Tag Archives: sales

For Sale – 19 ” x 2 Monitor

Hi All

I have 2 of 19 ” for sales.

– Dell 19″ Model 1908FPt : , VGA x 1 , DVI x 1 , USB x 2 on the side , USB x 2 on the back . I think you can find more detail on google. Price £20

– Acer 19″ Model ACER AL1906 : VGA x 1 . as well more detail on google. Price £10

As I don’t have any appropriate boxes for these 2 monitors , so you ‘re welcome for the collection.
Please see the attached file for the photos.

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Cisco says IT spending uptick possible despite pandemic

Despite reporting a steep decline in revenue and profit, Cisco sees possible sales opportunities in the coming months as companies adjust their IT spending in the aftermath of the financial blow delivered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cisco, a bellwether in corporate IT hardware demand, reported this week that revenue fell 8% year to year in the quarter ending in April, to $12 billion. Net income declined 9% to $2.8 billion, or 65 cents a share.

Cisco warned that the current quarter was unlikely to improve. The company predicted that revenue would fall between 8.5% and 11.5%.

Analysts were not surprised by the earnings report, given the pandemic’s impact on the global economy. “We do expect a slow rebound, but spending on hardware was anemic through the COVID-19 crisis,” said Glenn O’Donnell, an analyst at Forrester Research. “So, in short, Cisco did well relative to conditions, but it’s not much to brag about.”

During an earnings call with investors, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said companies that expect to have liquidity problems over the next three to six months have stopped spending.

But for other organizations, COVID-19 was a “wake-up call” and could help tech buyers get approval from senior executives to make network infrastructure more robust, Robbins said. U.S. health officials have warned that a second wave in the pandemic could strike in the fall.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins Chuck Robbins

“I do think customers are now stepping back and asking themselves, ‘What do I need to do to harden my infrastructure and to better prepare my business for the next time something like this happens?'” Robbins said, according to a transcript of the call on the financial site Seeking Alpha.

Industries that could be among the first to pick up IT spending are higher education and healthcare, Robbins said. Both scrambled early in the pandemic to support online instruction and telehealth, respectively. In the future, IT departments could go back to make the initial, rushed deployments more solid.

On the other hand, the hospitality, leisure and travel industry could take longer. To help struggling industries, Cisco launched a $2.5 billion financing program last month that offered low monthly payments until 2021.

Over the next 60 days, Cisco expects to know better which industries are recovering faster, Robbins said.

Revenue down across most products

In the April quarter, overall product revenue fell 12% to $8.6 billion. The company’s infrastructure platform business, which includes switches and routers, declined 15% to $6.4 billion. “Manufacturing challenges and component constraints” hit that unit the hardest, CFO Kelly Kramer said.

I do think customers are now stepping back and asking themselves, ‘What do I need to do to harden my infrastructure and to better prepare my business for the next time something like this happens?’
Chuck RobbinsCEO, Cisco

Lower revenue from unified communication products drove a 5% decline in Cisco’s application business. Robbins said the UC drop was partly due to Cisco customers exceeding their licensed usage temporarily to support the sudden increase in people working from home. Cisco did not immediately charge the customers.

Also, many companies took advantage of Cisco’s recently launched 90-day free trial program for its core collaboration platform, Webex.

In April, Webex recorded over 500 million meeting participants generating 25 billion meeting minutes, triple the volume in February.

Security and services were the only product categories that recorded an increase in revenue. Security rose 6% to $776 million, while services were up 5% to $3.4 billion.

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Q&A: SwiftStack object storage zones in on AI, ML, analytics

SwiftStack founder Joe Arnold said the company’s recent layoffs reflected a change in its sales focus but not in its core object storage technology.

San Francisco-based SwiftStack attributed the layoffs to a switch in use cases from classic backup and archiving to newer artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics. Arnold said the staffing changes had no impact on the engineering and support team, and the core product will continue to focus on modern applications and complex workflows that need to store lots of data.

“I’ve always thought of object storage as a data as a service platform more than anything else,” said Arnold, SwiftStack’s original CEO and current president and chief product officer.

TechTarget caught up with Arnold to talk about customer trends and the ways SwiftStack is responding in an increasingly cloud-minded IT world. Arnold unveiled product news about SwiftStack adding Microsoft Azure as a target for its 1space technology, which facilitates a single namespace between object storage locations for cloud platform compatibility. The company already supported Amazon S3 and Google.

SwiftStack’s storage software, which is based on open source OpenStack Swift, runs on commodity hardware on premises, but the 1space technology can run in the public cloud to facilitate access to public and private cloud data. Nearly all of SwiftStack’s estimated 125 customers have some public cloud footprint, according to Arnold.

Arnold also revealed a new distributed, multi-region erasure code option that can enable customers to reduce their storage footprint.

What caused SwiftStack to change its sales approach?

Joe Arnold, founder and president, SwiftStackJoe Arnold

Joe Arnold: At SwiftStack, we’ve always been focused on applications that are in the data path and mission critical to our customers. Applications need to generate more value from the data. People are distributing data across multiple locations, between the public cloud and edge data locations. That’s what we’ve been really good at. So, the change of focus with the go-to-market path has been to double down on those efforts rather than what we had been doing.

How would you compare your vision of object storage with what you see as the conventional view of object storage?

Arnold: The conventional view of object storage is that it’s something to put in the corner. It’s only for cold data that I’m not going to access. But, that’s not the reality of how I was brought up through object storage. My first exposure to object storage was building platforms versus Amazon Web Services when they introduced S3. We immediately began using that as the place to store data for applications that were directly in the data path.

Didn’t object storage tend to address backup and archive use cases because it wasn’t fast enough for primary workloads?

