streamWrite Blog

News, events and useful information

ATI Added to State of California eProcurement Site

ATI (American Telesource, Inc.) has been added as a Mitel Networks, Inc. authorized reseller to the State of California eProcurement website, for NASPO ValuePoint Data Communications Products and Services. 

You can find ATI on the Cal eProcure Webpage: 7-14-70-09.  The contract ID is 7-14-70-09.01

What this means for existing and prospective government customers is:

1) A state contract vehicle to streamline procurement for an upgrade to an existing system, or purchase of new equipment.

2) Attractive discounts.

If you are due for a communications technology refresh, contact us to see how we can help.

Hackers

Hacker. The word prompts images of energy-drink guzzling teens breaking into databases and stealing personal information. But that's really not right.

A real hacker, in the tradition of Woz, Captain Crunch and other OG hackers wasn't at all about stealing. It was about solving a puzzle, playing a prank, showing your smarts.

Hacking really didn't start out with computers. During the 70s and early 80s, it was pretty hard to get a hold of the necessary hardware to do computer hacking (a teletype, a modem, $1000 of 70s dollars). Early hackers were 'Phone Phreaks', folks that used home-brewed gadgets like 'Blue Boxes' to create MF tones. These tones could be used to re-direct a call intended for a toll free service, to any number in the world with no charge. Hackers would do funny things like create a phone call that circled the globe on analog trunks, and marvel at the 10 second propagation delay when the spoke in one phone and listened on the other. As services like compuserve, AOL and TYMNET gave way to the Internet, these same clever souls refocused their  antics on systems they could access with microcomputers. The modern hacker was born.

The truly remarkable hacks, or 'Pranks' usually spawned from academic institutions, and more often than not, CalTech and MIT. A playful rivalry between these tech giants had gone on for decades. One in particular, is my favorite -- because of it's complexity, playfulness, and attack on college football, which in my opinion, takes itself way to seriously. 

The 1984 Rose Bowl took place on a warm and sunny January 2nd, between The UCLA Bruins and the University of Illinois Fighting Illini. Little did the fans, Tournament officials or Rose Bowl staff know that months before, a small team of CalTech students had made several unauthorized visits to the Bowl grounds. First, they gained access to the pressbox, and 'borrowed' manuals on the PDP-8 computer and the scoreboard software that controlled the huge electronic scoreboard above the stadium. Using those manuals, they reverse engineered the serial interface that was transmitted from the PDP-8 to the scoreboard. Later, they engineered hardware that could be tapped into the serial connection, and inject messages to the scoreboard. 

Like Ninjas, the team went back on night, and using rock-climbing skills they accessed a junction box under the pressbox where the serial cables connected. They installed a hand-modified microcomputer (think mid-80s) with a serial interface connected to the line. They used a walkie-talkie acting as a modem connection, allowing them to control the clandestine microcomputer from a nearby hill. 

Back on game day, during the 4th quarter the team sent some packets down their radio interface that changed the team names from UCLA and Illinois to CALTECH and MIT. They left other important game stats unchanged, like the score, but made sure that UCLA score of 38 was assigned to CALTECH, while Illinois' paltry 9 points was assigned to MIT. 

The tournament officials were outraged, and leveraged the Pasadena police and the City Prosecutor to press misdemeanor charges against two of the Caltech students, Ted Williams and Dan Kegel. There was outrage in the press and with the public, which loved the prank and were solidly behind Caltech.  This ended up with the students pleading "nolo contendre'', and serving probation and with no entries into their records. 

What I love about this story is the sheer audacity of attempting something like this. It reminds me of the brilliant hardware and software engineers I've had the pleasure of working with throughout my career. 

I feel so lucky to be working at a company filled with engineers who think like Williams and Kegel. 

Prank on!

 

 

Study: Where Does Self-Service Fall on Your Priority List in 2019?

Strategic Contact, an independent contact center consulting firm, recently published the results and analysis of its annual survey of close to 300 participants across multiple lines of business, industries and various contact center sizes.  This study not only shows the results for 2019, but compares the results to previous years.  Interestingly, there is somewhat of a mismatch between what vendors are hyping (like AI) and what various industries actually are reporting as their top priorities. 

2019 shows a shift in top challenges, which has been pretty consistent in past years and mainly centered around coaching and training.  This year, technology and frontline staffing issues dominate the top challenges in this survey.

In terms of priorities for 2019, performance management technology has moved up the ladder, and employee engagement has leapfrogged other priorities to the top spot.  However, self-service continues to be high on the list for many industries in 2019, with 21.7% of respondents placing this as a top priority. 

So why does self-service continue to be a top priority in 2019?  As the paper points out it is a key way to solve the dilemma companies continue to face: how to provide excellent, cost-effective service while facing other pressures such as outdated tools and staffing challenges.  

As most would agree, self-service is a critical part of an effective customer engagement strategy.  It is often the first contact customers have, and can either help to retain life-long customers, or cut short relationships if they have a less-than-optimal experience. 

If you haven't revisited your self-service strategy recently, 2019 may be your year to improve your customers' experience quickly and cost-effectively, while allowing you also focus on other business priorities.  With the right combination of experience and technology, Streamwrite and ATI are ready to help modernize your self-service.

The Contact Center Challenges and Priorities 2019 report can be viewed here: https://www.strategiccontact.com/articles/2019/CC-Challenges-Priorities-Jan2019.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Shapeshifters

From Mythology, to Harry Potter’s ‘Animagi’ and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s, Odo, beings that can change form at will have been fascinating to humans. The idea of being able to alter one’s form is mystical and seductive – not to mention the utter utility of such a power.

 That utility is not lost in good software. Flexibility and modularity can make a good application framework nimble and versatile – like the software that is the basis of StreamWrite PORTALS.

 When the architects at StreamWrite set out to develop a new interactive self-service platform, modularity and flexibility were at the top of the list of design considerations. We didn’t want a product that was limited by scope, use cases or environments.  The system was designed from the ground-up to be agnostic to cloud vs. prem, IP vs. traditional telephony, and using multiple OSes as they fit component requirements. The system was designed so that new ‘Portals’ can be added to PORTALS easily – even portals that were never imagined in the beginning.

 Originally envisioned as a self-help portal for IVR, IWR and SMS interactions, portals grew to meet new and exciting challenges. When a customer needed a front end routing system to deliver customer calls to a multitude of different entities using different PBX systems and call centers, PORTALS Call Routing Engine was developed to make CTI calls directly into AVAYA, Cisco, NEC, Nortel and other systems, and making routing decisions based on available agents. When courts showed interest in a system that could allow case parties and attorneys to attend hearing over the phone and via Video, PORTALS again was raised to the challenge, and the VCourt conferencing platform was born. When medical customers were interested in allowing patients to pay their bill over the phone without any onsite hardware being installed, PORTALS was again leveraged to live in Amazon AWS and consume a simple flat file from the customer in a batch routine, removing the need for them to allow deep integration into their back office systems and avoid costly and disruptive PCI certification by utilizing our compliant environment.

 PORTALS continues to shape-shift, soon adding advanced video communications and file sharing controls. So keep an eye on us – as we change!