The Road to Universal Coverage in Real-Time Communications


Road to Universal Coverage white

(this post originally written for Daitan Blog)

It took more than 100 years from the invention of the telephone to the point where virtually every home in the developed word had a phone line.

In the mid-1980’s the first cellular networks appeared and, 25 years later, we get to the point where there are 6 billion cell phones in a world with 7 billion people. More people have access to a cell phone than to drinking water or toilets.

As cell phones reach universal coverage, traditional phones usage is declining. As of 2013, 1/3 of the US households no longer have a phone landline, and that is declining fast.

VoIP technology as we know it today appeared in the 90’s and became widely available to consumers in the early 2000’s. Those services have incorporated capabilities to add video, text chat, screen share, etc.

But IP-based communications has not yet reached universal coverage. I cannot simply “pick-up the phone and call anyone in the word”. Users are still segmented among a handful of proprietary platforms.

But the day when real-time communications over IP become universal is coming. We can already see the beginnings of the decline in the use of cell phone. I am not necessarily typical, but I used only 5 minutes of my cell phone plan last month (most of my communication these days happen over Facebook, Twitter and Skype).

How long will it take? Considering that adoption of new technologies is accelerating, it won’t take 100 years like the telephone or 25 years like the cell phone. We have been using IP-based communications for over 10 years, so we are going to see universal coverage in IP RTC in a couple of years.

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Daitan Group provides development services to accelerate product development in Telecom, Cloud, and Mobile. Daitan  customers can rely on a partner able either take complete ownership of a project, or work as part of a team in full Agile mode. Contact Daitan to discuss how we can help in your next project.

The Myth of Fixed-Price in Software Development


rendered concept of a project management triangle

(This post originally written for Daitan Blog)

There are two rational reasons why customers of software development projects are still attracted to fixed-price contracts:

  • Budget predictability
  • Transfer of technical  risk to the provider

The title of this post calls that a myth because in exchange for offloading the technical risk, the customer usually assumes the risk or requirements uncertainty. Naturally, to take on a fixed-price project, the provider will demand a fixed set of well-defined requirements and a static Statement of Work.

So what happens? As the project starts, we naturally learn more about the competitive landscape, the real market requirements, new use cases. The technical requirements change and we are left with two options: (a) stick to the fixed-everything contract and develop a product that does not match user needs or (b) change the scope of the project and adjust the schedule/price accordingly.

So, the fixed-price project is not really.

Agile Development is about recognizing the reality that both market requirements and engineering estimates will change over the life of a project. So, the agreements and software releases are iterative, fixed only for short periods of time and adaptive to the reality of execution.  Most internal software development organizations have already made that transition.

Agile Outsourcing is about finding external development partners that will be able to share technical and market risks and work collaboratively to adapt to those changes and deliver the best possible result, within schedule and budget. Most external development organizations became good at minimizing per hour cost, but are still not able to deal with change in requirements. So most software development outsourcing is still based on simple fixed tasks.

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Daitan Group provides development services to accelerate product development in Telecom, Cloud, and Mobile. Daitan  customers can rely on a partner able either take complete ownership of a project, or work as part of a team in full Agile mode. Contact Daitan to discuss how we can help in your next project.

Beer Tasting: A Visit To An English Pub.


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A group of friends get together once a month to try different beers. I happen to be the host of this month’s meeting and the theme will be “A Visit to an English Pub”.

England brews beer since pre-historic times, mostly top-fermenting Ales.

Originally, a brew was an “Ale”. Add hops to ales and you get “Beer”. In England, beer (or “bitter”) is a normally a Pale Ale. Mild, Brown, Old, and India are variations of Pale Ales styles (but the Brits are very bad at agreeing exactly on what defines each style).

Beer in England is served at cellar temperature (about 55F) and is meant to be cask-conditioned in a Pub’s cellar and be poured from a tap. But in the era of InBev and Bev&More, we get it pasteurized and shipped to our door (and we will drink it a bit colder).

When tasting English beers, you say “flavour”, “colour”, not “flavor” and “color”.