Arnold: I wouldn’t say that. Our customers are using their data for their applications. That’s usually a large data set that can’t be stored in traditional ways. Yes, we do have customers that use [SwiftStack] for purely cold archive and purely backup. In fact, we have features and capabilities to enhance some of the cold storage capabilities of the product. What we’ve changed is our go-to-market approach, not the core product.

So, for example, we’re adding a distributed, multi-region erasure code storage policy that customers can use across three data centers for colder data. It allows the entire segments of data — data bits and parity bits — to be distributed across multiple sites and, to retrieve data, only two of the data centers need to be online.

How does the new erasure code option differ from what you’ve offered in the past?

Arnold: Before, we offered the ability to use erasure code where each site could fully reconstruct the data. A data center could be offline, and you could still reconstruct fully. Now, with this new approach, you can store data more economically, but it requires two of three data centers to be online. It’s just another level of efficiency in our storage tier. Customers can distribute data across more data centers without using as much raw storage footprint and still have high levels of durability and availability. Since we’re building out storage workflows that tier up and down across different storage tiers, they can utilize this one for their most cold data storage policies.

Does the new erasure coding target users who strictly do archiving, or will it also benefit those doing AI and analytics?

Arnold: They absolutely need it. Data goes back and forth between their core data center, the edge and the public cloud in workflows such as autonomous vehicles, personalized medicine, telco and connected city. People need to manage data between different tiers as they’re evolving from more traditional-based applications into more modern, cloud-native type applications. And they need this ultra-cold tier.

How similar is this cold tier to Amazon Glacier?

Arnold: From a cost point of view, it will be similar. From a performance point of view, it’s much better. From a data availability point of view, it’s much better. It costs a lot of money to egress data out of something like AWS Glacier.

How important is flash technology in getting performance out of object storage?

Arnold: If the applications care about concurrency and throughput, particularly when it comes to a large data set, then a disk-based solution is going to satisfy their needs. Because the SwiftStack product’s able to distribute requests across lots of disks at the same time, they’re able to sustain the concurrency and throughput. Sure, they could go deploy a flash solution, but that’s going to be extremely expensive to get the same amount of storage footprint. We’re able to get single storage systems that can deliver a hundred gigabytes a second aggregate read-write throughput rates. That’s nearly a terabit of throughput across the cluster. That’s all with disk-based storage.

What do you think of vendors such as Pure Storage offering flash-based options with cheaper quad-level cell (QLC) flash that compares more favorably price-wise to disk?

Arnold: QLC flash is great, too. We support that as well in our product. We’re not dogmatic about using or not using flash. We’re trying to solve large-footprint problems of our customers. We do have customers using flash with a SwiftStack environment today. But they’re using it because they want reduced latencies across a smaller storage footprint.

How do you see demand for AWS, Microsoft and Google based on customer feedback?

Arnold: People want options and flexibility. I think that’s the reason why Kubernetes has become popular, because that enables flexibility and choice between on premises and the public cloud, and then between public clouds. Our customers were asking for the same. We have a number of customers focused on Microsoft Azure for their public cloud usage. And they want to be able to manage SwiftStack data between their on-premises environments with SwiftStack and the public cloud. So, we added the 1space functionality to include Azure.

What tends to motivate your customers to use the public cloud?  

Arnold: Some use it because they want to have disaster recovery ready to go up in the public cloud. We will mirror a set of data and use that as a second data center if they don’t already have one. We have customers that collect data from partners or devices out in the field. The data lands in the public cloud, and they want to move it to their on-premises environment. The other example would be customers that want to use the public cloud for compute resources where they need access to their data, but they don’t want to necessarily have long-term data storage in the public clouds. They want the flexibility of which public cloud they’re going to use for their computation and application runtime, and we can provide them connections to the storage environment for those use cases.

Do you have customers who have second thoughts about their cloud decisions due to egress and other costs?

Arnold: Of course. That happens in all directions. Sometimes you’re helping people move more stuff into the public cloud. In some situations, you’re pulling down data, or maybe it’s going in between clouds. They may have had a storage footprint in the public cloud that was feeding to some end users or some computation process. The egress charges were getting too high. The footprint was getting too high. And that costs them a tremendous amount month over month. That’s where we have the conversation. But it still doesn’t mean that they need to evacuate entirely from the public cloud. In fact, many customers will keep the storage on premises and use the public cloud for what it’s good at — more burstable computation points.

What’s your take on public cloud providers coming out with various on-premises options, such as Amazon Outposts and Azure Stack?

Arnold: It’s the trend of ‘everything as a service.’ I think what customers want is a managed experience. The number of operators who are able to manage these big environments is becoming harder and harder to come across. So, it’s a natural for those companies to offer a managed on-premises product. We feel the same way. We think that managing large sets of infrastructure needs to be highly automated, and we’ve built our product to make that as simple as possible. And we offer a product to do storage as a service on premises for customers who want us to do remote operations of their SwiftStack environments.

How has Kubernetes- and container-based development affected the way you design your product?

Arnold: Hugely. It impacts how applications are being developed. Kubernetes gives an organization the flexibility to deploy an application in different environments, whether that’s core data centers, bursting out into the public cloud or crafting applications out to the edge. At SwiftStack, we need to make the data just as portable as the containerized application is. That’s why we developed 1space. A huge number of our customers are using Kubernetes. That just naturally lends itself to the use of something like 1space to give them the portability they need for access to their data.

What gaps do you need to fill to more fully address what customers want to do?

Arnold: One is further flushing out ‘everything as a service.’ We just launched a service around that. As more customers adopt that, we’re going to have more work to do, as the deployments become more diverse across not just core data centers, but also edge data centers.

I see the convergence of file and object workflows and furthering 1space with our edge-to-core-to-cloud workflows. Particularly in the world of high-performance data analytics, we’re seeing the need for object — but it’s a world that is dominated by file-based applications. Data gets pumped into the system by robots, and object storage is awesome for that because it’s easy and you get lots of concurrency and lots of parallelism. However, you see humans building out algorithms and doing research and development work. They’re using file systems to do much of their programming, particularly in this high performance data analytics world. So, managing the convergence between file and object is an important thing to do to solve those use cases.

