Insider Report December 2021
The Most Important Enterprise Communications News from December 2021
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Our friend the pandemic provided quite the roller-coaster ride in December. Earlier in the month, it appeared to kill all optimism about an end to the pandemic. Omicron was (and still is) spreading like wildfire (more on wildfires coming), cases and hospitalizations were (and are) hitting new highs, and morale about an end to the pandemic was fading.
Then, near the end of the month, the tone changed, and we started hearing that the end of the pandemic (or rather, the launch of the endemic) may be on the horizon. Experts agree we are unlikely to eradicate Covid-19, but we will see it move out of the pandemic phase and into the endemic phase. That is, this virus may be here for years, but its impact (and the incessant headlines that go along with it) will decrease.
It appears that omicron may be the variant that facilitates herd immunity, sort of. The vaccinated, for the most part, are not severely impacted by omicron. The unvaccinated are more impacted (and some will die), but the overall effects are not as severe as with prior variants. After omicron runs its course, experts expect that a significant portion of the population will be mostly immune. The next few months will be hell (raise your hand if you’re quarantining as you read this!), but for the first time, there appears to be a light at the end of this pandemic.
Disaster Recovery at Home: I learned this month more about what “spreads like wildfire” means. I shared a little about how the Boulder #MarshallFire impacted me in my Annual Report for 2021. Our home has water, gas, and electricity back — still no Internet. We expect to move back tomorrow. All souls in our household are accounted for, but there’s lots of damage.
Electricity was the hard one. The fire destroyed a major distribution point. I have a significant-sized PV solar array on the roof, but it doesn’t provide resilient power. For backup power, it requires batteries, and that’s a mixed bag — no one wants to be around Li-ion cells during a wildfire; the Tesla showroom took major damage.
But the point I want to make here is the need to rethink geographic redundancy. Geo redundancy has always been a consideration for data centers, and as disasters get bigger, so does the required amount of separation. Today, critical services likely leverage cloud infrastructure across different regions and zones.
But what about other forms of backup? At TalkingPointz, most workflows rely on SaaS providers. I suppose I should be more concerned about their disaster preparedness, but outsourcing such concerns is a benefit of the cloud. This week, it became clear there’s more to it than SaaS.
For example, I have two addresses: my home and a UPS Store. They are about 5 miles apart (by car) and in different cities with different ZIP codes. I use the UPS Store for two reasons: I travel a lot, and their ability to receive and secure parcels until I return is nice. Also, by minimizing the times UPS comes to my home, I minimize disruptions (barks) during meetings.
I had zero addresses after the fire. Neither burned-down, but they were inaccessible. Two packages were returned as undeliverable before I could get running water at the other address. How resilient is your home address?
Then there’s offline storage. I have some important documents and drives secured in a bank vault. It too was in the fire zone. Supposedly, bank vaults are fire rated, but I saw some mansions reduced to rubble this week. A newly-built Marriott was destroyed in the fire, and as far as I know nothing is flammable in a modern hotel. I wonder if “fire rated” means that it was rated to survive a smaller fire.
Both of my addresses and my bank survived the fire. However, I realize now that I need to widen my DR thinking and footprint. Do you?
General Industry News
AWS 5G: One of the bigger surprises from the AWS Re:Invent conference was the availability of a private 5G service for enterprises. The new AWS Private 5G is intended to be an easy-to-procure starter kit for a fully managed, pay-as-you-go, private cellular service. Whatever it proves to be, it will reduce friction for enterprise evaluation of Private 5G (or 4G LTE).
The initial kit comes with a single small-cell radio supporting the US CBRS bands. The radios are cloud-managed (from AWS cloud or prem-based AWS Outposts), and the FCC-required Spectrum Access System (SAS) is included. The 5G service has a pay-as-you-go pricing model based on the number of radios and maximum throughput.
This is a significant land grab. Previously, AWS partnered with established cellular providers. Now, it’s doing all the heavy lifting itself, from SIMs to hardware platform and radios, to the software stack and management — all aimed at enterprises. Hold on to packets, because the offering is as mature as the tech. Private 4G/5G will steal share from enterprise Wi-Fi and could prove to be a significant market.