This is today’s beer selection:

  • We start with two brown Ales that (based on my limited experience) are not commonly found in London English Pubs.
    • New Castle Brown Ale (4.7% ABV) – Probably the most common in Californian supermarkets in this set, most people has had it before. It originates in the North-east of England (but today owned by Heineken), it is known in England as a working man beer. You have drunk it, but have you tasted it?
    • Old Specked Hen (5.2% ABV) – I found it first here in California and felt in love. But loves wear off eventually. I always get a bit disappointed because it looks so beautifully red against the light in its clear bottle, but it turns amber-brown when we pour it in the glass.‘Old Speckled Hen’ has a full, smooth flavour and is very easy to drink. Fruity aromas are complemented by a blend of malty tastes and a dry finish.
  • Then we move on to brands and brews I actually tried first at some real English Pub
    • Fuller’s London Pride (4.7% ABV) – I found that if you walk into a London Pub, walk by the old guy sitting at the end of the bar and order “a bitter”, 7 out of 10 times, that is what you get.
    • Boddington’s Ale (4.6 %ABV) – Originated in England’s Northwest (now owned by InBev). If you like creamy beer (I do), Boddington’s is usually served in the pub extra “nitrogenated” (mixed with N2 gas at the tap, like Guinness). Having it from the can won’t feel the same, but it had to be part of the standard set.
    • Fuller’s ESB (5.9% ABV) – ESB stands for “Extra Special Bitter”. It is slightly stronger and supposedly more premium cousin to the London Pride.
    • Samuel Smith Old Brewery Pale Ale – It originated in Tadcaster, England and it is the last of the most traditional mainstream breweries to remain independent. Their beer (including the two in today’s tasting) are fermented in in “stone Yorkshire squares’~ fermenting vessels made of solid slabs of slate ~ which give the beers a fuller bodied taste, using the same strain of yeast since the nineteenth century.
  • And we finish with an Imperial Stout
    • Samuel Smith Imperial Stout (7%ABV) – This distinctive type of beer, like the IPA, was originally brewed to withstand the abuses of shipping in foul weather to Imperial Russia. It was a favourite of Russian nobility whose taste for the finest food and drink was world famous. A rich flavourful brew; deep chocolate in colour with a roasted barley nose and flavour that is a complexity of malt, hops, alcohol and yeast. Fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’.

The End of Telecom (as we know it)



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(Originally written by Marcio Saito for Daitan Blog)

It was early 1900’s when the telephone become a medium for real-time communications. It took us 100 years to build a telecom infrastructure that brought a phone line to virtually every home in the developed world.

But that picture of universal coverage is changing rapidly. As of end of 2012, more than a third of all households in the US were no longer using a landline (source). These people have ditched their traditional telephones and rely solely on their cell phones and internet connections.

AT&T, the largest telephone operator in the US has publicly announced it will turn off its traditional telephone network (PSTN) by 2015. Regulatory requirements are the only reason that doesn’t happen even faster.

The first cellular networks appeared in the early 1980’s and, 20 years later, we reach the point where virtually every person in the developed world has a cell phone. In emerging countries, cell phone penetration is higher than landlines have ever been. In Brazil today, there are 260M cell phones for 190M people. China has 1.1B cell phones, 3 times more than the US. It is universal coverage again.

We are already living a new major transformation. We are starting to use our cell phones less and do most real-time communications using Social Media and Voice/Video-over IP (Skype, Facebook, FaceTime, Google Voice).

We have finally reached a point where the communication applications are independent from the underlying transport infrastructure. When we talk over the Internet, it doesn’t matter what the transport is (wi-fi, cell, copper wires), applications are free from control from operators. New technologies and standards like WebRTC will further democratize access to communication functions, making them available from any IP capable device.

What is coming is a new wave of innovation, when real-time communications will be richer (voice, video, screen, text), ubiquitous (computer, appliances, mobile, wearable) and seamless (move from one device or network or media to another without interrupting the conversation).

It is the end of Telecom as we know it. Or a new beginning.

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Marcio Saito is responsible for marketing at Daitan Group, a software development service provider helping technology vendors adopt new communication technologies and bring them to the market quickly. Daitan pioneered the development of cloud-based communications and was first to implement WebRTC for its customers. To contact Daitan, click here.

WebRTC and Business Applications


Daitan WebRTC

(originally written for Daitan Blog)

In the past years, communications applications such as Skype and FaceTime have revolutionized how consumers use computers to communicate in real-time. Grandma talks and interacts with her grandchildren even when they live thousands of miles apart.

Now WebRTC, an emerging standard for real-time communications, is gathering a lot of attention. Its promise is similar: seamless sharing of voice, video, data. Why is it so special?

The big difference is that WebRTC is embedded in the web browser. There is no need to install a native client. Once WebRTC is available in the mainstream, developers without telecom experience can integrate communications features into web and mobile applications by adding a couple of lines of JavaScript code.

That will bring a new wave of inovation, creating disruption and new opportunities. Grandma led the way, now it is time for business to wake up to the potential of WebRTC in customer service, video conferencing, marketing, sales.

