Category Archives: News

Tech Meets Travel: Switchfly Announces New CEO and EVP

News provided by
Switchfly
Jan 28, 2019, 07:00 ET

With enterprise software executive Craig Brennan joining as CEO and travel industry expert Alan Josephs as EVP of Product and Marketing, Switchfly continues to transform travel with cutting-edge technology and solutions

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 28, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Switchfly, the leading travel ecommerce platform that powers dynamic packaging, loyalty, and other online travel solutions for airlines, financial services companies, hotels and other travel brands across the globe, has announced two additions to its executive leadership team that will support the company’s continued efforts to drive innovation and create value for its customers.

Craig Brennan joins as CEO and will set Switchfly’s strategic direction and lead it into the future. Craig has over 25 years of senior executive experience in SaaS and enterprise software companies, including serving as CEO of Brio Software, Overtone, and QuickMobile. Craig was previously EVP of Global CRM at Oracle, a Partner at Deloitte Consulting (where he built and led the worldwide Siebel CRM Practice), and an Associate Partner at Accenture leading the Products Change Management Practice.

“Switchfly has earned its reputation as a market leader because it delivers an innovative solution to real challenges in the travel sector – and has done so for the last decade,” said Brennan. “I look forward to advancing our leadership and position in the market, and to continuously improving our unique platform, and continuing to strengthen our travel, dynamic packaging, and loyalty products.”

Adding Travel Industry Expertise

Alan Josephs joins as Switchfly’s EVP of Product, Partnerships and Marketing. With 25 years of travel industry leadership experience, Alan previously served as Chief Marketing Officer for Allianz Global Assistance, and was CEO of Perfect Escapes, an online travel startup focused on luxury hotels. Before that he spent six years at Orbitz Worldwide as the Managing Director of ebookers and as the GM & VP of Product Development for the Complex Travel business. He has also held leadership roles at Travelzoo, Travelocity, Hyatt Vacations, and Preview Travel.

“Having spent my career in the travel industry and in ecommerce specifically, I’ve worked with many of the major travel brands that will benefit from Switchfly’s solutions,” said Josephs. “I’m excited to be a part of this dynamic company, and to be working with Craig and the rest of the senior leadership to continue delivering the best possible travel e-commerce solutions to our customers.”

With both executives bringing travel and technology expertise, Switchfly will continue to disrupt the travel e-commerce landscape with the largest, most robust network of content and ancillaries in the marketplace. Together they will drive more sophisticated revenue-generating products and build upon the breadth, flexibility and scale of Switchfly’s industry-leading travel retail solutions.

To schedule an interview with CEO Craig Brennan or EVP Alan Josephs, please contact Emily Bowe at ebowe@thinkinkpr.com. For more information about Switchfly, please visit www.switchfly.com.

About Switchfly    
Switchfly is a leading travel ecommerce platform that powers dynamic packaging, loyalty and other online travel solutions for airlines, financial services companies, hotels and other travel brands across the globe, helping them drive incremental revenues, maximize conversion rates and increase consumer engagement. Through the company’s data-driven approach and its global network of ancillary merchandise for activity, air, car, hotel and insurance, Switchfly allows brands to optimize their inventory and revenue management and create relevant, personalized experiences for their customers. Switchfly partners with many of the globe’s best-recognized airlines (including American Airlines, LATAM and Avianca); loyalty programs (including IAG Avios and American Airlines Advantage); hospitality groups (including InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International and Starwood Hotels and Resorts); and financial service companies (including American Express and MasterCard). For more information, please visit www.switchfly.com.

Media Contact
Emily Bowe
ebowe@thinkinkpr.com
+1.305.7495342 x 246

SOURCE Switchfly

Related Links

https://switchfly.com

Sprint Sues AT&T Over ‘5G E’ Branding

Dan Jones
News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor – For Light Reading

2/8/2019

Sprint is suing AT&T and claiming that the labeling of its 4G-Advanced services as “5G E” on many 4G smartphones is “deceptive.”

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) filed a complaint against AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) Thursday evening with the New York State Southern District court accusing AT&T of “deceptive advertising” over the “5G Evolution” service.

“AT&T has employed numerous deceptive tactics to mislead consumers into believing that it currently offers a coveted and highly anticipated fifth-generation wireless network, known as 5G,” Sprint said in the complaint. “What AT&T touts as 5G, however, is nothing more than an enhanced fourth-generation Long Term Evolution wireless service, known as 4G LTE Advanced, which is offered by all other major wireless carriers.”

