Business Alerts by Chrissie Cluney

  • Flipkart and Microsoft Partner Up for Improved E-commerce Experience

Flipkart and Microsoft have joined forces to create a strategic cloud partnership. The combination has been formed to improve the online shopping experience for consumers in India.

“Combining Microsoft’s cloud platform and AI capabilities with Flipkart’s existing services and data assets will enable Flipkart to accelerate its digital transformation in e-commerce and deliver new customer experiences…At Microsoft, we aim to empower every Indian and every Indian organisation with technology and key to this is forging strategic partnerships with innovative companies like Flipkart,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.

Flipkart will move to Azure, a cloud solution created by Microsoft. Flipkart will also adopt Azure as its exclusive public cloud platform.

“Flipkart has always been committed to its vision of transforming commerce in India through technology. Given Microsoft’s strong reputation in cloud computing, coupled with scale and reliability, this partnership allows us to leverage our combined strength and knowledge of technology, e-commerce and markets to make online shopping more relevant and enriching for customers,” said Binny Bansal, Co-Founder and Group CEO, Flipkart.

What are the benefits of Flipkart moving to Azure? Moving to Azure will enable Flipkart to access an additional layer of advanced cloud technologies and analytics. The Indian company plans to take advantage of AI, machine learning and the analytics capabilities like Cortana Intelligence Suite and Power BI to optimize its data. The data optimization will help the company be innovative in fields of marketing, customer service and advertising.

  • Get Ready for Snap Spectacles!

There’s exciting news from Snap Inc. The company will begin selling its video-recording sunglasses, Spectacles online for $129.99 in the US at on their website, Spectacle by Snap Inc. For the last three months, it only dispensed them from Snapbot vending machines in surprise locations and its NYC pop-up store.

Snap has now closed that pop-up, with “Snapbots will continue to land in surprising locations around the U.S. following a brief ‘nap’.” Buyers should expect to wait two to four weeks for their Spectacles to ship, and they can also buy $49.99 charging cases and $9.99 charging cords, which will no longer be sold on Amazon.

“…When we launched, the idea was: ‘We’re going to take a slow approach to rolling them out,’ said Evan Spiegel, CEO, Snapchat. ‘It’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it.’ Response has been positive since November’s launch so we’re now happy to be able to make Spectacles more readily available — especially for those in the US who have not been able to make it to a Snapbot.”.

The camera company doesn’t need to make money directly from Spectacles if it can use them to get more people creating and watching Snaps. But showing it can earn real revenue from hardware could bolster confidence in its public offering.

  • Uber: A Workplace of Sexual Harassment and Power Struggles?

Uber, the cab service provider, has been targeted with claims of sexual harassment, sexism and power struggles according to an ex-Uber employee. The ex-Uber employee left the company back in December has come forward with an account of sexism and power struggles within the company.

“In my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR,” said Susan Fowler, former employee, Uber.

Fowler was pressured to work under a manager who turned out to be the harasser. Even though she made several complaints about the issue to the HR department, her manager still tormented her. The HR department said that apart from giving him a warning, there is nothing that can be done. The situation worsened to the point where the HR department began to demean Fowler saying that sending complaints to HR through email was unprofessional.

“…What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It’s the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber — and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired,” said Travis Kalanick, CEO, Uber.

Fowler was left with two options: leave the company or continue doing her work while still being targeted. If she chose to stay it could result in a bad performance review by her manager. She chose to leave. “It was an organization in complete, unrelenting chaos,” said Fowler.

  • China is Producing Next Generation Supercomputer

China has been very busy lately in regards to technology. The country has started to build a new-generation supercomputer that is expected to be 10 times faster than the current world champion of supercomputers.

China’s goal is to make breakthroughs in high-performance processors. The country wants to be known for other key technologies to build the world’s first prototype exascale supercomputer.

The prototype will be completed by 2018. “Exascale” means it will be capable of making a quintillion – 1 followed by 18 zeros – calculations per second. That is at least 10 times faster than the world’s current speed champ, the Sunway TaihuLight, which is China’s first supercomputer to use domestically designed processors.

“Its computing power is on the next level, cementing China as the world leader in supercomputer hardware,” said Meng Xiangfei, the director of application, National Super Computer Tianjin Centre.

It would be available for public use and “help us tackle some of the world’s toughest scientific challenges with greater speed, precision and scope”.

The other supercomputers that were made include the Tianhe-1, which was China’s first quadrillion-level supercomputer developed in 2009. It is now working at full capacity, undertaking more than 1,400 assignments each day, solving problems “from stars to cells”.

