No Jitter Roll: Five for Friday

It's been another busy week in the world of enterprise communications, with vendors making announcements ahead of Mobile World Congress next week, not to mention Enterprise Connect just two weeks away. Take a few minutes to catch up on some of the notable developments taking place this past week from AT&T, Cisco, Twilio, Google, Mavenir, and Panasonic. Announcements cover everything from networking, to mobility, UCaaS, and rich text messaging.

AT&T Enhancing Networking and Smart Cities Initiatives

AT&T has announced the expansion of its software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) service from the U.S. to more than 150 countries and territories. AT&T credits digital transformation for shifting how organizations are thinking about networking and connectivity.

Global organizations can leverage SD-WAN to cut its costs related to connectivity, AT&T said. For example, they can create a hybrid network where some locations leverage SD-WAN and dual broadband, while others use the corporate VPN. With the global expansion, AT&T said it's aiming to make it easier for organizations to mix and match connectivity options across its business sites.

Separately, AT&T yesterday announced the broadening of its relationship with Cisco around smart cities initiatives. The pair is exploring opportunities to integrate Cisco Kinetic for Cities -- a cloud-based platform for managing data extraction and transfer from Internet of Things (IoT) applications -- into AT&T Smart Cities solutions, including AT&T Smart Cities Operations Center (SCOC).

"Data is every company's most valuable asset, and most businesses are only getting a fraction of that value," Sanjay Kharti, global head of platform product marketing for Cisco IoT, told me in a recent No Jitter briefing. Cisco is focused on making its Kinetic platform compatible with the ecosystem of smart city sensors so organizations can unlock the data captured by devices and make sure applications that need access to that data get it in a reliable way, he added.

Google & Twilio: RCS Starts to Take Hold

Google is now working with 43 carriers and device manufacturers to improve native messaging for Android devices with rich communications services (RCS), as the company announced in a Google Blog post earlier this week. RCS messaging, as No Jitter editor Beth Schultz wrote recently, is expected to continue to rise in popularity as a replacement for SMS, as it enables more rich and interactive messaging.

Last year, Google created an Early Access Program aimed at making it easier for brands to start leveraging RCS business messaging. Since then, in the U.S. market, Google has collaborated with Sprint and messaging partners 3C, CM.com, Mobivity, OpenMarket, Smooth, and Twilio. Google is also working with Telcel to bring RCS to Mexico businesses, and expanding those efforts to Europe and Latin America, the company wrote.

As mentioned, Twilio is one of Google's Early Access Program participants. Twilio has added RCS to its platform, enabling any messaging application built with Twilio APIs to send rich, interactive messages, the company said in a press release. "Via RCS, consumers can view high resolution photos and videos, add appointments to their calendar, receive directions to a business location, initiate a support call and even share their location from within the message," Twilio said.

One example of a company that has collaborated with Twilio to integrate RCS business messaging into its customer communications is 1-800-Flowers, leveraging the same API already used for SMS. 1-800-Flowers is using RCS to send order confirmations and delivery updates, allowing its customers to modify orders or delivery windows, Twilio said.

Mavenir Goes Mobile-Native with UCaaS

For a company focused on mobile network transformation, it comes as no surprise that Mavenir has taken a mobile-centric approach to unified communications. Mavenir this week announced mobile-native UCaaS, or mUCaaS, leveraging its networking assets as a mobile network operator and expertise in mobile networks with Voice over LTE and RCS.

Mavenir's mUCaaS is aimed at addressing the mobility needs of small office/home office and SMBs, and providing new revenue opportunities to MNOs, the company said. It's leveraging the universal and open messaging ecosystem enabled by RCS and its underlying technologies to avoid the "fragmented and closed experience" of social media messaging platforms and the "closed and proprietary" experience of enterprise instant messaging applications, Pardeep Kohli, Mavenir president and CEO, said in a prepared statement.

Panasonic Takes UC to Hospitality Industry
Panasonic yesterday announced a group of scalable UC solutions for the hospitality industry. The solution set leverages MTS' Property Management System interface (PMSi) technology and can integrate with existing property management systems (PMS) software, Panasonic said.

The offering is aimed at helping hospitality industry professionals to enhance the guest experience and improve staff productivity by enabling hotels to integrate all hotel and connected third-party systems into a single interface. By bringing a range of devices into one network, front office system (FOS) control tasks can be more easily executed, allowing staff to address guest needs more quickly.

The solution set comprises four components: Panasonic KX-NS Communications Systems, for unified messaging and auto attendant options; Panasonic DECT Wireless Handsets and Media Relay Gateway, for call hand-over without transmission interruption; and a MTS-powered PMSi for improving business efficiency and automation.

Learn more about all these topics at Enterprise Connect 2018, March 12 to 15, in Orlando, Fla. Register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Regular Rate or get a free Expo Plus pass.

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