Category Archives: Collaborative Cloud Strategy

5 Benefits of Cloud Communications

cloud communicationsThe cloud is often mentioned in conjunction with business phone systems. However, what is it exactly? Simply put, the cloud is a network of servers that hosted by a third party. They can are anywhere over the Internet. When you place a call utilizing cloud communications, you are accessing the Internet to place your call as opposed to a traditional landline.

Modern communications indicate that cloud communications are only going to get more prevalent. Many businesses are switching to the cloud because it offers a host of benefits that you can’t find via traditional landlines. We’ve listed some of the biggest benefits below.

No installation fees

As soon as your company makes the switch, you will begin saving money. Cloud communications are in an off-site server, and thus, installation of equipment and hardware isn’t necessary.

Scalability

Cloud communications facilitate growth for small businesses. Companies who are expanding (or scaling down, for that matter) don’t need to change any hardware to add or remove extensions. The changes are all done through the internet. This also helps reduce costs—and headaches—when your company decides to expand.

No downtime losses

One of the best benefits of cloud communications is continuity. Local weather and power outages don’t affect your cloud communications. In any event, redundancy should safeguard against other causes of downtime.

Disaster recovery

As we’ve mentioned, data is stored off-site. Thus, disaster recovery is simple. If you have any issues with the physical desk phone or hardware, you shouldn’t lose any data.

Productivity 

Cloud Communications are also simpler to use. It is a more streamlined system for your employees and permits them to focus on their work instead of their phone.

If you have any questions regarding the cloud, or business phone systems in general, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Are You Unhappy with Your Hosted PBX Provider?

Hosted PBXThe Virtual PBX (also known as Hosted PBX or Cloud PBX) has been a great benefit to companies. However, the product is only as good as the provider; if you’re experiencing problems with your Hosted PBX, it may be time to switch providers as opposed to ditching the service altogether. If you’re experiencing any one of the following, it may be time for a change.

 

Too Expensive:

While it is never a great idea to go for the cheapest price, it is undeniable that a lot of businesses are paying way too much for their Virtual PBX. For those businesses, it may not have begun that way; they may have started out at a reasonable rate, but their provider gradually raised their rates over time. Other businesses may have experienced a rate hike after their first contract ended. Either way, doing a VoIP comparison is probably a good idea if you feel like you are paying too much for your Hosted PBX.

Poor Customer Service:

If your provider isn’t offering superior and timely support, it might be a good idea to switch providers. A lot of businesses justifiably switch due to the customer representatives being rude and not knowledgeable. Sometimes this can simply be due to the provider’s sales outmatching the rate they are growing their customer support team, but either way, the customer is in their rights to make a change if they aren’t happy with the customer service.

Lack of Local Support: 

Cloud business phone systems have been a leap forward in telecommunications, but that doesn’t preclude the need for an engineer having to visit the site from time to time. If you have a local provider, this typically isn’t a problem; having a non-local provider, however, means that geography can sometimes impede them in getting an engineer out to your company in a timely fashion.

The Good News: Changing VoIP Providers isn’t Hard!

Before Hosted PBX, businesses had to spend a lot of money on their business phone system. To justify the expenditure, they had to hang on to the system for a while—which meant that switching providers due to poor service was unheard of.

With cloud business phone systems, making a change is simple. Nearly all businesses use an industry standard SIP phone, so changing providers doesn’t mean that you must change your phones too. Furthermore, cloud PBX hardware is in a data center, so you don’t have any expensive on-site equipment to replace either. Switching is as simple as your new provider programming the phones to recognize the new VoIP system.

If you are interested in Hosted PBX or have any other business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Why You Shouldn’t Forget About VoIP Security

VoIP SecurityEver since VoIP was developed, it has been an enormous aid to businesses everywhere. It has allowed businesses the freedom to communicate in ways that weren’t previously imagined. However, you shouldn’t forget about VoIP security. While VoIP has a plethora of benefits, it is also vulnerable to fraudulent activity, security breaches, and DDoS Attacks. Fortunately, you can achieve VoIP security if you enact some preventative steps.