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SwiftStack layoffs reflect change in focus to AI, analytics

Object storage specialist SwiftStack laid off employees in sales, marketing and partner relations this month, while shifting its focus to artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics use cases.

The San Francisco software vendor originally concentrated on backing up and archiving unstructured data on commodity servers with its commercially supported and enhanced version of open source OpenStack Swift. SwiftStack gradually expanded into new areas over the past eight years. The vendor claims its latest 7.0 product supports clusters that can scale linearly to petabytes of data and support throughput in excess of 100 GB per second.

Seeking to differentiate

Erik Pounds, SwiftStack’s vice president of marketing, said SwiftStack will steer away from use cases such as low-cost, long-term repositories for backup applications, replacements for tape archives, and on-premises alternatives to Amazon S3 or Glacier.

Pounds said “object storage is commoditizing” in those areas.

“These are examples of good uses for object storage, and even SwiftStack, but for us to distinguish ourselves in a crowded field, we need to compete in areas where we have strong product differentiation,” Pounds said. “Tier I technology vendors are aggressively going after these types of opportunities to preserve and grow footprint, and it quickly becomes a race to the bottom.”

Pounds said SwiftStick’s new focus is on “more modern” AI, machine learning and analytics use cases — where customers need to access data across edge, core and cloud environments. That shift in focus required the company to change “outward-facing parts of the organization” in order to stay within operating budgets.

SwiftStack did not disclose the number of employees it laid off. LinkedIn indicates the company has 63 employees, but Pounds confirmed the Dec. 18 layoffs left SwiftStack “shy of 50.” He said the company still has “a healthy sales team with complete regional coverage,” despite the loss of “valued members” of the sales, marketing and partner team.

Pounds stressed that the organizational change “did not negatively affect the product and engineering team”. He said that team received additional resources. He also denied that the cuts will change SwiftStack’s product development work and release schedules.

“We continuously release new versions of SwiftStack on a three-week cadence, so once new functionality is developed and tested, it gets in the hands of our customers quickly,” Pounds said.

Azure support

In mid-December, SwiftStack 1space added support for Microsoft Azure Blob Storage to complement the product’s support for Amazon S3 and Google Cloud Storage. Pounds said more advanced Azure support would come in January with a SwiftStack 7 update.

SwiftStack 1space creates a single namespace to enable users to access, migrate and search data spanning public and on-premises cloud object systems. A new 1space File Connector extension enables users to access data stored in file systems.

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Aviso introduces version 2.0 of AI-guided sales platform

Aviso announced version 2.0 of its artificial intelligence guided sales platform last week. The new version is aimed at lowering costs and reducing the time that sales reps spend working on CRM databases by providing them with AI tools that predict deal close probabilities and guide next best actions.

Algorithmic-guided selling using AI technology and existing sales data to guide sellers through deals is a new but increasingly popular technology. Nearly 51% of sales organizations have already deployed or plan to deploy algorithmic-guided selling in the next five years, according to a 2019 Gartner survey.

Aviso’s 2.0 sales platform uses AI tools to prioritize sales opportunities and analyze data from sources including CRM systems, emails, user calendars, chat transcripts and support and success tools to deliver real-time insights and suggest next best action for sales teams. The support and success tools are external offerings that Aviso’s platform can connect with, including customer support tools like Zendesk or Salesforce Service Cloud, and customer success tools like Gainsight or Totango, according to Amit Pande, vice president of marketing at Aviso.

The forecasting and sales guidance vendor claims the new version will help sales teams close 20% more deals and reduce spending on non-core CRM licenses by 30% compared with conventional CRM systems. The cost reduction calculation is based on “the number of non-core licenses that can be eliminated, as well as additional costs such as storage and add-ons that can be eliminated when underutilized or unused licenses are eliminated,” Pande said.

According to Aviso, new AI-based features in version 2.0 of its sales platform include:

  • Deal Execution Tools, a trio of tools meant to assist in finalizing deals. Bookings Timeline uses machine learning to calculate when deals will close based on an organization’s unique history. Each booking timeline also includes the top factors that influence the prediction. Opportunity Acceleration helps sales teams determine which opportunities carry the highest probability of closing early if they are pulled into the current quarter. Informed Editing is intended to limit typos and unsaved changes during entry of data. The tool gives users contextual help before they commit to edits, telling them what quarter or whose forecast they are updating. Changes and edits are automatically saved by the software.
  • Deal and Forecast Rooms enable users to do what-if analysis, use scenario modeling and automatically summarize forecast calls and deal review transcripts.
  • Coaching Rooms help sales managers improve sales rep performance with data from past and current deals and from team activity in Deal and Forecast Rooms. 
  • Nudges provide reminders for sales reps through an app on mobile devices. Nudges also offer recommendation for course corrections, and potential next steps based on insights from the specific deal.

Aviso’s 2.0 sales platform is currently in beta with select customers.

Cybersecurity company FireEye has been using the Aviso platform for several years and is among the selected customers. Andy Pan, director of Americas and public sector sales operations at FireEye, said the Aviso platform has helped FireEye operate in a more predictive measure through some of its new AI-driven features. “The predictive features helps us review both the macro business as a whole, and the deal-specific features provides guided pathways towards the inspection of deals.”

Other sales forecasting tools vendors in the market include Salesforce and Clari. Sales forecasting feature from Salesforce enables organizations to make forecasts specific to their needs and let managers track their team’s performance. Clari’s product includes features such as predictive forecasting, which uses AI-based projection to see the team’s achievement at the end of the quarter, and history tracking to see who last made changes to the forecast.

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New Contentful CMS targets content delivery for retailers

Contentful has launched a content infrastructure system to drive online sales by enabling more content management across channels for retailers.

