Sunday, September 28, 2014

Entrepreneurs are Opting for Hosted PBX for Their Business - Are You?

[Guest Post]

Entrepreneurs, who are heading a fast growing company, need to be aware of the importance of having fast, reliable, efficient and cost effective telephone systems at office. They should also be aware of the fact that the telephone system should be highly scalable depending on the increasing or decreasing telecommunication needs of the company. Since the startups are very fast moving companies so they are going to grow at a rapid pace and their current status this year is definitely going to change next year. Changing the communication systems at office is a challenging task and no entrepreneur can afford to waste time and money for frequently changing their telephone system.

PBX

VoIP, hosted or premised based, is the answer to all their communication needs as it is not only inexpensive but also much efficient than their old PSTN telephone systems. The hosted telephone system offers greater flexibility, higher stability and better call quality, which will only help the business grow without any hindrances.

There are several benefits for entrepreneurs who opt for the hosted PBX systems and this is applicable to both the small as well as the mid-sized companies.

Call Costs

The hosted PBX system is VoIP dependent and does not use the conventional PSTN lines. The most attractive feature of hosted PBX is that the call costs are cheaper than the calls made from land lines and companies that make frequent overseas calls are the largest beneficiaries. Company owners do not need to foot huge telephone bills at the end of the month as the international calls are really cheap. The calls are placed over the internet and this is why there are no extra charges on the calls. 

Highly scalable

As you are heading a growing business, so you might have to keep adding new users to the telephone network. Adding new staff to your company and to your telephone network is a walk in the park only if you have a hosted PBX system. These centrally managed systems can add in more users only by upgrading the packages of the subscribers. Thus, all you will need to do is call up your service provider and placing the order for adding in the extra users. The hosted PBX system is highly scalable and you will only need to inform your host for upgrading or downgrading your package.

Quality of Equipments

The equipments used for the hosted phone systems are of very high quality and some of the big names in the market manufacture them. There are several advanced feature offered by the hosted PBX systems to boost the enterprise’s performance.

Virtual Office will be a reality

Your office will be able to create virtual numbers for phone calls and this is possible only when you have a hosted PBX system. One number can be redirected to the office phones, mobile phones, smartphones and even to the laptop. Thus, your customers will have a toll free number at their disposal and they will definitely place new calls.

Businesses can be Virtualized

The virtualization of your business will cut down the initial operating costs of your business and will also reduce the phone bills. The hosted PBX facilitates easy scaling of the phone system and you will be able to provide the virtual numbers for receiving incoming calls. Hosting PBX helps you to improve the customer relations and even the productivity.

Entrepreneurs are the ones who lead by example and by opting for the hosted PBX system, you will be able to send a message to your employees and business associates that you do not settle for the second best.

About The Author

Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Do Social Collaboration Work in Enterprise?

[Guest Post]

Social networking has become almost indispensable for us. It is not only Twitter or Facebook, but, there are other services that are becoming really popular with users.

On the personal front, social networking has become an easy way of sharing personal information with near and dear ones. You can exchange notes, photographs, and even videos. Twitter and Facebook has been used even in emergencies where pleas for help have been broadcast and acted upon.

What about use of social networking in enterprises? What we see now is Unified Communications, Video Conferencing and such. The use of social collaboration in enterprise never really took off and business owners and leaders have always been skeptical about their proper usage and impact. Leaders and business owners need to realize that enterprise social media collaboration is a completely different ballgame and both the strategy as well as the execution needs to be at a different level.

The Enterprise Social Idea

Enterprise social, as an idea, caught the fancy of many (obviously for a very short period of time) as it helped to revolutionize some business operations. There are instances of many Enterprise social networking platforms businesses like OurCrowd and Kickstarter. Many such platforms have used crowd sourcing to fill their funding requirements. They were not required to go to banks and fill up long loan applications or pitch their business ideas to the VCs. There were also many companies that used Twitter to get feedbacks from the customers and even take care of the support issues. Internet marketers used Facebook (FB) pages to generate likes for the business and even execute their marketing campaigns to create the right buzz about their products and services. LinkedIn too was put to good use by many headhunting firms who recruited people by using that professional networking platform.

What Users Want?

CCI

Now, the expectation from the enterprises for social collaboration is pretty high as business owners and leaders expect the collaboration to yield high revenue and other results for the organization. Unfortunately, enterprise social collaboration never really matched the industry expectations and, as a result, business leaders started to shift their attention to other marketing gigs. The primary reason behind the dismal performance of social business software is that the CIOs found it really difficult to distinguish one product from another and they took really long to evaluate the solutions and the tools. Thus, the unexpected delay popped up new challenges for everyone and the results could never really match the expectations of the enterprise users.

The personal model for social media interactions cannot be extended to the enterprise as the goals are different for each. Enterprise social media interactions are not made to share birthday wishes or announcing dinner dates - they are all about collaboration and working of diverse teams. The social media tools should facilitate easy collaboration and execution of tasks and projects.

A Mixture of Asana and Facebook?