Bad Cloud Month: December was a bad month for cloud availability. AWS had (at least) three major outages (Dec. 7, 15, and 22), impacting providers such as Slack and Asana. Also, the usual battery of data breaches got worse in December with the Log4Shell exploit. Earlier this year, SolarWinds taught us about supply chain attacks. Log4j is similar but worse. It is a popular (omnipresent) library used by countless projects that are all vulnerable to exploitation. The problem is that many developers might not even know this vulnerability exists in their code because they might be using some other library that depends on the Log4j library. It is going to require thousands of patches, and some programs won’t be patchable until the code they depend on is first patched.
This whole convergence thing may be a mistake. Conceptually, it makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t seem we have evolved enough to harness it. We just might need to bring back single-purpose devices like the PBX.
Twitter Spaced Out: Twitter has banned several users from its platform for promoting misinformation. However, this was not as important as rushing out its Clubhouse clone, called Twitter Spaces. We now know Twitter had no plans to enforce its content guidelines on Spaces. The result: Twitter became the preferred broadcast platform for Taliban supporters, white nationalists, and anti-vaccine activists. Twitter’s new CEO, Parag Agrawal, wasted no time in implementing leadership and changes, and it’s clear Spaces is a strategic product. I look forward to the relaunch. I hope they improve the audio quality, too.
Meetings and Messaging
Essentially Nothing: This month, Microsoft introduced a new bundle for Teams aimed at SMBs that don’t currently subscribe to Microsoft 365. For a mere $4/user/mo, an organization can get team chat, 500 GBs of storage, “unlimited” group video meetings (for up to 30 hours), and Outlook.
What I hear most about why organizations select Teams is that it’s “free.” What’s most curious about this offer is that Teams is already available to everyone. Teams is included in every Microsoft 365 subscription, and for those who don’t have/want Microsoft 365, there’s also a free plan — plus it’s coming to Windows 11 as an OS feature.
Now, small businesses that somehow don’t meet any of those requirements can pay for Teams with this new Essentials plan — at least in theory. I see two problems with Essentials: It’s broken, and it doesn’t appear to be what Microsoft wants to sell.
While Essentials does offer meetings, it lacks recordings, and core messaging features of Teams are scaled back to simple chat. Transcription is also gone. In other words, Essentials isn’t great for async-work — thus, it’s not well suited for hybrid work. Oops.
The bigger issue is that I don’t think Microsoft even wants to sell it. Essentials makes a Microsoft 365 Business Basic subscription more compelling. The Microsoft 365 Basic plan is $5 (soon to be $6), includes Office, and doubles the storage. In other words, you’d have to be a fool to pay a dollar less for much less value.
This is what’s known as arbitrary coherence, a relative pricing practice. It sets a baseline price that makes another option more compelling. No one wants to pay $20 for a ginormous tub of popcorn, but it becomes compelling when it’s just a few bucks more than the better-sized, smaller option.
WhatsApp cash: WhatsApp quietly updated its app to support the Novi framework. The changelog for WhatsApp beta for Android has some hidden references about an integration with the Novi digital wallet that will enable users to send and receive funds. A small pilot program is available in the US today.
Zoho Cliqs Thrice: Zoho announced version 3.0 of its Cliq messaging/meetings app with expanded features to support hybrid work. The new version accommodates up to 1,000 active meeting participants. New features include a real-time whiteboard, meeting recordings, GIF support, instant recording, and sharing/sending video messages. The keys to all Zoho apps are 1) tight integration with the Zoho suite of apps, including CRM, Projects, Notebook, Books, and Calendar, and 2) the entire Zoho suite is browser-based. Zoho is now the largest Indian software company, with an increasing presence in the US. I pseudo-expect Zoho will launch its own UCaaS service in 2022.
Teams 1:1 E2EE: Finally! Released in Preview last October, Microsoft has now made E2EE for Teams calls generally available. The feature has to be enabled by an IT admin and then again by the users that want to use it. Microsoft acknowledges that enterprise customers want this feature, particularly in aerospace, manufacturing, telecommunications, and professional services.
