Richard Adhikari

About the Author Richard Adhikari


Audio/Video

Harman Kardon’s Cortana-Powered Smart Speaker Underwhelms

Early reviews of the Harman Kardon Invoke with Cortana — the smart speaker that features Microsoft’s personal assistant — have been lukewarm at best. The speaker will be available in the U.S. starting Sunday. Like Amazon’s Echo line and Google’s Home speakers, Invoke lets users play music, manage calendars, set reminders, check traffic, get news reports, and control other smart home devices.

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Marketing

Email Marketing Goes Hand-in-Glove With E-Commerce Shipping

ShippingEasy on Thursday launched Automated Email Marketing as an addition to its customer management module. This new tool has a powerful rules engine that helps users increase sales, the company said. Among other things, it can set up a trigger to send an email to first-time buyers immediately after an order is downloaded — customized with a logo and specific coupon code if desired.

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Personal Computers

Microsoft Unveils Power-Packed Surface Book 2

Microsoft on Tuesday launched the Surface Book 2, positioning it as the laptop of the future. The device is powerful enough for the next wave of computing, characterized by mixed reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning and immersive gaming, said Microsoft Devices Corporate Vice President Panos Panay. Integration between the Surface Book 2 and the Adobe Creative Cloud has been improved.

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Products

New Cloud Tools Aim to Streamline, Monetize Partner Relationships

AppDirect on Tuesday announced new products and functionality for its Cloud Commerce Platform.
The new tools, AppReseller and Cloud Management Suite, enable software vendors to launch reseller partner programs quickly. Software as a Service providers can use the new capabilities to help their small and mid-sized business users manage and leverage their software more effectively.

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Internet

Companies Cheer Completion of Open-Design Transatlantic Internet Cable

Microsoft on Friday announced completion of the Marea undersea cable, which stretches 4,400 miles between Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Bilbao, Spain. A joint project of Microsoft, Facebook and global telecommunication infrastructure company Telxius, the cable lies more than 17,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. It is the first cable to link Virginia and Spain.

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Social CRM

Nimble’s Social CRM Finds Its Way Into Office 365

Social sales and marketing software provider Nimble and cloud services consultant NeoCloud have partnered to deliver a simple, affordable contact management and CRM package for Microsoft Office 365. NeoCloud has agreed to bundle Nimble CRM into all of its Office 365 deployments, beginning this month. Nimble CRM adds employees’ individual connections to a shared team relationship manager.

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Deals

SoftBank to Take Fearsome Robots Off Alphabet’s Hands

SoftBank on Thursday announced that it will acquire robotics company Boston Dynamics from Alphabet, parent company of Google. SoftBank Robotics is the company’s subsidiary that focuses on the development, sales and maintenance of humanoid and service robots. “Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the information revolution,” said SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.”

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Deals

Pegasystems Nestles in AWS, Azure Clouds

Pegasystems has deepened its 7-year-old relationship with Amazon AWS, and also has teamed up with Microsoft Azure, company officials told Pegaworld attendees on Tuesday. The deals are part of a series of planned partnerships aimed at giving Pega’s clients choice in their cloud environment and avoiding lock-in. Pega last month inked an agreement to deliver Pega software on Pivotal Cloud Foundry.

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Enterprise Apps

Salesforce Offers Alternative to Old-School Partner Portals

Salesforce on Wednesday announced the Sales Cloud Lightning Partner Relationship Management app as a replacement for partner portals and electronic data interchanges that lack modern features such as built-in mobile, social analytics and AI capabilities. The PRM app has an interactive Guided Setup Wizard that lets channel managers configure, customize and deploy the app in days.

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Customer Experience

Verizon Aims to Help Firms Get Up Close and Personal With Customers

Verizon Enterprise Solutions has released Visual Interactive Calling, an SDK and platform designed to enable banks, retailers, airlines, travel and hospitality companies, and other firms to communicate visually with their customers. “The sweet spot for this solution is enterprises that have deep mobile app penetration into their customer base,” said Tom Smith, a CX manager at Verizon.

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Cybersecurity

Report: Cybersecurity Dangerously Lax at Mar-a-Lago

Internet security at Mar-a-Lago — the private club President Trump owns and has dubbed the “Southern White House” — is weak, based on a recent investigation. Trump has used the resort to meet with staffers and foreign heads of state on official business. In February, he took a call about a North Korean ballistic missile launch in Mar-a-Lago’s dining room, with members and waiters present.

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Health

Wearable Tech Can Detect Life-Threatening Heart Problems

Cardiogram last week announced that it has developed a preliminary algorithm to use with the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices to detect atrial fibrillation with higher accuracy than previously validated detection methods. Atrial fibrillation, or AF, affects about 2.7 million Americans, and increases the risk of stroke by five times. Overall, it causes about 15 percent of strokes.

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Developers

Raspberry Pi Fans Can Build Their Own AI Voice Assistant

Google and AIY Projects have launched an open source DIY artificial intelligence Voice Kit for Raspberry Pi hobbyists. The AIY Voice Kit includes hardware for audio capture and playback, connectors for the dual mike daughterboard and speaker, GPIO pins to connect low-voltage components such as micro servos and sensors, and an optional barrel connector for a dedicated power supply.

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Enterprise Apps

Salesforce Rejiggers Enterprise Apps Partner Plan

Salesforce on Tuesday launched the AppExchange Partner Program, or APP, for developers, independent software vendors and startups, as a replacement for its current ISV Partner Program. The APP will cost much less. Its baseline percent-net-revenue model for all new APP partners has been slashed from 25 percent to 15 percent. Current partners will be eligible for the new PNR terms on contract renewal.

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Customer Service

Congress Probes United Airlines’ Customer Mishandling

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz on Tuesday apologized to the United States Congress for his company causing a passenger to be dragged off a UA flight last month. United failed its customers and failed as a company in that incident, and this has to be a turning point for the airline, Munoz told the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee at a hearing into airline industry practices.

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Consumer Security

Burger King Ad Creates Whopper of a Mess for Google Home

Burger King in essence hijacked the voice-activated Google Home speakers in some consumers’ homes. In a 15-second television ad, the camera zooms in on a young man wearing the company uniform who says, “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?” The trigger phrase for Google’s AI Assistant activated Home speakers situated nearby, prompting them to read Wikipedia’s description of the Whopper.

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