TMC-Article

We have recently talked to TMC about WebRTC in Business. Check the interview here.


Daitan Group is a pioneer in WebRTC development for business applications. Our development partners were the first in the industry to introduce call center and customer service products supporting WebRTC. If you plan to develop WebRTC services, don’t start it before contacting us.

Customer Service and WebRTC: A Technology Game Changer


WebRTC

(This was originally written for Daitan Blog)

What is WebRTC? Why is it Relevant to Customer Service?

WebRTC is an emerging standard to enable real-time communications (voice, text, video, data) directly on a web-browser running in any machine or mobile phone. It is like having ubiquitous Skype, but without the need to install any proprietary application or browser plugins.

With WebRTC, web developers can easily embed rich voice/video/data applications into web pages or apps using nothing more than  HTML5 and JavaScript. They can quickly develop new communication applications without owning media pipes (once connection is set, data flows peer-to-peer) and writing just a few lines of code.

Skype, Google Hangouts, and other stand-alone communication applications are changing how we communicate using our laptops and smartphones. WebRTC integrates that change to web services and mobile Apps.

WebRTC and Customer Service: Transforming Customer Communications

One of the greatest challenges for Customer Service today is to keep context independent of channel. A conversation that starts on the website via chat can turn into a phone call and then transition to Twitter to be eventually resolved by email.

The promisse of WebRTC is to be the single channel of real-time communications enabling the seamless transition between data, text, voice, video sharing. For example,  “Click to Call” buttons become trivial and independent of platform or type of client device.

So what we see in the horizon is a future of no more traditional phone lines, no more proprietary web widgets for chat, and a seamless, integrated channel for real time communication that will both make current problems irrelevant and create a new set of challenges for Customer Service organizations.

Where is WebRTC today?

WebRTC is a standard driven by the IETF and W3C. It is in draft mode and is currently supported by Google Chrome, Mozilla and Opera Browsers. Safari and Internet Explorer are not yet supporting the WebRTC standards, although plug-ins are available for both browsers.

A good gateway for additional information can be found at http://www.webrtc.org/ (which is maintained by the Chrome Browser team).

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Daitan Group is a pioneer in WebRTC development for business applications. Our development partners were the first in the industry to introduce call center and customer service products supporting WebRTC. If you plan to develop WebRTC services, don’t start it before contacting us.

Top 3 Requirements for Agile Outsourcing


render of a shared service concept

(originally written for Daitan blog)

In the past decade or so the software industry has moved from waterfall to Agile Software Development methods.

In waterfall development, marketing and engineering signed a “contract” based on a fixed scope of work (the “Product Requirements Document”) and embarked in a long project based on engineering estimates of execution complexity. That provided a false sense of predictability and risk management. The problem is that requirements change and estimates are proved wrong as soon as developers start writing code, resulting in delays, budget overruns, and mismatch between product capabilities and user needs.

The idea behind Agile is that both marketing and engineering teams develop a relationship of trust and share common goals and responsibilities. Both sides agree that plans are subject to change and work collaboratively, managing schedule, scope and cost,  continuously making plan adjustments often. The result is more efficiency and better products.

Is Your Software Development Agile? Think again

Another trend in software development that has only increased in the past decade is the use of external development teams (outsourcing). It is about cost and risk management and accessing skills where they are readily available.

If you do or plan to use external teams for software development, you must transform your thinking on the relationship with them to materialize the efficiency advantages of Agile development. The interface between product developers and traditional outsourcing providers has not yet caught up with the level of transparency and collaboration required for Agile methods to work.

So, what do you need to look for when working with a software development partner?

Here are the top 3 Requirements for Agile Outsourcing:

  1. Cost Efficiency.  Yes, there are other good reasons to outsource, but managing development costs is still an important driver. The common mistake is to focus in hourly cost per developer. You need to think cost of results and development organizations working in Agile with more capable developers should be able to deliver a lot more than just low cost per head.
  2. Technical Capabilities.  In an Agile development team, every member must interact with others and contribute their ideas. If external developers are seen as second-class contributors, you are on the wrong path. They should be as capable as the internal team and bring their previous technical and process experience in similar projects to add value to the relationship.
  3. Collaboration and Communication.  Since outsourcing often involves teams in different countries, factors such as language, time zone, cultural differences can be a challenge. Before starting a project make sure you can trust your partner and that the communication infrastructure is adequate and that there is a good match of culture, language and capabilities to communicate in real time. Joint development is not a transaction, it needs to be a trusted relationship between teams.
                                                                                                                     
Daitan Group provides development services to accelerate product development in Telecom, Cloud, and Mobile. Click here to see some of the companies that partner with Daitan to develop their products.

