Are you ready for Cloud-Hosted Phones?

Posted by Troy Stanton on Jun 18, 2019 9:39:13 AM

In the current technology world it seems that everything is "moving to the cloud". On a commercial level, many key business tools such as Microsoft Office have become cloud-based (Office 365). On a personal level, our iPhone and Android music, pictures and videos are saved and backed-up to the cloud. So what is "the cloud" anyway?

 

The Cloud is a really just a collection of data centers. A data center is made up of racks of data servers nestled inside a secure, always powered, always connected, disaster-resistant building. They come in many shapes and sizes from the 1.3 Million square foot Citadel in Reno, to a room tucked away in a multi-use office building. By this broad definition, there are three million data centers in the US. That's one (1) data center for every 100 people. Google by itself owns eight (8) data centers around the world. With the increasing need for connectivity and the growing importance of data we will see an additional 4,000 more data centers built in the US in the next 2 years. So how does business technology and more specifically, voice communications take advantage of the cloud?

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Topics: Insider

Unified Communications Part 3: Mobility

Posted by Troy Stanton on Apr 16, 2019 10:00:00 AM

In our third and last post discussing Unified Communications we will focus on Mobility technology and its role in bringing the mobile work force closer by providing quicker and more efficient interaction with customers and co-workers. Mobility refers to any application developed for a mobile device that facilitates business outside of a typical office environment. The improved screen size and power of mobile devices coupled with the ongoing movement of employees outside the office has created a need for better communications using their mobile devices.

 

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Topics: Insider

Unified Communications Part 2: Presence

Posted by Troy Stanton on Mar 13, 2019 9:02:00 AM

As discussed in the first post of this series highlighting Unified Communications (UC), the role of UC is to bring the mobile work force closer by providing quicker and more efficient interaction with customers and co-workers. One important component of UC is Presence. Presence is an application that provides a bird’s eye view of the whereabouts of colleagues – providing real-time information on staff availability, regardless of location.  Are they in a meeting, on vacation, on sick leave?  Presence makes it possible to find and contact an available co-worker wherever they might be, enabling as close to a "real-time" response to customers as possible .

 

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Topics: Insider

Unified Communications Part 1: Conferencing

Posted by Troy Stanton on Feb 12, 2019 9:45:00 AM

There is no question that technology has improved the way that business people communicate. However, with more employees working from home or the road and corporate footprints expanding, new challenges to communication with customers and colleagues have emerged.  At the same time, even with an increasing number of millennials in the work force, interpersonal communication is as important as it has ever been.  So how does technology help meet the need for timely and personalized communication while remaining mindful of the travel budget?  Using features found within Unified Communications, or "UC" for short, is one answer and a broad-ranging topic that we will explore more in depth in subsequent blog posts. Our focus today is on an important component of Unified Communications; audio and video Conferencing.    

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Topics: Insider

The Facts about E-Fax

Posted by Troy Stanton on Jan 16, 2019 8:48:13 AM

Today, the mere mention of a fax machine often leads to a chuckle. Remember the horrible grating sounds the machine made while pushing out documents printed on flimsy, filmy facsimile paper? This bygone technology was actually used to transmit documents and has all but been replaced by email.  In fact, The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. has entered a fax machine as part of its historical artifacts exhibit. True Story. 

 

While most of us feel that the fax machine has gone the way of the VCR (wow - we are really dating ourselves with this post), in reality there are still industries that require documents to be transmitted via fax. Heavily regulated industries such as healthcare, government and law firms still require documents to be sent this way. The fact that these archaic standards still persist can be attributed partly to the rise of cyber-crime but also to the continuing requirements for a genuine signature.  While document transfer technology is progressing along with industry standards, some of these sectors like the Internal Revenue Service may never completely do away with the fax. 

