Archive for the ‘innovation’ Category

Secrets of Success for Service Providers

Monday, December 7th, 2009

It’s hard to believe that another year is about to pass. Of all our years in business, 2009 has certainly been the most challenging for our industry. In 2010, we expect to see additional market consolidation and even more focus on quality and price. As a result, we felt the need to share our “Secrets of Success” with the industry and for companies looking for or considering becoming a Service Provider.

It’s with great pleasure that I’m able to introduce you to Pete Pattullo, our CEO. Pete has taken the time to put together an online video that covers the areas that we feel are the “Secrets of Success” for a Service Provider. Those nine areas are:

-    Reliability
-    Quality Connections
-    Cost Competitive
-    Power of Information
-    Evolution
-    Innovation
-    Point of Sale
-    Integrated Customer Service
-    The Right People and Skills

Pete dispels the myth that providing an Enterprise-Ready solution is as easy as plugging in a toaster. To succeed, Pete outlines, in detail, the key elements that form the foundation of NetworkIP’s business and how we continually succeed regardless of external market conditions.

We hope you learn from our successes and we wish you all the best in 2010!

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

Meet In the Middle and Transact

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

An article this morning on mobile commerce - “Survey Says: Retailers Need to Go Mobile” - referenced a recent survey conducted by Foresee Results that reported nearly a third of online shoppers said they used their mobile phone as part of their regular shopping trip.  Whether used for calling or texting a friend for advice prior to making a purchase, or for taking a picture of a product with their mobile phone and sending it to themselves to look at it later from home, the mobile phone has become an important tool that consumers use when making purchase decisions. The article went on to explain the need for brick-and-mortar retailers to consider developing and offering mobile applications to their customers in hopes of increasing their sales numbers.

The article concluded by asking its readers, “How else do you think brick-and-mortar retailers could appeal to mobile-enabled shoppers?”

I’m a huge fan of mobile applications and I use my mobile for anything and everything that I can.

At NetworkIP and Jaduka, we have long envisaged that consumers who buy products and services at brick-and-mortar retail outlets will migrate to buying through their mobile phones and hand-held devices. That’s why NetworkIP and Jaduka have deployed a robust, global transaction processing platform that brands can use to engage with their customers both online and offline.

Our platform affords consumers four unique options for purchasing product, activating products, and even renewing existing product subscriptions: via the web, through traditional voice applications (using both automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions and traditional customer service), through mobile devices and via over 500,000 retail outlets equipped with Point of Sale (POS) capabilities.

Hunter Newby of Internet Telephony Magazine described our platform as “a virtual real estate for a giant digital Wal-Mart!…an IP version of a free-trade zone allowing multiple parties to virtually meet in the middle and transact.”

We agree, and the future, is, indeed, exciting!

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP and Jaduka

Tough Economies Can Drive Innovation

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Whether we are currently in a recession is debatable, but whether or not we are dealing with tough economic times right now is not. It was just two months ago that the federal government took over Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae, then came the $700 billion bailout for financial institutions that included Freddie & Fannie, the Dow Jones Industrial average has dropped 4,961 points or 38.29% since this time last year (November 20, 2007), & now the big 3 car manufacturers are requesting a $25 billion dollar bailout. During all of this, the IT & telecom sectors have begun to feel the pinch too. This is evident from layoffs reported by Sun Microsystems, job cuts by Cisco right here in Texas, 10,000 job cuts announced by BT, 3,000 cuts by Motorola, & unfortunately the list goes on & on.

In response to these tough economic times companies need to look to new & innovative solutions that can save them money, time, & ultimately help them succeed in growing their business. We are always looking for ways to grow our business by investing in solutions that save us time & money. Just recently we were featured in an article about how we have used virtualization in order to streamline our systems administration processes all while saving money too.

Many of our products & services result in costs & time savings for businesses & I wanted to share a few in hopes that they may help your business.