A Sub-Atomic Particle walks into a bar…


A couple of days ago, Simon Allen, a friend in the UK got a “Neutron walks into a bar…” joke from Carla (from Oxford High School) and posted it in his Facebook timeline:

This neutron walks into a bar, orders a drink, opens his wallet to pay when the barman shakes his head and says………. “for you, no charge”

Physics, Humor and Language always catch my attention, so I thought for a few seconds and I replied with my own “Particle walks into a bar…” joke:

The Neutron walks into a bar. He was positive he had forgotten an Electron at home.

Since them I have wasted precious minutes (hours?) thinking of other smart particle situations (and involved other people through Twitter and Facebook). I knew I would not be able to stop unless I put all of them in a single place.

So, here it is. The most comprehensive set of “Particle walks into a bar…” jokes  documented in history. Credits to Simon Allen, Roy Atkinson, Allan Berkson, and the public domain (I am sure a few of them are stolen).

They are presented in no particular order.

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An Electron walks into a bar and order a drink for the proton. He found her very attractive.

A Neutron walks into a bar and order a double scotch. Barman: “What is the matter?”. Neutron: “Not the matter, the anti-matter”.

A Proton walks into a bar. Barman: “We only sell to protons, are you sure you are a proton?” Proton: “Yes, I’m positive”

Plutonium Atom walked into a bar. Barman thought he was very unstable.

An Electron walks into a bar. Another Electron walked in to a bar to meet the first Electron. That is repulsive!

A Proton walked into a bar order a double. The barman asks “What is the matter?”. Proton says “Two good friends were in a collision yesterday…”

An Electron walks into a bar… Barman: “What is the problem?”… Electron: “It is the photon. I wish I was as brilliant as him.”

An Atom walks into a bar and orders Diet Coke. Barman “Trying to lose weight?” Atom: “Yes, after Thanksgiving dinner, I am a few isotopes too heavy.”

Two Hydrogen Atoms walk into a bar. “We feel very divided…” Barman: “Helium, is it you?”

An Atom walks into a bar at the hotel lobby. Barman “Sit at the bar?”… Atom: “Yes, I cannot find room in the periodic table. ”

Neutrino walked into a bar. “Got a speeding ticket”… Barman: “How fast were you going?”… Neutrino: “Over the speed of light, but I think the radar malfunctioned. “

An Electron walked into a bar.  As he was served a martini, he waved to the Foton and collapsed.

An Atom walks into a bar. Barman “What are you going to have?”… Atom: “A gin-atomic, please”

Carbon and Hydrogen Atoms walk into a bar. “A bottle or red. Organic, please”

A Boson walked into a bar. Barman “What are you going to have?”…  The Boson did not hear what the barman said. He had a noise canceling headphone on.

A Lepton walks into a bar. Barman: “Ice Tea?”

Dinheiro em Árvore? Nem no Vale do Silício


(in Portuguese, originally written for IVP)

Nos últimos anos, encontrei centenas de empreendedores brasileiros visitando o Vale do Silício. Quando pergunto “qual o seu objetivo nessa visita?”, invariavelmente ouço “tenho uma startup, vim procurar um VC e tentar pegar um investimento”.

Nesse post, eu o convido a visitar a California, mas também explico alguns conceitos básicos de investimento em startups e mostro que “pegar um investimento” não é um objetivo realista para a grande maioria dos empreendedores brasileiros visitando o Vale.

Empreendedor, Angel and Venture Capital

Empresas podem nascer, crescer e morrer de várias formas, mas durante as últimas décadas o Vale do Silício na California desenvolveu um modelo de empreendedorismo que parece maximizar a eficiência do ecosistema empreendedor.

No estágio inicial, uma startup é financiada pelos próprios fundadores (economias pessoais, investimentos de amigos, empréstimos bancários, suor e trabalho). Bootstrapping é o processo no qual a empresa desenvolve o produto e gera receitas para pagar as contas e crescer sem capital externo adicional.

Embora bootstrapping possa ser o caminho para a sua empresa, no modelo padrão existem dois tipos de investidores que fornecem o capital para a empresa crescer. Isso permite planos de negócios com riscos e objetivos mais agressivos.

Angel Investors são indivíduos ou grupos de indivíduos que investem capital próprio. A decisão de investimento ocorre por “gut feeling”, envolvendo experiência no mercado, relação de confiança com fundadores, e paixão pela tecnologia. Normalmente Angels investem cedo na evolução da empresa e, nos EUA, fornecem USD$100-$500k.

