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Is 2014 the Year Mobile Device Subscribers Outnumber the World Population?

Mobile Device Subscribers vs World Population
View full size graphic here.

The Gamble of 'Bring Your Own'...

Benefits and Challenges of BYOD

Personal computing and communication devices are more ubiquitous than ever before.  In 2013, global mobile devices and connections grew to 7 billion, with North America and Western Europe in the lead1. The average person in the US now carries 3 devices2. Due to this unprecedented growth in personal technology ownership, businesses are looking into the benefits (and challenges) of having workers use personally-owned devices to access company information, applications and services.

This trend is known by a variety of terms - bring your own device (BYOD), bring your own technology (BYOT), bring your own phone (BYOP), and/or bring your own PC (BYOPC).  “Bring Your Own…” is a hot topic in IT departments because of its potential to save hardware and service expenses while potentially opening the business to security concerns.

What are the potential risks and rewards to the BYO model?

BYO Benefits

  • Cost reduction - The cost of hardware, and even voice and data services, are the responsibility of the workers.
  • Happy workers - Workers are more satisfied using the devices they love rather than being stuck with laptops and mobile devices that are selected and issued by the IT department.
  • Latest technology - Individuals tend to upgrade to the latest hardware more frequently than the slower refresh cycles at most organizations.

BYO Challenges

  • Consistent experience – With many different devices, operating systems and even wearable technology options to consider, it can be difficult to deliver the same application and service experiences across the variety of personal devices being used.
  • Security risks - Clear minimum security requirements or even mandated security tools are necessary to allow personal devices to safely connect to company data and network resources.
  • Data ownership – Many businesses must comply with information security mandates such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, or GLBA. Those rules still must be followed even if the data is on a device owned by a worker and must be retrieved if the worker were to leave the organization.

The BYOD trend is continuing to evolve. If you are interested in leveraging this trend, make sure that you’re aware of both the pros and the cons and have a plan to address any potential issues up front.

1 http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/white_paper_c11-520862.html

2http://www.scmagazine.com/2013-mobile-device-survey/slideshow/1222/#4

The History of the US Telephone Number [INFOGRAPHIC]

History of US Telephone Number

WhatsApp with Facebook's foray into Telecom?

By Omar Paul

The recent news that Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) paid $16 billion for WhatsApp is alternately befuddling, joyous and worrisome for almost anyone in the software or mobile world.

Enough will be written about this small app company that made it big. However, I’d like to focus on what this means in a related, and hugely relevant context: the world of telecommunications. To quote Facebook’s CFO, “WhatsApp is trying to siphon the billions that the telecom industry would make from [traditional SMS text messaging].” It’s notable that the biggest social network company, buying the rock star social messaging company, chose to refer not to its relevance in the social sphere, but to telecom.

This acquisition, at its core, is about being part of human communication. Social is just another way we talk. Communication today is fragmented, whereas barely two decades ago it was mostly about phone numbers. Now your local phone company, small or big, is extremely worried about losing relevance with the phone numbers they sell us. Our 10 digits have evolved from a mere pathway for phone calls into a gateway for almost everything but that original use: The phone company’s challenge is how to take part in the real commerce flowing through this gateway, beyond just a data plan.

In the current age of technology, everyone wants to be smart, and phone companies are no exception. Yet, the fact remains that the most powerful social network on our planet is still the good ol’ phone network. A goat herder in Kenya can do commerce over it with even the most basic phone. When all else fails, we call 911. My grandmother knows how to socialize with her grandkids using it. No apps required. It’s an odd contrast: The most powerful network on earth slowly losing relevance in the thing it was created for — to communicate.

The problem to solve is how to tie those 10 digits to all these apps and services, both communications-based — like WhatsApp — or others — like Dropbox — in a meaningful way. The goal is to create a mashup that you love as much as your slick new smartphone with all those pretty icons. What if, when my teenager sends an MMS, my phone company automatically put that picture into a Dropbox folder? There are thousands of other apps and services out there that could be made to integrate like this, bringing renewed relevance to those 10 digits.

We’ve had a wakeup call like this before, in the form of Skype, now the world’s largest mover of international voice traffic. WhatsApp, the world’s fastest-growing messaging service, has given us another wakeup call. Both were built as apps, on smartphones, but not by communications companies.

Ways have to be found to harness the power of the world’s most fail-safe network together with the world’s most innovative startups and make the consumer happier in the process. Finally, maybe in a few years, we’ll stop calling it a phone number, and start calling it a smart number.

Published on March 10, 2014 in Austin Business Journal’ s Tech Flash Newsletter, view original article.

Why is Telecom Supply Chain Important?

No matter the type of supply chain, one central theme holds true: the success of a single company is contingent upon all the supply chain participants operating as one seamless entity. While supply chains have long dominated our business climate—from the FedEx tracking system to the Ford Assembly Line to the Ocean Shipping Container—the concept of a supply chain is telecom is fairly new.