Fraudulent Activity

Regrettably, any business that uses VoIP can become a fraud victim. Sometimes, they won’t even realize that there has been fraud occurring until they receive their phone bill. When you choose a VoIP provider, you have to ensure that they offer fraud detection and protection. You can also prevent fraud by placing authentication systems on your business phone system. One example of this are personal passcodes.

DDoS Attacks

A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack is an attempt to overload a network with requests. DDoS attacks don’t penetrate your system, but busy signals do render it unusable. The best way to avoid a DDoS attack is by working with your VoIP provider to make sure detection and deployment methods are in place. Also, be sure that your team is knowledgeable about DDoS attacks so that if it happens to your business, they will know what they are dealing with.

Consider Carefully

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling as though your company isn’t large enough to break into. Unfortunately, attackers will find reasons to target any system, and attacks can happen anywhere or anytime. VoIP has certainly been a major asset in providing more connectivity to users, but it does come with risks. The best way to stay safe—and get some peace of mind—is to put your security in place. 

If you have any questions regarding VoIP security, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Twitter.

How to Chose the Right Business Telephone System Based on Your Company Size (Part 2)

company sizeAs we discussed in Wednesday’s blog, trying to decide on a business phone system can be challenging considering the vast array of options on the market. One of the biggest factors a business should take into consideration is company size. Your company size will largely determine the right business phone system for your business. In our last blog, we discussed the best business phone options for personal, small, and medium sized businesses. Today, we will examine the most popular choices for large businesses and enterprises. 

Large Business and Enterprise

Popular Options:

  • Business VoIP / Unified Communications
  • SIP trunking
  • On-premise PBX

Large businesses have entirely different needs than that of smaller or medium sized businesses. Large businesses have numerous office locations, unique sales and support operations, and executives with personal assistants. Usually large businesses will need unlimited calling packages, CRM and business software, and multiple local and toll free phone numbers. Most large businesses will also need call center capabilities.

The best option for large businesses are unified communications services. Most frequently these will come from business VoIP providers. Business VoIP has an online interface that permits account administrators to add users and configure features in real-time. They also offer web-based products that incorporate voice, video, and messaging, as well as other collaboration tools like multi-device compatibility and screensharing, to give a complete business communications solution.

Some large businesses prefer even more control over their business phone system. With SIP trunking and on-premise PBXs, companies have more customization options. The drawback is that SIP trunking and on-premise PBXs necessitate on-site servers and hardware. If you elect to go this route, you will need an in-house IT team to maintain and update the system.  

Customization isn’t the only advantage; on-premise solutions are often selected for security purposes. National companies, government agencies, and banks all have strict requirements to ensure secure communications. Doctor’s offices also need special HIPAA-compliant business phone systems to encrypt patient data.

Business Telephone Service: Finding the Right Fit

There are a plethora of business phone system options on the market, but recognizing the size of your business can eliminate a lot of options that simply won’t work. With that said, landline phone systems, in general, aren’t a great option for any sized business in the modern world. Besides being outdated and expensive, they have poorer call quality, less features, and are problematic in terms of scaling. Landlines will also typically require a business to sign a lengthy, non-negotiable contract.

Company size is one of the biggest factors when determining the best business phone system for your company, but it isn’t the only factor. A business will also need to consider their budget, as well as a business phone system’s reliability, user experience, and capabilities. Choosing the best business phone system will mean considering all of the above.

If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Facebook.

How To Manage A Phone System Disaster

15806132_sWhether it’s caused by a big storm or some other unpredictable problem, phone system issues can create large problems. If your business hasn’t prepared for an unexpected outage, productivity can greatly suffer, costing your company money as well as resulting in unhappy customers.

In the past the one way to guarantee that this didn’t happen was to duplicate all of your systems and implement a complex disaster recovery plan. Unfortunately, this means a huge investment in equipment and infrastructure. For this reason, many companies have opted to cross their fingers and hope for the best.