Para receber angel investment, uma startup precisa ter um protótipo do produto/serviço e alguns usuários ou clientes. O empreendedor precisa mostrar que conhece o mercado e o problema, sabe o caminho para uma solução viável, e consegue executar. O investimento normalmente é utilizado para completar o desenvolvimento do produto e validar o modelo de negócios.

VC Investors são fundos administrados por profissionais. A decisão de investimento é baseado em análise, já que o VC precisa justificar o aporte para os investidores e manter o perfil de investimento do fundo. Normalmente VCs investem mais tarde na evolução da empresa e, nos EUA, fornecem USD$1-5M em uma rodada inicial.

Para receber investimento VC, uma startup precisa ter um produto no mercado. Para um serviço de Internet, ter 100k’s usuários e taxas de conversão/retenção boas.  Para um produto corporativo, precisa ter vários clientes com validação da proposta de valor e a recomendação de analistas de mercado independentes. O empreendedor precisa mostrar que o modelo está validado e que capital é o último fator necessário para escalar o negócio.

A Startup Brasileira e o Silicon Valley

Para quem me conhece, eu sempre falo que é quase obrigatório para um empreendedor planejando jogar pelas regras do jogo acima visitar o Vale do Silício e passar algumas semanas aqui. Escrevi sobre as razões disso em um post anterior e outro.

Mas vir para o Vale para “tentar um investimento” não é realista porque esse ecosistema é altamente local. Por motivos legais e logísticos, é raro para um investidor Angel ou VC investir em uma empresa brasileira trabalhando o mercado local. Mesmo quando ocorre, o aporte exige que a empresa se estabeleça nos EUA. Então o dinheiro do Vale (1/3 de todo o capital de risco no mundo) não é diretamente acessível ao empreendedor Brasileiro.

A boa notícia é que esse mesmo ecosistema está se formando em outras partes do mundo e o mercado está respondendo à onda de empreendedorismo ocorrendo no Brasil. As incubadoras e aceleradoras estão se multiplicando (com as boas e más consequencias da expansão rápida). Fundos Angel (como a própria IVP) e VC estão se formando (com capital nacional e daqui do Vale).

Mas e a história do empreendedor que recebeu $5M do VC somente com um PowerPoint? E o Instagram que teve um exit de $1B sem ter um modelo de negócios? Sim, mas essas são as excessões que aparecem na mídia e criam a ilusão que é fácil pegar investimentos sem um negócio viável. Para os 98% de startups normais, as regras se aplicam.

Então me siga no Twitter venha me visitar aqui no Vale do Silício (tour), mas não porque você ache que dinheiro para startups cresce em árvores.

Marcio Saito foi de São Paulo para a California para ajudar a estabelecer a Cyclades (a primeira empresa brasileira de tecnologia a se estabelecer no Vale) 20 anos atrás e acabou ficando. Trabalha com tecnologias de Data Center e Social Media. Envolvido com empreendedorismo, hoje coordena o programa de mentoria da Bay Brazil, uma entidade que conecta as comunidades profissionais do Brasil e Vale do Silício.

Thanksgiving in a Social World


This week is the time of the year when we in the US take a break from our busy lives to express Gratitude (and eat, shop, etc).

Gratitude is a positive emotion we feel in acknowledgment of a benefit we have received. Saying “Thank You” is the way to express that emotion which is the basis of life in community. It recognizes that we depend on one another to live, to be ourselves.

We get used to say “Thank You” as a matter of social protocol. This is the time to bring its meaning back to consciousness.

I grew up in Brazil and my native language is Portuguese. We say “Obrigado“, which is not my favorite expression because it equals gratitude with indebtedness. Literally, it says “I owe you something”.

In my travels around the world I have always taken interest not only on the local word to express gratitude, but also on its literal meaning and the social attitude behind it.

My favorite form of “Thank You” is the one used in Malaysia. “Terima Kasih” sounds very friendly and it literally translates to “Receive Love”.

I am no historian or linguist, but I theorize that words equating gratitude and indebtedness have roots in a period in history where gratitude was used as social currency between levels of hierarchy, where favors were exchanged for political loyalty. Words that equals gratitude with love reflect a more equal exchange between peers.

As we shift towards a business environment where stronger relationships are more people-to-people and less customer-to-company or people-to-expert, in Social Business, gratitude has to be more like love and less like indebtedness.

With that in mind, I would like to say Thank You for reading, agreeing or disagreeing, providing feedback and teaching me through interaction in 2012.

Here is a list to say Thank You in other languages.

Happy Thanksgiving.