The feature is only available for one-to-one calls. Encryption is, IMO, a necessary, even critical, option, but it does come with a cost. Usually, that cost is complexity. Here, it’s also limited to 1:1 calls, and of course it prevents a number of enhanced features such as recording, captioning, and transcription. It also disables common tasks such as call transfer, call park, call merge, and the ability to move the call to a different device.
I think more features can be enabled. Several providers support group call encryption, including 8x8 and Cisco. 8x8 even does it in a browser. I would think local recording could be possible, but that introduces additional complications. I believe encryption needs to be more accessible, but I’m not ready to call it a prediction. There seems to be a lot of resistance from both enterprises and governments.
Other Teams Updates: Microsoft released a clever feature that allows a presenter to see the order in which participants raised their hand. This is one of those ‘wouldn’t-it-be-nice-to-have’ in live settings features that’s only practical online. Online meetings are better because they are tech facilitated. Transcripts, captions, noise control, and so many other features are really only practical in online meetings. It’s a good feature that others will inevitably copy.
This isn’t a fluke: Microsoft has been demonstrating innovation in meetings. In a hat tip toward async meetings, Teams can now be played back at multiple speeds (finally). A recording expiration feature will allow messages to Mr. Phelps to self-destruct.
The most significant update for Teams this month was the GA of Operator Connect for conferencing. This allows admins to use the Teams portal to configure third-party carrier conferencing services. Officially, it allows enterprises to select more carriers. Unofficially, it means more providers around the globe will actively and passively endorse Teams for conferencing. This was a major undertaking covered in this (Sept) NoJitter post.
Zoom Learning Center: Despite all the vendor claims of intuitive software, meetings apps are confusing. Most users can conquer the user experience OK, but I find hosts often fail to leverage the various meeting options. To overcome this roadblock, Zoom launched the Zoom Learning Center with (live and on-demand) courses that cover its products. Access to the Zoom Learning Center is available on any device at no cost. This self-help is a reasonable start, but I wonder if we can go further with AI-powered instructors that suggest specific features to specific users.
Webex Rooms Roam: Cisco has now GA’d the use of its room systems with Google. That means you can now use Webex room and personal devices with Webex, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. I expect support for Zoom is coming, and probably more thanks to WebRTC.
This hasn’t received a lot of attention, but it’s significant for two reasons: First, Cisco is opening the proverbial kimono to work with and complement third-party (and competitive) services, and secondly, it’s going to put a lot of pressure on Poly, Logi, and Neat who are fighting over the same crumbs that MS and Zoom offer. Cisco’s portfolio is extensive, global, and elegant. It can also offload a lot of features to local hardware such as noise reduction and speaker tracking.
Dialpad Partners with Poly on Rooms: Dialpad Meetings customers can now leverage Poly Studio X series devices in their meeting rooms. This supports an appliance solution and real-time transcription.
Lifesize Interop: Lifesize calls it Multi Application Room Solution (MARS) software, and it provides on-demand connectivity to Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Zoom, and other meeting platforms. The software integrates with existing Lifesize hardware devices. Is it me, or is Lifesize disappearing? I never understood the meetings/CCaaS combination.
Amazon Zoom: Surprise! New private-label Amazon televisions are getting Zoom built in. These don’t seem like high-end devices (cheap), but the built-in angle gives the TVs a unique feature. This seems more like a gimmick, though. For example, the TVs require the user to purchase a separate webcam. Also, it seems more reasonable that Amazon would have opted to build in its Chime app. Perhaps they are saving that for higher-end models.
Zoom Updates: Zoom’s new SDK (version 5.9.0) lets developers list their Android, iOS, macOS and Windows apps on the Zoom App Marketplace. Also, developers can now leverage Zoom credentials for authentication. A new Active Apps Notifier alerts users when apps access their chat and other Zoom data. Meeting recordings can now be shared to external email addresses. Zoom also updated its integration with Outlook and Google Calendars to offer increased privacy on meeting details.
Most intriguing is a new SDK for web that puts Zoom meetings in web pages. Most confusing, Zoom has a new screen-share feature that doesn’t share. It’s called “local-only screen-share,” and it lets users share their screen to themselves. The concept is that an individual user can read their own notes without sharing the screen with other meeting participants.
