Microsoft’s Cortana Assistant Gains IFTTT Integration, Supports More Smart Home Products

Microsoft's Cortana Assistant Gains IFTTT Integration, Supports More Smart Home Products

In a bid to expand into the growing home automation market, Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana will now support more smart home devices and integrate with IFTTT – a free web-based platform that helps users connect their apps and services together, the company has announced.

Cortana now supports devices from ecobee, Honeywell Lyric, Honeywell Total Connect Comfort, LIFX, TP-Link Kasa and Geeni.

Cortana running on Windows 10 Operating System (OS), iPhone, Android and the Harman Kardon Invoke speakers, can be used to control these devices.

“Say ‘Hey Cortana, set the living room thermostat to 72 degrees’ to control your ecobee, Honeywell Lyric, or Honeywell Total Connect Comfort thermostat. With vivid colours from your LIFX Wi-Fi connected light bulbs, you can set the mood just right for movie night,” the company wrote in a blog post late on Friday.

To set up their connected home with the digital assistant, users need to open Cortana on Windows 10 or go to the Cortana app on their phone, click Notebook and then click Connected Home.

“From there, you can connect your favourite smart home accounts and control your devices from anywhere you use Cortana,” the post added..

The tech giant also announced Cortana’s support for IFTTT.

IFTTT (If This Then That) is both a website and a mobile app that was launched in 2010.

“Using IFTTT, you will be able to customise your experience by creating your own phrases to use with services on IFTTT. You can also use Applets on IFTTT with Cortana to trigger multiple actions with one phrase,” Microsoft said.


Martech enablement series: Part 7 — Insights, intelligence and integration

Welcome to Part 7 of: “A Nine Part Practical Guide to Martech Enablement.” This is a progressive guide, with each part building on the previous sections and focused on outlining a process to build a data-driven, technology-driven marketing organization within your company. Below is a list of the previous articles for your reference:

  • Part 1: What is Martech Enablement?
  • Part 2: The Race Team Analogy
  • Part 3: The Team Members
  • Part 4: Building the Team
  • Part 5: The Team Strategy
  • Part 6: Building the Car

In these previous parts, we looked at how your martech team is parallel to an automobile race team. We spent time investigating how a race team constructs their team and then builds a strategy for winning their individual races and the overall race series. We then looked at how this is also a successful approach to constructing and strategizing for a martech team, identifying this process as “martech enablement.”

As we discussed in Part 1 of this guide, martech enablement is ultimately about obtaining insights and providing tools and processes to take action to affect your marketing efforts in your marketing organization. In Part 6, we discussed “building the car” with a focus on breaking down the systems in your martech stack that allow you to take action.

In this article, we will explore the systems that provide insights and enable team collaboration. We’ll also look at tying them all together with integration approaches, tools and strategies. Once again, a shout-out to Scott Brinker for producing the “Marketing Technology Landscape” to help make sense of all the martech products available.

Insights and intelligence

When you’re driving your car, a number of tools inform you how to take action. Looking out your windshield, windows and mirrors gives you immediate data that you respond to. Additionally, you have tools like your instrument dashboard, GPS, traffic data, your radio, and even your passengers.

Race drivers and the team as a whole have sophisticated systems in and around the car that are collecting information, as well as experts to analyze the information in real time, providing actionable insights that the team can use before, during and after the race. This is a huge part of the team’s competitive advantage that they use to win races.

Part of the martech enablement process is to leverage the data within your martech stack so that experts within your team can analyze that information to provide actionable insights, so your marketing organization can win your race.

To reiterate a point made in Part 6 of this guide, a solid data strategy is one of the most important components of martech enablement. This provides the foundation for extracting and “mashing” this data in a way that you can measure. A sound approach is to understand your organization’s KPIs (key performance indicators) and craft a data strategy that supports collecting data to enable measurement of those KPIs.

Many systems and categories of tools assist in the area of gaining insights. Below is a list of some of the systems used to provide visibility and understanding:

  • Web analytics platforms
  • AI/predictive analytics
  • MPM — Marketing performance management
  • Marketing attribution systems
  • Business intelligence (BI) systems
  • Dashboards
  • Data visualization tools
  • Social media monitoring
  • Sales intelligence
  • Audience and market research data

As you progress through the martech enablement process, your “insights” toolset will grow in both size and maturity. I want to remind you to stay focused on letting this part of your stack evolve from the incremental team objectives and series and race goals. Don’t lead with a goal of creating a cool BI environment or dashboard. Let these grow out of the goals driving the martech enablement process.

Strategic vs. tactical insights

I want to spend a minute discussing the difference between strategic and tactical insights and their alignment with your team, series and race objectives. For a refresher on these, see Part 5 of this guide.

When measuring and analyzing performance against your team and series goals, you’re looking at strategic insights where understanding the current level and performance trend is desirable. Think in terms of tools that show you the results of your marketing efforts across time. A tactical insight will generally be more closely aligned with your race goals and will be a singular value or KPI.

Relating this to our race team analogy, a strategic goal could be wanting to improve the team’s average finish position from the current state to some future targeted goal. Over time, you could measure and graph the improvement and trend toward that goal.

A tactical goal might be the desire to come in third place or better in a particular race. Your insight tool could represent that number as a single KPI. That isn’t to say that you may never analyze performance trends during a race, such as average lap speed. But there are values that benefit from analyzing as a trend and others that are just fine to analyze as a current and ending value.

