7 Reasons to Attend an SCTC Conference

August 25, 2014

Have you considered attending the SCTC (Society of Communication Technology Consultants) conference?  Unlike other professional organizations such as the AMA (American Medical Association), where you need to be a member to attend their conference, the SCTC is open to everyone, Non Member Consultants, End Users (CIO’s, Telecom Mangers, Procurement, etc), Vendors, Students, etc. 

Even though the SCTC conference is open to everyone, why should you consider attending?  Here are 7 reasons.

1) You are already a “Consultant”.  

Within your company/organization, do you provide IT/Telecom support, advice and/or expertise?  Is part of your responsibilities to understand and take advantage of opportunities (lower prices, better services) based on industry trends and changes?  If so, you are an “Internal Consultant”.  As an Internal Consultant how are you keeping up with the industry trends and opportunities, such as Cloud Computing, Web RTC, Wireless, Landlines, Regulatory issues, etc.? 

2) I Don’t Know what I Don’t Know. 

This is a common lament of many IT/Telecom professional.  Ask yourself, how much of your time is spent on “internally focused problems/issues”?  Is 90%, 95%, 99%, 99.9% of your time taken up with company related matters?  How much time do you spend learning what is going on in the industry?  How can you help your company/organization take advantage of changes – lower costs, improve productivity, marketing advantage, etc. if you are not keeping up.  It is not surprising that many professionals feel that they are in danger of being “left behind”.

3) The CEO Blindside question.   

Your CEO comes back from a conference.  He/she mentions that they talked to one of their peers and learned how they were using the latest technology/product/imitative to save money, improve productivity/service and/or gain a competitive advantage.  He/she turns to you and asks what are our plans in this area?

Which of the 2 following responses sounds better?

  1. “OK, we’ll look into this and get back to you”,  or
  2. “I’ve recently talked to some of the leading consultants in this area.  We are looking into some ideas that we can further develop and get back to you”

4) You will need eventually need a Consultant.  

At some point in the past (in a simpler time and place), it may have been possible to be an “expert” on everything.  You had the time to keep up with the latest industry changes.  You had a robust staff who you could count on to get the job done.  However, in today’s world of “lean and mean”, flattened staffing levels, and outsourcing, you are expected to keep only a core group and outsource for other needs and expertise.  Thus, It is not a matter of If you will need a consultant.  It is now a question of when you will need a consultant.

When the time arrives to look for outside expertise, is it better to have a list of consultants in mind, or to start from scratch?

5) SCTC Conference – an “Automall” of Consultants.  

If you are in the market for a new car, where do you go?  You go to the local Automall where you can test drive several makes and models from different vendors to find the best match for your needs (comfort, price, performance, etc.).  If you are in the market for a IT/Telecom consultant, where do you go?  The SCTC is an Automall of consultants.  You can “test drive” a variety of consultants to find which consultant(s) are the best match for your company’s needs.

6) Get a Second (Third, Fourth) Opinion?  

Perhaps you are comfortable/satisfied with your current internal initiatives.  Nonetheless, it may be helpful to talk to some outside experts about your projects.  This is an unique opportunity to “pick the brains” of some of the leading experts in the industry. 

At the end of the day, there are 2 outcomes, both good. 

  1. Outcome 1 you talk to consultants and are able to pick up some additional ideas.  You can incorporate what you learned into your current projects/initiatives.  This will allow you to avoid problems and/or improve performance/productivity.
  2. Outcome 2, you talk to consultants and find they essentially validated your work.  This is something you can take back to your company executives and let them know that you “ran our project by some of the leading experts in the industry”.  These experts essentially validated what we are doing (or planning to do).

7) You are a Professional. 

Over the years you have taken the opportunity to learn and have worked very hard to get to your current position, an IT/Telecom professional.  However, current work pressure and issues consume all of your time and you are unable to take time to attend a conference.  You would like to go to a conference, but it isn’t a priority.

Analogy.   You talk to your Tax Accountant (a Financial Professional).  You casually ask him or her what conferences have they attended in the past year or so to keep up with the latest Tax changes.  If they respond back they have been too busy to attend any conferences in the past couple of years, what is your reaction?  Do you admire their dedication and work ethic?  Or wouldn’t you be surprised and a little bit taken aback?  Isn’t part of their responsibility to keep up with the latest innovations/changes in their industry?

As in any profession, continuous education is a requirement if you are expected to provide the highest value to your organization/company.  The IT/Telecom industry is especially challenging with numerous opportunities (productivity, cost savings) presenting themselves in a fast changing, dynamic environment.

SCTC Conference 

The SCTC conference will be held at the Town and Country resort in San Diego, September 30 – October 2nd

The following is a link to get further information.

http://www.sctcconsultants.org/default.asp?page=conferences


Comcast and WebRTC

May 15, 2014

.

By Chris Vitek

In a tweet a couple weeks ago Chris Wendt, Principle Architect, Office of the CTO at Comcast announced the use of WebRTC in Comcast’s new X1 platform due for general availability in 2015.  The official announcement is here.

In addition to the triple-play capabilities already available here is a brief summary of what it will do:

  • Live streaming video from your wireless device to any Comcast X1 user.  The example they offered is live streaming a little league game to your Grandparents.  This will add a new dimension to public access.
  • Personalization of the TV guide for language and content with picture-in-picture for the last 9 channels viewed.
  • Voice navigation of the guide. Like Amazon’s Dash and Fire TV that I wrote about on No Jitter.
  • Enhanced kids restrictions for general viewing and on-demand. Probably based on “data channel” and peer-to-peer content delivery networking.
  • On-demand availability immediately after a show.
  • Home automation and security system integration with mobile access.  This looks like ‘data channel’ to me.
  • Location services that map the location of family member’s devices. Nice to know where the kids are.
  • Voice mail playback through any device and voice-to-text transcription.