The exascale supercomputer will be able to analyze smog distribution on a national level, while current models can only handle a district. The other supercomputer, the Tianhe-3 could simulate earthquakes and epidemic outbreaks in more detail, allowing swifter and more effective government responses. The new machine also will be able to analyze gene sequence and protein structures in unprecedented scale and speed. That may lead to new discoveries and more potent medicine.

At this rate China will catapult itself into the future of supercomputers. Meng Xiangfei and the National Super Computer Tianjin Centre will be at a helm as they discover new supercomputers.

You Can Never have Enough Friends

@Apple, @Google and @Microsoft.

People often give me more credit than I deserve. I am a well connected person, but I am ecclectic in my friendships and tastes. Often there is an expectation that I know “EVERYONE”. I don’t and some that I do know don’t necessarily want me to chase them around for every inquiry I get.

So my general rule of thumb is to use Linkedin. I am an open networker and I believe that many of us trust it as a way to initiate a conversation.

While many friends want me to see Facebook in the same way, most of my immediate family uses Facebook, so getting professional work done is harder on that system.

Never the less, I have started a campaign to connect up directly with all my speakers on both Facebook and Linkedin. Yes I will do twitter too, albeit briefly ;<). If you want to talk to the people I want to hear, its good for you to connect with me on either platform.

ITEC New Jersey Today

Here are FIVE REASON to be at ITEC Conference at the Meadowlands in Secaucus, NJ to:

  1. Hear from product managers with Microsoft and Intel on the latest products and applications
  2. Meet your peers, trade stories about solutions and develop your all-important network today, with IT managers from near you.
  3. Learn from experts and systems integrators on what works, what doesn’t in social media and enterprise tools
  4. Talk with the consultants and service providers at the expo, located all around the conference theaters – everything together for maximum value on your time
  5. Admission to the conference and expo is FREE to qualified attendees and with our new ONE-DAY format you arrive in the morning, take in some conference sessions, tour the exhibit floor, network over a free lunch and leave better educated.

ITEC is all about education – in person at the conference, online with ITEC-TV and via the ITEC Connect Newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!

Don’t miss this once a year opportunity to get free technology education. ITEC – your best chance to catch up on technology and trends!

Come hear from Microsoft’s Steve Deming present “Windows Roadmap & Small Business Server 2008” and Intel’s Barry Heller present on the Intel Server Building Blocks at ITEC New York Metro.  These programs will include active Q&A sessions and time for follow up discussions, and are moderated by Travis Millhimes of LAM Systems, Inc. 

Admission is free to qualified IT Professionals. 

High Definition Audio – An Interview with AudioCodes’ Alan Percy

I remember the first time someone suggested to me that VoIP could be better than the PSTN. I was ready to believe that and felt that would be a compelling story.  So when Alan Percy was telling me about what they had going on at AudioCodes I asked for the chance to do a podcast.

What was most striking from the discussion was the overall way Audiocodes is working to support the migration to HD VoIP.  Supporting codecs from Skype and Microsoft as well as G.722 as its base a carrier can connect to communities of interest.

The message gets across, but the quality of the audio line was not that great.  Two guys on wireless devices had some drop outs. And while I have the HD audio embedded as an MP3, the case for better audio is being made while we talk.  As most of my readers know communication protocols handle dropped packets by filling in with what was around the gap, while data waits for all parts to be assembled. The beauty of Wideband codecs is there is more audio to hear and therefore the better the fill in the gaps.

Jerry Yang, Thank you but…

Jerry,

While I advocated you make the deal with Microsoft.  I want to tell you I am sorry to see you leave.

What that says to me personally is that your company is going to be nothing like you envisioned it.

Anyone who has started a company and then watched it change over the years knows this experience.

I often wonder when is the right time for people to get out of the way and let a new regime takeover.

In California often you see existing teams morph work in to newco’s.

I am looking forward to you doing a newco.  And I will be your fan.

To the board.  Rather than searching for talent, how about hiring Sabeer Bhatia formerly of Hotmail.  He may help the team see the value of going back in and trying to get something done with Microsoft.

A Tale of Three (FCC) Decisions

As the FCC enabled whitespaces for the computing industry the wireless world continued to be advanced with the merger of Sprint WiMAX into Clearwire and the approval of the Alltel acquistion by Verizon.  While I will miss the wizard commercials, I think the more important observation is the question of how wireless evolves.