Like a headless content management system, the Contentful CMS allows users to publish and update content across all digital platforms at once, but at an enterprise-grade scale. The vendor claimed content infrastructure enables retailers to repurpose existing content, improve impact and deliver marketing messages to target audiences.

Headless CMS enables content creation and sharing across multiple channels with one action by removing the head — or presentation layer — which defines the channel or platform in a traditional CMS. Content infrastructure has the same benefits as headless CMS, but unifies content to be managed from one content hub.

Contentful claimed content infrastructure markets digital content four to seven times faster than a traditional CMS by enabling users to do the following:

  • organize content specific to their business;
  • create content once for different platforms;
  • store all content in a central hub;
  • edit content without the involvement of developers;
  • manage teams with roles and permissions; and
  • publish content to any device.

Contentful intends its content infrastructure to enable brands to build and manage targeted, customized marketing for event-driven campaigns and localize the content for any market. Through the vendor’s Content Delivery API, editors can update content through a web app synced with any platform for consistent management.

The vendor claimed its array of content management services has decreased bounce rates, increased mobile conversion, personalized content across a breadth of languages and locales, updated content at a fraction of the time as legacy tools, and delivers new customer touch points five times faster than with a traditional CMS.

In 2018, Contentful was named a contender in Forrester’s Wave for web content management systems, challenged by leaders Adobe, Acquia and Sitecore. According to Contentful, its headless enterprise focus makes it flexible for developers. Forrester recommended the vendor for progressive digital initiatives that require content unification across channels, but also have easy access to developer resources.

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For Sale – Lenovo T460s Business Ultrabook Laptop

Having to advertise this again after previous sales was cancelled due to mutual agreement. Price is the same as agreed with previous buyer – £410 including next day delivery.

My wife has asked to sell her laptop. We are expecting the birth of our 2nd child next month so she wants some extra cash to buy furniture for the new arrival etc. She wants £420 (reduced from £470) for it so I could persuade her to include delivery.
The laptop is a Lenovo T460s Business Ultrabook laptop. It still has Lenovo warranty which is on-site repair till 5th December 2019 (1.5 years). Spec is below:

Intel Core i5-6200U Processor (2.30GHz)
8.0GB RAM
1x192GB SSD SATA III
Windows 10 Professional 64Bit
14.0in 1920×1080
Intel HD Graphics 520
720p HD Camera
Card Reader
Fingerprint Reader
TrackPoint with TouchPad
Ethernet
Intel Wireless-AC 8260(2×2 AC) with BT4.1
3 Cell Lithium-Ion
Original Lenovo Charger.

Lenovo Warranty will be transferred to new owner upon receiving payment.

Condition wise I would say is very close to Brand New. She’s only been using it for like surfing the internet and occasional Youtube videos hence why it’s so clean.

Thanks for looking.

Some pics below

Price and currency: 410
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT / PPG
Location: High Wycombe
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh adds deals pipeline

A LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh adds a deals management feature, smoother search experience and mobile deal pages to the social media giant’s social sales platform.

The revamp injects an array of new ways to search, manipulate and process LinkedIn’s vast troves of personal and consumer data and data from CRM systems and puts LinkedIn in a better position to monetize the information — coming off a hot quarter for LinkedIn, which reported June quarter earnings of $1.46 billion, up 37% from Q2 2017.

These upgraded features represent the next step in AI-assisted sales and marketing campaigns in which B2B companies mash up their own customer data with information on LinkedIn.

Microsoft banking on LinkedIn revenue

Microsoft bought LinkedIn in June 2016 for $26.2 billion. While Microsoft doesn’t always announce how AI is assisting automation of sales-centric search tools in Sales Navigator, a premium LinkedIn feature that also integrates LinkedIn data to CRM platforms such as Salesforce and Dynamics CRM, some experts have noted how AI subtly manifests itself in the search. 

The LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh was unveiled in a blog post by Doug Camplejohn, vice president of products for LinkedIn Sales Solutions.

The new “Deals” web interface extracts and imports sales pipeline data from the user’s CRM system and enables users to update pipelines considerably faster, Camplejohn said in the post about the LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh.

“Reps can now update their entire pipeline in minutes, not hours,” he wrote.

Adobe Sign connector added

Meanwhile, a new feature in Deals, “Buyer’s Circle,” pulls in and displays opportunity role information to streamline the B2B buying process. Users can see if any “key players” such as decision-maker, influencer or evaluator, are missing from deals, according to LinkedIn.

We all live in email.
Doug Camplejohnvice president of products, LinkedIn

The vendor called another new function in the LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh — Office 365 integration — “Sales Navigator in your inbox.”

“We all live in email,” the blog post said. “Now you can take Sales Navigator actions and see key insights without ever leaving your Outlook for Web Inbox. “

LinkedIn also touted what it called a “new search experience” in the Sales Navigator update, saying it redesigned the search function to surface search results pages faster and easier.

Also as part of the LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh, LinkedIn added mobile-optimized lead pages for sales people working on mobile devices. LinkedIn also named Adobe Sign the fourth partner to its Sales Navigator Application Platform (SNAP). Other SNAP partners include Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and SalesLoft.

Avaya earnings show cloud, recurring revenue growth

Avaya hit revenue targets, increased cloud sales and added customers in its second full quarter as a public company — welcome news for customers and partners anxious for proof that the company is regaining its financial footing following last year’s bankruptcy.

Avaya reported revenue of $755 million in the third quarter of 2018 — down from $757 million last quarter, but within the vendor’s previously announced targets. When excluding sales from the networking division, which Avaya sold last year, adjusted revenue was 1% higher than during the third quarter of 2017.

To keep pace with competitors like Microsoft and Cisco, Avaya is looking to reduce its dependence on large, one-time hardware purchases by selling more monthly cloud subscriptions. This transition can make it difficult to show positive quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year growth in the short term.

