought to take ownership of code created by teams or individuals. However, it was argued that code should freely available for use and for modification, companies seek to prevent this by exercising copyright privilege and limiting the rights a buyer has over their product. OS software is created by individuals or team who are often not part of the same organization and the final product is distributed freely. Furthermore non-technical experts can collaborate in the development of specific solutions. Participation in OS projects stems not from a desire to enrich oneself financially but from more community orientated aims such as peer recognition or the work itself as enriching on a personal basis. Participation in OS projects is supported by academic theory – such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – that shows that people are motivated by factors other than money. Reasons cited for participation in an OS project by programmers are often ones of intellectual fulfillment or peer recognition. A central release schedule is maintained for some OS products. This ensures users are aware of potential bugs and fixes. Also these central registries provide a change history of the code and allow programmer to tackle areas that need improvement. Users of OS programs are of course free to modify the code to suit their purposes and do not have to pay the license fee or royalties to traditional developers. The primary concerns of current development projects such as water access; education, access to information and the empowerment of civil society have all received a much-needed boost from support by ICT developers and the use of OS software. Ready access to mobile technology and the lower costs involved - when compared to 10 years ago - have made mass participation more feasible and allows projects to reach a critical mass at a much more rapid rate than was historically possible. ICT and OS are a strong fit for the purposes of ICT4D because the large support infrastructure and expenses necessary to maintain the network are not present. ICT has become a permanent feature in monitoring the exploits of repressive regimes and, for drawing public attention and support to counter campaigns. The ubiquitous nature of mobile technology allow it to t become the most powerful weapon against governments who have ceased to act in the interests of their citizens. Speaking to the British newspaper, The Guardian, a spokesperson for the Non Governmental (NGO) Tactical Technology Collective said, “While computers and the Internet can be extremely powerful tools for advocacy, they also present new risks for a group that is already, in many cases, quite vulnerable. As more advocates have begun to rely on digital technology to achieve their outreach, data-collection, information design, communication and mobilization objectives, these risks have become more severe." OS components of ICT are a seemingly natural fit with this trend. The transparent nature of OS chimes well with a desire by many of these advocacy organizations to cast light onto the darker regions of government business. Examples of ICT projects in action include Daraja, an NGO operating in rural Tanzania. Their “Raising the Water Pressure” project encouraged people to use SMS to report faults with water points and to put pressure on the government to respond in more rapid manners to problems of this nature. Other examples of ICT4D include the use of the technology in areas recently damaged by natural disasters. When an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, much the communication infrastructure was destroyed or severely damaged. Several ICT solutions were used to aid in relief efforts including crisis mapping to identify and prioritize areas of need, the use of OS tools to monitor inventory levels and co-ordinate the relief effort and restoring Internet connectivity to local NGO’s by Inveneo, a non-profit organization who deliver ICT solutions to the developing world. ICT4D provided creative solutions at a low-cost to rapidly ease the suffering of those effected by the disaster. OS and ICT can be utilized together to merge communication and information technology. This combine results in flexible solutions and the ability to customize OS programs in a manner specific to the ICT4D project. For example, data validation can serve a vital role in monitoring local elections, especially when the potential for electoral fraud is high. Monitoring projects can be established to identify unusual trends and to make the government aware that they are under scrutiny. Recent elections in Kenya, Nigeria and Georgia have used ICT4D projects to ensure adequate scrutiny. Alternatively app’s can be developed to make qualitative data more qualitative. However, caution must be exercised in these projects. Exposure of activists is a significant risk and even encryption may not always provide sufficient protection. The creation of more anonymous reporting systems is one possible route around this concern. Already one system operational in India allows users to send an SMS to a central number, which then passes on the message in an anonymous manner. Projects like this encourage the community to share solutions and then implement them via OS resources. Common objectives such as social justice are thus brought into reality.

Pick Your Virtual Doctor!

