February 10, 2013
Interviewed on W3W3.com
Last week Larry Nelson, co-founder of W3W3.com made the trip up to Boulder to catch up and do a podcast interview with me. If you are in the entrepreneural community in Colorado, you've probably met Larry and his co-founder Pat. Larry is the guy in the sharp looking suit at every event taking photos of everyone. His joke is that the photos go up on the website for free, but you have to pay to get them removed.
I'm fascinated by the work that Larry and Pat have done, because he has documented so many companies in Colorado and beyond. I keep telling him someone needs to interview him so he can tell his story, and while he was here, I created the world's shortest podcast.
To listen to the interview that Larry did with me where we talked about Gold Systems' new Vonetix 7 Voice product, click here. Be sure and check out http://www.w3w3.com including the Entrepreneurs, Software and Venture Capital Channels. If you would like to get your company name in front of business leaders from Colorado and beyond, ask Larry about sponsoring on of these channels.
December 29, 2011
Gold Systems is hiring
With just a couple of days left in 2011, I have to say I think that 2012 is going to be a great year. At Gold Systems we have a new product, Vonetix 7 Voice, and business is really starting to take off. We beat our sales goals for Q4 by a wide margin, and we're going into Q1 with a LOT of opportunity. To say I'm thankful would be an understatement. 2011 was challenging and I'm hugely grateful to everyone who helped us end the year on an upswing.
Now we're looking for some great people to join our engineering group. We're mainly looking for .NET and IVR people, but check out our job postings at the Gold Systems website and if it looks interesting, shoot us an email.
To all my friends and business associates - have a Happy New Year and I hope to see you in 2012!
July 19, 2011
Using Microsoft UCMA in the post-PBX world
Continuing to guest blog for Tom Cross on http://crosstalk-techtionary.blogspot.com/, below is my second installment:
So what is UCMA and why should you care? According to Microsoft , it is "a managed-code platform that developers use to build applications that provide access to and control over Microsoft Enhanced Presence information, instant messaging, telephone and video calls, and audio/video conferencing."
Given that you are reading this newsletter, you might actually know what that means, but I'm going to try to make it just a little more clear for everyone else. UCMA is software, written by Microsoft, that other software developers use to create their own applications that interact with Lync in some way. Most software today is built on other pieces of software, provided by Microsoft or other vendors. We talked about reusable code for years, and now we have it.
UCMA stands for Unified Communications Managed API. It's one of those great acronyms that actually contains another acronym, in this case API, which stands for Application Programming Interface.
Let's say I want to write a simple help desk application. Maybe I have agents in different locations, but they all are using Lync, and I want to know if we ever get into a situation where there are fewer than five agents available to take a call. (Or an email, or IM, it doesn't really matter.) Using the UCMA API, I can write software that tells Lync that I want to know whenever an agent is available. The API is really just a way for my code to talk Microsoft's code. They worry about the mechanics of communicating with Lync, while I code up the business logic. I write code that keeps track of how many agents are available and how I want to notify a supervisor if we run out of agents. Microsoft's code handles everything else behind the scenes.
Just about anything that can be done by a user of Lync, can also be done by software using UCMA. Just as a user can make a phone call or an IM, so can my software application, courtesy of UCMA. Sometimes you'll hear people mention the UCMA SDK. That's just packaging around UCMA that makes it easy for a software engineer to access the API from their development environment.
UCMA isn't just for building simple applications; in fact it can be used to build completely new products. At Gold Systems, we've built the first UC-Enabled IVR that works with both Microsoft Tellme in the cloud as well as on premises with, or without, Microsoft Lync. UCMA includes a speech engine, a text-to-speech engine, as well as all the telephony capabilities we needed to build our product, Vonetix 7 Voice. For us, this means that we can sell a product that is much more capable than the legacy IVR products on the market today, and we can sell it at less than half the price because we do not need to pay expensive speech engine licenses to a third party.
For our customers, that means that they now have an IVR option that was designed to work with their Lync environment. For our customer's customers, it means we can create applications that are more "personable" and that are more satisfying to use than the traditional legacy IVR.
