No Jitter Roll: Five for Friday

In this edition of the No Jitter Roll, we look at a diversity of announcements around mobility, the contact center, workforce optimization, and hospitality-focused solutions from vendors Cisco, Vonage, Serenova, Avaya, ThousandEyes, and Martello Technologies.

Cisco Makes Mobile, Network Moves

Cisco has announced its intent to acquire privately held July Systems, which offers an enterprise-grade, cloud-based platform for location services and mobile engagement. The platform comprises features like real-time customer activation, data-driven behavioral insights, and a contextual rules engine and APIs, wrote Rob Salvagno, Cisco's VP of corporate business development, in a Cisco Blogs post.

Cisco intends to add July Systems' platform and business context capabilities to its Connected Mobile Experience (CMX) to provide a unified solution for Cisco partners and customers to implement indoor location services. Cisco envisions a partner ecosystem to grow out of this acquisition, with third parties able to develop industry-specific solutions with location context, at scale, Salvagno said.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the first quarter of Cisco's 2019 fiscal year, which goes from July 29 through October. Cisco did not disclose the purchase price. The July Systems team will join Cisco's Enterprise Networking Group, headed by by SVP and GM Scott Harrell.

Vonage Goes Big on CX, AI

Cloud communications provider Vonage made a bevy of announcements at Customer Contact Week, taking place in Las Vegas.

First, the company announced it's expanding its contact center footprint by offering its omnichannel Vonage CX Cloud solution, which integrates with Nice inContact's CXone platform, to customers of its Vonage Business Cloud for UC (see "Vonage Returns to SaaS Roots with New Business Cloud").

Vonage Business Cloud customers can use Nexmo APIs to customize Vonage CX Cloud with intelligent capabilities like real-time sentiment analysis and enhanced self-service via chatbots or visual IVR. Additionally, customers requiring increased quality of service have the option of adding SmartWAN, Vonage's SD-WAN solution.

Second, Vonage announced it has partnered with artificial intelligence (AI) vendors to enhance the AI capabilities offered via is API platform, Nexmo. Initial partners include Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft, as well as AI-enabled platform providers and ISVs like Workplace by Facebook, i2x, MuleSoft, OneReach, Over.ai, VoiceBase, Talkpush, and Voicera.

Through Amazon Lex conversational bots, for example, an enterprise would be able to build natural language chatbots for customer engagements using the Nexmo Voice API. . With the VoiceBase-Vonage collaboration, as another example, a company would be able to enrich the customer experience with AI-enabled on-call agent performance monitoring.

Last, but not least, Vonage announced programmable contact center capabilities through Nexmo so software developers can customize their solutions with capabilities like split recording and real-time text-to-speech translation. Other intelligent contact center capabilities include:

  • onAnswer, for providing agents with pre-call prompts and context
  • WebRTC, for enabling agents to work from anywhere with a Web browser
  • Real-time sentiment analysis, for insight into customer emotions
  • Skills-based routing, for setting routing rules dictated by tagged agent skills
  • Call tracking, for capturing metadata like dialed number and call length
  • Automated natural language FAQ, for offloading commonly asked questions to a chatbot

Avaya, Serenova: Workforce Optimization Moves and Shakes

Serenova this week unveiled CxEngage Quality Management (CxQM) for capturing agent and customer experiences, and allowing supervisors to monitor and ultimately make decisions to improve contact center performance.

Via the CxQM dashboard, admins and supervisors can monitor agents to ensure adherence to policies and procedures around customer service delivery, Serenova said in its press materials. Additional CxQM use cases include ensuring regulatory compliance, training and coaching agents, and enabling ongoing skills management.

CxQM is meant to automate the quality management process regardless of whether agents and supervisors are sitting in a physical contact center together or working remotely.

In other WFO news, Avaya this week released the latest version of its Workforce Optimization suite, centered on helping customers improve customer service quality, employee productivity, and data privacy.

For example, this release offers features for securely recording, processing, archiving, and protecting customer personal data to achieve GDPR compliance. These features include advanced 256-compliant encryption, PCI security, data identification and tagging, and the ability to identify consent/no consent situations.

Additionally, this release offers real-time speech analytics for monitoring interactions and automated quality management for improving agent coaching and employee engagement, Avaya said.

ThousandEyes Opens Visibility Across Multiple Clouds

As business and contact center communications moves to as-a-service model, enterprises are increasingly challenged with the need to manage and monitor applications cohesively across multiple public cloud platforms. Enter ThousandEyes, which this week announced visibility into service delivery paths across Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure.

ThousandEyes Network Intelligence for multicloud environments, available now, offers enterprises a way to gauge performance via cloud agents it has installed in 60 regions across the three public clouds – no software deployment required, said Alex Henthorn-Iwane, VP of product marketing. The company has installed its Network Intelligence cloud agents in 15 AWS and 15 GCP regions, as well as in 25 Azure regions. Enterprises can run agent-to-agent tests, as well as measure inter-region, hybrid, and inter-cloud performance; map network paths; and monitor connectivity between on-premises and cloud data centers.

Via this network of cloud agents, enterprises gain immediate visibility for existing application traffic traversing any of those regions, or can use the agents to check out performance in a region for future use cases, Henthorn-Iwane added.

As example of the type of scenario in which Network Intelligence for multicloud environments might prove useful, Henthorn-Iwane turned to a utility company wanting to transform its approach to customer service. Rather than having customers request service calls via phone, the utility might create an online scheduling app in AWS. That app would need to connect to the enterprise resource planning database the company hosts in its own data center, and reach out to and receive customer data from the Salesforce cloud service, map info from GCP, weather from a cloud-based service... and then could use Twilio's cloud-based API messaging service to send notices to service technicians and customers.

"You can see hop by hop what the metrics are, ... so it's not a mystery now. You can see where the problems are, and you know who to call," he added.

This visualization shows every service delivery path from AWS and GCP regions to the Chicago area in a single map. An outage on the Zayo network has impacted connectivity to Amazon's US-East-1 region from the Chicago area. Users in Chicago may not be able to reach services hosted in this AWS region.

Martello Gets Hospitable

Out of the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC) event that took place this week in Houston, Texas, Martello, a network performance management solution provider, announced it's growing its footprint in the vertical with "as a service" options for Elfiq (a Martello subsidiary) SD-WAN and UC performance management solutions.

"Many hotel properties today are suffering because of antiquated private circuits with low bandwidth that are struggling to support their entire network," said Todd Shobert, CTO at Safety NetAccess, an Elfiq Networks partner, in a prepared statement.

With Martello's link aggregation and SD-WAN technologies, hotel properties and operators can leverage zero-touch provisioning and analytics capabilities to maintain the network and save on bandwidth costs, the company said. By combining these technologies with Martello's fault and performance management SaaS, it added, hotel customers can do things like optimize real-time traffic like VoIP to improve quality of experience.

No Jitter editor Beth Schultz contributed to this post.

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