First American Business Enterprise

First American Business in Action

Coronavirus Support

When things get tough our team gets going.   The Coronavirus has impacted virtually everyone everywhere.   Last Month one our very own Resource Coordinators (affectionately known as “the Mask Lady”) proactively sprang into action and started to make protective face masks for people in need and even sending some to our own team members and technicians.   She is leading this effort for the First American Business team and has made over 500 masks so far!

fab-in-action

 

These masks are making a difference at several local Houston hospitals!

Expanded Team

Business continues to grow for First American Business in both the Enterprise and the Government side.   As a result, in the first Quarter of 2020 we brought on 4 new people.

  • Engineers (Tier 3): Sean Poppell, Wayne Page
  • Solution Architects: Hugh Simpson
  • Payroll Administration: Julie Potter

This greatly enhances our support capabilities on Avaya, Nortel, Cisco and Ribbon products.

LAB Build Out

Our lab is now complete!

  • We have made significant investments obtaining and building a formal LAB. The Lab is based in Tampa and contains Avaya CM 6.3, 7.1, 8, Avaya IPO, Nortel CS1K, Cisco, and Ribbon in the near future to name a few. This will allow our engineers to fully recreate issues and test solution prior to moving them into production.
  • We have several projects where staging hardware is a component. Our new lab allows us to test designed solutions; Simulate issues while troubleshooting and provide hands-on training of new software as it becomes available

Remote Workers

remote-workers

Dealing with the Coronavirus

Things have changed in the business world, and our communities, due to the global pandemic that none of us could have foreseen.   People talk about a “new normal” but we will need to see how the virus plays out over time.   The one thing we do know for sure is that in the short term there is an immediate impact to all of us, and how we address that we believe is critical.

Some of the immediate impacts include:

How are Telecom vendors replying?

Work from Home – It is estimated that 50% of all jobs in American can be done remotely.   Of those currently 45% offer some limited form of work from home.   Many companies provide secure remote VPNs that allow employees to log in and work remote 1 day per week for example.   Some companies like First American Business allow all its employees to work remote full time.   Teleworking first started in the late 90’s and has expanded every year since.

Due to the Coronavirus, major corporations who never had a policy are now forced to shut their office buildings and quickly set up remote working.   Education facilities including grade schools have set up and are conducting remote learning.  Teachers around the country are developing lesion plans and teaching over video!   Imagine… this was not even contemplated in February of this year.

How are Telecom vendors replying?

Collaboration Tools (voice, video, chat)

Due to the C-19 virus, the major telecom companies are rolling out free or reduced collaboration and work-from-home solutions.  Examples:

  • Cisco:   Free Webex worldwide for 90 days
  • Ring Central:  Free (limited) UC collaboration
  • Avaya:   Free Spaces (collaboration) and Contact Center work from home licenses.
  • Ribbon (Kandy): Enabling customer’s workforce with Work@home.  Free and secure video conferencing and collaboration tools.

Virtually all suppliers in the Telecom space have risen to the challenge and are offering their products and services to companies and governments for free.   Now, many of these offers are limited – such as 90 days and have a cap on license volumes but they are there and available now.   The telecom industry has jumped into motion to address the collaboration needs of corporate America.

First American Response

  • We support our clients 7×24 for complete remote offers.
  • First American Business offers cloud-based voice services that we can turn up in days. For example, we now have over 60 end users (4 sites) on our cloud offer today with our customer Hello Destination.
  • We handle implementation and on-going support including working with our customer’s existing carriers and suppliers.

100% of our staff has remained in place during this global pandemic.   We remotely access our customer’s networks to trouble shoot and resolve issues.  We can avoid air travel because we have a nationwide network of over 800 technicians in the field that we can deploy locally if needed.

In short, we are fully operational and supporting our customers every day!

President’s Piece

pres-piece

Spring 2020!

It was the spring of last year that our newsletter featured information about our 10 years anniversary.   It’s hard to believe we have now reached the year 1 milestone of our second decade!