Recurring revenue accounted for 59% of Avaya’s adjusted earnings in the third quarter — up from 58% the previous quarter. Cloud revenue represented just 11% of the quarter’s total, but monthly recurring revenue from cloud sales increased by 43% in the midmarket and 107% in the enterprise market, compared with last quarter.

Avaya reported an $88 million net loss in the third quarter. Still, the company’s operations netted $83 million in cash, which is a more critical financial indicator, in this case, than net income, said Hamed Khorsand, analyst at BWS Financial Inc., based in Woodland Hills, Calif.

“This is a company that’s still in transition as far as their accounting goes, with the bankruptcy proceedings,” Khorsand said. “[The net cash flow] actually tells you that the company is adding cash to its balance sheet.”

Also during the third quarter, Avaya regained top ratings in Gartner’s yearly rankings of unified communications (UC) and contact center infrastructure vendors. Avaya’s one-year absence from the leadership quadrant in the Gartner report probably slowed growth, Khorsand said, because C-suite executives place value in those standings.

Avaya’s stock closed up 3.61%, at $20.68 per share, following the Avaya earnings report on Thursday.

Avaya earnings report highlights product growth

The Avaya earnings report showed the company added 1,700 customers worldwide during the third quarter. It also launched and refreshed several products, including an updated workforce optimization suite for contact centers and a new version of Avaya IP Office, its UC offering for small and midsize businesses.

The product releases demonstrate that Avaya continued to invest in research and development, even as it spent most of 2017 engaged in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research in Westminster, Mass.

“As long as we continue to see this steady stream of new products coming out, I think it should give customers confidence,” Kerravala said. “Channel partners tend to live on new products, as well.”

The bankruptcy allowed Avaya to cut its debt in half to a level it can afford based on current revenue. But years of underinvestment in product continue to haunt the vendor, as it tries to play catch-up with rivals Cisco and Microsoft, which analysts generally agreed have pulled ahead of all other vendors in the UC market.

Avaya acquired cloud contact center vendor Spoken Communications earlier this year, gaining a multi-tenant public cloud offering. Avaya plans to use the same technology to power a UC-as-a-service product in the future.

“We are investing significantly in people and technology, investing more on technology in the last two quarters than we did in all of fiscal 2017,” said Jim Chirico, CEO at Avaya.

Avaya is expecting to bring in adjusted revenue between $760 and $780 million in the fourth quarter, which would bring the fiscal year’s total to a little more than $3 billion.

Gaming the System | Gimlet Creative

Last year, the gaming industry made roughly $90 billion in sales worldwide. That’s more than double what movies made at the box office last year.

And here’s why that comparison to Hollywood is relevant. Because, like with films, the most popular video games are HUGE. They have great graphics, popular characters, and the franchises keep getting repeated over and over again. Unfortunately, blockbuster games and movies can be as thin on diversity as they are on plot.  

In this episode, we’re talking about the Moonlights and Napoleon Dynamites the indie games that are breaking out, changing paradigms, and making a case for independence in gaming.

 

This episode features:

Navid Khonsari — Co-Founder of iNK Stories

Larry Hyrb —  Xbox’s Major Nelson

Rik Eberhardt — Studio Manager at MIT Game Lab

Mia Consalvo —  The Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design at Concordia University

Sherida Halatoe —  Found of Tiger & Squid Game Studio

Karla Zimonja —  Co-Founder of The Fullbright Company

Katie Stone Perez —  Developer Experience Lead at Xbox

Transcript: 

CRISTINA QUINN: Navid Khonsari says most people think Iran looks like this.

NAVID KHONSARI: The deserts, and women covered up in veils and men covered up and looking like clerics.

CRISTINA QUINN: Navid knows that if most people think about Iran at all, the images that come to mind are probably from the hostage crisis in 1979 or the violence of the iranian revolution that led up to it.

During the revolution, Navid was ten years old and living in Tehran. He remembers the hostages, and the violence, but he also remembers how it all began…

NAVID KHONSARI: My grandfather took me out to the streets and as we walked the streets I saw that sense of joy. I saw that sense of possibility that sense of hope that this country could change — change for the for for good, for the better, for people who were on the streets.

CRISTINA QUINN The Iranian Revolution started as a popular uprising — people from all walks of life coming together to overthrow a corrupt, western-backed king.

But then it changed, it turned violent.

NAVID KHONSARI: That hope kind of became a little bit darker. And and violence was out on the streets in the fighting took place and my father who was a doctor would spend the night in the emergency ward tending to wounded civilians and soldiers.

CRISTINA QUINN: Eventually, Navid’s family left Iran, for Canada. But throughout his life, whenever he tried to explain what it was like living in Iran during the revolution, to offer a more nuanced understanding of the country, he felt like he wasn’t getting through.

He wanted to humanize this monumental moment. And he came up with a kind of counter-intuitive solution. A video game.

THEME ENTERS

CRISTINA QUINN: I’m Cristina Quinn and this is dot-future, a branded podcast from Microsoft and Gimlet Creative, about making the future happen.

Because the future doesn’t just HAPPEN. It’s the result of a series of choices that we’re making right now. You can wait for the future to come to you … or you can engage with it, and get ahead of the curve.  

Welcome to dot-future.

THEME OUT

CRISTINA QUINN: Today we’re talking about gaming. Four out of five American households have gaming devices — like a tablet, XBOX or a Playstation — and over half of adults in the US play games. Half!

Production-wise, we have come a long way since:

GAME SOUND – PAC MAN

CRISTINA QUINN: The top-selling games today are hyperrealistic. They immerse players in war zones, put them on the run from zombies, and take them to the thirty yard line with 12 seconds left in the game. Last year, the gaming industry made roughly $90 billion in sales worldwide.