Today, there’s a much better solution that is cost-effective and more efficient. Cloud-based business phone systems have advanced system recovery and business continuity in the event of an outage.

Cloud based systems are hosted virtually. This means that there is no need to worry about the same type of disruptions that are typical with on-premise or landline services. Even if Internet service is interrupted, phone calls can be automatically routed to a backup cell phone. Here are a few more note-worthy benefits:

  • Cloud-based phone systems have huge flexibility.  Call flows can be re-directed as needed from one site to another.
  • If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of a total power and internet failure, cloud-based phone systems would still allow employees to connect from anywhere that they are able to obtain power and a data connection— their home, the local shop, wherever!
  • Cloud-based phone systems are less expensive up-front than on-premise solutions, even including a built-in disaster recovery plan.

Give Jay Faulconer a call to discuss your options should the unexpected happen!

4 Signs That Your Company Needs to Upgrade its Business Phone System

11205404_sHaving a viable business phone system is one of the most important tools a company–whether small or large–has. Here are some signs that your system isn’t doing you any favors and that it is time to upgrade.

  1. How much time do you devote to your business phone system?

A business owner’s biggest duty is to ensure a company grows and thrives. If they are spending more time merely managing the business phone system–as opposed to the business–then it is time for an upgrade. Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you think you are spending too much time tinkering with the phones:

How often do you have to call the vendor for troubleshooting?

How many different vendors do you have for phone related services?

Do you manually install software updates?

  1. What is the Impact on your Bottom Line?

A business investment is meant to help your bottom line, not to hinder it. This includes your business phone system. Is your phone system aiding your employers in being more productive and efficient? Here are a few questions to ask yourself regarding your phone systems role in aiding your bottom line:

Is your staff more productive because of the business phone system?

Are applications such as ATS, ERP, CRM, and others integrated into your phone system?

Does data from your phone system allow you to evaluate employee performance, optimal staff size, and how much to spend on marketing?

  1. Is your business phone system available from any location?

If your business phone system is only available from the office, then you are missing out on a host of features–including providing the best service for your clients. Expanding your accessibility allows employees to transfer phone calls to other co-workers who may or may not be physically in the office.

  1. Is your business phone system the most relevant system?

In today’s marketplace, your business must have the features of a cloud based system in order to stay competitive and relevant. Without VoIP and cloud technology, your clients are not receiving everything that they might get from a competitor.

How the Cloud Can Help Lessen Growing Pains of Your Business Telephone System

 

30910261_sThere are certainly many advantages to owning a small business, namely having less employees means that your job as a manager is, theoretically, less complicated. However, one of the biggest unforeseen challenges to starting a small business are growing pains; just how fast is your business going to grow? That question makes it challenging to figure out what type of contract you should sign with a phone service provider. If you sign on without enough coverage, in a couple of months you may find that it is not sustainable to a larger team.  At least that was the case until the cloud.

 Add Lines Easily

With a traditional phone system, adding new lines to your system necessitated a visit from a technician–and added fees. However, with the cloud you can add new lines with just a few clicks of the mouse. Not only is it more cost effective to add on lines with the cloud, but it is much easier.

Support Remote Working and Travel

Say that your small business has now grown to the point that you are on the road quite a bit of the time. Or maybe you have chosen to hire remote workers to handle some of the overflow. Either way, the cloud makes these options all the easier with the online softphone. No matter what device you are calling on, with the softphone it will all be under your business number.

Add-On Features

As the number of clients gets larger, you may find that HD video conferencing, online faxing or web conferencing to be ‘musts’ instead of ‘wants’. Cloud business phone systems allow you to bundle these add-ons into one–all without complicated contracts or added charges.

Contact Jay Faulconer at ACS to find out all that the Cloud has to offer your company!

