Cisco to underpin AI powered contact center strategy with CloudCherry acquisition

Cisco is set to snap up CloudCherry, a Salt Lake City based Customer Experience Management (CEM) specialist that provides rich APIs, predictive analytics, and customer journey mapping with integrated sentiment analysis.

Cisco said the purchase of the firm, with the majority of its employees based in Bangalore, Indi, aligned with its strategy around the cognitive and collaborative contact center. This approach will see Cisco focusing on cloud analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to boost agent productivity and confidence, enabling them to provide more personalized customer experiences.

Upon completion of the transaction, the CloudCherry team will join Cisco’s Contact Center Solutions business, led by vice president and general manager Vasili Triant.

1551998238-bpfull.jpg“With CloudCherry, we’re augmenting our contact center portfolio with advanced analytics, rich customer journey mapping and sophisticated survey capabilities that all our customers can use,” said Triant.

“And with more than 17 integrated feedback channels available, CloudCherry can help us better understand and enrich the agent and employee experience as well! CloudCherry’s predictive analytics and journey-oriented solution helps companies understand the correlations between various factors that influence customer experience, ” he said.

“Predictive analytics help agents make journey modifications in real-time, such as up and cross-selling and enabling discounting or couponing to meet customer needs during the interaction, to improve first contact resolution and customer happiness,” Triant added.

In addition, Cisco said CloudCherry’s open API platform complemented its own open and cloud architecture approach, by simplifying how customer data is ingested from systems of records, transactional data, and other data sources.

“This enables our customers to fully leverage their business technology investments, while helping contact center agents close the feedback loop and improve customer loyalty and satisfaction,” said Triant.

The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of Cisco’s fiscal year 2020, subject to customary closing conditions and required approvals.

Equinix bolsters digital transformation play with virtual network services launch

Interconnection and data centre provider Equinix is stepping up its digital transformation prowess with the launch of virtual network services on Platform Equinix, a new offering aimed at enabling enterprises to modernise their networks virtually within minutes.

Dubbed Network Edge, the new suite of services is designed to accelerate digital transformation processes for businesses, offering enterprises a new way to deploy network services on Equinix’s global interconnection platform, without a physical data centre deployment or hardware requirements.

Network Edge takes the shape of a  range of vendor-neutral, virtual network services, allowing users to select, configure and connect network and security devices in real time, from a broad sweep of primary vendors, including Juniper Networks, Palo Alto Networks and Cisco.

It should be noted that Network Edge also includes built-in integration with Equinix’s global on-demand, software-defined network (SDN)-enabled interconnection service, Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric. According to Equinix, this means that users can deploy virtual edge devices and interconnect them to clouds and network providers in global markets.

For Equinix Interconnection Services VP Bill Long, Network Edge represents an opportunity for enterprises to tap into global scalability.

“As we continue evolving the Equinix global interconnection platform, we are introducing new product innovations to help enterprises transform their global businesses at the digital edge,” Long said. “With Network Edge, we’re providing both an extraordinary suite of virtual network services, and a compelling value proposition to help enterprises scale globally by deploying digital-ready infrastructures at the edge, within a matter of minutes.

“By seamlessly integrating Network Edge with our ECX Fabric service, customers can also tap into the world’s largest interconnection ecosystem, virtually, and unlock enormous business value through our platform,” he said.

CISCO, NBN CO JOIN FORCES IN SMB PUSH

Cisco and NBN Co have struck an exclusive agreement to drive and speed up the capability for Small to Medium Businesses (SMB) to connect to business NBN, a well as a raft of access technology services that could help support their digital transformation.

“Digitally enabling the Small Business workforce is imperative for Australia to grow and be more competitive,” said Cisco ANZ VP Ken Boal. “There are clear opportunities for RSP’s and ICT Channel partners to build offers and digital solutions for eligible SMBs which can be bundled with NBN services and help them realise the potential of digital enablement.”

This forms the first investment announcement as part of Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program announced last week, aimed at helping to drive Australia’s inclusive economic growth.

“Small business plays a crucial role as the backbone of our Australian economy and represents a fast growing IT market. We’re not just helping to connect eligible SMB’s to business NBN, we are helping to transform SMBs digitally whilst connecting, simply and more securely,” said Boal.

There are now more than half a million businesses connected to the NBN access network and connecting at a rate of around 20,000 new businesses each month. This represents a huge opportunity for many businesses to benefit from the collaboration.

The San Francisco based firm emphasised that Australian SMB’s will be faced with a disconnection reality, and added that with business NBN services now widely available across NBN Co’s fixed line network, it is now key “to ensure that an eligible small business who might be on a consumer grade connection, can connect to a retail plan.”

“With almost three in four businesses now able to connect to the NBN access network there is an enormous opportunity to educate the market. We encourage businesses to speak to their providers to see if tapping in to the network with business NBN could help them streamline operations, leverage
state-of-the-art applications and potentially increase their bottom line,” said NBN Co CEO Stephen Rue.