Dell’s New Webcam: Dell invented a clever but stupid webcam. It’s being marketed as a way to fix the eye contact problems common in video meetings. This legitimate problem results from the gap between camera and subjects in the display — a gap that’s getting bigger as displays get larger.
Dell’s Concept Pari has two innovations: a wireless webcam and a magnetic attachment that allows it to be stuck on the front of a monitor (instead of on top). A low-tech solution simply involves increasing the distance between the speaker and the camera.
I do think a camera on the center of the display makes sense. That’s what teleprompters mimic. But I’d rather see Dell put a camera in the monitor instead of on top of it. Science fiction? I don’t see why. Google managed to put a fingerprint reader right in my phone’s display. It’s a hardware (and physics) problem that a company like Dell is in a good position to solve.
When I present, I often have notes on my display, and it’s surprising how hard it is to get my notes up high or close to the camera. Both Word and GDocs put so much crap at the top of a document that the notes are still a third of the way down the screen. And, in addition to eye contact, there’s also an eyelid problem in modern video calls. As monitors get larger, cameras are getting higher. People often appear to be looking down because the camera is too high.
Additionally, I think a wireless camera is asking for trouble. It puts more responsibility on the user to charge the device. I also expect radio interference — there always is. Perhaps Dell’s kludge will incentivize the video meeting providers to solve this problem in software.
Virtual Voiceover: Five9 released Virtual Voiceover. It’s a service that converts typed text into natural, human-like speech. Five9’s Inference Studio 7 will include it in early 2022. Five9’s Virtual Voiceover partner is WellSaid Labs. The tech requires a few hours of human training from a voice personality.
It’s interesting technology. I expect human-sounding machines will become more common, but there’s been some backlash in cases where humans felt duped. Making machines sound like machines seems silly to me; I’ve also been duped by intelligent-sounding morons. A virtual voice avatar can be created with only a few hours of training from its donor human.
Voice avatar technology creates an adjacency for the contact center, too. For example, Einstein, Elvis, and many others remain popular for licensing long after their deaths, but they can’t speak. A distinctive voice personality could be licensed for future use to describe or announce things that don’t exist today. It also creates an opportunity for celebrity avatars as a service. Celebrities could create an avatar that is licensed for a specific span of time instead of for particular recordings. Hmm, would it be wrong to predict that voice avatars unionize within a decade?
Change in Dial Tone: Cisco has been working on its own CCaaS for about two years. The presumed story is that as functionality increases, so will its appeal — most likely initially to existing customers that want to move to a multi-tenant service. While that probably remains true, Cisco is now signaling that its CCaaS is drawing new logos. Cisco quietly expanded into CCaaS with thei acquisition of IMImobile, and it is opening up new CPaaS opportunities for its Webex suite.
Long Live POTS: The FCC has put analog lines on the endangered list, and that’s probably OK. I do love my analog, rotary phones, but they might be even more nostalgic if they couldn’t actually still place calls. However, those who are on modern infrastructure and still need a line to monitor the Cuban Missile Crisis can now get a fully managed POTS solution from Alianza. The solution gives SPs a managed facilities-based voice network (MFVN) to applications such as blue light phones, elevator phones, fire alarms, security gates, and utility meters.
Zoom Phone Updates: Zoom Phone now supports hotdesking, but Zoom has called it Zoom Reservations. It allows users to temporarily claim a shared space (cube/room) and phone as their own. Hotdesking is expected to be the latest “it’s new again” if/when we ever return to the office. I do expect to see offices make a big push toward flexible, multi-purpose designs. I also expect room scheduling systems to become very popular if/when we return to the office. Zoom reservations also tie to an interactive map feature.
Additionally, Zoom Phone users can now record video messages. The feature’s intended use is video voicemail, not sharing video clips outside of the system on social networks or other sites. However, that feature is likely coming too.
Google Voice (finally) Updated: Google remembered it had a UCaaS and gave it some upgrades. Google Voice now supports ring groups that support a fixed order option. Also, outbound calls can now send a group caller ID, and the auto attendant now supports uploaded recordings.