The crux of the issue, Sprint notes, is that AT&T used a “software update to change the screens of mobile phones and tablets operating on the AT&T 4G LTE Advanced network to indicate falsely that these devices are connected to a 5G network.”

AT&T offers a number of modern Apple and Samsung smartphones that display the “5G E” branding on screen when using LTE-A connections.

AT&T’s CEO responded on CNBC’s Squawk Box show Friday that the AT&T offering is evolutionary but not deceptive. “We’re being very clear with our customers that this is an evolutionary step.” Randall Stephenson said. (AT&T executives have also previously defended the marketing, see AT&T’s Donovan Defends the Carrier’s 5G Fibs.)

Rival carriers have also widely panned AT&T’s move. (See Verizon, AT&T Spar Over 5G Service Names, Marketing.)

The kerfuffle over the “5G E” branding initially started in the press back in January. AT&T, however, started updating a planned 400 4G markets as with LTE Advanced upgrades, such as updated antenna arrays back in April 2018. (See AT&T Rolls Out Faux 5G in 100+ US Markets.)

Sprint is seeking to block AT&T from using “5G E” or other related terms with this complaint.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

NRF 2019: 3 Takeaways from Retail’s ‘Big Show’

Experts gathered to share successes and aspirations around data, intelligent automation, security and more.

 

Retail isn’t dead — far from it. But that doesn’t mean times aren’t changing for stores everywhere. Perhaps the most popular sentiment during The National Retail Federation’s Big Show this year was that customer demands are skyrocketing. With more choices than ever, shoppers expect retail stores to fire on all cylinders — online, in-store, mobile, across channels — and retailers are digging in to seek ways to deliver across all platforms.

“Twenty, even 10 years ago, retail interactions were so focused on the store. They still are today, but you then need to think about all the other places you need to meet your customer across every single touchpoint, whether that be on Instagram, on social media, whether that be on their mobile phone, whether that be in a marketing campaign,” Oracle’s Senior Director of Product Strategy Katrina Gosek tells BizTech.

Several retailers and experts at the conference shared stories that offer valuable insights into how they are tackling this new landscape. Here are three takeaways from the show:

1. Big Data and Analytics Take Retail to the Next Level

For retailers right now, no resource is more precious than data.

This is particularly true as brands seek to personalize customer experiences online. Gosek notes that collecting data across all touchpoints and bringing it together is key to crafting a personalized customer journey.

But in-store operations can also see a boost from data. Chick-fil-A and Home Depot are using the data visualization tool Tableau to obtain insights into operations and solve problems they previously didn’t even know existed.

Almost anything can become data. George Bentinck, product manager at Cisco Meraki, explained in a panel with CDW at the show how brands can tap data from surveillance footage to extrapolate insights about how to improve the in-store experience.

“Knowing where people are, where they go, and doing that in real time can be applied to a whole host of business problems,” said Bentinck.

2. The Big Data Boom Prompts the Need for Data Privacy

But with this data influx comes a number of concerns around how to use and secure it. For this reason, Sucharita Kodali, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, told attendees during a keynote presentation that data security is one of the most critical challenges facing retailers at the moment.

“Data security is hugely important, not just because of the compliance needs of retailers and brands, but also because of the legislation and the requirements of everything from the California Consumer Privacy Act to GDPR, and probably a lot more coming down the pike,” said Kodali.

She also points to a study in which 17 percent of consumers note they don’t want brands collecting or tracking any personal information.

“It’s important to recognize that and to make sure you’re not personalizing to those people,” said Kodali. “Often, as marketers, as retailers, we forget that consumers belong to different segments, and you have to adjust. That is the very heart of personalization.”

MORE FROM BIZTECH: How retailers can deal with the new reality of GDPR.

3. Artificial Intelligence Takes Hold in Retail

Artificial intelligence has begun infiltrating. In fact, 51 percent of retailers have already begun to use AI for customer intelligence, while 48 percent are using it for demand forecasting, and 38 percent are using the tech for pricing and promotion, according to a joint survey of 1,900 retail executives by NRF and IBM released at the show.

“We’re really at a transformation point where AI is fusing with machine learning capabilities so that people can really process all the data and information they have on customers, on their supply chain, and it’s really ready to sort of take off,” Katherine Cullen, director of retail and consumer insights for NRF tells BizTech.

Online retailer zulily has already started to tap intelligent automation in order to better craft personalized customer journeys and engage the customer “where she lives,” explained zulily Vice President of Engineering Bindu Thota at the show.

“Every place where we touch them, we personalize it for them. We are literally talking to them, and we leverage automation and machine learning to do that,” she said. “What you see when you come to the zulily site is very different from what I see, and that is part of our business model and in our DNA from day one.”