Web & Audio Conferencing
Provides businesses with affordable, on-demand conferencing that can be used anytime by simply picking up the phone & dialing a personal code. The service includes a convenient Online dashboard for account management, monitoring live conference calls, & reporting.

Transaction Processing Services
We manage 860 million end-user accounts & we process well over 19 million transactions per day. Our transaction processing capacity is capable of handling over 40 billion transactions per year - more than enough for practically anything that a business could dream up.

Least Cost Routing & iQT
By combining our Least Cost Routing (LCR) engine with our patented iQT technology we can monitor & analyze ever call in real-time & automatically remove carrier routes that do not meet strict quality standards. The result is the best possible ratio of quality & pricing for terminating your calls.

By using these & many other products & services you can save your business money & precious time that can be better spent focusing on your core competencies & your customers.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Mobile Money Transfer From Around the World

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

The last day of MMT08 was focused on the true landscape of the mobile money transfer market & offered insight on how to succeed in this emerging market. As conference delegates, we had an opportunity to directly interface with the CEOs of many of the companies who have already deployed MTT solutions. The list of CEOs & their companies included Michael Joseph of Safaricom, Karim Khoja of Roshan, Brian Richardson of Wizzit, & Carol Realini of Obopay who have all had their own unique experiences developing & deploying MMT solutions.

Of the four CEOs that offered their insights, Carol Realini of Obopay is the only one whose company is experienced with deploying a MMT solution in the States. I understood Realini’s description of the MMT market in the U.S. very well which today is primarily made up of unbanked & underbanked immigrant workers & teenagers. For those teenagers that are adopting Obopay’s MMT solution it is more about convenience than anything else & since teenagers trust almost any application available on their phone it’s no wonder that this market is one of the first to adopt Obopay’s solution. In the States the MMT market is also being utilized by working immigrants because MMT offers them both a convenient & more importantly a cost saving option compared to traditional means of transferring money such as Western Union & MoneyGram.

Banks, Point of Sale (POS), eCommerce solutions, etc. are readily available in the States. In other countries, these solutions are practically nonexistent. What is readily available in these other countries with undeveloped baking & payment solutions are cell phones & because of this reason MMT is taking off!

Brian Richardson, CEO of Wizzit, did a beautiful job of describing the undeveloped market his company is working hard to serve in Africa where less than 4% of the population is banked. Richardson gave an uplifting & passionate presentation about the opportunity that exists in Africa & why his company is taking an innovative approach of bringing the banks to the unbanked; not the other way around. Richardson asked the audience of the conference to consider giving up all bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, Internet banking, etc. The question was followed by an uncomfortable silence while we all pondered the difficulties that this would present in our lives & what the unbanked population deals with on a daily basis.

The current situation in Africa does not nurture a system for banking. Banking fees are high, the banks are open for short periods of time (9am - 3:30pm), banking services are poor, & the banks are an average of 30 kilometers (18 miles) from where most Africans live. Cash is an expensive, dangerous, & an inconvenient option, but despite the inconvenience & danger cash presents it is still a better option than banking at a conventional bank in Africa.

It was evident from beginning to end that Richardson possess real passion & excitement for this industry & to succeed in any business passion & excitement are key. Just as we at NetworkIP through our own passion & excitement have brought affordable & quality telecommunication services to the unbanked & underbanked here in the States, I hope that Wizzit will succeed in empowering those in Africa with a banking solution using MMT.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Mobile Money Transfer Regulatory Hurdles

Monday, November 10th, 2008

First to present this morning at the Mobile Money Transfer Conference (MMT08) here in Dubai was Ryan Gilbert of 1688 Inc. Gilbert excited the crowd when he described the size & potential of the Mobile Money Transfer (MMT) market. The money transfer market is currently estimated to be a $700 billion annual industry, of which $350 billion is reported through traditional means of money transfer through services such as Western Union & MoneyGram. The other $350 billion goes unreported because of non-traditional money transfers such as sending cash via snail mail & cash delivered during travel. The mobile phone, a now ubiquitous device across the globe, is the key to capturing a piece of the existing reported $350 billion market, & more importantly capturing an even larger percentage of the $350 billion which is currently untapped.