                   By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View/ UC Strategies Expert I have long expected that health care would become an important driver for Mobile UC because interactions with health care personnel (doctors, nurses) will require all modes of contact to replace expensive face-to-face visits whenever possible. This recent article in the Los Angeles Times shows that health care is rapidly becoming able to do that. Since health care affects all consumers, once they start exploiting Mobile UC for that purpose, they will rapidly want similar capabilities for all their personalized interactions with other business activities, including financial, government, education, shopping, etc. (Or, maybe it will be the other way around, i.e., they will want to do the same with healthcare visits as they can do with online shopping!) Doctors and Nurse Practioners In “Virtual” Health Care Contact Centers? The legacy “contact center” has traditionally been a way for “agents” to handle simple customer needs, including questions, information requests, and business transactions. For anything more complicated, the agent would then involve a “subject matter expert.”  Automated online self services and “mobile apps” have started to take over that basic agent responsibility, coupled with the option to “click-for-assistance” when necessary, e.g., Amazon’s “Mayday button” for their tablets. With health care increasing demands for doctors and nurse practitioners, it is now becoming important to make interactions with patients less dependent on expensive face-to-face office visits, and more available remotely or from convenient walk-in local venues.  This is particularly practical, when a patient simply needs a prescription for common ailments. So, we are now starting to see UC becoming a fundamental capability within various forms of direct, person-to-person communications between consumers and specialists (aka subject matter experts), rather than just through an available agent. This approach must therefore also give consumers more direct control over the choice of health care specialist they need, including a listing of available doctors or nurse practitioners, their qualifications, and current availability. (This capability will fit in well with Interactive Intelligence’s OrgSpan technology, which lets customers with smartphones or tablets see such information on a screen.) Most importantly, we won’t expect doctors and nurses to work in a “contact center,” monitored by supervisors, etc., but rather independently from their home offices or wherever they prefer to work. On the other hand, we will be able to record all patient interactions to evaluate and compensate health care personnel for their services, as noted in the L.A. Times article. Summary Business communications are now becoming differentiated by the specific needs of the individual consumers/customers/patients, the self-service “mobile apps” involved, the business processes that control direct contacts between people, and the skills and availability of the individual service experts. This is becoming very important to providing more efficient and less costly health care to consumers, as doctors become less available and health care costs rise. By becoming more “virtual” and UC-flexible in interacting with patients, health care resources can now be more efficiently and cost effectively provided to the consumer public. Copyright © 2014 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide  

ICTBroadcast, the unified auto dialer compliant with Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991

The ICTBroadcast multi-tenant unified communications package is a powerful telemarketing suite that can dramatically enhance an SME’s capacity to boost efficiency or promote a product. However, the misuse of the product - or any other telemarketing solution - can cause a business to fall foul of consumer and data protection laws and regulations. Therefore, it is vital to become familiar with the local regulations to avoid substantial penalties or heavy fines. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 is most commonly referenced federal statute that telemarketers need to be aware of. TCPA includes rules such as which locations may be called and when those calls can be made. The provisions of TCPA allow for a penalty of $1,500 per violation of any of the numerous stipulations. With an auto dialer system having access to vast database of contact information the potential for significant financial damage is easily foreseeable. ICTBroadcast is fully complaint with TCPA 1991 and allows telemarketing campaigns to achieve their aims within the requirements of the law and without fear of accidental breach of the extensive regulations. The precise requirements of TCPA and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) state four distinct requirements that must be met for compliance. The exact wording is as follows: (1) prior express written consent for all autodialed or prerecorded telemarketing calls to wireless numbers and residential lines;  (2) allow[s] consumers to opt out of future robocalls during a robocall;  (3) limit[s] permissible abandoned calls on a per-calling campaign basis, in order to discourage intrusive calling campaigns; and  (4)exempts prerecorded calls to residential lines made by health care-related entities governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. ICTBroadcast incorporates these requirements into your system via integration with the Do Not Call (DNC) registry and user defined limits on campaign variables. The DNC registry is maintained by the Federal Trade Commission and allows consumers to opt out of unsolicited telemarketing calls. Failure for an SME to honor the DNC registry and its requirements can have a catastrophic impact. Even large corporations can fall foul of the stringent rules. In 2014, the third largest U.S telecommunications company, Sprint Corporation, were ordered to pay $7.5 million as a result of their non-compliance with the DNC registry requirements. ICTBroadcast offers global and local integration with the DNC registry to prevent such costly errors. Furthermore, contacts can be given the option to opt out from future marketing calls and have their details removed from the list by setting up a straightforward key-press operation that further prevents non-compliance with regulations. ICTBroadcast makes compliance with TCPA and other legislation designed to prevent the misuse of telemarketing products a simple task. The risks for failing to comply with local laws and regulations are substantial, and given the sizeable penalties possible the ongoing viability of an SME can be severely impacted. In addition to the previously mentioned compliance features ICTBroadcast allows the user to set a limit upon the number of times a customer will be called during a campaign. Persistent phone calls are a key factor in the decision of a customer to complain to regulating authorities. By reducing the nuisance factor ICTBroadcast can improve general public relations for your business. In summary, use of the ICTBroadcast multitenant unified communications package facilitates compliance with TCPA and comparable legislation in a number of ways. Limits upon call frequency and timing can be set, automated database opt-out can be enabled and furthermore global and local DNC lists can be intergrated to ensure consumers who have expressed a preference do not receive calls. This feature of the ICTBroadcast package is another of the many reasons more SMEs are selecting our software to facilitate their communication needs.