Things have changed in the business world, and our communities, due to the global pandemic that none of us could have foreseen.   People talk about a “new normal” but we will need to see how the virus plays out over time.   The one thing we do know for sure is that in the short term there is an immediate impact to all of us, and how we address that we believe is critical.

At the family of First American Businesses, we have a high priority placed on the health and safety of our staff.   Thankfully we have had a work-at-home policy in place for years so all of our employees are equipped to log into systems, trouble shoot problems and resolve issues remotely.  We have a full suite of Microsoft collaboration tools that make communicating internally and with clients relatively easy.

We are in full operations mode and continue to work at full speed through these trying times.   Due to travel restrictions our nationwide field services team of 800 technicians is in place so our customer’s continue to support their projects without flying to a remote location.

We truly appreciate our great customers and we are here to help!

Trade Shows

Early this year we attended the Avaya Engage User Group.   Enterprise Connect unfortunately was canceled for March and has been rescheduled for August in San Francisco which conflicts with another engagement of ours so unfortunately we will not be attending this year.   We are still hopeful to be able to attend the Ribbon Sales conference later this spring,

We normally have a First American Business team retreat in Clearwater Florida each spring and bring in our entire team but have decided to delay that until the fall.

Ticketing System

The new First American Business Ticketing System Is up and fully functioning.   This system has made a big improvement in how we open tickets, dispatch remote field resources and pay vendors. This new ticking system will allow our customers to more easily open and track a ticket with us.   Internally it will allow us to update and report key metrics to allow improvements in our delivery.

This new tool is an investment in our overall team’s productivity.   Tool enhancements like the new FAB Ticking System have allowed us to grow efficiently.

Staff Expansion

At First American Business we continue to attract top talent.  We have expanded our Tier III engineering team with both Avaya Certified engineers in Contact Center and UC and have even expanded our Nortel Tier III team.   This is the largest our engineering team has been since business started 11 years ago!

Thanks to you, our customers– we look forward to supporting you in 2020 and for many years to come!

Sincerely,
Mark

Owner, Managing Partner
mark.morningstar@firstamericanbusiness.com

The Cloud: Who is ….ahh, #3 in revenue?

cloud

Google published its revenue structure which shows that its cloud business booked revenues of $9 billion in 2019.

IBM showed $21 billion of sales in the cloud segment, for 2019.

Yet, industry watchers believe Google is really the 3rd largest pure cloud provider and IBM is much lower on the food chain, somewhere near number 5 or 6.

By now most everyone knows Amazon is the largest pure play cloud provider with its AWS service at nearly $35 billion in annual revenue and Microsoft, with Azure, is a strong number two.   But things get a little “cloudier” after that and a lot depends on what you count as cloud revenue.

Analysts say IBM will remain near the tail-end of their rankings because the company defines the cloud more broadly than industry leaders.

“What IBM calls cloud is different to what Amazon and Google call cloud,” per Gartner.

“Pure” public cloud is generally defined as the infrastructure that allows companies to rent servers, control their computing power on demand and only pay for what they use.   Amazon created this market and they, along with Microsoft hold more than 50% of the global market.  That leaves everyone else positioning for 3rd place.

Most analysts believe IBM only has a small public cloud business but that they add a lot of other related businesses into their calculation of cloud revenue.   This includes things like software, hosting services and consulting to help companies migrate data to the cloud – businesses where IBM has a strong presence.  They also include any remote infrastructure service it runs for clients into the total number which in IBM’s case is quite large.

These businesses related to the cloud are very important and generate a lot of revenue but they do not fit the pure public cloud measurement stick.  IBM wants to be known as a cloud provider and a leader in that space as it transforms its business away from legacy revenue streams so for its part it is trying to broaden the definition.

In 2018, IBM paid $34 billion to acquire open-source software provider Red Hat to help bolster its credentials as a top cloud provider. The company recently said Arvind Krishna, the head of cloud, would be taking over as chief executive officer too – further evidence of the importance of Cloud to IBM.

When IBM created its cloud division about seven years ago, it decided to use a broad definition when recording sales. However, the pure cloud component is probably closer to “only” $7-$9 billion annually.