Google Voice dates back to Google’s acquisition of Grand Central back in 2007. There was widespread belief that Google would launch its own UCaaS to accompany GSuite (now Google Workspace). An office suite with dial tone was a brilliant concept that Microsoft was in no position to match. Google announced Google Voice in 2009 with very limited functionality and more or less forgot about it.
This is another example of how many of Google’s great ideas get implemented better at Microsoft. There are numerous examples, from Google Apps (Office 365) to Chrome (Edge). Today, Microsoft does offer UCaaS (Teams) as an add-on to Microsoft 365.
In the last UCaaS MQ, Gartner predicted that 15% of organizations will rely on cloud office suites for telephony. They wrote “cloud office suites” to be nice, but they presumably were referring to Microsoft 365. Evidently, Google noticed and opted to upgrade Google Voice in case Gartner was right.
Google Voice now has expanded geographic availability, too, and is available in Germany, Italy, and Belgium. On the hardware front, Google now supports Poly ATAs for devices that require analog lines.
NEC Share: MZA published a report on global call control that, for the seventh time, gave NEC the nod as a global leader in SMB phone systems with its premises-based UNIVERGE portfolio. MZA’s report included single-tenant voice solutions serving fewer than 100 users. NEC intends to take its installed base of customers (running the SL, SV, and 3C premise-based systems) to its new complementary and/or standalone UCaaS offer called NEC UNIVERGE BLUE and powered by Intermedia.
NEC is the only major premises-based vendor that did not turn to RingCentral. Its arrangement with Intermedia allows multiple GTM options for partners, including private label. As reported in last month’s Insider Report, Intermedia will likely do an IPO next year, and NEC agreed to invest in that IPO.
Teams Supports SIP: There’s simply no other UCaaS service on the planet that gets a trumpet for supporting SIP endpoints. Tada for Team! Microsoft announced that SIP Gateway is now generally available. Yes, it requires a gateway.
Microsoft got the timing wrong on this one twice. I believe MS figured that hard phones would die, so simply offered its own proprietary option for diehards. The fault in the logic was phones remained popular and the MS proprietary endpoints are relatively expensive. MS had an endpoint gap, and the easiest/best way to fill it was to support standard SIP endpoints. In August 2020 MS promised the SIP Gateway as a kludge to make the most universal endpoint standard compatible with Teams. The feature arrived in December 2021.
On the way to SIP Gateway support, the pandemic may have actually killed hard phones. Ok, nothing dies in telecom, but hard phones were dealt a crippling blow. We sent all the employees home during the pandemic, and equipped with them everything they needed (laptop, webcam, speakers, headsets, monitors, etc.) and somehow the IP phone didn’t make the list. Phones remained at the office, and no one missed them.
Despite my belief that the above is true, I suspect Poly and a few others will do well with SIP Gateway. While endpoint sales continue to drop as a whole, they are the best thing going for the Teams world — which is growing.
Pre-IPO Fundraising at Genesys: This month’s headline: Genesys Raises $580 Million in Funding at $21B Valuation. Investors included Salesforce Ventures, ServiceNow Ventures, Zoom, and funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and D1 Capital Partners. Genesys reported that cloud and subscription bookings grew more than 100% YoY in the first half of fiscal year 2022 (Feb-July 2021). It did not specify percentages between its CCaaS (valuable) and legacy CC (less valuable) ARR. However, the majority of its recent announcements pertain to its legacy or Multicloud solutions.
It’s very likely that this is its last round of fundraising before an IPO. As I covered in this post, there are several reasons to do a round, even with an IPO on the horizon. For example, it gives them more flexibility in timing (the IPO market is fickle) and also provides the market a baseline valuation. It is impressive that most of the major investors are also providers that could plausibly become CCaaS providers themselves.
Zoom Fund: Zoom announced its second round of investments into its Zoom Apps Fund. This is part of its $100M global venture fund conceived to support apps and partners. Thirteen companies were announced in December, organized into five different categories (Collaboration & Productivity had the most, with four apps). Zoom has now invested in 25 apps. Both Zoom and Cisco Ventures have invested in Mio.
