Is SMS the New Email?

I just had a thought.

Is SMS the new email?

I mean this in both a positive and negative light.

Admittedly I am a huge SMS user and I USED to be a big email user. Why am I no longer a big email users?

Because the more I used it, the more emails I got and the harder it became to manage.

This morning I awoke to six text messages from friends overnight. Today, between 8am and noon, I received ten. I haven’t responded to any of them yet, just like most of the email is received today.

So with all of the buzz about the “mobile future” it is only a matter of time before SMS will become just like email – spammy, auto-generated, impersonal and overwhelming?

At least SMS was useful for a few years (and hopefully a few more)…

Twitter Tools; Helping VoIP Supply Connect and Converse With Customers

Like many companies, VoIP Supply has become increasingly aware of the benefits of using Twitter as a means to engage, communicate and assist with our customers and those utilizing VoIP technology. As with any new communications channels, there are hurdles and drawbacks to using it, however thanks to Twitters API, a variety of third party tools are springing up to help companies like VoIP Supply better utilize and manage the conversations taking place on Twitter.

This morning, I ran across a post by Lee Odden over at the Online Marketing Blog. He explains several tools that are helpful for expanding your Twitter usage. While I didn’t explore all of the tools, I found my favorites to be Who Should I Follow and Summize.

Who Should I Follow allows you to enter your Twitter name and with a simple click a list of relevant Twitterers are revealed that may match with your interests and industry. Summize is a Twitter-type search engine which allows a user to type in any word or topic. The results include pieces of conversations relevant to your topic.

For example, I typed in ‘VoIP.’ Here are some of my results…

Summize results

Thanks to Lee again for passing on this information. It’s definitely going to help lots of businesses and further connect our industry.

Innovation; Too Much of a Good Thing?

Pat Phelan has an interesting post today about innovation and the tendency for most “bleeding edge” technology companies to over-innovate with their offerings, leaving mainstream users light years behind early adopters.

While this is not a short term issue, it is a long term one, since most businesses continue to innovate over time. However success (in financial terms) only comes when a product or service reaches mainstream acceptance (there are a few exceptions of course, however for the most part mainstream is where the money is at). If your company continues to grow and never slows down (or goes back to the basics), eventually you will be caught in a vicious cycle of innovation – a constant pattern of creating cool new things that appeal to a small niche of early adopter, forever leaving behind the mainstream user who thinks your product or service is too complex, abstract or down right unusable.

I myself find that I am launching the same initiatives today, as I tried in 2005, only this time there is actual uptake on them. Sometimes it is tough always being on the bleeding edge, but at the end of the day we all have to keep in mind that most folks are not like us (us as in early adopters, technophiles, geeks, etc).

Therefore mainstream users need a little more time to adapt and hence we should operate our businesses in a manner in which allows for both “bleeding edge” and “mainstream” users to benefit from our product or service. What this means is that we must innovate through simplicity…simple service, that also has advanced “early adopter” features (or uses), yet mimics the “traditional” usage patterns a mainstream users expects. A prime example of advanced simplicity is the Apple iPod. It was bleeding edge enough for

I am not saying this is easy, but for those who can achieve these usability levels will find great success.

VoIP Supply: Creating Memorable E-commerce Experiences

Based on current research, VoIP Supply represents 50 percent of online VoIP hardware sales with more than a dozen competitors making up the other 50 percent. Interestingly enough we also represent more than 50 percent of the total personnel involved in online VoIP hardware sales with 70 employees at the end of the first quarter of 2008.

While we have continued to grow our business over the past few years, enough to earn a variety of awards including the Inc. 500 last year, we have lost some of the market share we used to have to these new ecommerce start-ups. We also lost our largest competitor last year as a result of what I perceive to be a flawed business model; the model that all of our other competitors share today as well. Leading with price and leaving value out of the equation will only get you so far in business.

At VoIP Supply, we employ dozens of highly-trained technicians, engineers and sales executives, all of which are willing and able to help a customer pre-sale and post-delivery. Not one of our competitors can even go so far as to boast that they have a dozen employees. Our sales staff is trained daily on product information as well as selling value first and not being reduced to just another online retailer selling with the lowest price as their value proposition.

How else is price not the focus at VoIP Supply? We offer a live call center with 20 dedicated sales executives, nearly a dozen customer service professionals, our unparalleled go3™ warranty program, proactive outbound telephone calls to notify customers of shipping details, product back orders and firmware updates, provisioning and fulfillment services with real time access to inventory and shipping information, pre-sale technical expertise for complete PBX solution configurations, and dozens of internal initiatives to expand our service offerings and customer communications.

Price does matter and we recognize that. A lot of our customers have spent hours of their time invested in a series of pre-sale education and post sale technical support configuring their original deployments and have then gone to a “no value” ecommerce competitor when they need a bulk purchase; where price sensitivity is the leading factor. Growing our business foundation and infrastructure did not support being the lowest in the industry and often forced us to lose business or walk away from VoIP deals because of low profit margins. While our business model is still to lead with value and focus on what else we can provide to our customers before and after the sale, new tools and measures have been put in place as of this year that permit resellers of VoIP equipment to enjoy the benefits of VoIP Supply’s staff and their capabilities, while meeting their budgetary needs.

The really exciting stuff is yet to come and not far away. VoIP Supply will be launching a new version of its web site during the middle of 2008 and will be adding a lot of new tools, functionality and enhancements over the current version. Our internal teams of software developers, designers and marketing experts have been hard at work revamping and implementing these changes. We have also grown our sales department by more than 100 percent so far this year and are implementing several strategic partnerships to offer additional value to our new customers and the more than 50,000 existing VoIP hardware buyers. Great things are happening at VoIP Supply, so look for a lot of announcements throughout the remainder of the year!