That’s because before the ubiquity of Over-the-Top (OTT) providers, telecom supply chain wasn't necessary because most carriers and operators owned all of their own services and were solely responsible for selling down channel. But in the past few years, the telecom sector has rapidly transformed, in large part driven by a shift in behavior from a supply-driven marketplace to a demand-driven model—a shift that greatly affects the carrier service fulfillment process and accelerates the need for an efficient telecom supply chain.

With the influx of OTT services—and the fact that carriers no longer owned all the telecom service applications and networks—the existing telecom supply chain needs to be remedied.  The reality is that these carriers and operators do not have the proper infrastructure in place to deal with these changes, especially since so little of the supply chain is currently automated. Moreover, OTT providers may not have the network/OSS infrastructure investments or resources of their own.

What the telecom space is left with is a sea of carriers, operators and OTT providers that are at a crossroads: they can source and fulfill telecom orders through manual swivel chair processes and spreadsheets, as usual, or they have to custom-build a bridge in-house or by outsourcing it to a system integrator.

Shango was founded to bring efficiency and answers to today’s telecom complexities. Our company is committed to using our SaaS-based model to bridge the gap between the buyer and seller’s OSS in order to source and fulfill the order. The Shango platform takes great strides toward mitigating supply chain fulfillment obstacles by allowing inventory to be acquired and fulfilled back and forth through APIs that allow the buyer and seller’s OSS to talk to one another. For more on how Shango’s Web portal brings efficiency to supply chain management, click here.

Three Tech Trends Accelerating the Unified Communications Movement

By now, we are all very familiar with the statistics surrounding unified communications (UC): 78 percent of IT decision makers have a current strategic plan and budget in place to implement "select components" of UC and analysts are predicting that there will be $377 billion spent on UC and VoIP services over the next five years.

What are the major technology trends driving widespread UC adoption? Let’s take a look at the top three:

1. Rise of the Mobile Workforce: With one in five Americans currently working from home—and that number expected to increase by 63 percent in the next five years—the need for businesses to completely simulate the on-site office for remote workers is more paramount than ever. Remote workers need best-in-class technologies that bridge the gap between remote locations and physical offices, which is where UC comes in to play. Thanks to UC, companies can equip remote workers with the tools needed to communicate seamlessly with colleagues and key external stakeholders, as if the remote worker were just a few doors down.

2. Desire for Richer Features: With competition amongst businesses more cut-throat than ever before—and a heightened focus on cutting-edge technology—today’s companies are constantly in search of richer features and enhanced capabilities that can greatly augment their existing business processes. From searching for Web/video conferencing solutions to instant messaging to unified messaging, business owners are looking to robust UC suites to increase productivity and improve the end user experience.

3. Need to Reduce Costs: Whether looking for ways to curtail travel expenses or expedite the training process, companies are increasingly looking for ways to reduce their OPEX/CAPEX spending. UC offers substantial cost savings for companies by allowing them to rely on advanced capabilities and features—like video conferencing, shared screens and presence—to replace traditional, more costly tactics.

    Shango remains committed to supporting the growing ubiquity of UC. To learn about Shango’s open, common SaaS platform, which features automated workflows and common APIs for sourcing and fulfilling IP-enabled services, visit our website. If you’d like to speak directly with a Shango representative, contact us directly.

    Choosing the Best Unified Communications Provider

    With the impending surge of unified communications (UC)—consider the fact that Dimension Data revealed that 78 percent of survey participants have a current strategic plan and budget in place to implement "select components" of UC—it is not all that surprising that the amount of UC providers in the market has surged exponentially.

    The decision to go the UC route is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out which third-party you want to turn to for your communications and collaboration services. Before deciding which UC provider is right for your business or your end users, consider the following:

    Know What They Offer

    Robust UC solutions offer a multitude of communications features from video conferencing to instant messaging to Web conferencing to call routing to integrated mobility. Before beginning your UC search, consider which features are of the utmost importance to you. UC solutions can seamlessly integrate real-time communications with non-real time communications, so your goal is to figure out which communications solutions you need.

    Assess Their Dependability

    Communications is unequivocally the lifeblood to your business and if your critical business applications are uninterrupted, the flow of your business can significantly be hampered. Before teaming with a UC provider, ensure that they are recognized for their vendor reliability, meaning they boast high-quality equipment along with advanced architecture that can handle your communications solutions. Moreover, your provider should guarantee enterprise-grade reliability when it comes to the convergence of your data, voice and video services.

    To start to browse a list of UC providers today, be sure to visit the Shango platform—a  platform that allows service providers to embrace UC offerings by making the process of pulling together a unified offering for sale or resale to these enterprises much easier, helping CSPs achieve 100 percent service fulfillment.