ICTBroadcast, Creating dynamic messages with auto dialer and custom tokens

One of the many benefits of running the ICTBroadcast system for an SME is the flexibility and degree of personalization that the system allows. Dynamic messages can be programmed to run via the auto dialer during a campaign tailored to your existing client database or as part of standard operating procedure. The creation of either an SMS or email template is a straightforward and simple matter. This can be quickly accomplished and refined further at anytime during the campaign, or in the course of normal business operations. Predefined tokens, or variables, for client details such as the clients name, address, phone number or any other custom token are inserted into your SMS or email template within the ICTBroadcast editor. Once the template is defined the auto dialer will deliver a tailored message to each of the recipients in the database or generate a specific message in response to a user action. This system is simple to manage and can be used in numerous situations. For example, the system can be used to generate a confirmation message for successful subscriptions, as part of a marketing campaign or to acknowledge receipt of data from your customers. Custom tokens function by creating a tailored message specific to your client or customer. An example of custom tokens in use can be seen in the following message: “Hi, [contact:first_name] [contact:last_name] this is to confirm that Company Name have received your message and one of our specialist [contact:custom1] customer service representatives will be soon be in contact” In this example there are three custom tokens: [contact:first_name] [contact:last_name] [contact:custom1] These tokens, and all the other tokens available for use, are populated with reference to data submitted by your customers. In this example the data will correspond to the contact information a customer has provided. This data can be uploaded via a web interface or alternatively the customer is able to make use of enabled REST API, this allows integration of ICTBroadcast with your database. Database integration is a simple proceed and allows specific customer information to be dynamically retrieved so the customization process becomes automated. There are three key benefits of using such a system. Primarily, the automation process can save a significant amount of time what would otherwise require dedicated monitoring and response. In this manner the process of building a relationship with your client base is automated. Secondly, the system serves a method to strengthen relationships with your client base. By acknowledging communication from the client in a tailored manner not only does client confidence in your company increase but also there are more opportunities to provide information about your products or services. Thirdly, the use of customized interaction with clients can lead to greater conversion rates. By offering a tailored service that is personalized to each visitor to your site the rate of conversion to a paying client or customer significantly increases. Furthermore, the retention of existing clients or customers can benefit. The easy use of custom tokens is just one of many reasons why ICTBroadcast is the integrated system of choice for our rapidly expanding client base.

ICTBroadcast, Using REST based API to automate your business

ICTBroadcast recognize that the modern SME utilizes a wide spectrum of software and web-based applications to facilitate the needs of the business. We also understand the frustration caused by the lack of compatibility between some of these applications and the decrease in efficiency or increase in cost that inflexible software system can cause. For this reason ICTBroadcast uses REST based API to ensure communication and automation between our products and third party applications is a seamless and simple process. Customers can make the most of third party applications without compromising the quality of service ICTBroadcast provides. There are four type of API class available to ICTBroadcast. With these the user can define all the functions, which need to be drawn from outside the ICTBroadcast system. The classes are as follows: API_User API_Contact API_Campaign API_Recording The functions within each class allow complete integration of the system and can be used to rapidly establish tools to add or delete users, make payments to user accounts, commence or conclude a campaign and much more. Because of the seamless integration it is a straightforward task to manage the creation of users across multiple applications without the need to manually duplicate tasks. In this case the programmer can make use of the API named “user_create”. A full list of the API’s available can be found here (link to http://www.ictbroadcast.com/news/using-rest-api-integerate-ictbroadcast-...). Other frequently used API’s include addition of credit (or the making of a payment to a customer account), the return of campaign status information and creation of a new campaign for a particular customer. To set up ICTBroadcast for use with a third party application is a short task that only requires to write client-side code to invoke these REST APIs in third party applications to communicate with ICTBroadcast. Once the client-side code is working, the automation may be undertaken. Further benefits of the REST based API system are seen in the platform that stems from such a decoupling. This means that significant scalability becomes possible and a vast range of desktop, web based, and smartphone applications (such as Android Client of ICTBroadcast) become available for full integration into the ICTBroadcast system. The expansion of the system in this manner places ICTBroadcast as a highly competitive and efficient way to operate. This is in distinct contrast to the use of native libraries that might otherwise be used in the absence of a REST based API. In summary, the scalable, low coupling and custom-design rich features reduce overheads by placing fewer demands on your programming team. ICTBroadcast can harness the power of third party applications and the full range of features can be automated without a significant effort. The savings in time and money allow your enterprise to focus on value driving activities rather than grappling with uncooperative infrastructure. Contact ICTBroadcast today to learn more about our solutions to your business needs.