Unleash your Polycom Soundpoint IP Phone… Introducing the Polycom Productivity Suite Package

May 2, 2008 by Garrett Smith

On April 2, Polycom introduced the release of its Productivity Suite application to run on SIP firmware version 3.0.0 and bootrom 4.0.1 on Polycom Soundpoint IP Phone models. The application was designed to allow companies to work more efficiently and effectively through state-of-the art communication tools. Three of the offerings included in the Productivity Suite specifically designed for this are:

Visual Conference Management– which allows the user to manage a four-way conference call directly from the Polycom IP Phone display. Users have the ability to add, drop, split, mute, and place callers on hold, all by the press of a button and all managed through the local phone. This means that there is NO more calling into conference phone bridges and NO access conference codes to initiate conference calls between your customers or clients.

Polycom Productivity Suite

Local Call Recording-yes that’s right; “local” call recording. This function allows the user to record a call directly to the IP Phone. Call recording is only available on the Polycom IP-650 IP phone simply because that model is accompanied by a USB drive. Call recording from the local phone is very simple; plug in a recommended 2GB USB flash stick in the USB Drive of an IP-650, make or receive a call, and simply press “record.” The phone will automatically begin recording the call to the external USB stick, but it goes much further than that. The phone will allow you to access the recordings in a wav file format, directly on the phone UI and then replay, rename, or delete your recordings on the USB stick. You can even replay your recordings from your desktop computer if you wish. This application will prove very useful for CEOs, upper management teams, sales managers, financial organizations, and medical firms.

Polycom Productivity

Polycom

LDAP or Local Corporate Directory Access– which allows the local user to access corporate contacts in one directory, whereas in the past, users would need to store their contacts in separate directories. Users can easily search for contacts by their first and last names, or phone number, and then filter a list by their search criteria. From the criteria users may select, view, and call the contact desired in a much more efficient and timely manner. LDAP is also compatible with Microsoft’s Active Directory which allows users to access this directory from the local Polycom phone.

Polycom Productivity

The next two features offered in the Productivity Suite package are designed for IT Managers’ usage and accompany the following:

Voice Quality Monitoring– which allows an IT manager to view Voice-quality metrics from the local phone through RTCP-XR (IETF RFC 3611) standard format. The phone publishes these metrics via SIP Publish which allows for easy monitoring of QOS issues. IT managers are NOT limited to what metrics they may analyze when using this feature and the phone actually offers a great deal of customization to single out a QOS problem. This drastically cuts down on the need for third-party network monitoring applications and allows the IT manager to specifically focus on one application to view, pinpoint and monitor Voice traffic.

Third Party Call Control– which allows a third-party application to control the phone and also view the state the phone is in. This allows the Polycom phones to be easily integrated with unified communication systems such as Microsoft’s OCS system, which will permit a user to view the present status of their contacts and allow calls to be initiated to their contacts all from the Polycom VoIP Phone.
The Polycom Productivity Suite and all of its available features do NOT apply to every Soundpoint IP Phone model. A listing of models and feature support is listed below:

Polycom Productivity Suite

So now you may be saying to yourself, “I want this,” “this is awesome technology,” “and I want to able to take full advantage of it!” Let VoIP Supply assist you in your needs. If you have purchased or are considering purchasing Polycom IP Phones from VoIP Supply, we can offer you access to the SIP firmware 3.0.0 version, which is the software needed to run the Productivity Suite application. The 3.0.0 version is not publically offered on the Polycom website yet, but is offered on their private PRC website to authorized resellers such as VoIP Supply. VoIP Supply can provide you the software, release notes, and instructions on how to perform the firmware upgrade to get your Soundpoint IP Phones up to 3.0.0 SIP firmware, and allow you to perform the next step: purchasing the Polycom Productivity Suite licenses.

To purchase a Productivity Suite License, gather the serial number from the bottom of the Soundpoint IP unit (located on the backside of the phones), and then contact VoIP Supply and provide us with your serial numbers. The Productivity Suite application is provided on a per-phone basis, which means you will need to provide VoIP Supply with as many serial numbers as you wish to push the Productivity Suite application. Each phone is then verified and a Productivity License is applied to that unit. The list MSRP is $11.99 per phone. After confirmation, you will receive an email with the directions and a link needed to download the configuration file for that unit. That configuration file will need to be loaded to the a provisioning server, then you will need to point the phone to that server and use methods HTTP or FTP to load that configuration file onto the phone.

Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) Explained

First in a four part series

So it’s not the sexy new Pontiac G8 designed to rival the M3 or the latest version of the Apple iPhone. So what is it? It is one of the hottest features provided at the moment for a variety of IP Surveillance Cameras; Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ).

Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) consists of 3 basic elements:

  1. Pan: 180 to 360 degree rotation scanning every inch of the square footage you are trying to protect around the clock.
  2. Tilt: Up and down surveillance scanning so you can observe and admire every inch of the object in your eye.
  3. Zoom: Up close and personal ability for you to capture every detail of people who deserve it most.

With early surveillance system predecessors being designed to focus on one general area they have often left room for the swiftest elements to elude their tiny eye. Much like a scene out of Oceans 13 where fixed laser systems are dodged for the sake of capital gains by intrusion, the luxuries of the PTZ have been designed to protect your investment from such losses.

It’s no surprise that the largest manufacturers seem to show increased focus on PTZ product line expansion. Axis in particular is growing with more variety and offers both dome and fixed PTZ models. Increased focus on technology further proves the theory that the needs for surveillance are inevitably going to change, and as they do PTZ is poised to be the front runner in loss prevention measures.