    Visit our website today to learn more about our platform.

    Tips for Getting the Most Out of SXSW

    I have been publishing annual tips on rocking SXSW for several years now. I’ve attended more times than I can count, and every year I learn new tips and tricks on how to not just survive, but thrive at SXSW. Here are some of my favorites, which I hope will be helpful to you as you plan for this busiest of weeks in Austin! If you’d like to meet with any of our team, we’ll be out and about all week, so just give us a holler and we can invite you to one of our sponsored events or set up a time to meet.

    Start your week early. The week leading up to SXSW is full of great events. Here are just a few you should look into:

    • Austin Startup Crawl on March 6th– What happens when 50+ Austin startups all throw a party at the same time? You get the biggest party at SXSW - the ATX Startup Crawl. Free shuttles, be sure to sign up in advance to get the map.
    • Austin Tech Happy Hour on March 6th at Molotov. A casual, networking happy hour for the Austin technology community.
    • Big Ass Social Happy Hour (BASHH) on March 6th at The Brew Exchange. Austin's relaxed mixer filled with professionals of all backgrounds that feel awkward knowing each other online but not offline.
    • Join us at an opening night after-party hosted by mobi, along with Shango and HireBetter, on March 7th from 10pm-2am.

    Get a badge.  The best way to really get to see and do everything is to just break down and get a badge. Use your marketing budget, it will be money well-spent. The terrific panels, the badge-only parties, the trade show, the unmatched networking opportunities – these can only be enjoyed with a badge. If you have a little extra in your budget, upgrade to a Gold badge, and enjoy movies after the Interactive show is done. If you’re really flush, go for a Platinum – then you can work at Interactive, and play during Film & Music. And the truth is that networking goes on for the whole 10 days. Depending on your industry, you can take advantage of those hordes of people all week long. Also, keep in mind that panelists get a free badge. If you have associates putting on panels, some may still need individual speakers. Or next year, submit a panel of your own! It’s a great way to get a badge.

    Find the free stuff.  If you CAN’T buy a badge, don’t despair! There are plenty of free events going on. The first thing to do is check online for all of the parties that will admit you with an RSVP. RSVP to EVERYTHING (this goes for whether you have a badge or not) if you think you might want to go. Even with a badge, you may need to get an RSVP in early to be admitted. Keep track of online planners such as Plancast that can help you track official and unofficial events. Many companies have parties and launches, and many do not require a badge. You can even wander around and just see what’s going on around town – you’re bound to find something interesting to attend. For music lovers, there are a number of parties and multi-day events that just require you to RSVP and show up to stand in line for a wristband. Keep alert for these announcements to get yours!  And don’t forget the handy-dandy official link to the free stuff.

    Set Your Priorities. Yes, SXSW is awesome. But why are YOU there? What are YOUR goals? If it’s just to have fun, then great, do that. But if not, spend some time deciding what you want to accomplish. Are you trying to learn? Check out the panels. There to network? Check out the parties. Looking for a funder, partner, mentor, etc.? Find out who’s speaking, who’s putting on a party, who you might be able to get near, and STALK THEM. Ask a question in a panel, wait around afterwards to chat, sidle up to someone at a party, do what you need to do to meet who you need to meet. (Just don’t be obnoxious, no one likes that.) Read badges, figure out who’s in the room with you, and let the hunt begin! Just to reiterate, though, don’t be a jerk. Everyone has their own agenda, so be pleasant and respectful, but be determined.

    Keep Organized.  You are going to meet a bazillion people. I promise. Figure out a system that works for you to allow you to follow-up as appropriate after the show. You’re making an investment of time and money, so make it worthwhile by not wasting a card. I have a little trick I use, which is to keep a supply of blank envelopes in my bag. After each event, I put all the cards I’ve collected (hopefully with helpful notes on the back) into an envelope, seal it, and label it with the date, time and event. That way I can remember where I was when I met each person, and refer to it in follow-up. I put everything into a spreadsheet later for ease of use.

    Take Advantage of Social Media. Whatever the schedules say, there is always last-minute information out there; but it can be hard to find. Impromptu parties and events can pop up, or scheduled parties may get cancelled or fill up. If you follow the right people on social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), you can keep up with the latest news on what’s happening RIGHT NOW. Find the right people to follow, and check in frequently. Last year a group of my colleagues created a GroupMe which was great for keeping track of where everyone was. Also, keep an eye out for apps that might help you with your schedule. SXSW has an official version, and there are plenty of planning tools to help you out (see Tip #7). Use them!