The mobile phone offers not only a more convenient way of transferring money, but is also a less expensive method for the consumer. Sending money via Western Union for example is quickly becoming a dated solution & as consumers realize the simplicity & the many advantages of money transfer via mobile the likes of Western Union will need to adapt their services to the  mobile phone or their business will suffer significantly.

Like all great opportunities there tend to be hurdles that we must work together to overcome. In a post 9-11 environment we a forced to deal with many new strict laws & regulations that will unintentionally impede the growth of the mobile money transfer market. The larger regulatory hurdles which are causing the most concern include the global patchwork of laws, the fact that current legal frameworks do not fully cover cross-border remittances, compliance is expensive, & most importantly the pace of regulation has not kept up with pace of technology innovation.

Within the United States, we are burden with even more regulations. U.S. regulations include property law, consumer protection law, AML/CFT/KYC/OFAC (also known as the alphabet soup of regulation), privacy law, telecommunications law, the Federal Money Service Business registration, & lastly the State Money Transmitter License all plaguing the industry.

Since inaction is not a viable option, the following actions for moving forward with MMT were recommended by Gilbert: 1) we must close the gap between that exists between innovations of the mobile network operator (MNO) & the regulatory goals, 2) we need inclusive planning processes, 3) we need to address consumer demand, & 4) we need to balance regulations with service-based trust & safety.

If we work together inside this mobile payment ecosystem these hurdles in comparison to the opportunity that exists are insignificant. The goal is to move quickly in order to meet consumer demand while keeping true to the regulatory compliances before us.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Text Messaging Opens New Doors

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

According to a recent survey conducted by Opinion Research Corp. (ORC), a text message is far more likely to elicit a quick response than leaving a voice mail. To add, those under the age of 30 are four times more likely to respond within minutes of receiving a text message compared to a voice mail, & 91% respond to a text message within one hour. Adults 30 & older are also quick to text & are twice as likely to respond within minutes to a text message as compared to a voice message.

I’ve been testing the results of this study both at work with colleagues & after hours with friends & my results coincide with those published by ORC. Text messages are not only easier for people to access, they are also less evasive, & more importantly in my opinion text messages force both the sender & the receiver to get straight to the point - 160 characters doesn’t allow for much “small talk.” To my delight I met with a client today who described a previous job where he worked directly with his CEO for 3 years & within those three years they never left more than 3 or 4 voice mails for each other because outside of face-to-face meetings all communication was done through text messaging because text messaging proved to be so effective.

If text messaging can speed up communication between two people, what else could text messaging make more efficient for us?

As I began to consider all the things we could do as part of our daily activities through text messaging I was reminded of some examples that Jyri Engeström, co-founder of Jaiku, a microblogging service acquired by Google in 2007, discussed at the Mobilize 08 conference that I attended earlier this year. Jyri discussed how he uses text messaging back home in Finland on a daily basis. He described a scenario at an airport where you, the consumer, are alerted of flight delays via text messaging, you pay for your airport parking with text messaging, you check-in for your flight via text messaging, & you use a previous text message you received from your airline as your boarding pass to board the plane.

This evening I did a quick bit of research on Finland & their use of text messaging & I found a couple of interesting articles that I thought I’d share. The first article describes how the Finnish Road Administration is using text messaging as a way to curb vandalism in public restrooms. Their solution requires restroom visitors to text “Open” (in Finnish, of course) to a local SMS number that will then unlock the door to the restroom. The idea of course is that people will be less likely to graffiti up the place knowing that their mobile number is on file as a result of opening the restroom door via a text message. This second article I found doesn’t point to a specific texting service or solution, but it does demonstrate the popularity of text messaging in Finland given that even the Ilkka Kanerva, Finland’s Foreign Minister, uses text messaging. Unfortunately for Kanerva he used text messaging in a way that resulted in him being ousted from his seat in April of this year. Lastly, I think it’s worth noting that the “Father of Text Messaging”, Matti Makkonen, is from Finland & according to this article Makkonen didn’t make a single dime off his invention which started as an idea while at pizzeria in Copenhagen.