Who needs venture capitalists when so many comms providers have launched venture funds? In addition to Zoom and Cisco, RingCentral, Salesforce, Twilio, and others have venture funds. It’s a clever way to accomplish R&D with shared risk and less operational overhead. Successful funds can return a strong partner, acquisition target, and/or financial gain. Just a few months ago, Zoom and Salesforce each made $23M in profit on investments in Monday.com. Salesforce made nearly $100M in profit in about a year prior to Zoom’s IPO.
Zoom and Luminal: Zoom announced the acquisition of Luminal, a startup offering event production solutions built largely on Zoom’s SDK. Two of Luminal’s co-founders will also join Zoom. Luminal’s solutions help theaters, broadcast studios, and other creative organizations address complex technical production needs.
This acquisition aligns with two trends: Video isn’t just for meetings, and providers are expanding into adjacencies. Customers and ISVs are building innovative apps with video services. This includes Zoom’s SDK, Vonage, Chime SDK, Twilio, and others. Some of these new apps fill some interesting portfolio gaps, and Zoom figured Luminal was more valuable as a part of Zoom than as a partner. Zoom intends to offer a hybrid events platform that includes broadcasting, editing, in-event management, and post-event analytics.
Spearline and testRTC: Spearline announced the acquisition of testRTC in an estimated eight-figure deal. Spearline assists organizations in managing communication channels, and that increasingly involves WebRTC. testRTC brings six new WebRTC-focused tools to Spearline and positions the firm to move into the communications services and solutions providers market.
Twitter and Quill: Twitter acquired Quill, an unknown, Slack-like messaging app. Twitter’s DMs are a pretty limited but widely used messaging service. Twitter announced the acquisition via a tweet thread. Twitter intends to shut down Quill (without much notice) and retain the team. Quill was built with an eye toward business use cases and offers structured channels for focused conversations.
I am not convinced the world needs any more messaging apps, but I am a big fan of workstream collaboration. The difference really has to do with integrations and how messaging becomes part of workflow. This is different from complementing workflow.
I am not familiar with Quill (is anyone?), but it sounds like just another team chat app. The problem for Slack is that every one of its customers already has a different vendor for comms, and every UCaaS provider already has a team collaboration app. That said, I am curious how the second-ever CEO of Twitter changes things. I expect significant changes from Twitter in 2022 as Jack neglected a lot of opportunities.
OneCom: OneCom made its fourth acquisition by grabbing Russell Telecom and its 1,500 customers. OneCom has a stated strategy to acquire UK businesses. It has acquired Olive, IP Office, 9 Group, and now Russell. OneComm became a private equity play when it was acquired by LDC in 2019. Unfortunately, PE firms that acquire enterprise comms companies are far more common than PE success stories in the sector.
OpenText and Zix: OpenText acquired Zix Corp, a public SaaS-based email encryption vendor, for $860M. The plan is to target SMB prospects with email encryption and other threat protection services in 2023. It’s not clear to me why the integration is expected to take a year on a deal that has already closed, but I like the general idea of more security services to SMB. OpenText paid $8.50 per share in cash, and Zix is now a wholly-owned subsidiary. The price paid was about 3.5x revenue, of which 90% is ARR.
ConnectWise and SmileBack: SmileBack helps MSP partners measure the customer experience. ConnectWise provides operational software for MSPs. This is really a form of CX, or more specifically, VOC, expanding into operational software. It’s an important trend that I typically wouldn’t cover; however, it involves service providers this time.
SmileBack uses Net Promoter Score and Customer Satisfaction Score to help MSPs increase their customer retention. Earlier in 2021, ConnectWise acquired Service Leadership, a developer of technology for benchmarking partner data and operational maturity information to provide feedback to MSPs. Seems logical to me that ConnectWise would be interested in a lightweight CCaaS provider too.
Concentrix and PK: Concentrix Corp (CNXC) closed on its previously announced acquisition of PK. This transaction marks Concentrix’s first acquisition since becoming a public company. PK is a global CX digital design and engineering firm with over 5K staff across four countries. PK has been recognized and awarded worldwide for designing and engineering digital experiences at scale. This was about Concentrix scaling its digital capabilities in CX design and development, AI, intelligent automation, and customer loyalty.