It has been about a year since Comcast sent 15 people to the WebRTC Expo in Atlanta in 2013.  It is remarkable that they have been able to deliver a hardware and software platform and an initial set of features in such a short period of time.  Missing elements are live video conferencing and screen sharing.  I expect that there will be a series of rapid upgrades and several other cable operator jumping into the WebRTC pool.


Marketing is Eating IT

May 14, 2014

.

By Chris Vitek

Barry O’Sullivan has a great post over at No Jitter today.  Here is the link.  If you work in an enterprise contact centers it is a must-read.   The freight-train like trend is for contact center operations to be reorganized under the marketing operations and away from general operations and IT.  I first observed this happening in the wireless business 9 years ago and it is accelerating.  O’Sullivan sums up the situation pretty well:

We have seen this movie before. The VoIP disruption of 15 years ago was as much about CIOs and networking organizations absorbing pure telecom organizations as it was about the technology. The more recent unified communications convergence led to the merging of desktop and communications teams. And now collision between marketing and the call center will lead to the biggest budget and organizational shift yet. The $300 billion of spend at stake will drive this change, and we need to get ready.

If your contact center is not reporting to the CMO, then O’Sullivan recommends a lunch meeting with the her.  If you look around at what is happening in the data processing business you will find Big-Data at the center of every discussion.  The key transformation that is happening here is that information systems are morphing from record keeping into systems of real-time engagement.  Typically, enterprises begin using Big-Data in areas like manufacturing and logistics.  The lessons learned in these implementations are now being applied to customer interaction.  O’Sullivan sees it like this:

Change is challenging but also represents a huge opportunity. Imagine if each one of your company’s annual call center interactions had a positive impact on your customers’ experience — improving loyalty, net promoter score, churn rates and conversions. Imagine being a part of demonstrating this to your CMO and CEO through precise metrics and good analytical models that are tied to your marketing and brand initiatives.

Marketers are laser focused on providing the most relevant content to the right customers at the right point in the funnel. But your best (and most expensive) content is your people and their expertise. By integrating your call center employees into your organization’s content marketing strategy, you can consistently make the right communications offers to your mobile and Web customers. In addition, you can deliver mobile and Web context to your employees so that they are empowered to help your customers achieve the desired outcome.

This wave of innovation is what has allowed what’s left of American manufacturing to remain on-sure.  The same drivers will allow for the same opportunity for American contact centers.


WebRTC Plugins for IE and Safari

May 12, 2014

.

By Chris Vitek

Today Temasys released WebRTC plugins for Internet Explorer and Safari.  They are open source and Temesys appears to be supportive of making it non-proprietary.

Dr. Alex Gouaillard, Temasys’s CTO, points out, “Our solution is as close to pure webRTC as it can be: We extended the webRTC implementation that is used in Chrome and in part by Firefox, ensuring much easier maintenance and interoperability, going forward. Our generic approach to building the plugin helps enable webRTC for everybody, without reverting to older technologies like Flash or java. It is and will not be a proprietary solution that only works with our products. It is and will remain free.”

I am aware of many companies that already have or are working on the same thing.  Some more proprietary than others.  This should cause some deeper thought at MSFT and Apple about the adoption of WebRTC.  They can embrace this or they can continue to seek delays in the final draft of the spec.  By embracing WebRTC they can drive revenue for both WebRTC solutions and solutions that are already within their product portfolio.  By not embracing it they are ceding these revenues to their competitors.  My bet is that it will not take long for MSFT or Apple to grow tired of watching other succeed by leveraging IE and Safari.


Amazon and WebRTC

May 8, 2014

.

Posting at No Jitter Today:

Google’s use of Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) in their Chromecast product is well known to industry insiders. What is less well known is Amazon’s use of this same technology in certain new products.

With the introduction of the “Mayday” button on their high-end tablets, Amazon made some waves in the contact center pool last September. Though they have not publicly discussed the underlying technology, it has been confirmed that there are WebRTC components in use. Whatever the source, the fundamentals are real-time audio, video, file transfer and screen sharing. WebRTC makes this possible in a royalty-free financial footprint that reduces the cost of these interfaces by about $35 per end-point.

Read more:


Amazon and WebRTC

May 8, 2014

.

Posting at No Jitter Today:

With the introduction of the “Mayday” button on their high-end tablets, Amazon made some waves in the contact center pool last September. Though they have not publicly discussed the underlying technology, it has been confirmed that there are WebRTC components in use. Whatever the source, the fundamentals are real-time audio, video, file transfer and screen sharing. WebRTC makes this possible in a royalty-free financial footprint that reduces the cost of these interfaces by about $35 per end-point.

Read more:


Snapchat Acquires AddLive WebRTC API

May 5, 2014

 

By Chris Vitek

Snapchat has acquired one of the early adopters of WebRTC, AddLive. Tsahi Levent-Levi at BlogGeek has good coverage here.  This announcement is coincident with Snapchat’s latest update that includes real-time video for android and iOS devices.  Once they offered the update they really could not hide the underlying technology anymore.  Levent-Levi has an interesting perspective that I agree with:

Once existing contracts are over, AddLive won’t renew them and the service will be closed. This will leave customers with the need to select another WebRTC API Platform to use.

This turmoil will definitely affect the selection process developers will be making when selecting a WebRTC API Platform.

Clearly, this will favor larger companies in the WebRTC business as there will be a risk that the smaller players will get bought out by their largest customers.