Oct 14

Anyway you want Cloud, that's the way you need it!


When it comes to the flexibility of cloud technology and the workplace, Steve Perry of Journey sang it best: Anyway you want it, that's the way you need it. One of the biggest advantages to cloud unified communications is how much money it can save in different and interesting ways. With the rise in mobility and the consumerization of IT assets, people are now more easily able to set their own schedules and work outside of the office.

"Today, people want access to their work resources anywhere, at any time," wrote ITProPortal contributor Marina Stedman. "On top of this, more and more devices (especially tablets and smartphones) are entering the workplace and they don't all belong to employers. People want to use the same devices at work as they do at home - and they want access to all their work apps regardless of device."

Having this ability allows for employees to conduct their daily tasks with greater easy and can save a company on operational costs. With an increasing segment of the workforce looking to meet their goals remotely, the actual office is likely to start saving on things like power bills. But what to do with all that extra space? With only a fraction of desk real estate being taken up, there are some great ways that companies can improve employee satisfaction for those that prefer to come in more frequently. Here are some fun ideas for how to optimize office space obtained through cloud-based remote workers:

1) Activity space
Many organizations out there today try to engage their workers through a little organized fun. With more room to move around, why not start an office yoga group? Yoga is a great way to remove stress that can accrue over the course of the day - or even just the morning commute. Even finding some bean bag chairs and an old video game system can help staffers blow off a little steam in between tasks.

2) 'Work lounge'
Assigned desks are great, but even people who prefer them can need a change of scenery. Creating a "work lounge," so to speak, will give team members the chance to step away from their seats and get comfortable for a minute without leaving the office. Get some couches, tables and maybe some dividers to increase privacy and you've got a little work nook for anyone to use!

This principle can also be extended into a full-on open floor plan. Forgoing traditional seating in favor of a choose-your-own-workspace atmosphere lets employees feel like they have more autonomy over their productivity.

3) Rent to another company
Depending on how the space is divided, there may be an opportunity for a whole other office to work within the same unit. This is a way to earn an even greater return on investment with cloud communications. Taking the unused portion of the building or floor and renting out to another organization helps generate new forms of revenue.

None of these things are possible without cloud communications, though. Business phone systems need to be unified with other channels in single source communications applications in order to operate a company in these new and exciting ways.

Oct 14

Hey, you! Get into the Cloud!

Cloud photo 2

Historically, advanced enterprise tech resources have only been available to large organizations, whereas for smaller businesses, the issue of funding holds them back. For years, these big companies were able to afford top-shelf items and services while their smaller competitors worked with what they had. But modern technology is changing and becoming more accessible.

"Previously, only organizations with robust IT infrastructure (in terms of servers, communications networks, and the staff to maintain them) could offer global access to internally hosted software applications and databases," wrote CloudTweaks contributor Jon Roskill.

Thanks to things like the cloud, it is possible for smaller businesses to have next-generation infrastructures that are on par with their bigger rivals. This is why, regardless of how it is deployed, cloud functionality must be enabled for small business phone systems. The mobility it can facilitate is becoming a requirement for organizations of all sizes. While some will elect to go with hosted services, others will want to adapt their existing circuits to be cloud-ready. The latter of these options carries some significant advantages in its own right: in addition to allowing for the maximum return on investment to be achieved on legacy solutions, on-site cloud communications give businesses more autonomy over their cloud operations.

In-house systems offer greater control
One of the biggest arguments against the cloud is that it is supposedly weak against cyberthreats. But just like any other tech asset, the cloud is what you make it. If all the required protections and procedures are in place and functioning, then there's very little to worry about. This is especially true for an on-site deployment, where IT staffers can execute strategies developed internally - for the company and by the company.

Also, having in-house cloud business phone systems allows for greater autonomy over resource provisioning and application access. Chances are that cloud voice will only be one aspect of a single source communications program. Constant use of this network, especially from beyond the walls of the office, may require more control than a hosted service is able to provide. Assuming that IT staffers are not weighed down by other tasks around the organization, having them manage the cloud telecom system lets companies keep their hands on the wheel.

Buying into the cloud
Despite all of the advantages that cloud communications have been able to illustrate, there are still some who are slow to accept it. This is hard to believe, given that there are cloud successes almost anywhere one turns. According to another CloudTweaks contributor Mojgan Afshari, it sometimes helps if organizations are provided directly with facts rather than expect them to see on their own.

"Many scholars believe that organizations will not adopt a new technology unless the technology can demonstrate a relative advantage in comparison to existing technologies," Afshari stated. "In fact, relative advantage of cloud computing both technically and economically should be observable to companies. Successful business cases, models, and practices which demonstrate the value of the cloud adoption should be visible for companies. This will help them not only to understand the potential benefits of cloud computing but also to obtain an in-depth understanding of the cloud."

