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October 2010 | Volume 28 / Number 5
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IT EXPO West Recap

By Erik Linask

Speakers, exhibitors, and attendees at ITEXPO (News - Alert) West, held Sept.1-3, 2009 in Los Angeles proved once again why this event, with ITEXPO East planned for Jan.20-22 in Miami, are the pre-eminent venues to learn about the latest in communications technology.

Avaya: The Future is Social Networking

Avaya set the tone for where communications is going in a brilliant opening talk on social media. Paul Dunay (News - Alert), Avaya global managing director of services and social marketing, said that the social media space is growing daily. Facebook alone has more than 250 million users; it has 10 million videos and 1 billion photos uploaded; it hosts 4 billion status updates monthly and 2.5 million events every month.

Each day, 5 billion minutes are spent Facebooking, making it the third largest site in the world, leading Dunay, reports TMC’s Group Editorial Director Erik Linask (News - Alert), to call it not a social networking site, but a communications platform.

Dunay asks is how will Facebook enable commerce and how will support manifest itself on the Facebook (News - Alert) platform? After all, if he is correct, how can business ignore a once in a lifetime opportunity?

Dunay looked ahead at 11 ways Facebook can be integrated into common activities and interests to create not only a better overall user experience, but the potential for revenue as well. Here are just three of them:

Why isn’t there a search option integrating Facebook into search engines. Are Web search users really interested in the millions of VoIP-related search results? In many cases, they would likely be more interested in segmenting their searches based on searches of and pages viewed by for instance, a user’s Avaya (News - Alert) Facebook friends. Search is an area that is ripe for innovation.

Shopping in inevitable – for some a necessary evil, for others, a favored pastime. So, why not enable shopping with Facebook friends in an offline environment. Of course, this will require location tools, like GPS or active RFID, but there are countless marketing-type opportunities to integrate the offline and online worlds in shopping.

Customer Service
Why not use Facebook to connect to the best Customer Service of your life? If you have made certain purchases, with a Facebook profile, you can be connected to others in your area with similar interests to offer reviews or advice. That adds real value to the shopping experience. There are already user reviews on online retail sites, so why not add interactivity and increased relevance to the process? “Think about it: When was the last time you had a really good customer service experience?” asked Dunay.

Key points from keynotes

Here are just some of the highlights from the array of keynote speakers, whose audiences lined the walls and floors of the halls:

  • Mike Regan (News - Alert), vice president of unified IP development at Aspect said that unified communications use in the contact center especially has been shown to yield cost-related benefits, among others. And that’s partly because the consumers with whom many contact center agents interact themselves are familiar with “presence” technologies such as IM and chat, and their patience has dried up accordingly. UC itself is production-ready and businesses are missing out on a huge opportunity if they’re failing to embrace the technology, he pointed out.“Consumers are becoming very demanding and if they have a bad experience, they will let others know about it,” Regan said. Aspect, which has a strong relationship with Microsoft (News - Alert) and leverages the software giant’s OCS R2, found a way to blur the traditional contact center barriers by using UC. Regan cited a survey which found that more than 10 percent of calls into contact centers required expertise from someone outside the center itself.
    But how to effectively – and quickly – route that call to the appropriate person? For Aspect (News - Alert), the answer is in UC applications. The company, Regan said, used a tightly integrated platform with various Microsoft technologies to leverage what he called “rich presence.”

  • Dr. Don Brown (News - Alert), co-founder of Interactive Intelligence, stressed that the enterprise as a whole could learn a lot from the contact center“ Contact centers are unbelievable, and we know what everybody is doing in them,” said Brown. “How many other places in the organization do we have that kind of discipline and that kind of flexibility? Not very many.” Brown, as Paula Bernier, executive editor of TMC’s IP Communications magazines reported, aims to change that. “At Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert) we want to use communications technology to build all- in-one process automation platform.” That entails creating process and bringing communications into the mix so work is done more efficiently, he said. The value in communications is in getting more work done with fewer people, he continued. “To me this has to be the goal of any revolution in technology.” So how can a business achieve that?

    Brown says first you need to figure out what data is needed, Bernier reported. Then you create end user forms. Then you need to lay out a process flow that explains the stages through which work goes and the actions involved in each of those stages. One of those actions could be the ability to invoke web services (both internal and external), to obtain a customer’s credit score from Experian, for example, Brown said. Once you set up this framework for how work is done employees can be presented with work via their computers. They can see on the form what they need to do at each step along the way, just like call reps do in the contact center. And that process can be launched in various ways using different technologies, but there’s a standard process for actually doing it, he said. Not only does that allow employees to keep track of work, it also allows supervisors to see what’s going on. “A supervisor can see work and whose desk it’s sitting on – whose desk is holding up that lead from that important customer,” Brown said.

  • ShoreTel (News - Alert) CEO John Combs crystallized several emerging trends in IP communications when he described the attraction of communications tools in terms of their ease of use, including going so far as to describe ShoreTel as a communications, not a phone, company. What keeps ShoreTel in business aren’t the features and capabilities of its UC system, Combs said, according to TMC (News - Alert)’s Group Managing Editor Erik Linask. “Rather, it’s the ‘brilliant simplicity,’ as he calls it, of the system,” Linask reported. “In order for a solution to be successful today, it must be both easy to use and easy to install and manage – and it has to be available anywhere, anytime (that’s why the mobility component is critical).”

Best of Show
The IT EXPO Best of Show awards recognize innovative technology and forward-looking feature sets. Close to 100 exhibiting companies participated in the award program, through pre-show nominations, and through presentations to TMC’s (News - Alert) judges immediately before the event’s opening.

The following companies and their products are the ITEXPO West 2009 “Best of Show” Recipients:
Best Service Provider Solution:

  • AireSpring (News - Alert)
  • Broadvox
  • Dialexia Communications

Best Large Enterprise Solution:

  • Aastra
  • Aculab (News - Alert)
  • Interactive Intelligence

Best SMB Solution:

  • Aksys Networks
  • FaxBack
  • inVox

Best Call Center Offering:

Best Consumer Offering:

  • Fontel
  • Ooma
  • VoxOx

Best Development Tool:

  • Apex Voice
  • IntelePeer

Most Innovative Product:

  • Ecessa
  • HD Communications (News - Alert)
  • Yealink

Best Booth:

  • 8x8, Inc

Best On-Site Product Launch:

  • AudioCodes
  • BrightCom
  • TelcoBridges

Best of Open Source:

Editors’ Choice:

  • Allworx
  • SIP Print
  • ShoreTel

“We’re pleased to honor our winners, and we thank them for sharing their innovative solutions with our attendees,” said Rich Tehrani (News - Alert), CEO and group editor-in-chief of TMC. “We’ve seen record attendance at ITEXPO. Our conference program is our most comprehensive to date, and all of the companies participating at ITEXPO are making this one of our best shows ever.”

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