Other ISVs are exploring what can be done with UCMA too, and I believe that this will be what makes Lync successful. Microsoft will continue to build out the core product, and companies like Gold Systems will build around the edges creating new products that just can't be created with the old PBXs that I started my career working on.
Ultimately UCMA is about making Lync even more capable, more affordable and extending it in ways that fit the desires of the customers who buy it. Try calling up your PBX vendor and telling them you don't like the way they designed call routing. And not only that, but you want your own software developer to have access to their code so that you can just get in there and do it right. You can do that with Lync, thanks to UCMA.
April 02, 2011
Customer Satisfaction Software
I took a vacation day Friday because after a very busy couple of months at work, I just needed some free time outside to clear my head, think, and to not do the day-to-day stuff. I went for an easy run in the morning, took my wife out to lunch and then played music, worked on a few projects and just relaxed. It was a very satisfying day.
The reason I've been so busy lately is that at Gold Systems our newest product, Vonetix 7, is starting to get a LOT of attention, both from customers and partners. I've been traveling and doing demos, working with sales people on new opportunities, and spending a lot of time at my white-board-wall sketching out how all the pieces fit together. The product is already deployed at some very, very large enterprises and is continuing to evolve. It's different from anything in use today, though it is replacing old systems and architectures that have been in place for a long time. My challenge has been to describe what the product is as simply as possible.
Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:00 AM, wide awake, with the words "Customer Satisfaction Software" rolling around in my head. I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I got up and decided to write it down.
My career has been about helping people communicate, and generally it has been about helping large companies or government organizations communicate with their customers. In the beginning it was people calling companies on the telephone, and I remember when "improving customer service" meant eliminating busy signals and answering calls twenty-four hours a day. It meant reducing the amount of time a customer had to spend listing to bad music while being told over and over again how important they were.
Call Centers became Contact Centers as they started handling emails and then web chats. TLA's (Three Letter Acronyms) were everywhere - ACD, IVR, CRM, SEO, PBX, TXT, ICR. Some of the technology worked together, but most didn't, and what started out as a customer service initiative became an exercise in customer annoyance.
As I woke up this morning the thought was running through my head that we DON'T need more customer contact software, or worse, customer management software, we need customer SATISFACTION software. Even that's not quite right, because we are always going to need people in the equation, but it's a start. Vonetix 7 is customer satisfaction software. I like it!
February 17, 2011
Gold systems is hiring UC Lync deployment people
The Gold Systems Unified Communications Microsoft Lync Deployment group is very busy! We are looking to add to the team either full time employees or contractors. We need people who have Lync or OCS experience, and certifications are a plus. Many of us at Gold Systems are techies who are thinking about doing more than just deploying the software, but we all care about the customer and can speak their language as well as ours. Gold Systems is a unique company with a great culture and we’re just about to launch some big ideas into the market. If you have the experience and you want to think about a career change, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and I’ll make sure you get considered.
January 20, 2011
Gold Systems is hiring a sales person in the Great Lakes region
2010 was a good year for Gold Systems, and we grew revenue and profits. Now we want to do it again, so we're going to be adding to our sales organization.
We are looking for a Regional Sales Manager for the Great Lakes Region. Besides the usual requirements, (you need to be able to prospect, sell and close business) we're looking for people who fit our culture and have experience in our industry. The ideal person would have sales experience with IVR and speech recognition applications, contact centers, and most importantly a track record of selling with Microsoft and Microsoft partners.
To learn more about Gold Systems, click here. You can submit your resume on the website or if you send it directly to me, I'll get it to the right people.
December 06, 2010
Lync in real life
There are a lot of case studies about how people might use Microsoft Lync, but here is a real story of how it made my life easier just this morning.
I was working on a demo this morning and needed some help from IT. Normally I would open a ticket by sending an email to our help desk, but in this case I knew that Ned was the guy who could help me. I could see by his status in Lync that he was available, so I IM'd him.
The following IM conversation occurred:
Terry Gold [10:25 AM]:
Hi Ned - I'm starting to work on a new demo, similar to the Personal Attendant, but this time it will be a tech support line demo. Is it OK if I add it to the web server on gsi-sc?