That’s more than double what movies made at the box-office last year. And here’s why that comparison to Hollywood is relevant. Because, like with films, the most popular video games are huge. They have great graphics, popular characters, and the franchises keep getting repeated over and over again.

I mean, you know how it’s kind of crazy that we have, like, how many Fast and Furious movies are there? What are we up to, like eight? Well, guess what? There are eleven games in the Halo family. Eleven. Blockbuster games even follow a Hollywood style RELEASE calendar, according to Larry Hyrb. He’s kind of the public face of Xbox Live. If you’re a gamer, you know him as “Major Nelson.”

LARRY HYRB: Maybe we’ve got a summer blockbuster, but we always have these huge releases, you know in the holiday season at the end of the year, and it’s noisy because the new Call of Duty is going to compete with the new Star Wars movie.

CRISTINA QUINN: Games like Call of Duty are what you call AAA games.

SCORING IN

CRISTINA QUINN: AAA is an unofficial industry rating. But it doesn’t actually stand for anything. The running joke is it means the game took:

  • A lot of time.
  • A lot of resources…and…
  • A lot of money.

CRISTINA: Even if you’re not a gamer you probably recognize the names of AAA gaming companies and their games — Nintendo with Super Mario, Microsoft with Halo, and Activision with Call of Duty.

And just like blockbuster film, blockbuster games are plagued by some of the same problems. The storylines can be kind of stale and repetitive. There’s a hero. Some stuff blows up. You have to fight something, or survive some catastrophe.  

And what that hero looks like is also repetitive — AAA games are as thin on diversity as they are on plot. There’s a really popular gaming writer name Leigh Alexander. Last year she wrote all about this in a notorious blog post called “Gamers Are Over.”

She wrote about how the AAA gaming culture can be summed up like this, quote: “Have Money. Have women. Get a gun and then a bigger gun.”

She was done with it — and she argued that even DEVELOPERS want games to be made for and by a more diverse group of people — to reflect real stories and real human struggle.

And that’s what today’s episode is about: the part of the gaming industry that’s providing an alternative to AAA games. We’re talking about The Moonlights and Napoleon Dynamites — the indie games that are breaking out, changing paradigms, and making a case for independence in gaming.

And, in the process, changing that 90-billion dollar gaming industry from the INSIDE.

SCORING OUT

CRISTINA QUINN: So, back to the video game we mentioned at the beginning. Navid Khonsari wanted to create a game…to provide a more nuanced perspective…

NAVID KHONSARI: You know you take a look at a lot of the call of duties and a lot of the war games that are out there it’s always like while you’re on the beaches of Normandy but you’re playing a member of the you know the U.S. Army and you’re shooting at Germans. But that’s really where the history stops.  

Navid made 1979: Revolution Black Friday. It’s the story of the Iranian revolution, told with the nuance that he didn’t see portrayed elsewhere.  

GAME SOUND – 1979 REVOLUTION: BLACK FRIDAY

CRISTINA QUINN: And it’s an INDIE game. It’s heavy on story. 1979 puts you, the player, in the middle of Tehran during the Iranian Revolution and presents you with a series of options at every turn. Shots are fired. Where do you go? Who do you save?

POST SOUND

CRISTINA QUINN: Critics loved the game. It’s an unmistakeable indie darling. It racked up a bunch of awards, like Best PC and/or Console Game at the ‘16 Bit Awards.

This is a huge success for an indie game developer, but that’s not what Navid was, for much of his career. He started out as the cinematic director at Rockstar games, which makes Grand Theft Auto and Max Payne. He worked on some of the most profitable games in history.

But eventually all of the drug deals and shootouts and car crashes got old. He wanted to make something more real. To do that, Navid quit his job at Rockstar Games and set out on his own to make a game about his real life experience.

He and his wife, who’s a documentary filmmaker and anthropologist, founded a studio together. They called it iNK Stories. It’s based in Brooklyn. Their work is inspired by cinema verite — a raw, intimate style of documentary filmmaking.  So Navid calls what iNK Stories makes, “verite games.” 1979 blends real history and the game’s action, with real life photographs and archival footage.

NAVID KHONSARI: The game has got me splattered all over it. When you’re in the home looking at the home movies that’s actually super 8 footage that my grandfather shot from 1950 to 1979 and it includes my mother’s swimming at the Caspian Sea. My grandfather great grandfather and family had a big feast and myself attending my first day school.

CRISTINA QUINN: But Navid wanted to make sure that the game was not just just a glimpse into his own past. He wanted it to be accurate, more accurate, than the books he’d read or the films he’d seen about Iran’s revolution. So he and a small team conducted more than 40 interviews with people who were living in Iran during the revolution.

He also hired academics, and religious advisors, to ensure that the game was authentic.

The end result is a subtle portrayal of a critical moment in history.

GAME SOUND – 1979 REVOLUTION: BLACK FRIDAY

CRISTINA QUINN: Do you think there are some stories better told through the immersive, video game experience than through other mediums?

NAVID KHONSARI: Yeah. These are incredible tools to put you right in that space to put you in the head space or in that environment or in that particular instance where something is taking place. These are probably the most powerful way of creating empathy. So in a weird way if we want to actually understand a little bit more about humanity and really feel what it’s like we actually have to engage with some kind of technology that allows us to go there.

CRISTINA QUINN: Navid is part of a new class of game developers who are intent on making games that are both personal AND fun. It’s a mission that, in the hands of triple A gaming companies, often fails.

RIK EBERHARDT: You can see a game that’s made by, you know, people who look like me so middle aged white guys and those those games often don’t have anything to say

CRISTINA QUINN: Rik Eberhardt works at MIT’s Game Lab — which experiments with new game technology.

RIK EBERHARDT: And when they do try to say something they’re not they’re they’re trying to adopt somebody else’s language, and it feels wrong.