“We have focused our efforts on building a wholesale product and service suite that service providers can tailor to deliver for the needs of Australian businesses. This includes high and symmetrical download and upload speeds designed to support critical video and data applications, optimised voice services and optional premium service levels to support retailers to keep businesses up and running,” he added.

New SMB-focused capabilities include:
• Transforming the SMB’s customer experience and adoption of technology
to help SMB’s communicate and collaborate with their customers.
• Productive and effective decision making, greater flexibility and cost
savings.
• Access applications faster, moving to and from the Cloud.
• New innovation capability and scale to global markets.

Cisco said this CDA investment will focus on educating and building awareness with SMB’s around the opportunity to more securely connect and access business and enterprise grade technology that Retail Service Providers (RSP) or ICT Channel Partners can bundle and deliver to the market.

In addition, there will be joint go-to-market and digital marketing activities to help share how SMB’s can potentially digitally transform their business leveraging business grade services from NBN.

 

Cisco names Google’s Vijoy Pandey as its new Service Provider CTO

Cisco has appointed former Google engineer Vijoy Pandey as its new Service Provider CTO.

Vijoy joins Cisco from Google where he headed engineering for that company’s data center, cloud and WAN networks, developing software systems for intent-driven automation, diagnostic telemetry, data analytics and application-level awareness.

“He has deep expertise in cloud, virtualization, and automation, which are the keys to the future of our industry,” said Cisco in a statement.

Pandey served in numerous CTO capacities including CTO of Cloud Networking at IBM Cloud; CTO of Networking and Distinguished Engineer at IBM Systems and Software Group; and CTO of Blade Network Technologies.

“Vijoy has led the industry’s automation and data analytics efforts for cloud-scale networks, and was instrumental in delivering many industry firsts – including the first Open Source SDN controller OpenDaylight project; the first VM-aware switch, and the first low-latency HFT/HPC switch,” Cisco added.

 

Kiwi roundup: 5G, rural broadband acceleration and cybersecurity expansion

Cisco becomes first collaborator in Spark 5G innovation hub

Spark has announced that Cisco is the first of several collaborators it will be working with to prepare and test the parameters for a Kiwi 5G network as it aims to help Kiwi businesses “win big in a digital world.”

Cisco signed an agreement earlier this month to contribute services, technology and capability to the hub which will develop, test and prepare for 5G deployment.

The hub will see vendors, developers and application provides working together on innovations. Spark chief operating officer Mark Beder says 5G will create endless opportunities for innovation of products and services in New Zealand, transforming the way we live, work and play through significantly faster speeds and considerably more capacity.

“The purpose of the 5G innovation hub is to start planning and testing use cases that’ll help New Zealand business win big in a digital world,” Beder said.

Cisco ANZ sales and operations director for service providers Andrew Findlay said the hub will allow Kiwi companies to work with Cisco’s programmable networking technology within a 5G sandbox.

Spark has already trialled 5G in Wellington and Auckland, achieving speeds of 18.23 Gigabits a second.

Rural broadband rollout jumps ahead

Work on phase two of the Rural Broadband Initiative and Mobile Black Spot Fund builds will be “substantially” finished by the end of 2021 – a year ahead of schedule according to Communications Minister Clare Curran.

Rural communities not covered by the RBI2 and its expansion project will be able to apply for funding from the NZ$1 billion Provincial Growth Fund.

“There is enormous untapped potential in our provinces – we have businesses with ideas and ambitions but they need infrastructure like high-speed broadband to compete equally in our 21st century economy,” Curran said. “We want to let them know we are supporting them, and to let them know what’s coming down the line.”

Curran said the Labour led government intends to grow ICT to be the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025.

Malware-Free Networks expands

The GCSB, New Zealand’s public service agency charged with promoting national security, is expanding its Malware-Free Networks cyber defence initiative to provide protection to more Kiwi organisations.

Andrew Little, the minister responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau said expanding the service will “significantly” increase the range of organisations receiving the cyber defence services Government offers New Zealand’s organisations of national significance through the GCSB.

Organisations of national significance include Government departments, key economic generators, niche exporters, research institutions and critical national infrastructure.

The expansion follows a pilot with Vodafone and some of the telco’s customers.

Little said the pilot showed Malware-Free Networks has “the potential to disrupt a significant volume of malicious cyber activity.”

The GCSB is developing a plan to work with telco network operators to deliver the expanded service, which is expected to take a couple of months. The GCSB already provides its Cortex cyber defence offering to nationally significant organisations.

SamKnows to monitor Kiwi broadband

The Commerce Commission has awarded a nationwide programme to monitor New Zealand’s broadband performance to a UK-based company, SamKnows.

The testing previously been managed by Kiwi company TrueNet, which announced earlier this year that it was closing after learning it had lost the contract.

Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said the programme is costing NZ$2.8 million over three years, under SamKnows.

“SamKnows was a standout applicant. It is considered to be a world leader in internet service performance, currently assessing broadband performance for about half of the world’s internet population,” Dr Gale said.