Keep this page bookmarked for articles from the event. Follow us on Twitter at @BizTechMagazine, or the official conference Twitter account, @NRFBigShow, and join the conversation using the hashtag #NRF2019.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Check out all of our stories and video from NRF 2019.

PeopleImages/Getty Images

5G points the way to life beyond the smartphone

The bandwidth boost that 5G brings might herald the end of the smartphone era.

By |
UK Editor-In-Chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic

 

One of the initial selling points for 5G — for consumers at least — is that it will give them the smartphone experience they’ve always been promised, but never really had.

All that extra bandwidth and lower latency should mean video chats without the stutter, virtual reality and augmented reality without the motion sickness and lag, and apps that can respond based on your location without freezing up.

This is excellent news, of course, and likely to be the first tangible benefit that consumers will reap from the gradual migration to 5G that will be happening over the next few years.

But one issue for 5G smartphones is that, although they will offer better quality services, they may not offer anything especially new. Businesses will, in time, get access to potentially useful 5G-powered Internet of Things (IoT) services, but for smartphone users there isn’t going to be much change beyond a speed increase. That might prove to be a headache for network operators and smartphone makers, who will be hoping that the rollout of 5G will kick off a new upgrade cycle.

Over time, then, 5G may well push consumers towards alternative and in-development devices instead.

Foldable phones and smart glasses

“With 5G acting as the fulcrum, the market is also set to witness the introduction of new device form factors that leverage a host of new and improved technologies, activated by cues taken from users’ surroundings, applications, or circumstances,” said a report from tech analyst ABI Research.

In particular, two device form factors will really benefit from 5G: foldable phones and smart glasses.

Both have been around in prototype form for some time, and will become widely used during the lifespan of next-generation 5G networks — the next decade or so.

royole-flexpai.jpg
The Royole Flexpai is the first foldable phone/tablet. Image: Royole

Foldable phones will hit the shops first, with the first ones appearing later this year. Foldable smartphones will mean a much bigger screen taking up the same amount of room in your pocket or bag. Those bigger screens will lend themselves to video and richer apps — which will require all that 5G bandwidth.

vuzix-blade.jpg
The Android-based Vuzix Blade AR Smart Glasses were launched at CES 2019. Image: Vuzix

Slightly further down the line are smart glasses. Some vendors are already testing 5G versions of smartglasses — the idea being that 5G will provide the bandwidth and the speedy response (1ms latency compared to 10ms on a 4G network) that will allow AR and VR to work without inducing motion sickness.

There have been all sorts of false dawns for smart glasses of course.

“However, vendors will need to ensure that these latest innovations provide a clear purpose to consumers, offering strong reasons for purchase, or else they run the risk of becoming low-volume niche products,” said ABI Research.

SEE: IT pro’s guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)

But the combination of smartphone sales leveling off — making smartphone vendors very keen for a new device to sell — and 5G technology coming online could provide the conditions for a breakthrough. A new companion device in the form of smart glasses would help telecoms companies persuade consumers that 5G is something worth paying a premium for, assuming that other challenges (battery life, privacy and the ‘glasshole’ factor, for example) are addressed.

5G might finally bring the smartphone experience we’ve always wanted, but may also pave the way for the devices that will replace your phone.

Logitech’s New Tap Solves Videoconferencing Control Woes

As corporate videoconferencing systems get more affordable and customizable, Logitech leads the way with Tap, a low-profile, software-agnostic, touch-screen console.

 

Michael Muchmore Icon

By Michael Muchmore
Lead analyst for software and web applications – PC Magazine
February 4, 2019 10:49AM EST

Forget searching for remote controls or trying to decipher their various buttons. Logitech’s Tap, its new touch-screen control unit is always at the ready in the conference room.

More than any other vendor, Logitech is leading the transformation of corporate videoconferencing systems from massive five-figure installations with software lock-ins to more affordable BYOD setups that let companies choose service and software. Its Group, Meetup, and SmartDock were earlier videoconferencing entries, and the Logitech Tap, coming this spring, is a similar but refined device in the tradition of the SmartDock, but with some important, basic differences.

The Tap ($999 standalone), introduced today at the AV-focused ISE trade show, can be considered a refinement of the Logitech SmartDock $2,399.00 at Dell, which used a Microsoft Surface Pro to control Skype Room Systems conferencing. It was sturdy and locked down so it wouldn’t be swiped by coworkers who wanted to use it as a standard tablet. Feedback to Logitech, however, noted that the SmartDock was a bit bulky, taking up valuable tabletop space, and was tied to a single conferencing software system.