He says indie games are coming from a genuine place…and that comes across in the experience of playing the game…

RIK EBERHARDT: And with an indie game, yeah, you can absolutely see the person who made it where what where they came from what they brought to the game what culture they’re from.

CRISTINA QUINN: Culture and story haven’t necessarily been a major focal point of video games. From the very beginning of gaming, the focus has been on graphics and speed.

SCORING IN

CRISTINA QUINN: In 1977, Atari released what would become known as the Atari 2600. By 1980, millions of homes were introduced to the idea of playing games not at an arcade, but in your living room.

GAME SOUND – ATARI

CRISTINA QUINN: But Atari didn’t stay on top for long. In 1985, Nintendo released its “Entertainment System.”  The package came with a controller, and a gun for playing Duck Hunt.  

DUCK SOUND

CRISTINA QUINN: Then in 1989 Nintendo leveled up gaming, when it released a HANDHELD console, the Game Boy.  

For millions of people, being able to take your games with you was totally novel — and it changed the gaming industry — and family road trips — forever.

SCORING OUT

CRISTINA QUINN: In 2002, Microsoft introduced Xbox Live, allowing console players to play with other gamers throughout the world, something they still do today, of course.

LARRY HYRB: If I wake up at 3:00 in the morning because I can’t sleep. I can pop on my console and all of a sudden I’m playing with friends that may or may not be online or I’m going to discover new friends.

CRISTINA QUINN: This is Larry Hyrb — or Major Nelson — from Xbox again.  He’s been at the company for 14 years, and for a million Twitter followers he’s the go-to-guy for all-things Xbox.

Here’s the thing about Xbox Live, a player in Philadelphia can connect with a player in the Philippines. There’s always someone to play with.

LARRY HYRB: So if you have a young one, or maybe the baby is taking a nap, you can still go online and within 30 seconds to be connected with friends around the world… you’re playing an interactive game.

CRISTINA QUINN: Games are just everywhere. They’re on your phone, they’re in the back of your airplane seat — you can get virtual reality gear at Gamestop!

And everything looks and sounds flawless.

MIA CONSALVO: They’re stunning, right? They’re amazing to look at.

Mia Consalvo is the Canada Research Chair in game studies and design at Concordia University.

MIA CONSALVO: I think that expectations are being ratcheted up just kind of across the board. Even, for example let’s say with sports games like Madden or you know like a baseball game where you would think that the game is just about playing football but really in those games now. I mean they need photorealism. You know they need the actual images of the players the real players. They have role-playing system where you can create your own character, you can create you and be recruited and work your way up from the minors to the majors.

CRISTINA QUINN: That’s because games are in a fierce competition for our attention, according to Larry Hyrb.

LARRY HYRB: Our hours in the day that you and I and the listeners have for entertainment — how are you going to spend them? There’s just so much product out there right now, that people have trouble bursting through.

CRISTINA QUINN: And to compete at the blockbuster level, it takes a lot of money to stand out. Money that indie developers and publishers often don’t have. But what they do have — according to Mia — is nerve, and creativity.

In a way, the stakes for indie game developers are actually lower, because they don’t have to play ball with the big guys. They can take risks and experiment with visual style or even get… emotional with their games. That’s what Sherida Halatoe set out to do when, as a college student, she began working on the game Beyond Eyes.

GAME SOUND

CRISTINA QUINN: The game’s protagonist is a little girl, named Rae. Rae is blind, and at the beginning of the game, she loses her cat, Nani. Beyond Eyes is a quest, to help Rae find her missing pet. Sherida isn’t blind – but she wanted to make Beyond Eyes to help people understand what it’s like to feel adrift …

SHERIDA HALATOE: When I was 10 years old. My father died and it was a very horrible experience of course but it taught me a lot about life

CRISTINA QUINN: She wanted to help people who’ve felt lost see themselves in a videogame

CRISTINA QUINN: So, why..why is the character blind?

SHERIDA HALATOE: So for me it’s kind of a metaphor because my dad was the most important thing for me in my life like my whole world you know revolved around that…. so that being taken away was a huge loss. And that kind of kind of made it a visual translation there

CRISTINA QUINN: As Rae wanders through the game, the edges of the screen are white, but slowly, the path forward spreads out before her, like water colors rushing to the edge of a page.  Strokes of color swirl around the edges.

SHERIDA HALATOE: I really like watercolors and I like the idea of how things become..like when you, you know, put watercolor on paper it just kind of drifts out, you know, flows out. I like the idea of not being able to see and then touching something and everything flowing out like water.

CRISTINA QUINN: It’s so gentle, and so beautiful. The premise feels so different than other games. You’re just helping a little kid find her cat.

SHERIDA HALTOE: In essence this story of Beyond Eyes is about loss but also about overcoming

CRISTINA QUINN: Sherida’s definitely an outlier in the gaming industry. She didn’t grow up wanting to make games. In college, she took a game development course and realized that games gave her the ability tell stories in a new way. Even her way of measuring the impact of the game isn’t very gamer-y.

She keeps a glass bottle on her desk, in her office. And every time she gets an email from someone who says that the game moved them to tears, she pours a few drops of water into the bottle…

SHERIDA HALATOE:  In the first six months, the thing was half full or something. In the end, I think I got a half cup or something?

CRISTINA QUINN: Sherida’s not typical but she is successful. Beyond Eyes was featured at the E3 conference in 2015 — the world’s top gaming conference. She’s now working on a new series of short games called “Trails of Life.”

MUSIC

CRISTINA QUINN: It’s extremely rare for an indie developer to gain success on their first game. Usually, it takes years of releasing games and slowly building an audience. And lots of those developers cut their teeth at AAA studios before launching a game of their own.