Just as I begin to believe that we in the U.S. have figured this “mobile thing” out I’m reminded of how far behind we really are. The good news is that the mobile market is still open for us & others to shape here in the States. We have an opportunity to learn from what others have done well, what they haven’t done so well, & then to use that knowledge to build our mobile services even better. Opportunity is knocking in the mobile market; can you hear it? If you still can’t hear it, maybe I’ll send you a text message.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Mobile Phones offer More Than Just Voice

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Almost every day someone presents a new idea or use for mobile phones. The size of the mobile market has become so vast that it is increasingly more difficult to identify those mobile business ideas that will work & those that won’t. In the last 12 months the mobile space has opened up new business verticals that few would have ever imagined.

The mobile space is still relatively young. It was only 25 years ago (October 13, 1983) yesterday that Bob Barnett, President of Ameritech Mobile Communications (what is now AT&T Inc. & Verizon Wireless), made the nation’s first commercial cell phone connection from Chicago’s Soldier Field.

When Barnett made that first commercial cell phone connection he used a Motorola DynaTAC handset that weighed 2 1/2 pounds & retailed for $3,995 USD. Fast forward to 2008 when most mobile phones weigh less than 1/2 a pound, they retail for around $50 USD, & even the most basic mobile phones offer address books, calendars, games, text messaging, music players, & cameras.

Just three weeks ago I read an article in the Canadian Press describing how a new Japanese mobile phone built by Sharp Corp. will be used in place of a traditional car key. This new phone uses a technology developed by Nissan Motor Co. called “Intelligent Key”. As reported by the Canadian Press, “Cars equipped with the system sense when the correct key is nearby, automatically unlocking their car doors, and allow the engine to be started once the key is brought inside the car. Nissan said it has shipped about a million cars with the technology in Japan since 2002.” NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan’s largest mobile operator, will provide the mobile network that this new service will run on.

It isn’t a surprise to me that a Japanese company is the first to introduce this type of technology. The mobile phones available in Japan are some of the most sophisticated in the world. Most of the mobile phones you will find in Japan come standard with digital TV, music players, Global Positioning Service (GPS), & cameras that double as barcode scanners & wireless credit cards.

The mobile phone is no longer a device for business men & women or the elite. The mobile phone has become a ubiquitous device for all income levels & demographics around the world.

Today, the mobile industry is nearly a $150-billion-a-year industry. As data speeds continue to increase & mCommerce solutions gain popularity the mobile industry will only continue to grow.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

G1 Android Already Sold Out

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Two weeks ago today (September 23, 2008) Google officially announced & showed off the new HTC G1, aka the “Google Phone.” The G1 will run Google’s much anticipated Android mobile operating system & T-Mobile will provide service on their GSM network.

In my opinion, the G1 will be this first real competitor of Apple’s iPhone. One week following Google’s announcement & before the first phone had even shipped, T-Mobile announced that they had sold out of the G1. The demand for the G1 has far exceeded both Google’s & T-Mobile’s expectations. In an effort to respond to consumer demand, T-Mobile decided last week to triple the number of G1 mobile devices available for sale through pre-orders until October 22nd.

The excitement surrounding the release of the G1 Android goes beyond the fact that T-Mobile has sold out of their initial inventory. This is excitement can be seen through the numerous developments & announcements surrounding Android to include: Visa developing a mobile payment solution on Android, T-Mobile removing their 1GB data cap, & Amazon preloading their MP3 digital music store on the G1.