 

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Topics: Insider

On-Hold Marketing is a Winner

Posted by Troy Stanton on Dec 4, 2018 10:57:00 AM

Hello? Is anyone there? You've just been put on hold (you think!) but all you hear is silence. Are you being transferred? Are you still connected? Will anyone return to take your call? This scenario is fairly common and not only bad customer service, but also a missed opportunity. In today's world there is no excuse for this. Why not provide music combined with a message that will let your caller know they are important to you?

 

Even better, why not take the opportunity to let the caller know what your company is about and let them know about your products and services or tell them about special programs or company initiatives?

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Topics: Insider

Embrace the Unknown

Posted by Troy Stanton on Nov 1, 2018 3:35:25 PM

If you have ever paid a phone/internet bill, you have undoubtedly noticed the long list of additional fees and charges.  Most of us just grit our teeth and pay, without a good understanding of why they are there in the first place.  Today we will provide a closer look at these charges.  After all, they account for approximately 20% to 30% of our monthly bill!  Are they all required local, state and federal taxes, or are some "tacked" on at the discretion of the carrier? We will begin by breaking down the surcharges and fees and then we will point out a few areas of costs savings you might realize with a more careful analysis of your phone and internet bills.

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Topics: Insider

Long Distance in a Shrinking Global Footprint

Posted by Troy Stanton on Oct 2, 2018 1:23:55 PM

There is no doubt that the world is getting smaller, maybe not in size, but certainly in terms of global reach. With the increasing reach of the internet we can connect to anyone in the world with a simple mouse-click.

 

Fun Fact: In December 1995 the internet was connected via 16 million users (roughly .4% of the world's population). In December of 2017 4.156 Billion users were connected - That's 54% of the world!

 

Today an ever-increasing amount of phone calls travel over the internet and with the cost of sending voice as data so low, more people are getting "free" calling to more places around the globe every day. So what is the story with Business Long Distance rates?

 

The actual cost for Long Distance is in fact much lower than it was before the Internet, but if we dig deeper we find that the old standard for business customers still exists. Carriers still charge on a per minute basis, or blocks of time can be purchased with one fixed price for 250 to 10,000 minutes. The complex rates and billing options can be mind boggling.

 

For example, did you know that In-state rates differ from state-to-state rates? In fact they are usually higher because the states themselves tax the minutes on the originating and receiving end and in many states, old rules governing carrier rates allow an additional mark-up to cover costs of transporting calls between carriers.

 

Hot Tip: The published Long Distance rate is usually the state-to-state rate so if your calling is mostly in-state make sure to check that rate too.

 

Don't focus only on the "cents-per-minute" number.  You should watch out for monthly service fees, too. If you are paying a service fee for the special rate you negotiated are you really paying the special rate? That depends on how many minutes you use per month. 500 minutes @ $.07 plus a $4.95 monthly fee is not really $.07 per minute - it's almost $.08! 

 

Other important fine print and gotchas:  Some carriers impose a minimum call length, so you get the $.07 rate but only if the call exceeds the minimum. There might be different rates for peak and off-peak hours. Another popular one is billing time increments. If the carrier bills in 30 second increments, then a 31 second call is actually billed for 1 minute.

 

 

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Topics: Insider

The Auto-Renew riddle

Posted by Troy Stanton on Aug 31, 2018 9:08:50 AM

The Auto-renew or Evergreen clause is often a hot-button topic of conversation across many industries. In our industry, service providers, typically ISPs (Internet Service Providers) & Voice/Data Carriers are the contractor while you, the customer are the contractee. The ISP considers the contract a subscription that auto-renews by default to ensure you don't lose access to paid features at your next renewal date. You, like many others, may have a different impression of this sometimes controversial clause.

 

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Topics: Insider

Knowledge is Money

Posted by Troy Stanton on Aug 6, 2018 3:13:53 PM
Finding an old wadded up $20 bill in your jean pocket always makes you smile - like you won a small lottery!  Speaking of found money, have you ever discovered a service you are paying for but no longer use and canceling it means immediate savings? We see this happen frequently with our clients and their phone lines. Today we will help you find out if this is happening to you.
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Topics: Insider

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