The Verizon story will be mostly around LTE, Clearwire around WiMAX. But who owns White Space?  Who do you associate with this alternative?  Google and Microsoft have been big advocates, but I am not sure they intend to be a service provider for this space. On the other hand, Cloud Computing is probably going to benefit tremendously from the access the White Space provides.  Should I insert Ebay/Skype and Amazon into this discussion?  Motorola and Phillips for their devices?

Imho the future of wireless is going to be very dynamic.  And as we have seen from the iPhone’s success its going to be more about what you can do than what technology is used.

Freedom2Speak.org Launched

Jim Kohlenberger has shared this information with me.  Included in this site which highlights the innovation of VoIP is the ability to petition to keep VoIP as an enhanced service.

With the FCC poised to vote November 4th on a key decision that will impact the future of Internet communication, today VoIP leaders are launching a new voice activated web site and online campaign to educate consumers and policymakers about the power and potential of VoIP:  www.freedom2speak.org

An incredible transformation is making its way across the Internet — helping to bring voice to the net. These innovative Internet voice applications are changing the way we communicate, stay connected to our friends, family and colleagues. Together these technologies have the potential to deliver extraordinary new benefits.

We want to introduce you to some of the exciting new voice tools now just emerging. This new web site contains nearly 300 different cool tools — each unique — that are stretching the horizon of voice on the net.

But the future of some of these exciting technologies is not all assured. There are an unfortunate set of policy proposals by special interests that could limit your ability to speak and be heard on the Internet. And that’s why we’re asking you to get involved. Stand up — speak up — and fight for your freedom to speak on the Internet!

The web site:

1.    Highlights the amazing things that are happening when voice is integrated with the Internet.  Providing examples of nearly 300 innovative new voice enabled tools that are emerging on the Internet. These voice enabled Internet applications are giving voice to blogs, connecting friends together on MySpace and Facebook, empowering people on the campaign trail, transforming video games, integrating voice and video into instant messaging, allowing one telephone number to reach all your phones at once, ushering in a new era of voice recognition based information retrieval tools, integrating click to dial functionality into mapping and other web sites, and doing things never before possible.

2.    Demonstrates the extraordinary benefits that VoIP enabled tools can deliver.  The site includes a state by state map of benefits; highlights the broader benefits for consumers, the economy, the environment, homeland security, etc.; and provides examples of exciting and beneficial ways the technology is being put to use.  For example, at a time when families are struggling to pay their bills, VoIP enabled competition is poised to save consumers an astounding $110 billion over the next 5 years.

3.    Enables users to take specific actions to protect their freedom to speak on the net.  The FCC is poised to vote on November 4th on a key decision that will impact the future of these technologies.  The site describes key policy issues that could impact the growth of these technologies, and gives people the ability to take specific actions to protect their freedom to speak on the Internet.  With just a few clicks, the site allows users to file comments at the FCC or talk directly with policymakers.  Its critical because some proposals could subject voice enabled web sites to a patchwork of potentially conflicting state rules, or reverse key policies that would apply per minute fees to Internet commutations and voice enabled web sites.

4.    Using the medium as the message.  Voice enabled tools are incorporated throughout the site, including into voice blogs, a virtual VoIP debate between Obama and McCain, a tool to call members of Congress, and a voice broadcast tool tell their friends about the site.

VoIP is not another flavor of telephone service.  It’s a new frontier in communications for individuals and businesses alike, and it requires forward-thinking regulatory approaches.  If policymakers reflexively subject these new voice enabled Internet tools to yesterday’s telephone regulations without first understanding the variety of tools emerging, consumers and business users could miss out on the new services, increased choices and new ways to communicate that VoIP can deliver.

Jim Kohlenberger
Executive Director
The Voice on the Net Coalition

About the VON Coalition:
The Voice on the Net or VON Coalition consists of leading VoIP companies, on the cutting edge of developing and delivering voice innovations over Internet. The coalition, which includes AT&T, BT Americas, CallSmart, Cisco, CommPartners, Covad, EarthLink, Google, iBasis, i3 Voice and Data, Intel, Microsoft, New Global Telecom, PointOne, Pulver.com, Skype, T-Mobile USA, USA Datanet, and Yahoo!  works to advance regulatory policies that enable Americans to take advantage of the full promise and potential of VoIP. The Coalition believes that with the right public policies, Internet based voice advances can make talking more affordable, businesses more productive, jobs more plentiful, the Internet more valuable, and Americans more safe and secure. Since its inception, the VON Coalition has promoted pragmatic policy choices for unleashing VoIP’s potential. http://www.von.org