 

 

Caution: Your Business Is Losing Money By Not Using Cloud Based Business Phone Systems

41468387_sInvesting in a cloud based business phone system is one of the smartest decisions a small business could make. Starting at a low monthly fee, you can get a virtual system that requires little space, empowers the business phone system you already have, rejuvenates your business identity, and even increases incoming calls.

Shrink the Cost of Office Equipment                              

Starting a small business can be a costly endeavor, especially once you factor in the plethora of office equipment you’ll need. If you don’t invest in a cloud based system, you will need to spend money on:

  • Complex phones
  • Faxes
  • Software for contact management
  • Salaries for customer services representatives

By eliminating these expenditures, you can focus on growing your business, all the while keeping up with technological advancements.

Increase Inbound Calls

By investing in a cloud based business phone system, you ensure that you growth potential is unlimited. With a cloud based system, you can add unlimited extensions. Furthermore, you can get a local number for your business. Studies have shown that local numbers increase the odds of a customer calling your business.

Eliminate the Startup Image

Oftentimes, your first impression with a potential client is through your business phone system. All businesses should be able to transfer calls, place clients on hold, and ensure that the phone is answered during business hours. A cloud based system will make it possible to do all that and more.

Why Your Business Should Take a Phased Approach to Communications-in-the-Cloud

41468387_sIf you’re in the business world, you have probably already heard about the benefits of cloud-based software: easy upgrades and security patches lower initial costs, consistent monthly billing, remote workers with complete access to business applications and tools, easy disaster recovery due to data storage in multiple places—the list is endless.  Business phone systems that benefit from the cloud, i.e, desk phones, don’t have to be tethered to a traditional, on-site PBX. Instead, they are placed in the cloud and accessible through IP-based hard phones or desktop soft phones and mobile apps.

If this is a lot to wrap your head around, Avaya offers a variety of cloud-based solutions for consumers. At VMworld 2015, engineers exhibited Avaya UC and CC, which are hosted on VMware vCloud Air (the company’s cloud-based service platform). One of the key benefits of vCloud Air is that it is available in a phased rollout.

 “A phased approach gives customers a chance to try a smaller piece of the infrastructure in the cloud and builds their confidence in cloud-based solutions,” said Mohan Gopalakrishna, one of the lead engineers on the project. “We can gradually retire servers from the on-premise campus and into the cloud. Avaya protects the investment and gives you an easy migration path to the cloud at your own pace.”

Switching to the cloud in a phased approach means that you’re not ripping and replacing. Avaya’s Enterprise Solution Practice team helps architect cloud migration plans for their clientele. Gopalakrishna estimates that it would take a midsize company a month to fully switch to a unified cloud communications system under the phased approach.

Under this approach, your company can operate as normal while undergoing a big switch. With Avaya’s philosophy regarding the cloud, there is no longer a reason to postpone a decision that will not only enhance your company but also save you money.

 

 

 

Should Your Business Use the Cloud for Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery—getting business phone systems back online with full data capabilities after an unplanned service disruption—is universally critical among all businesses. The Bureau of Labor states that twenty percent of businesses will endure a failure (power outage, flood, fire, natural disaster, etc.) in any given year.  15806132_s

To combat these alarming statistics, many businesses are utilizing the Cloud for their business telephone systems; not only does the cloud present an alternative for companies with limited IT resources, but it is a model perfect for disaster recovery. Disaster recovery sites stored in the cloud decreases the need for a physical data center or IT infrastructure and recourses. These benefits enable smaller companies to utilize disaster recovery options that were once found in only larger companies.

The cloud is accessed through the Internet, so before your company switches to this disaster recovery option, it is vital to understand bandwidth requirements. The right provider can help you ascertain whether or not your company currently has enough bandwidth and network capacity to redirect all users to the cloud as well as how long a cloud based restoration of operations will take in the event of a disruption.

Advanced Communication Systems, LLC can help your business find the disaster recovery option that best fits your needs. Visit us at www.advcomsol.com or call 1-800-750-3624.