Category: Unified Communications

BYOD can have some downsides

Employers know that employees prefer BYOD policies and that they can increase productivity. However, BYOD can have some downsides. Probably the most prominent concern among those who have to address the BYOD issue is the increased risk to data security. Obviously, the more devices you have with the ability to connect to your data, the more opportunities you create for a breach. Simply put, a house with 20 doors and 50 windows with multiple lock styles is a bit more vulnerable than a house with one door and one window.

BYOD increases risk to the organization. Data breaches bring a few layers of concern. First, the loss of proprietary data can affect your competitive status in the market. However, the real high-visibility concern is the theft of your customer’s personal data. Theft of personal data brings three serious consequences.

First, data breach laws require informing all victims of the data breach and in some cases, the media must also be informed. This public visibility can have long-lasting implications for brand value.

Second, you face a short- and long-term revenue hit. Customers angry and frustrated, as well as others who learn about the breach through social media, word-of-mouth, and traditional media sources, may move their business to the competition.

Third, data breaches can bring civil penalties. In the case of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, these penalties can be extremely severe. ( And keep in mind, the GDPR doesn’t just apply to entities physical operating within the EU. It applies to the data of any user who is a citizen of the EU.)

In summary, given the severity of the consequences and the increased vulnerability created by BYOD, it is important to create a BYOD policy with strict parameters. It cannot be a “wild west” of anything goes.

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Unified Communications can save money and improve customer satisfaction

Unified Communications can save money and improve customer satisfaction

We discussed in our last blog how unified communications can hoster greater collaboration and workplace functionality, but today we’ll look its value to the “back of the house” and external customers. Unified communications offers opportunities for operational improvements and cost savings, as well as opening up new pathways to create greater customer satisfaction.

  1. Move many IT expenses out of the expense budget – Unified communications can migrate many of your channels to the cloud, eliminating a lot of IT hardware expenses, and moving them into a more predictable, monthly expense.
  2. Cuts down on internal IT support – Because much of Unified communications relies of the cloud and the SaaS (Software- as- a -service) model to integrate communications, you have less hardware and software on the ground that all require support, upgrades, backups, and maintenance.
  3. Create a more centralized point of responsibility – When you have multiple communication channels all operating independently, you rely on many individual vendors, none of whom may work effectively together. With a unified communications model you move toward a single point of responsibility for your operational integrity.

In summary, understand that unified communications is an outgrowth of the explosion of workplace communications channels. With multiple communication channels, our ability to communicate becomes fractured and increasingly awkward. But it isn’t just for the users of the many communication channels that suffer. Non-integrated communication channels create an unwieldy IT infrastructure. It may also cause some duplication of support costs, as well as fractured oversight and responsibility. It also creates situations that can foster customer frustration and discontent.

If you’d like to begin exploring how unified communications could benefit your organization, contact us to learn more about our managed service provider solutions. 

Four ways unified communications can improve productivity Part II

In our last blog, we suggested that unified communications adds value to an organization’s efforts to increase productivity. It can facilitate smoother, more efficient collaboration in a 24/7 workspace. Unified communications can also accomplish the following:

Improve the functionality of our 24/7 workplace

The reality of 24/7 availability has been around for a while, and learning to place constraints on that is for another e-guide. However, unified communications can play a role on the 24/7 expectation problem. For one thing, with a single portal to an individual’s multiple communication channels, an employee can more easily communicate across those channels that they are not available and therefore limit expectations for an immediate or timely response when that is not possible. Also, with a unified portal, responding to different channels in off times can be easier and therefore less time-intrusive.

Improve client satisfaction

Nothing is more irritating as a customer than needing support and finding support elusive. Waiting for call-backs with no answer, or worse, re-telling your story over and over until you finally reach the right resource? Unified communications can go a long way in mitigating these frustrations. Unified communications is being heavily introduced into contact centers, where customers can use multiple integrated channels to discuss issues, questions, or problems.

Four ways unified communications can improve productivity Part I

Today’s blog will give a quick definition of unified communications and then explain reasons why this concept can lead to improved productivity in the workplace. So what is unified communications? First of all, it is more of a broad concept than any specific, concrete product or service that comes in a box. There are many different vendors that offer some form of unified communications technology and there are many flavors of it. In general, however, unified communications can be understood as the effort to unify the communications channels that we use singularly and/or in parallel and pull them together. For example, a unified communication system might create a unified mailbox whereby a user could access email, v-mail, voice, text and video using only one number. It works to eliminate the parallel structure of our communications channels. Unified communications may also be applied to begin to integrate our social media, where we normally have to maintain different accounts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

So why is this useful? Let’s look first at productivity.

