The cloud can be more, do more

This blog post is sponsored by the CIO Collaboration Network and Avaya.

When cloud computing was still in its nascent stage, even the most vocally supportive pundits cautioned: it may not be for everyone. There were plenty of discussions surrounding true expenditures, reliability, security, accessibility, and all sort of other -ity commonly encountered when dealing with the IT department. Some companies forged ahead and others waited.

But as we come to realize now, it appears that the cloud is for everybody. Any day you buy something from Amazon, check Gmail, download apps on the iPhone, save a file to Dropbox, or stream a movie from Netflix, you are a enjoying the cloud. Somewhere in the world one or more data centers with very fat network pipes are moving bits and completing transactions seamlessly.

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Zen(desk) and the art of customer service through Facebook

How about this for Zen: the loudest customer complaints are the ones you don’t hear.

Armed with nothing but a webcam or even just a mobile phone, disgruntled customers are on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. venting their frustration with customer (no) service. A negative voice interaction may end after the hangup, but a social channel interaction has the potential to ripple, go viral, or even attract other similar responses to cause a snowball of headache for a company.

It’s no wonder that a company like Zendesk has gained traction. First, becoming a customer is easy — just sign up on the website and pick a pricing plan. No additional hardware or software required, no on-site consultants are needed.

Second, Zendesk understands social media. There are other offerings that claim to support social media channels, but more often than not it’s simple monitoring and keyword grabbing. Most of them can handle Twitter fairly well, but it’s integrating with Facebook that’s proving to be a challenge. Likes, comments, walls, pages, messages — these Facebook elements can throw off any attempt at a seamless Facebook interaction between a company and a user.

Zendesk may be onto something here… Posts on a company’s Facebook page are sucked into Zendesk as a ticket, and subsequent responses are nicely threaded as part of the ticket. The UI is clean and simple.

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Lack of Voice in Google UC effort

Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O, just concluded last week and has managed to generate a lot of excitement among fans. A new faster, smoother Android 4.1 (dubbed JellyBean); a $200 Nexus 7 tablet; an Android-only media streaming device, Nexus Q; a maturing Project Glass; and even for iOS users, Google Chrome and Google Drive.

Obviously, as with any developer conference, there are various sessions and workshops to satisfy the inquisitive minds of coders. GigaOM reported that in a session with the Google+ Hangouts team, a product manager revealed that there’s a plan to merge its various real-time messaging apps: Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and Google+ Hangouts.

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