    PLAN. But be Flexible. The main reason for planning is to sign up and RSVP for everything well in advance. Guest lists fill up, so if you think there is any chance you might attend, SIGN UP. While there is plenty of business to be done in line, it’s more fun to do it inside the happening event. But time is precious at SXSW, so if you’re at a boring panel, a party too loud to think, or anything else that doesn’t live up to your expectations, just leave. Get up and go. It helps if you have your expectations about what you want to accomplish clearly in mind, so you can ask yourself “is this furthering my goals?” Here are a few good planning tools to get you started:

    Take Care of your Body. Start breaking in shoes now, if you haven’t already. Plan for ALL weather (don’t be like me a few years back, using koozies as mittens, or another year, soaked to the bone). Hydrate (with actual water, beer doesn’t count). Eat right (if you see a vegetable, EAT IT). Sleep (at least a little). A sage man once told me: “SXSW is a marathon. You can drink all you can or stay up all night, but you can’t do both.” He was right. Think about what you plan to carry during the day – a heavy pack will only get heavier. Rest if you need it – find a quiet spot, and just take a break. If you’re lucky, someone will come along and start a conversation, and you’ll be working while you rest! Just be smart, and don’t overdo it and get SXSars or SXSwine Flu!

    This is just a starter list. Feel free to add your tips to get the most out of SXSW!

    Streamline Workflow to Simplify Unified Communications Offerings

    The growing need for centralized business management is a large factor contributing to the booming success that the Unified Communication as-a-service (UCaaS) industry experienced in 2013. This trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, as the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for the UCaaS market is predicted to increase an average of 6.3% annually through 2016.

    Disaggregated processes and systems decrease productivity and connectivity across
    organizations, and in an increasingly mobile business world, this is a large and growing problem. Companies in the telecommunications industry also tend to face the added challenge of end-to-end processes involving multiple vendors and disparate platforms. Pulling together a UC offering typically relies on manual processes and systems, creating difficulties when contending with  multiple vendors, portals, pricing tiers, etc. and decreases the efficiency and effectiveness of IP service sourcing and fulfillment overall. Having multiple roles relying heavily on manual, swivel chair processes also can stifle creativity and collaboration among employees, as daily responsibilities center around rote, repetitive systems and processes which are hardly conducive to encouraging innovation. Often this can lead to setbacks when pulling together a UC offering, particularly when faced with the challenge of integrating new vendors, agreements, or workflows.

    Seeing an opportunity to help customers improve their workflows and processes, Shango developed a centralized location for vendors to manage multiple communication and execution modalities, making frequently executed tasks like porting or local service requests easier to accomplish. This workflow hub eliminates several swivel chair processes, increasing productivity and reducing total cost of ownership.  We enable wholesale carriers and providers to improve processes for buying and selling IP services to source and fulfill unified communications products.  To learn more about our unique capabilities, register for one of our free webinars, offered weekly on Thursdays at 2:00 PM CST.

    UCaaS Market Poised For Massive Explosion over the Next Five Years

    The good news keeps on coming for unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) providers as recent market research indicates that the global UCaaS market is expected to grow from $2.52 billion in 2013 to $7.62 billion by 2018, at an estimated compounded annual growth rate of 24.8 percent from 2013 to 2018. The report, titled “Unified Communications as-a-service (UCaaS) Market: Advancements, Emerging Applications, Business Models, Technology Roadmaps, Global Forecasts & Analysis (2013 – 2018),” also predicted the following promising statistics:

    • Telephony will continue to grow in ubiquity, as the UCaaS telephony market is expected to grow from $0.87 billion in 2013 to $2.48 billion by 2018, at an estimated CAGR of 23.3 percent from 2013 to 2018.
    • The UCaaS collaboration application market is also poised for unprecedented growth with industry pundits predicting that revenue will increase from $540.74 million in 2013 to $1.75 billion by 2018, at an estimated CAGR of 26.5 percent from 2013 to 2018

     

    The drive for UCaaS providers is not waning any time soon, particularly as end users search for unified communications and collaboration solutions hosted by third party providers. Searching to integrate messaging, VoIP, web conferencing, video conferencing and instant messaging over the cloud, consumers are on the hunt for a cloud provider who can offer these UC solutions at a cost-effective price point. UCaaS offers considerable OPEX and CAPEX benefits as it allows companies to enjoy these solutions over the cloud, which decreases front load capital cost as they are offered on a per seat basis. This means that businesses can scale and downsize communications solutions seamlessly, as well as significantly curtail travel time.

    With the search for the appropriate UCaaS provider in full swing, Shango is ready to facilitate this emerging demand through its open, common platform for the acquiring and selling of IP-enabled services. Shango’s SaaS allows service providers to embrace UC offerings by making the process of pulling together a unified offering for sale or resale to these enterprises much easier, helping CSPs achieve 100 percent service fulfillment.

    Visit our website to learn more about how Shango works, and contact us directly if you’d like to speak with a representative.

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