Tap Mounting Options

In contrast, the Tap is low-slung and compact, at 2.3 by 9.6 by 7.0 inches (HWD), and works with multiple conferencing service providers. The device doesn’t have its own brains; it must be connected to a small-form-factor computer like an Intel NUC ($499.99 at Amazon) that runs software from (to start with) Google, Microsoft, or Zoom. Load that up via USB.

The table-top (or wall-mounted) device itself has just a single connector and a power cable. Other A/V components—microphones, cameras, displays—will instead connect to the controlling computer. Wireless connection between the Tap and the computer unfortunately isn’t yet an option, despite this being the age of everything going wireless.

Tap Topology

SmartDock users also informed Logitech that cabling needed to longer and sturdier, so the company offers a 25m Strong USB cable for $499, which doesn’t require an extender or repeater. The cable is rated for 300 pounds of pull force, and is reinforced with Aramid. You can pick up the Tap by the cables and shake it with no harmful effects, since it’s so well secured, Logitech’s head of marketing, Joan Vandermate, told PCMag.

Logitech Tap Cabling

The Tap will be available in several packages. For $999 you can get the device alone, but it’s more useful in a bundle that includes the computer ($1,999). For $4,999, you get a full system including Tap, Rally Plus (which includes a hi-res camera, two speaker bars, and two mic units), Rally mounts, the computer, and a PC mount. Initial distributors include include Ingram, Tech Data, and Synnex.

DiscoverOrg acquires ZoomInfo! Two B2B Data Heavy Hitters join forces

February 3rd, 2019

Combination creates unrivaled B2B intelligence for sales, marketing, and recruiting professionals

Vancouver, Wash., February 4, 2019DiscoverOrg announced today that it has acquired Zoom Information, Inc (ZoomInfo). The two companies are coming together to provide sales, marketing, and recruiting professionals access to the most trusted and comprehensive B2B data available in the market.

“High-quality data is the fundamental go-to-market requirement for growth,” says DiscoverOrg co-founder and CEO Henry Schuck. “In the near future, CRM and marketing automation systems will be defined not by their empty-box capabilities but by the data that is housed inside them.”He added: “To effectively capitalize on growth opportunities, companies of all sizes need accurate firmographic, technographic, contact, and intent data. Combined, DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo deliver the trifecta: B2B data of the highest quality, quantity, and depth.”

DiscoverOrg’s research-verified accuracy and deep buying insights complement ZoomInfo’s comprehensive coverage of 100 million business professionals worldwide. Both organizations use highly advanced proprietary technologies and tools to gather, cleanse, and maintain company and contact data.

Within the next month, mutual customers will have a light integration that allows them to easily access both data platforms. Over the next year, DiscoverOrg will bring together the databases onto a single B2B intelligence platform, while accelerating the launch of new features, integrations, and advanced analytics.

By bringing together their complementary strengths and increasing investment in innovation, DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo will help companies achieve what used to seem impossible: sales and marketing teams will have a go-to-market operating system that identifies the target accounts that should be engaged every day, week and month based on fit, engagement, and intent data collected in a multitude of ways. They will also have a 360-degree view of the buyers who are making the purchase decisions with accurate contact details, organizational charts, and buying profile insights.

“The combination of DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo creates the only solution in the market that fully delivers data of the highest quality and quantity to drive sales and marketing efforts,” says ZoomInfo CEO Derek Schoettle. “I’m thrilled that our customers will benefit from the best B2B intelligence platforms coming together.”

“Today, effective sales and marketing relies on data that combines deep insightful context with high-quality broad coverage. Being able to access that kind of data in a single place is something that every team is looking for,” notes John Donlon, Sr. Research Director at SiriusDecisions, a leading research and advisory firm.

Schoettle will serve in an advisory capacity during the transition, and Schuck will lead the combined organization, which now has almost 15,000 customers and 120,000 active users across the globe.

Both DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo were recognized by G2Crowd as 2019 Top 100 Software Products and Top 10 Best Products for Sales. They have also secured multiple consecutive honors on the Inc. 5000 list of the world’s fastest growing private companies.

DiscoverOrg’s investors include TA Associates, The Carlyle Group, and 22C Capital.

About DiscoverOrg

Whatever your next stage of growth, DiscoverOrg will get you there faster. Growthbound organizations depend on DiscoverOrg’s deep B2B intelligence to drive their sales, marketing and recruiting activities. Our award-winning solutions provide a stream of accurate and actionable company and contact insights that can be used to find, connect with and sell to target buyers and hires more effectively – all integrated into the leading CRM, Sales Engagement and Marketing Automation Tools on the market. DiscoverOrg’s biggest differentiator is the combination of proprietary technology, tools and integrations with a layer of human-verification that allows us to deliver the highest guaranteed accuracy of any B2B provider in the market.