MUSIC OUT

CRISTINA QUINN: Karla Zimonja knows that from personal experience. She spent 7 years working as an animator on lots of games, like the Bio-Shock series, and Zoo-Tycoon:

KARLA: I ended up working on a zoo game There were a lot of very repetitive tasks that I would have to do, like animate a sitting position to standing position for every single animal in the game. And a lot of like, you know, turns 30 degrees right turns 90 degrees or right turns you know turns 90 degrees right from standing turns or you know and from walking and from running and it very much turned it into a kind of feeling like a spreadsheet.

CRISTINA QUINN: Karla felt like a cog in the machine and decided to leave the triple A system. She and a friend got together to strike out on their own. They started a gaming studio called Fullbright.

They decided to make their debut game feel just like a first person shooter game. You know — the games where you see through the eyes of a character as they move through the world — but with one important distinction: no shooting. They called the game “Gone Home.”

GAME SOUND – GONE HOME

CRISTINA QUINN: Gone Home is set in a spooky Victorian house in the year 1995. It’s raining…the phones are down…and there aren’t any cell phones to call for help.

KARLA ZIMONJA: Gone Home is the story of a college student arriving home after being abroad to find that her family has moved into the new house and nobody is there when she gets there. And she explores the house and find out all about what her family has been doing in her absence.

CRISTINA QUINN: Although it seems like a ghost could pop out at any moment, the game isn’t scary. As a player, you search for clues — notes, and audio diaries — to help piece together what happened to this family.

KARLA ZIMONJA: An enormous part of the game is putting other pieces for yourself and learning about the characters in your own time and way.

CRISTINA QUINN: Characters that don’t appear on screen — but whose personalities, dreams, and entire lives are slowly revealed as you play the game. And perhaps the most remarkable reveal is what the New York Times called “the greatest video game love story ever told.”

GAME SOUND – GONE HOME

CRISTINA QUINN: It’s a love story about two young women. Although Fullbright didn’t set-out to be a voice for LGBTQ people in the game world, Gone Home wound up getting a lot of attention.

Because there aren’t that many queer characters in big video games. AAA publishers tend to be pretty risk averse when it comes to storytelling. Karla says when AAAs see a pitch that deviates from the norm…they’re not likely to go for it.

KARLA ZIMONJA: You know, the marketing guys at whatever publishing company would have been like “teen lesbians? No one’s going to buy that…are you on crack?”

By funding Gone Home themselves, Fullbright was able to make the game a reality, and a smashing success. The gaming website Polygon named it their Game of the Year, and it won the British Academy Games Award for best debut.

But more importantly to Karla, is the opportunity for her game to influence other, bigger gaming companies.

KARLA ZIMONJA: Indie games are often the source of new paths and new, like, approaches to things. We have, like, the low overhead where it’s like the really big companies don’t…they come in there like those big ocean liners they can’t turn.

Karla’s company sunk their savings and 18 months of work into Gone Home.

KARLA ZIMONJA: It’s nice to have people think your ideas are worth something. It’s essentially like the big guys being like, ‘oh yeah that little guy had a great idea.’

It kind of means they’ve arrived. But even more powerfully — it means that the stories — like the one in Gone Home — are worth telling.

Here’s Katie Stone Perez, who works for Xbox at Microsoft.

KATIE STONE-PEREZ: By giving all of these different people an opportunity to tell their story and to bring their voice to the table it really ends up creating those moments where people do feel like it is representative of their story and their lives and their passions.

Katie says it’s the responsibility of the gaming industry to make sure that the community feels seen and heard by having more diversity within games. That’s why Katie joined Microsoft’s [email protected] team and helped it grow.

[email protected] gives indie game developers the tools they need to bring their games to life on the Xbox platform, and they promote their favorites at major industry events.

KATIE STONE-PEREZ: Traditionally the industry has been more, ‘oh you know the right person to talk to..and you know you know do you know the right person to go get funding from and you know the right person to do this?’ And so we’ve really been about, you know, democratizing that process for everyone.

One of the developers who’s benefited from that democratization: Navid Khonsari, with his depiction of Iran in 1979 Revolution Black Friday.

The game’s success has helped rewrite how people see Iranians — and how Iranians see themselves.

NAVID KHONSARI: For the first time they see themselves portrayed as protagonists in a positive light, rather than terrorist number one two and three.

Navid says his game is helping people see one another. Like, really understand each other.

NAVID KHONSARI: This is powerful. For us that’s been really really really enriching and we’ve made look we made a lot of mistakes and it was our first game that we’ve made, but at least we know that we overcame the most difficult part which was connecting.

CRISTINA QUINN: And all it took to connect — to make a moment in history more human — was a video game.

CREDITS

THEME

CRISTINA QUINN: .future is a co-production of Microsoft Story Labs and Gimlet Creative.

We were produced this week by Katelyn Bogucki, with help from Victoria Barner, Garrett Crowe, Frances Harlow, Jorge Estrada, Nicole Wong, Abbie Ruzicka and Julia Botero. Creative direction from Nazanin Rafsanjani. Production assistance from Thom Cote.

We were edited by Rachel Ward and mixed by Zac Schmidt. Our theme song was composed by The Album Leaf. Additional music from Waltho, Eliot Lipp and Marmoset.

Special thanks to: Derek Johnson, Aleah Kiley and Lena Robinson.

PROMO

CRISTINA QUINN: Coming up next time on dot-future … stories of how people on 4 continents are using one of the most popular games in history to heal, grieve, rebuild, and reinvent.

LYDIA WINTERS: I can’t even really begin to describe how Minecraft has changed my trajectory, and where I was going. It’s hard to even see back to where I was going because I’m so far from my starting point.

CRISTINA QUINN: That’s next time on dot-future.

If you like dot-future, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts!  Make sure to type period future to find us, like period as in a dot. Dot future.. And while you’re at it, leave us a review so we know how you feel about the show! Don’t get left in the past. Join us in the dot Future …   at dot future dot net. That’s D O T future dot net.

I’m Cristina Quinn. Thanks so much for dot listening!

THEME OUT