This Month’s Goodreads
- Work-Life Balance Finally Happened. Then They Were Called Back to the Office These workers spent years overwhelmed and stressed by their full-time jobs and caring for their families. Remote work made them feel like they could finally do both well.
- Working from home increases your risk of making MISTAKES, scientists say after examining the quality of chess played online Research showed that remote working could hinder people's ability to carry out mentally intense tasks while alone.
- The Media Coverage of Kamala Harris and Bluetooth is Ridiculous Who knows if there are any Bluetooth exploits to worry about, but it certainly isn’t silly or “paranoid” that the US VP doesn’t want to take unnecessary risks with wireless devices.
- Encrypted Phone Company Backdoored by FBI Will Lead to 'Years' of Arrests The police say it has entered the second phase of Anom-related arrests and identified up to 160 targets.
- Molson Coors Decided to Reopen Its Offices. Things Got Complicated What Molson and many other companies are discovering is that returning to an office isn’t one event. It requires a series of decisions, some of which have to be revisited to keep pace with new developments.
- If you thought hybrid working was hard, wait until 2022 “We take 20,000 calls a week in our call centres and our clients and customers are not going to be that happy that we’ve decided that X, Y and Z can take off between three and four o’clock and we’re not going to be answering our telephone.”
- Shifting meetings, conventions online curbs climate change It’s a significant impact: The annual carbon footprint for the global event and convention industry is on par with the yearly greenhouse gas emissions of the entire US.
- Why it’s too early to get excited about Web3 “Web3” was introduced in 2014 by one of the cocreators of Ethereum. As he described it in a recent interview, Web3 is “less trust, more truth.”
- Now in Your Inbox: Political Misinformation Facebook is the culprit for a lot of political misinformation that many agree needs to be stymied. But email providers may be equally culpable. What about team chat providers?
- What Slack Does for Women “Women are expected to smile all the time, and men are not. It’s exhausting.” But “it’s liberating when you don’t have to worry about your makeup and your hair and whether your head is tilted in a feminine way.”
- What Is Company Culture If You Don’t Have an Office? While talking to nearly a dozen CEOs about people’s attachment to a physical space, they all had the same reason for bringing people back. “We’ve spent all the effort to create this great culture.”
- Do Chance Meetings at the Office Boost Innovation? There’s No Evidence of It The idea you can only be collaborative face-to-face is a bias. We need to reimagine the office entirely — as somewhere people go every so often to meet or socialize, while daily work is done remotely.
- NLP is the heart of the intelligent enterprise Chatbots and intelligent assistants in call centers and other customer support applications are not the only way to apply NLP. Back-office functions ranging from software development to systems management become more efficient when we can speak our desires.
- Seconds before a 6.2 earthquake rattled California, phones got a vital warning It took 11.4 seconds for the first ShakeAlert Message data package to be produced by USGS.
- Microsoft, Salesforce Battle to Revitalize Customer Service New attention is revitalizing the call center, a once-backwater unit that has long suffered from high turnover rates and minimal corporate investment.
- The Facebook CEO won’t talk to the Guardian. So we built a Zuckerbot and interviewed it instead “...Now look up at the sun, close your eyes, feel completely wrapped in virtual goods and commerce. That is the ultimate expression of social networks. That is the metaverse.”
- 2021 Was a Huge Missed Opportunity on Climate Action And some of the changes people made to adapt to pandemic life — working from home more often, commuting less, not taxing the electrical grid every night at exactly 6 pm — may be habits worth keeping when the world fully opens up again.
- A Nation on Hold Wants to Speak With a Manager It’s not just your imagination; behavior really is worse. “It’s like, instead of saying, ‘This really inconvenienced me,’ they say, ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’”
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- Cullen Jennings, CTO at Cisco Collaboration. Cullen Improves the TalkingHeadz Standard Our last podcast for 2021 was a last-minute shuffle, but Cullen really came through. A lot of ground covered in this conversation. This was the 26th episode in 2021.
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