About ZoomInfo

Zoom Information Inc.(ZoomInfo) brings together data and technology to drive the revenue engine. Backed by the most comprehensive business database in the market, ZoomInfo combines user behaviors, business data, and artificial intelligence to streamline the sales workflow and deliver revenue results. For more information, visit http://www.zoominfo.com, demo our data dashboard, or call 866-904-9666.

Media Contact

Katie Bullard
DiscoverOrg
pr@discoverorg.com

Apple’s clash with Facebook and Google: What you need to know

February 2, 2019


Apple CEO Tim Cook
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The iPhone maker punished both companies by revoking their enterprise certificates.
By Queenie Wong and Stephen Shankland
February 2, 2019 5:00 AM PST

If you want a sense of how much power Apple holds over Silicon Valley, take a look at what the iPhone maker did to Google and Facebook this week.

On Wednesday, Apple yanked enterprise certificates — digital signatures that both the tech giants used to run software on iPhones and iPads. That shut down internal apps employees at Google and Facebook used to communicate with their co-workers, find shuttle buses and test new features that could eventually be released to the public.

It proved to be more a show of power than long-term punishment. Apple, which didn’t respond to a request for comment, had restored both companies’ certificates by Thursday. Google said its internal apps are back up and running. Facebook confirmed that Apple restored its certificates but said it didn’t have any new information to share.

Here’s what you need to know.

What’s going on?

The spat started after TechCrunch reported that Facebook had taken advantage of an Apple program that lets companies design apps for private corporate use, as well as test apps before they’re available to you. Using a certificate from Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program, Facebook distributed a market research app that offered people as much as $20 a month to give the social network access to their phone and web activity. The data Facebook could view included web searches, location data and even private messages.

The situation got worse when Google revealed that it also used an enterprise certificate for a market research app, called Screenwise Meter, that gave the company access to a person’s phone activity. The search giant offered gift cards to people to download the app.

Apple determined that both companies had violated the rules of its Developer Enterprise Program because they distributed the apps to consumers instead of just employees. Apple blocked the apps by revoking the companies’ enterprise certificates — a move that shut down apps that Google and Facebook employees rely on at their campuses.

What’s an enterprise certificate anyway?

An iPhone won’t run an app unless the app has been signed using a cryptographic stamp of approval called a digital certificate. The certificate lets the iOS operating system verify that an app was written by an authorized party and hasn’t been tampered with. Apple signs software downloaded from the App Store with its own certificate. Apps distributed to consumers don’t get that certificate until it’s been vetted by Apple’s staff and made available through the App Store.

Companies have another way to get certificates, though. The Apple Developer Enterprise Program lets them apply for an Apple-supplied certificate for their software. To qualify, companies have to jump through some hoops, as well as pay $299 a year. Once they’ve qualified, they can use the certificate to approve and distribute software to iPhones and iPads for employee use.

If this certificate isn’t installed, “these apps would show up as completely untrusted,” said Navin Kumar, lead engineer at Insight Engines. “You wouldn’t be able to install or run them. Period.”

So how did Facebook and Google misuse their certificates?

They used them to let people outside their companies install apps on their iPhones without going through Apple’s app store and its approval process. That’s a big no-no.

Apple lays down rules in no uncertain terms: “Enroll in the Apple Developer Enterprise Program only if you intend to distribute proprietary apps to employees within your organization.”

Obviously, ordinary Facebook users don’t qualify as employees even if you’re paying them $20 a month to see how they use their phones.

What happens when an enterprise certificate is revoked?

iOS won’t run the corporate app. Apple supplies companies with enterprise certificates, and it can withdraw them too. When you try to run an an app signed with a revoked certificate, iOS will discover that it’s been revoked and refuse to run the software.

That means Apple was able to block the Facebook and Google market research apps from working for consumers. But the decision also meant that apps used by Google and Facebook employees stopped working.

OK, but how does this affect me?

The good news is that Apple’s move didn’t affect other Facebook and Google apps that consumers use. Those apps, which include Facebook, Instagram, Gmail and others, were still available in the App Store and running as usual.

“This didn’t have an impact on our consumer-facing services,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

Internally, though, the move disrupted the daily lives of Facebook and Google employees who test new products and features before they’re released to the public — a process known as “dogfooding.” When Apple yanked the companies’ enterprise certificates, it could also have slowed down the tech giants’ product development. As it turned out, though, the disruption lasted only about a day.

 

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