  • Businesses are becoming more virtual; Real estate, whether owned or leased, is not free. Increasingly, firms are fostering more full-time work-from-home initiatives. As a result, collaboration has to rely heavily on technological communication channels. In a cyclical pattern, as these technology channels improve and expand, our capacity to eliminate the constraints of physical workplace locations. Virtual offices can be more successful with integration.
  • Improve the usefulness of our communication channels – Just as five separate trips to the restaurant wasted time and energy, not using integrated collaboration and communication channels is inefficient and limits our capacity to effectively communicate together. This lack of integration hinders productivity. Multiple channels lacking integration can be clumsy, and at the very least, not optimized for efficiency.

In our next blog we will continue the discussion of how unified communications can help improve productivity in additional ways.

What are SIP Trunks?

As a business owner, you are constantly looking for ways to cut costs and re-prioritize your spending. With all the services you are tasked with managing (merchant services, shipping services, payroll services, etc.) it’s understandable you haven’t mastered the knowledge of each industry. Maybe you’ve heard of SIP trunking, and maybe a friend of yours saves money by using it with his business, but you’d like to know more about how it works before you contact providers.

Conventional analog phone lines have dominated business communication for a century. Long distance and international calls can cost a fortune. The fact that a traditional copper-based phone line can only handle one call at a time means you’re constantly investing in a new “trunk”, every time you need to add call capacity.

By allowing you to make calls over the Internet, VoIP can reduce costs of long distance calls while making it far easier to scale up the number of calls you need to make at once.

A SIP trunk is the virtual version of an analog phone line. Using SIP trunks, a SIP provider can connect one, two, or twenty channels to your PBX, allowing you to make local, long distance, and international calls over the Internet. If you have an on-premises PBX in your office, a SIP trunk provider can connect to you and allow you to make outbound calls on your existing system, without restrictions on the number of concurrent calls.

Metered SIP trunking is delivered and charged on usage, so each minute will incur a charge. Metered trunking is very flexible in that there are no limitations to the number of concurrent calls, as you are just charged for each minute of each call. Metered services allows businesses the flexibility to dynamically add calls and just pay for the additional usage.

Channelized SIP trunking is a prepaid option that provides unlimited inbound and outbound local and long distance calls on per channel/call basis. Each Channel provides the ability to make or receive a single call. Once you have filled all of your channels you will be unable to make or receive additional calls. Channels can always be added for more capacity by contacting your provider. This type of SIP trunking service allows businesses a way to easily budget their telecom spending and is similar in capacity handling to copper phone lines.

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Hosted PBX Vs On Premise PBX

There are pros and cons of both hosted PBX as well as on-premise PBX. There are some fundamental differences to each of the systems and they feature advantages that should be known prior to making a decision on one or the other. The move to an IP-PBX business phone system is beneficial regardless of which system is ultimately chosen. However, there are differences and knowing those leads to a better VoIP phone system and a higher level of satisfaction for the company, employees and even callers.

What is Hosted PBX?

Hosted PBX or hosted VoIP, otherwise known as an Internet phone system is one where the provider is responsible for housing the IP-PBX as well as handling the technology required to provide the services to the phone system. The desk sets will plug into a router and the calls, signaling, and features are handled through an IP-PBX server at the provider’s location. The provider of the hosted PBX charges a monthly fee that is inclusive of a minutes package and potentially certain features. Charges can also be at a per minute calling cost. Either one can be affordable depending on the rates. A company that knows the amount of minutes spent on the phone in a given month can make effective cost comparisons. Extended features may come with additional cost.

What is On Premise PBX?

On-premise PBX is also known as an IP-PBX phone system. It is similar to a traditional PBX system that resides at a location, such as a computer equipment room or phone closet. The main difference is that IP routing is done with more current technology. The signaling is done with an IP phone to the IP-PBX server using a LAN. Calls can go through a traditional phone company as well as voice over Internet (VoIP) using SIP trunking. Gateway cards are used to connect the system to the traditional phone company provider. The provider can be the one that already provides service, though a SIP trunk can be configured for use with an Internet service telephone provider (ISTP). An Asterisk based system is the most affordable option for on-premise PBX due to the flexibility that is offered with open source software.

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