In any case, still an impressive number for IBM who has been in this pure cloud business just 7 years but still probably not enough to put them in the #3 position – a least not yet!

Can Google “G Suite” take over Microsoft’s hold of the Productivity tool market?

Now more than 5 million paying businesses are using G Suite to work faster, smarter, and more collaboratively— from small businesses to big companies like Verizon, Colgate-Palmolive, and Keller Williams. In the past year alone, 1 million new customers have signed up for G Suite.

What is G Suite?   It is a suite of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products developed by Google Cloud, first launched on August 28, 2006.  G Suite is comprised of:

  • Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, and Currents for communication;
  • Drive for storage;
  • Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, Forms, and Sites for productivity and collaboration.

While these services are free to use for consumers, G Suite adds enterprise features such as custom email addresses at a domain (@yourcompany.com), option for unlimited cloud storage (depending on plan and number of members), additional administrative tools and advanced settings, as well as 24/7 phone and email support.

Microsoft Corp dominates the $15-billion market for business productivity tools however.   The main reason: Its longstanding product is reliable and IT managers have little incentive to gamble on something new.

However, Google has made inroads by throwing more resources at this lucrative market and targeting business customers. Since Google got serious about developing features for major enterprises several years ago, the number of organizations paying for G Suite has doubled to over 5 million.

Most of those customers are small and medium-sized companies. But some big names that include:

  • Airbnb.
  • Uber.
  • Netflix.
  • Spotify.
  • Dropbox.
  • Pinterest.
  • Gmail

Gmail is key to G Suites success.   Gmail leads the way as the most popular email client, with over 25% of the market share.  Gmail has been around since 2004 and now has over 1.2 billion users.  One of the best things about G Suite is you basically get an enhanced ad-free version of the online email client most users are probably already using.

Here is a side by side comparison of G Suite and Office 365 products:

G Suite Basic Office 365 Business Essentials
Gmail Outlook (50GB)
Google Drive (30GB) OneDrive (1TB)
Google Docs Microsoft Word
Google Sheets Microsoft Excel
Google Slides Microsoft PowerPoint
Google Sites Sites (SharePoint)
Google Hangout Meet/Chat Skype + Microsoft Teams
Google Keep Microsoft OneNote
Google+ Microsoft Yammer

 

Microsoft has 60 million commercial customers signed up for its Office 365 product offering.

Google may never catch up to Microsoft but the market is huge and being 2nd as an alternative to Microsoft is not too bad!

Cloud Update!

It has been 9 months since we launched our new Cloud offer and we are proud to announce that we have 3 major customer locations up and operational:  San Francisco, San Diego and Nashville.  The beauty of cloud is not only do we have office locations supported but we have individual remote workers throughout the country tapped into our Cloud solution.

First American Business handles turnkey implementation and on-going support including working with your existing carriers and suppliers. We support our Cloud clients 7×24 for complete offer solutions.

With our fully hosted Cloud SIP base phone service, First American Business provides phone service with over 200 features including unlimited long distances services.

One of our customers, Hello! Destination’s San Francisco office was up and running in a matter of weeks!   Their workers had a choice of hard phones or softphones or mobile phones.   No PBX hardware on-site and no unnecessary upgrades and maintenance.   We offer all of that in our geo redundant Cloud.   Working with our partner Ribbon Communications (and their Kandy engine), First American Business delivers full Unified Communications to our customers.

kandy

New Feature Update

Now our customers have access to an on-line portal for making changes on the fly.  No need to wait for a MAC request to be processed.

Features of the Portal:

  • Access voicemail and messages
  • Edit personal address book and add contact from corporate directory to favorites
  • Set up personal call routing rules
  • Configure voicemail, voice services, and conferencing settings
  • Reset passwords

Our Portal Page:

Portal Page

For ongoing day-to-day support, customers may contact First American Business through our centralized Operations team or go to our new Cloud Portal!

You may contact First American Business one of the following ways:

  1. Log into our new Cloud Web Portal
  2. Call (727) 565-0520, press 1 for technical support (Answered 24x7x365, a First American Business Resource will become engaged)
  3. E-mail support@firstamericanbusiness.com

We are here to support your business’ telecommunication needs!

