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No Jitter Roll: COVID-19 Offers, SD-WAN News

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Catching up on the latest news
Image: undrey- stock.adobe.com
We start this week with a roundup of COVID-19-related offerings, and then catch up with the latest in the Zoom ecosystem, session border controller (SBC) enhancements, a revamped partner program, and SD-WAN solution updates.
 
COVID-19 Offerings Continue to Surface
As the demand increases for a remote workforce, vendors have evolved team and video collaboration solutions, as well as rapid-response programs, to keep employees and customers connected, productive, and supported. Here’s some of the latest news:
  • Segra – during April, the independent fiber bandwidth company is offering its Unify collaboration service to new and existing customers free of charge for 90 days. This integrated suite includes file and emailing sharing, one-to-one or group messaging, direct audio and video calling, audio- or videoconferencing, and desktop sharing. The company said it will also provide upgrades at no cost for existing hosted Voice customers.
  • Vonage – the cloud communications provider has extended the availability of its free web-based Vonage Video Conferencing offer until the end of 2020.
  • Neustar – this technology services company is offering its Caller Name Optimization (CNO) Emergency Call Registry solution at no cost to hospitals, health care providers, state and local health administrators, and other government officials. With this service, Neustar said it aims to make sure emergency COVID-19 calls reach the public and rather than being blocked or mislabeled as spam.
  • Verint – this customer engagement company announced rapid-response support services covering five areas: interaction analytics, compliance tune-up, knowledge management, cloud solutions, as well as a community and web self-service platform. Additional programs will be released according to customer needs, Verint said.
  • Google Cloud –the cloud provider has launched its Rapid Response Virtual Agent program, aimed at getting companies up and running quickly with Contact Center AI, for conversational self-service support, via chat or over the phone. The program is generally available in any of the 23 languages supported by Google Dialogflow, Google said.
  • 8x8 — cloud communications provider 8x8 this week launched a Business Readiness Kit that provides collaboration tools, instructional resources, and best practices businesses need to shift employees to remote work without sacrificing enterprise security, employee productivity and collaboration, or customer responsiveness, the company said. Separately, it released telemedicine and mobile capabilities for healthcare providers
Khoros Gets Modern with Chat Services
Khoros, a customer engagement software company, has expanded its Khoros Care solution with webchat capability, live utilization analytics, and instant customer feedback. The new chat capability, called Khoros Modern Chat, features:
  • Configurable rules – ability to set proactive rules, based on data such as time on page, browser, and location, to limit chat discovery
  • Customer-facing automation – includes welcome messages, pre-chat messages, triage, etc., and AI-powered workflows
  • Rich content – supports interactive conversations that include any attachment (video, images, links, etc.) and emojis
  • Metrics – providers the ability to measure agent performance and customer experience around conversations — not sessions — and manage workforce utilization for real-time staffing decisions
Ujet Integrates with Salesforce Sales Cloud
Cloud contact center provider Ujet this week announced an integration with Salesforce Sales Cloud, following its recent launch on the Salesforce AppExchange.
 
Some of the core features and functionalities that Salesforce users can expect include:
  • Support for standard and customized sales and service flows – ability to look up end user records in separate Sales Cloud objects, such as Leads and Contacts, to identify and surface relevant information in real-time; available for outbound and inbound sessions
  • Data consolidation – ability to attach session data such as media files and to an opportunity, lead, or customer profile; provides sales reps to get all session metadata and associated assets as an organized summary of every interaction with a lead or customer
  • Outbound calling capabilities – optimizes account record display for agents, as well as provides session management
The Salesforce integrations allow Ujet customers to support their entire customer lifecycle through their contact center platform, the company said.
 
Otter.ai, Theta Lake ‘Zoom’ In
This week, we saw two announcements related to the Zoom partner ecosystem.
 
First, transcription provider Otter.ai revealed new Zoom integration that provide live transcription and collaborative notetaking. With the integration, meeting participants can open a live transcript directly from Zoom, and then log into Otter.ai to highlight, comment, and add photos to meeting notes, Otter.ai said.
 
Second, collaboration security and compliancy provider Theta Lake announced that it will offer three free months of its AI-based Compliance Suite for Zoom customers. The Compliance Suite features detection of organization-specific risk and liabilities across collaboration interactions and provides end-user alerts and risk mitigation education, Theta Lake said. Additionally, the service can identify sensitive information to comply with privacy and cybersecurity requirements (HIPAA, FERPA, GDPR, NYDFS, and CCPA) and features AI-enabled workflows that route content to the appropriate compliance team.
 
The Theta Lake Compliance Suite is available in the Zoom App Marketplace.
 
Ribbon Updates SBC Software
Communications software and network solution provider Ribbon Communications this week announced new features for its software-based SBC. Enhancements for Session Border Controller Software Edition (SBC SWe) Lite version 8.1 include a quick launch wizard from the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, support for SILK audio compression, Azure-based media bypass for Microsoft Teams, local media optimization that allows signaling to be passed from a centralized to a local SBC, and digital certificates that support the migration and deployment of Direct Routing, Ribbon said. For improved 911 support, SBC SWe now also features enhanced emergency calling for Microsoft Phone System Direct Routing clients, as well as validated enhanced 911 and Emergency Local Identification capabilities.
 
Poly Revamps Partner Program
Communications provider Poly this week unveiled a new partner program and a revamped partner portal that replaces the Polycom Partner Connect and Plantronics Plantro.net portals. The new Poly portal will provide technical, sales, and marketing resources for partners and has a full suite of online learning options via Poly University, which is designed for partners to meet certification and specialization requirements, Poly said.
 
Starting today, all previous Polycom and Plantronics partners in the U.S., EMEA, and APAC regions will receive access to the portal.
 
SD-WAN Updates from Cato, Asavie
This week also saw SD-WAN-related announcements from two vendors, Cato Networks and Asavie.
 
First, Cato Networks announced it has secured $77 million in its latest funding round, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners with the participation of Aspect Ventures, Greylock Partners, Singtel Innov8, U.S. Venture Partners, and company co-founder, Shlomo Kramer. To date, Cato has raised over $200 million, the company said.
 
Second, mobility and IoT services provider Asavie launched Asavie SD Edge, a clientless solution that unifies mobile and IoT endpoint management by leveraging an enterprise's existing SD-WAN, secure access service edge, and zero-trust network access technologies. With the solution, admins can manage fixed, mobile, and IoT devices as a software-defined branch via a single UI, where they can also see AI-generated analytics and make policy modifications.
 
Ryan Daily, No Jitter associate editor, contributed to this article.