Managing Multimodal Messaging

There is so much change going on in business communications, it is hard to keep track of what’s real and what’s coming! More importantly, the new stuff has to coexist for a while with our legacy forms of business communications, i.e., text messaging and telephony. That’s why moving business communications to the “clouds” as software will provide both greater flexibility, faster and easier integrations and interoperability, and the ability to support BYOD mobility. I have long maintained that UC must include contacts between automated business processes and individual end user consumers (B to C). We have long had C to B online interactive access between business users and business processes, but now that is being quickly extended to consumer/customers with smartphones and tablets. The impact of that shift is being felt with the likes of social messaging and WebRTC that enables mobile customers to access their choice of live assistance, without initiating the traditional “blind” and inefficient phone call to a call center agent. I just experienced a practical benefit from social messaging that I hadn’t expected. I have received regular offers through Groupon, including a particular restaurant in my area. I had used up my coupons, so when I received a new offer, I immediately signed up for it. However, unlike in the past, I did not receive the coupon email to print. Instead, I got a cryptic message that there would be a couple of days delay. After a few days with no coupon delivery, I went on line to Groupon and found the offer that I thought I had subscribed to, but it now showed that the “Offer was no  longer available.” So, I called the restaurant up to find out what the problem was, and someone said to check with Groupon. I sent an email to them, which was promptly acknowledged, but the response was it would take a day or so to get back to me about my question. I then did get a phone call in response to my voice message, but the agent indicated that the problem was controlled by the restaurant, not Groupon. OK!?! I then decided to post my question on the restaurant’s Facebook page, and voila! I got a response back in a few hours. They indicated that they weren’t discontinuing their Groupon offers, and that the next offer would be coming in two or three weeks. That’s all I really wanted to know, but the traditional forms of messaging didn’t do the job!      

What really is “UC”? – It’s middleware that flexibly connects people and applications

I am really getting tired of hearing people talk about UC as if it is some kind of product or a single piece of communication software! It’s really a collection of communication software applications that hopefully can all share common network connectivity, user information such as identity, user availability (presence), and contact data (address information). The interoperability part will allow an individual user to independently switch from one mode of input or output interaction to another, while still retaining the same basic context information that all modes of communication need. That flexibility lets mobile users control how they send or retrieve different types of messages (“unified messaging”) or escalate from a message to a voice or video conversation. Let’s face it, we are already seeing how telephony is being subsumed by both IP connectivity instead of the PSTN, as well as by multimodal smartphones, tablets, desktop endpoints that let users do more than talk or use the very limited old TUI. So, guess what? We are already seeing an increase in text messaging as a basic and initial form of contact, with user options to “click-to-connect” for real time chat, voice or video conversations. What does that really mean for business communications? As I have frequently suggested, phone conversations will no longer have to start with “blind” phone calls that may end up as voice mail messages. Even with the increase in mobile devices, I am sure that the old statistic of 3 out of 4 business calls end up in voice mail is probably a little better with mobility. But, seeing how many mobile users look at their ringing cell phones and just put them back into their pockets after first looking to see who is calling, it is clear that mobile “accessibility” does not equate to “availability” or high priority for all callers. So, where does UC come into the picture? it allows a contact initiator to choose any user interface mode of contact and information exchange they want at that moment from a single device.  Further, it allows that initial mode of contact to be dynamically changed depending on the needs of the communicating parties. Conversely, and perhaps more importantly, it provides more control to the recipient in terms of their time priorities and environmental circumstances to accept a real-time contact from either a person or an automated business process application. It is still the recipient that must be responsible for their own job-related time and priority management! AVST, who has been in the voice mail and call management business for a long time came up with a clever way for business call recipients to diplomatically screen and acknowledge incoming calls to their company telephone systems by enabling them to be alerted to an incoming call that identifies the caller, and lets them decide at that point whether to take the call or deliver a voice message to the caller for later contact. That’s a step in the right direction, but there are lots more that can now be done for mobile user with smartphones that have display screens for text messaging. More importantly, there are new ways to avoid wasteful, “blind” real-time phone call attempts completely, making person-to-person contacts more cost and time efficient and controllable by individual end users, whether they are inside or outside of the organization (employees, business partners, customers).