Twilio Who?

Twilio is a cloud based service that enables powerful communication between mobile devices, applications, services, and systems throughout the business in order to bridge the gap between conventional (legacy) communications.

Twilio is a cloud communications platform as a service (CPaaS) company based in San Francisco, California. Twilio allows software developers to programmatically make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, and perform other communication functions using its web service APIs.

Products include:  Voice and Call Centers

One of Twilio’s promises is to rid businesses of the messy telecom hardware by providing a telephony infrastructure web service via a globally available cloud API, allowing web developers to use standard web languages to integrate phone calls, text messages and IP voice communications into their web, mobile and traditional phone applications.

The company generates over $650 million per year in annual revenue.

Who is Twilio’s biggest competitors?

Twilio’s biggest competitors are Cisco Systems, Avaya, Nexmo, Bandwidth and Plivo.

None of Twilio’s competitors currently compete directly with them across all of product offerings. Strong competitive differentiation derives from Twilio’s Super Network, its user-friendly interface, and its developer-centric self-service business model (Twilio’s self-serve pricing matrix is publicly available and allows for customers to receive automatic tiered discounts as their usage of Twilio’s products increases).

Twilio’s developer-centric self-service business model creates an organization that has huge mind-share vs. its competitors.

Within the cloud communications industry, customers and developers recognize Twilio as the leading “toolbox” for cloud-based communications with a multi-year industry lead. With around one million developers on its platform, it is quite far above its nearest competitor, Nexmo, which states that it has ~100K developers on its platform.

Interesting facts:

Twilio uses Amazon Web Services to host telephony infrastructure and provide connectivity between HTTP and the public switched telephone network (PSTN) through its APIs.

Twilio follows a set of architectural design principles to protect against unexpected outages, and received praise for staying online during the widespread Amazon Web Services outage in April 2011.

Twilio supports the development of open-source software and regularly makes contributions to the open-source community. Early on Twilio launched OpenVBX, an open-source product that lets business users configure phone numbers to receive and route phone calls.

Contact Center Example

Twilio has a fully-programmable contact center platform.

Every aspect of the Flex platform is customizable, from call routing to the color of your agent’s desktop UI.  With use ready-made programmable building blocks you can add, remove, or change to build a contact center.

The offer support multi channels.

Companies can integrate chat into their website using pre-built channel widgets. Add voice, video, and rich messaging using Twilio APIs.

It is also easy to add new channels, and optimize a contact center performance with native WFO tools.

Named user pricing – $150 / month

A user is charged a flat rate for each agent, supervisor, or administrator’s seat, regardless of traffic spikes or volume of activity.

New Lab

First American Business is excited to announce the launch of its new Lab in
Tampa Bay Florida in September 2019.

IT environments are getting more complex with the expansion of technology.   No place is that more evident than Telecom.   Contact Center environments are extremely integrated with multivendor technology from companies like, Avaya, Nice, and Verint.   Unified Communications with Voice, IM, Chat and Video continue to evolve.   Sometimes the root cause of an issue is difficult to detect especially when new releases are being deployed and the number of products in the environment continue to expand.   Many customers are looking for their IT suppliers to fully test telecom and certify products prior to their deployment on production servers.

The new First American Business Lab will add value to our customer base in these key areas:

  • Testing new releases and software loads prior to production deployment
  • Integration testing for adjunct systems
  • Root cause research
  • Staging of large scale switch configurations prior to deployment programs
  • Building hardware platforms in a controlled environment

Also available to our customer is the ability to “Rent” the facility.   Our customers can bring in their team of engineers to work side by side with our team to research and test integrations with multiple 3rd party products.