Social collaboration in an enterprise should be aimed at getting work done efficiently, faster and within set budgets. The executives and the CIOs should be able to differentiate between communication and broadcast tools, and the ones that facilitate results based on collaboration. Thus, a solution to this should be the software that allows external as well as the internal team members to collaborate, communicate and come up with innovations and ideas. The same tool can then be used to execute and deliver.

Enterprises are looking at social collaboration software that starts with the social aspect but then ropes in execution along the line somewhere. The users should be able to set up the groups around any project or initiative. The groups should further have the option of changing their conversations into actionable items. They should be able to set deadlines for the work to be completed. A few of the tasks need to convert into projects that not only require resources but should also have milestones, budget and even deliverables. The ultimate goal should be to convert social interactions into business results.

We have yet to see a combination of Facebook and Asana that does this in an integrated fashion. What do you think? Share your views in the comment section.

About The Author

Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Is Cloud Telephony the Future?

[Guest Post]

Businesses that are on the rapid path of expansion often want to upgrade their systems to meet the contemporary communication needs. Companies that switch over to latest communication system always try to look for solutions that will not only meet their present but also their future needs. This often leads to over-specification where the companies want to play safe by buying a technology cover for the coming years. Now, all this eventually leads to heavy capital expenditure, which might deter many companies from trying out latest technologies. Cloud telephony is a one stop solution for this problem and this is why it has turned out to be the preferred telecom technology for the smart companies around the world.

So is cloud telephony the future?

Well, cloud based business telephone solutions is the future of business telephony services around the world. Cloud telephony is the latest technology that has evolved out of cloud computing; the basis of cloud based telephone solutions. There are several advantages of this latest technology and strong reasons are there for making it the future of all telecom technology. Businesses prefer this technology to others because they have realized that it is not only the cheapest available in the market but also the most efficient solution.

Companies are opting for unified communication because they want to integrate the various communication channels and tools on a single platform and what better way to accomplish this than migrating to cloud telephony. Cloud based telephone solutions are easier to manage and users are free of any maintenance costs. The use of IP phones has further boosted the chances of cloud telephony because these can be plugged to the central system from anywhere around the world and used.

Do Cloud telephone systems have a future?

Cloud based telephone system is the future of telecom and ten years from now it is will be as common as the PSTN telephone systems were. There are obvious reasons behind believing in the bright future of this technology.

  • The increase in the number of communication channels and tools is a huge challenge for any company to manage. Thus, business communication systems will fast switch to the unified communication system, which inadvertently is based on the cloud telephony. There is immense growth in the field of mobile technology and companies that want to stay ahead of their competitors are bound to choose unified communication.
  • Flexibility is the USP of cloud based telephone solutions and this is the reason why it can accommodate all the legacy communication systems. Thus, companies that used to have their PSTN telephones can make use of the cloud with simple changes to their existing infrastructure.
  • In terms of scalability, there is no other technology that can beat cloud telephone solutions because users can upgrade and downgrade their subscription packages at will. An increase in operations would mean adding more telephone lines and this can be accomplished with a few clicks when using cloud telephony.
  • Mobility at workplaces is the future move in every industry and this can be easily achieved by migrating to cloud. Majority of the bigger companies are now contemplating the use of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) and cloud telephony is the technology that can promote and accommodate both the trends.

Businesses that have their eye on the future are certainly in favour of VoIP and cloud telephony. Communication is no more limited to making or receiving calls or a voicemail, it is all about integrating all on a single platform. Cloud telephony has been created to meet the future communication needs of businesses and it is here to stay.

About The Author

Michelle Patterson is an avid technology blogger and writes extensively about IP/VoIP and Unified Communication. She works with some leading companies to understand the trends of these modern communication technologies.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

6 Benefits of Deploying IP Surveillance System

IP-based surveillance has a lot of advantages and is gaining popularity all over. Some of the major advantages are listed below:

Optional Info. An IP based surveillance requires an IP Camera. Wikipedia defines An Internet protocol camera, or IP camera, is a type of digital video camera commonly employed for surveillance, and which unlike analog closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras can send and receive data via a computer network and the Internet. Although most cameras that do this are webcams, the term "IP camera" or "netcam" is usually applied only to those used for surveillance.

Remote accessibility

As the surveillance system is installed over an IP network, it can be configured to provide remote access. IP-based surveillance system facilitates remote access by which a user can log into an authorized system without being physically present at the location. Remote access is very handy when it comes to a third party monitoring and also for personal access and monitoring when the person is away.

Users can also login to a server remotely by using a web-based interface in order to view real time video footage on PCs as well as mobile phones. The captured video can be stored at remote locations for convenience as well as security purpose, and the data can be transmitted over the optical fiber or LAN cable or Internet. Also, remote support and end user training is also possible in an IP surveillance system.

IP-Surveillance

High Image quality

Image quality has always been considered as one of the most important features for a surveillance system. Normally an analog camera is about 0.5 mega pixel, whereas, an IP camera can range from 2 mega pixels to some 20 mega pixels. With a high quality camera, you get crisp images, and it becomes easier to view and identify any individual or event, which is the prime purpose of the surveillance system. In IP surveillance system, images and videos captured from camera are digitized and these can be shared over a secured network. There is no loss in quality of the images or videos even when they are transmitted over long distances.