Ned [10:25 AM]:
Sure, no problem
Terry Gold [10:26 AM]:
OK, thanks. Hopefully this will be easy. :-)
Terry Gold [10:58 AM]:
Hi Ned, we'll I'm stuck adding the application to the IIS server. Do you have a minute to point me in the right direction?
Ned [10:58 AM]:
Terry Gold [10:58 AM]:
want to go to voice?
Ned [10:59 AM]:
At the beginning of the IM above, I told Ned that I was working on a new demo and I got his permission to add the new application to the server. Thirty-two minutes later I ran into trouble. At 10:58, I went back to the same IM window and asked if he could help. Ned had been off doing something else, but he had the context of our earlier conversation in front of him. It turns out that Ned was working from home today, but it didn't matter, we connected as if he was just down the hall.
I thought it would be easier to tell Ned what I had tried rather than typing it into the IM window, so I asked him if he wanted to go to voice. He said yes, and I clicked the Call button, highlighted in yellow in this clip of the Lync communicator.
A moment later we were talking, all without looking up or dialing any numbers. Lync just found him and connected our conversation and it was much better than cell phone quality. Ned didn't have to tell me his home phone number or even say that he wasn't in the office. It just worked.
I told Ned what I had tried, and what wasn't working for me with the demo, and he decided he wanted to see what I was seeing so he asked if I could share my desktop. I clicked the Share button, and gave him a view of my first screen (I have two - I could have also just allowed him to see a single application or both screens.)
Ned could see my desktop, but I wanted him to be able to control it, so I offered him control and he accepted with two button clicks. Then I sat back and watched him explore what I had done. He quickly found the problem, fixed it and we disconnected.
You can see that we connected at 10:59 and disconnected at 11:13. It really didn't even take 14 minutes to connect, give him control and then have him fix the problem, because we spent some time talking about the weekend and how cool it was that Lync made this so painless. Ned told me this scenario happens about five times a day where someone IMs him, he goes to voice, and then they share their desktop and he solves their problem.
Here's the point of Unified Communications - I could have IM'd him with any IM client. Then I could have picked up the phone and called his home number. Then we could have used some desktop sharing application. But with Lync, it is all right there and it works with just a couple of clicks. THAT is Unified Communications.
We're a small company, so multiply this scenario about 100 or 1,000 and the savings really add up for a large enterprise. And that's just what you get when you install the basic infrastructure. At Gold Systems we're starting to build applications on top of Lync that are really cool. And I'll show that to you as soon as I get my demo done.
November 24, 2010
A good month for Microsoft
Last week I returned from a trip to find my new Windows Phone and my new Xbox + Kinect waiting for me. (It's my job to try out new technologies. Really. I have to do it.) Then on Wednesday, Microsoft officially launched Lync, the newest version of their UC product, formerly Office Communications Server.
I've had a lot time on Lync since Gold Systems was part of the early release program with Microsoft, and I believe we were the first or second company to go into production with it. Lync is the first version from Microsoft that can really replace a PBX, which is what we're doing at Gold Systems. This is such a big announcement, that they got Bill Gates himself to join in via satellite to talk about how he envisioned the day when software would replace hardware to really improve communications. Check out the Bill Gates video and more information about Lync at http://lync.microsoft.com/en-us/launch/Pages/launch.aspx
Having lived with Lync, and Office Communications Server before that, I really believe that Microsoft is going to have a huge presence in the communications sector. I also have a used PBX for sale if anyone wants it. :-)
I'll do more Lync posts soon, and I'll talk about how we're extending it to do even more interesting things.
I've been using the Samsung Focus, which is one of the new Windows Phone devices for a little over a week now. I have to say, I'm surprised by how nice it is.
Not that I was expecting it to be bad, but even Microsoft has said that they missed the boat the last couple of years and were starting from scratch on Windows Phone. I think that everyone who has seen and held this device has said it is lighter, prettier and more interesting than their iPhone or Droid. Given that it is only a week old, I don't expect it to compare feature for feature, though there are some things about it that I like even better than what I see on the iPhone or Android. It's worth checking out and it is nice to see that Microsoft is back in the mobile business.