The future potential of Google’s Android operating system is almost limitless. HTC is predicting up to 2 million Android phones will be sold by end of 2009. Google is also making waves with mobile carriers with their hopes to free the mobile device from the mobile carrier with a concept they call “Instant Bid.” Expectations remain high & I like many others believe that Google will deliver & expose the necessary technologies for others to develop the next generation of mobile solutions.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Apple Shifts the Mobile Industry

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

I was reviewing my notes from last week’s Mobilize conference & I found myself asking where was Apple? This 1-day conference featured eight panel discussions with talent from the major mobile network providers, the mobile device manufactures, the mobile operating systems, & a variety of companies that specialized in mobile application development & marketing. The panel discussions consisted of topics ranging from the development of mobile applications with Location Based Services (LBS), to the hurdles associated with mobile carriers, to investment strategies in the mobile market space. Regardless of panel topic, I noted a recurring theme throughout. Not one panel discussion could avoid bringing up Apple & what they had done with the iPhone. It felt at times like the entire conference consisted of people asking how do we keep up with Apple, or is Apple’s approach the right approach to take, or what will Apple do next?

I scanned the list of conference attendees that was handed out at the beginning of the conference & there wasn’t a single person in attendance from Apple; nor was anyone from Apple participating in any of the panel discussions or keynote presentations given that day.

So here I sat in a room full of very talented people from some very reputable & large companies who could not help but analyze Apple & what Apple has done to the mobile market.

I find myself asking why Apple would have been there. Apple has set the standard. They’ve raised the bar with mobile devices & mobile application development & distribution. As a result, we find ourselves trying to catch up to Apple. While we sit here discussing how Apple approached the mobile market, they continue to innovate. I’m sure from time to time that they find themselves at conferences looking for answers to questions & to get a feel for a market. Of course they appear to do their own research in many other ways. Apple doesn’t wait for an industry to shift, they shift an industry.

Can other mobile device manufactures & mobile operating systems surpass Apple? Is today’s release of Google’s Android operating system on HTC’s G1 an example of this or will Apple continue to shape the mobile industry?

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Contactless & Mobile Technologies at the Presidential National Conventions

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Last week’s Democratic National Convention (DNC) was interlaced with contactless & mobile technology from beginning to end.

First Data kicked the convention off by introducing their new GO-Tag; an innovative electronic sensor that is small enough to transform any device into a contactless payment solution. The GO-Tag which was distributed in the form of a small button at the DNC allowed the 5,000 lucky journalists & delegates who received them the ability to “purchase” free snacks & drinks by tapping their GO-Tag button on electronic sensors at concession stands installed throughout Denver’s Pepsi Center. In a recent BusinessWeek article, Michael Capellas, First Data’s CEO, is placing a major bet on the fast-emerging world of mobile electronic commerce. According to the article, the GO-Tag project is one of five new ventures that Capellas has launched since he took over First Data. The other four projects include information analysis, customer-loyalty programs, fraud detection, & consumer-behavior prediction. The article went on to say that Capellas believes that mobile commerce could add more than a $100 million to First Data’s revenues in 2009.

Then there was Senator Barack Obama who announced Joe Biden as his vice-presidential pick with a text message. Nielsen Mobile described this text message based ad campaign as “the single largest mobile marketing event in the U.S., to date.” Nielsen estimates that 2.9 million U.S. mobile phone subscribers received the text message launched by Obama’s campaign. Obama supporters can still sign-up for future text messages from Obama’s campaign by texting “GO” to short code 62262 (spells OBAMA). Supporters can even subscribe to specific types of information updates by texting specific keywords such as “HEALTH”, “EDUCATION”, etc. For more information about Obama’s mobile campaign you can visit Obama’s web site & while you are there you can even download wallpapers & ring tones for your mobile phone too.

Delegates attending both the Democratic & Republican National Convention also made good use of their mobile phones for communicating events from the convention. They sent & are continuing to send text messages to services such as Twitter which in-turn distributes these messages from the convention to their “followers”. These same people are also shooting short video, audio, & taking pictures with their mobile phones & then uploading them to their blogs as mobile blog entries (”moblogs” for short).

These are just a handful of examples on how contactless & mobile technologies are being used in larger scale mediums such as our current presidential election & more importantly these two technologies are increasingly becoming a part of our everyday landscape.