Easy, future-proof integration

In an IP system, there is no limitation as to where an IP camera can be installed. Additionally, they can provide higher level of integration with other equipment, which helps in the continuous development of the system. An integrated IP system enables multiple applications simultaneously such as access control, point of sales system etc. Moreover, further installation of security cameras with the existing system is also possible whenever necessary. IP surveillance system provides open interface for easy integration with other applications and systems.

Scalable and Flexible

IP based systems provide applications and products to be shared through wired or wireless network for communication of data. Video, audio, I/O commands, power as well as data can be transmitted over the same cable and a large number of surveillance equipment can be added to the existing system. IP based surveillance cameras can be placed anywhere as per the user’s requirement.

Cost Effective

In IP based surveillance system, infrastructure requirement is very less. Also, and IP camera can be installed using the existing network infrastructure. This reduces implementation costs significantly. Again these systems can operate irrespective of the size of network and it is only necessary to purchase as many cameras as you need. These systems are based on open standards and use standard PC and server hardware. This, in turn, reduces the management, maintenance and equipment cost, especially for large systems where storage and servers form a major chunk of the total cost of implementation.

Event management and intelligent video

Video data can be easily accessed and viewed as many times as wanted. Any real time data or recorded data can be viewed from any location. Whenever there is large volume of data to be reviewed, intelligent software with built-in analytics is available. The intelligent system responds to pre-programmed commands like motion detection, tampering alarms, audio detection as well as event management. Specific event can be programmed for which the system will respond. All the data can be recorded and organized in a very efficient and effective manner.

About The Author

Michelle Patterson is an avid technology blogger and writes extensively about IP/VoIP and Unified Communication. She works with some leading companies to understand the trends of these modern communication technologies.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Can a Call Center Be Taken To The Cloud?

--Guest Post

So many business applications are being taken to the cloud these days. You might even wonder if a large call center can be treated that way, and if so, then what some of the pros and cons of such a thing might be.

Cloud Call Center

In at least one way, it is possible to take a large call center to the cloud: You can re-task some of your qualified agents to answer customer questions via SMS text message. This will allow your customers to feel as if they have more control, and can get their answers quickly, rather than being on endless hold, listening to the same looped music.

SMS messaging is actually a preferred mode of communications for many people, simply due to its immediacy, ease-of-use, and convenience. Over 275,000 SMS messages a second are sent worldwide — that's over a billion a minute. It only makes sense, then, for a business to leverage that power to communicate with their customers. By doing so, they will be rewarded with better response rates. Reports show that more than 90 percent of SMS messages are opened, most of them within three minutes of receipt.

Pros of SMS systems:

  • Automatic responses can be configured for certain situations or questions
  • Text conversations can transition easily to a live agent
  • History of an SMS conversation can be viewed, giving an agent context
  • One trained agent can handle multiple conversations simultaneously, thereby lowering customer frustration levels and wait times.

Cons of SMS systems:

  • SMS messages are prone to delivery failure. Your messages might not get through, thereby angering the customer.
  • Space must be allocated in the SMS message for user to opt-out at any time.
  • SMS messages are just that — short. 160 characters is all that will send at any one time; anything longer will have to be broken up, which can often be clunky and difficult to read.

Is there Another Way of Taking the Call Center to the Cloud?

Yes, there, is. The savvy business owner doesn't have to invest in a brick and mortar building any more, along with all the overhead associated with it. Nor do they have to limit themselves to hiring the talent available in only that one geographical area, because let's face it — people will travel only so far for a job, no matter how good it is.

Another way of taking your Call Center to the Cloud is by making it virtual — in other words, having a central piece of hardware that can exist anywhere; your geographically dispersed agents (who typically work from home) call into it using their own phones, Web connections, and computers. This central hardware acts as a connection point that routes incoming calls with available remote agents.

So what are some of the benefits of doing business this way?

  • Dramatically reduced overhead can be repurposed for other corporate uses
  • The Virtual Call Center (VCC) model offers a company a greater pool of talent, across the country or even internationally
  • This model also allows a company to build a better skilled team
  • Agents who work at home are less prone to stress and frustration, therefore are more satisfied with their jobs. Thus there is usually less turnover in these positions.
  • VCCs also offer greater availability and continuity of service. Agents can be hired to break barriers to work that couldn't be broken before, such as language, time zone, or cultural differences.

There are a few cons, however:

  • Monitoring, management and evaluation of agent performance can be quite a challenge when staff is scattered across multiple locations, and may not be there at the same time.
  • Ongoing training on new products and services, policies, campaigns and promotions, etc., is difficult to provide.

The bottom line is that a business must decide, based on a candid evaluation of its needs, which model of call center is suited best to their way of working.

Author’s Bio

Michelle Patterson is an avid technology blogger and writes extensively about IP/VoIP and Unified Communication. She works with some leading companies to understand the trends of these modern communication technologies.