A few things to note about Windows Phone. The new interface works and it is really snappy. The Zune pass allows me to download and listen to a huge catalog of music for $14.95 a month rather than 99 cents a track. I've downloaded at least 10 CDs worth of music since I got the phone.
It connects to Xbox, so if I play a game on my phone and get an achievement, it shows up on my Xbox Live account. I can also access my account, including my avitar, on the phone as well as my friends accounts. They are just getting started with the Xbox integration I think.
There are a few apps missing that I really need, like a Lync Communicator client (it's in the works) and a nice task list app. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and even OneNote are already there, which is great. It would also be nice to see eWallet, Evernote and a few others, but they are off to a good start and they already have more apps than some people thought they would at this stage. They've even managed to get some of the best sellers that were exclusive to iPhone to create apps for Windows Phone.
Here's my thought on this. If you are using a Blackberry, Windows Mobile device or you don't have a smart phone yet, be sure and check this out. If you are using an iPhone or Android, but you are a gamer or you like the idea of lots of good music for one low price then the Windows Phone just might get you to make a change.
I got the Samsung Focus, but there are other devices available so if you prefer a real keyboard you can get it.
Wow, the Xbox Kinect is just alien technology. I happend to see a commercial for Dance Central today, and it really is just like the commercial makes it look. Think Guitar Hero for dancing, except when you're done you might really be able to dance. It takes you through the moves and gets people up off the couch who wouldn't ordinarilly want to stand up and dance. One of the achiviements is the Off the Wall for getting past the Wallflower rank.
The Kinect really does track movement as well as they said it would, and I think we'll see a whole new type of game being developed over the next year or two. The hardware has definately leaped ahead of the software, or at least the applications. The current games that I've tried are good, but I imagine with just a little more time we might put down the controler for good.
That's it for now . . .
June 22, 2010
MCS Forum in Boulder
Last week was a real treat for me - I attended an industry conference that was right here in Boulder, Colorado. Usually I have to travel half-way across the country, but not only was this one just a 10 minute drive from my home, but it was a lot of fun, and I got to bring home an award for Gold Systems.
This was the first ever MCS Forum, an event dedicated to theMicrosoft Communications Server product, aka Office Communications Server. Thomas Cross, who put on the event and did a great job of keeping everyone entertained and well fed, asked me to be the first speaker of the morning.
I did a live demo of how we've extended Communications Server to add social networking capabilities, such as Twitter. I've written about that before and recorded several demos, and Microsoft has even written a case study on it. You can read the Microsoft case study here.
But the main point of my talk at the MCS Forum was that this product isn't just a new communications system or even a PBX replacement, but rather it is a platform that will be extended and built on in ways that are just now becoming clear. I believe the shift from the traditional propriety PBX hardware mindset to open, extensible software communications platforms will be as big as the shift was from mainframes to PCs, or landlines to smart phones.
I'll bet the MCS Forum will be three times as big next year because it delivered great information about how this industry is going to evolve, and it brought together customers and vendors who are making it happen. If you missed it this year, put it on your schedule to attend it next year. Check out Tom's blog at http://crosstalk-techtionary.blogspot.com/ or the mscforum.org website.
September 23, 2009
Another Social Center Demo
It used to be that people could tell how busy I was by how long my hair got between haircuts. Now you can by how long I go between blog posts. The good news is that I've been very busy this past few months, and at least from where I'm standing, it looks like the economy is improving and enterprises are buying again. We've already beat our sales goal for the quarter and now we're trying how much we can beat it by the end of the month - that's a good feeling.
I've recorded another demo of our Social Center concept software, and we're starting to roll it out to more users inside Gold Systems. Internally it's like "Twitter for the enterprise" in that as people change their presence and notes I can see those changes appear in the order they happen. Already I'm feeling better connected to the people I follow. Sometimes it is work related but not always - for instance I found out that one of the people I'm working with is having twins, which is pretty appropriate for her to announce it that way, because she introduced me to her fiance a few years ago using Microsoft OCS video conferencing.
You can watch the demo here - www.youtube.com/goldsys If you are interested in this sort of thing, Opus Research also just wrote a piece about what we're doing and that's available on the Gold Systems blog here - http://www.goldsys.com/blog/news/gold-systems-makes-ocs-more-social