While continuing to expand and evolve our First American Business LAB contains a full complement of standard products including:

Avaya LAB product includes:

  • Avaya CM
  • Avaya IP Office Release 11
  • Aura Release 6.3 / 7 and 8
  • Avaya Elite Contact and AACC center platform loads
  • AAEP

Cisco LAB product includes

  • Cisco Call Manager
  • Cisco Switches & Routers

Nortel LAB product includes:

  • CS1000 release 7x
  • Call Pilot

Ribbon LAB products (coming soon) to include:

  • G5 Gateways
  • Application Servers
  • Kandy

Additional Solutions will be reviewed and added as needed

Network testing and the equipment that supports it have not traditionally been viewed as “strategic” by even the most savvy business and network operators.   That is changing with the constantly evolution of Unified Communications where testing equipment is a must.

Load testing devices and protocol simulation suites are increasingly script-driven and can thus be pre-loaded with various scenarios that can be run quickly and analyzed to help suggest solutions to problems in the live network. This won’t eliminate all outages, but will allow for more stability and better performance of the network.

Quality can be achieved through rigorous and continuous testing of the respective systems in a given ecosystem, which, in turn, will help in increasing customer satisfaction.

First American Business continues to evolve and look for ways to add value to our customers – our new LAB is a step in that continued evolution.

New Ticketing System

New Ticketing System

Open A Ticket!

Welcome to the First American Business new ticketing system!  During the past year, our back office team has been busy designing and streamlining their processes to be more efficient than ever.

To keep up with the growth in our Enterprise (First ABE) and Government solutions (First ABS) groups we felt it was important to modernize how we open, track and close customer tickets.

Our customers can call us, email us and very soon will be able to long into our custom portal to open a Service Request.   These requests can be Moves, Adds and Changes (MACS) or to report an outage.   In either case the new FABSTickingSystem.com will be the centralize location for recording and reporting requests.

If a customer opens a ticket, we immediately record the relevant information including the caller and company information.  More than likely the company information will be prepopulated as well as the caller information.   Our Engineering team will be alerted to the issue and begin trouble shooting.   When the engineer records status information while working an issue, an email will be auto generated to the caller to inform them of the status change.   In real time!

In addition to standard ticket tracking and reporting the new FAB Ticketing System has a billing and financial tracking component. An overall Accounting function is tied into the tickets we fulfil. If we have a subcontractor work a job, the new system will generate the work order to start the effort and when complete, it will be used to track invoices received. In turn we will invoice our end customer (per our contract terms) all within the new system as well.

Smartphones

 

77% of American adults own a smartphone.

(Source: Pew Research Center)

The US smartphone use in 2018 places Americans at #8 on the global scale.

People read almost half (49.1%) of all emails on mobile devices.

(Source: 2018 Marketing Benchmark Report IBM & Watson)

This is an average percentage because smartphone ownership statistics show significantly lower use of smartphones in certain parts of the world.

YouTube was America’s’ favorite mobile app in 2018.

(Source: Statista)

Smartphone usage statistics define Youtube as the most used app with 81.9%, followed by Facebook with 75.7%. Next in line are Google search, FB messenger, Google maps, Gmail, and Google Play.

Well over half of American households are now wireless when it comes to phone service.  Of the other households, most of those have both wireless phones and landlines.   There are only a few – approximately 5% – who have a landline only.

History of the Smartphone:  On October 13, 1983, Ameritech Mobile Communications became the first company to launch a 1G phone network in the US, starting with Chicago. On March 13, 1984, the 2 pound Motorola DynaTAC 8000x went on sale—for $3,995.

But the true smartphone revolution didn’t start until Macworld 2007, when Steve Jobs revealed the first iPhone.  Previous phones relied on keypads and could only navigate a watered-down version of the internet. The iPhone’s large touchscreen could flip through websites just like a desktop computer, all while looking sleeker than anything consumers had ever seen before.

Smartphones

In 2018, there were around 1.56 billion smartphones sales worldwide.

(Source: Statista)

With the world’s population at over 7.691 billion, these smartphone numbers show approximately 20% of all people got a new smartphone last year.

There are 2.71 billion smartphone users in the world today (2019).

(Source: Statista)

Almost every third person worldwide owns a smartphone.

Over 50% of smartphone users are addicted to their phones.

(Source: TechJury)

Depending on how you define addicted this stat is a little scary.   But in any case smart phones have only been around in a big way since early 2000’s but it is clear that they are here to stay.