Team management and collaboration

When it comes to management and collaboration in the race team, both pre-race and race-day systems are needed to support the team’s operations. These tools are necessary to get things done right in your marketing organization. Good management and collaboration tools help great people be a great team. Here are some of those systems:

  • Project management
  • Workflow
  • Collaboration tools
  • Business Process Management (BPM)/Agile & Lean
  • Talent management
  • Vendor management
  • Budget and finance

The nuts, bolts, welds, hoses and wires

It’s important to have a strategy and tools to hold all of this together. There are a few strategies to contemplate with systems integration and martech. Your marketing organization will likely take several different approaches to integration. These are generally broken down into three categories: native integration, IPaaS (integration platform as a service) and custom integration.

As technology matures, and the interoperability of products grows, companies are building “connectors” that allow for the exchange of data between their products and other widely used ones. These native integrations generally require some technical implementation or configuration, but the product manufacturers have done much of the heavy lifting to allow for the exchange of data between systems they have connectors for.

IPaaS is a “suite of cloud services enabling development, execution and governance of integration flows connecting any combination of on-premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data within individual or across multiple organizations,” according to Gartner. These platforms enable a more systematic way of creating and controlling data exchanges between products in your martech stack.

Custom development is as it sounds: a process in which software engineers develop custom applications to create and manage data exchanges between products and systems in your martech stack. Regardless of whether you take advantage of the aforementioned native integrations or IPaaS, you will likely at some level need to leverage good technologists to do some custom integration work along your path to martech enablement.

Stack it up!

To review, all the categories of the stack between Part 6, “Building the car,” and this part, “Supporting technologies,” your cohesive martech stack is composed of the following types of systems:

Intro to Part 8: Running the series and the races

Now that we’ve gone through the people, the strategy and the stack, we can move on to the execution part of martech enablement. In Part 8 of the guide, we’ll get into how your team iteratively and incrementally moves your marketing organization toward digital transformation and maturity.

I look forward to continuing to share with you about martech enablement in Part 8 of this guide.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily MarTech Today. Staff authors are listed here.


Ola Gets Siri and Maps Integration for iOS 10 Users

Ola Gets Siri and Maps Integration for iOS 10 Users

One of iOS 10’s biggest new features was the opening up of the Siri voice-based virtual assistant to third-party apps. Alongside SiriKit, Apple also unveiled MapKit to allow third-party integration with Apple Maps. One of the first such integrations was with Uber, and now its biggest rival in India – Ola – has rolled out the same functionality, including Apple Maps support.

iPhone users running iOS 10 with the latest version of Ola can now ask Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, to book cabs for them. The update, which also includes Apple Maps integration, marks Ola’s growing focus on making cab booking even more accessible and convenient for iPhone users in India, Ola said in a statement.

(Also see: iOS 10: Ten Cool Things to Try in Apple’s Latest Mobile OS)

“Using just their voice, iPhone users running iOS 10 can simply say, ‘Hey Siri, get me an Olacab’ to book their next ride,” it added.

“Technology is at the core of all our solutions aimed at providing enhanced mobility to our customers. Integrating our app with iOS 10 is a step towards redefining customer experience. We are proud to be one of the early adopters of Sirikit and Mapkit in the world,” Ola co-founder and CTO Ankit Bhati said.

With this update, Apple users will also get access to Ola directly from Apple Maps while searching for their destination, he added.

Besides, Ola has launched an independent app on Apple Watch to ensure a consistent experience across all Apple devices.


Tags: Apple, iPhone, iOS 10, Ola, Siri, Update, Apple Maps, Apps, Apple Watch, Ride Hailing



Facebook Live to Get Scheduling, 2-Person Broadcasting, and MSQRD Integration

Facebook Live to Get Scheduling, 2-Person Broadcasting, and MSQRD Integration


  • The features will roll out in a few weeks.
  • Two-person broadcasting capabilities to come to Facebook Live.
  • Broadcasters will also be able to schedule live broadcasts.

At the annual VidCon conference, the social giant has announced that it will roll out a bunch of new capabilities to Facebook Live. The new features will include the ability to let two users broadcast together simultaneously, send notifications before the live broadcast begins, and even let users wait in virtual waiting rooms before the broadcast begins.

All of this will roll out sometime in the next few weeks. Facebook Live will get the ability to broadcast a video live with another user participating from a different location simultaneously. The broadcaster can invite multiple friends to join in on the live video conversation.

(Also see: Mark Zuckerberg Reveals Upcoming Features in First Facebook Live Q&A)

Furthermore, Facebookwill also allow broadcasters to send notifications to users that a Live video is about to begin. These pre-schedule notifications will lead users to a page, where the live stream will eventually play. If they end up there early, Facebook will let them sit in a virtual lobby-like room waiting for the Live video to start.

Broadcasters typically wait for more users to go live before they begin talking; this causes many early viewers to just leave the video before the broadcaster even begins. With this virtual waiting room, broadcasters can now have a large audience the second the live video begins.

Facebook is also bringing the ability to go live directly on Facebook from its recently acquired MSQRD app. The video filter app brings many Snapchat-like masks for users, and this integration will essentially allow users to mask themselves with these funny filters before they go live on Facebook.

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