One thing is certain: like rock and roll, the cloud is here to stay. It represents a powerful new way to run a company - namely in terms of phone systems for small business. These networks must be available outside the office, and the cloud is the only way to meet this need.


Oct 14

SIP trunking is a gateway to the cloud


If one thing's for sure, it's that businesses need the cloud. Cloud computing has allowed for fewer physical restrictions on enterprise assets like communications. Having a telecom network in the cloud is a powerful thing - especially when talking about voice. Landline service may still be effective in many instances, but it lacks cloud functionality.

So how can businesses best circumvent this? Many legacy solutions are still worth their salt and would be excellent tools if they were connected to the cloud. This is where a process called SIP trunking comes into play.

"A SIP trunk is the use of SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) to set up communications over the Internet between a customer location and an Internet telephony service provider (ITSP), which transfers the SIP calls to the PSTN," wrote Hosted Phone System contributor Michelle Amodio. "Thanks to SIP trunking, voice and data are no longer separate connections, all calls are considered local and PSTN gateways are no longer necessary."

For companies in need of mobile-ready telecom, SIP trunking could be a viable solution. The question regarding cloud connectivity is no longer about "if," but "when." With this in mind, organizations should push cloud business phone systems to the top of their priority lists.

Being over-cautious with cloud can be detrimental
There is a lot of debate surrounding the cloud. Some people actually believe that it is an inferior technology that is too open to potential abuse and failure. But many of the sensational headlines claiming to expose the cloud as a fallacy are not quick to point out that human error has played a significant role in cloud breaches. With best practices in place, there should be nothing preventing cloud-based success for a telecom network.

And yet there are still those who ignore cloud technology in the hope that it is a passing fad. According to No Jitter contributor Tom Brannen, this has more to do with human nature than anything else. His words deal with the telecom industry itself, but they have applications for other professional atmospheres, as well.

"Call me 'Captain Obvious,' but we sometimes see the world changing but don't change our perspective or take action to respond to the change," Brannen stated. "Sometimes we do this because we are overly cautious, which often serves us well in this crazy industry. Other times we do this because we simply don't like change. Or perhaps more often, we don't like the particular changes we are seeing."

These attitudes can come naturally to anyone, but they must be resisted. The cloud is a powerful tool - especially when leveraged alongside voice communications. The mobile workforce is demanding that they be enabled in ways that make sense in a modern context. Having a business phone system that can be launched from a single source communications app is one of those ways.

Regardless of how it happens, enterprise voice needs to be augmented with cloud computing. For those organizations still operating legacy systems, this may require SIP trunking to accomplish.


Oct 14

VoIP toll fraud very real, very preventable


While Voice-over-IP technology has been around for a while, in the last few years it has surged significantly to the point of becoming a modern necessity. From hosted communications platforms and managed on-premises devices to interLATA SIP trunking and last-mile SIP-to-legacy conversion circuits there is truly no business in these United States unaffected by VoIP. Organizations around the world have found this kind of communication channel to be increasingly essential as workers demand flexibility and business leaders seek lower costs and higher ROI.

The number of different ways that VoIP can simplify and improve enterprise operations is almost without bound, but the big three drivers certainly must be:

1) Supporting the mobile workforce

The modern workforce is increasingly connected and increasingly mobile in their personal lives, and they want that flexibility to extend into their work lives. Not content with answering emails on the beach, employees need the freedom to move about the world without being chained to a desk.

VoIP supports exactly this kind of mobile workforce because it takes uses data processing rather than specialized circuits, which means that you don’t need the physical circuitry of a desk phone; you can pack all of that intelligence into an app that workers can carry anywhere. This is a critical offering for attracting and retaining talent today and will only become more so in the future.

2) Eliminating complexity

One of the biggest obstacles in business is the provisioning of resources. Companies have traditionally had to anticipate their maximum possible call load and then pay for circuits to meet that demand or risk losing customer calls as they overflow. With every employee needing a desk phone expansion can be costly, time consuming, and difficult.

VoIP, again, saves the day by making the addition of a new employee as east as downloading an app or plugging in an auto-provisioning SIP phone. Increased call capacity can be enabled on-demand so you’re only using the circuits you need as you need them. This allows you to rule your costs, not the other way around. In such a tumultuous business environment this agility is absolutely critical.

3) Enabling unified communications

Customer experience today lives and breathes through data networks; from email and corporate websites to CRM packages and Twitter feeds every aspect of how customers communicate with a company is connected to the network in some way. Voice has traditionally been the outsider on the street, peering through the glass at the happy collaborative services inside, just waiting to be needed.

VoIP is the golden ticket that lets voice join the party. Because VoIP brings voice to a common service protocol it can now interoperate and mingle with other services to provide new ways of solving business problems and improving customer experience, allowing employees to see past the tools and focus on the customer in an immersive,
completely customizable way.

There’s no question; VoIP is the weapon that allows you to dominate your competition. Are you getting the most out of it?