Jul 15

Mobile engagement is essential for marketing

Smartphones have proven themselves to be powerful tools. These devices have gone from novel idea to essential everyday asset. In fact, people have come to rely on their smartphones so much that some researchers are prone to classifying them as addicted!


This sounds a lot more extreme than it is. Mobile devices have come to replace so many things for an increasing number of people, so it only makes sense that users are constantly on them. Sure, there's a good amount of time probably spent on Facebook, but when people can use one machine to handle their personal finances, check their email, make plans with friends and research their favorite topics, it's natural that many users are frequently on their personal devices.

This is good news for businesses. Things like marketing and advertising are changing in significant ways. Companies have to be concerned with mobile engagement if they really want to make a splash with their consumer base. How to best go about this, however, will vary from enterprise to enterprise.

Building trust with customers
Smartphones and tablets are tools with incredible potential. Not only is access to information easier than ever, but mobile devices have a number of features that can be leveraged to improve a user's overall experience. According to InformationWeek contributor Jonathan Feldman, the key to successful engagement could be tapping into these extra features like GPS positioning and the camera.

"In summary, those who do not seek ongoing, permission-based connection are doomed to send out perky little missives that get swatted away before they're seen, in an endless robotic arms race between marketers and anti-clutter, attention-defending bots," Feldman wrote. "And lest you get smug that you're in IT and don't have to worry, let me assure you that you do."

This concern is thanks to the growing importance of IT in the enterprise as a whole. Tech workers have gone from being behind-the-scenes magicians to some of the most important thinkers in the company. Their work now helps drive organizations forward in many ways, including - but not limited to - marketing.

Should wearables be on your radar?
Any new technology is going to have its detractors, and wearables are no exception. Smartwatches, especially, have proven to generate a lot of hype and are expected to experience increasing adoption rates after the release of the Apple Watch. A lot of early predictions see the smartwatch mainly as a sort of notification center. It's not meant to replace a smartphone, but to further augment the experience of using one.

According to Content Marketing Institute contributor Erin Rodat-Savla, the secret is "glanceability." Short messages that don't require consumers to go through the hassle of getting their phone out - and fighting for attention amidst a sea of other notifications are the best way to go.

"To do justice to wearable tech, marketers will need to consider questions like: What information would our customers consider 'just in time' and when?" Rodat-Savla wrote. "What can our customers not do or not do easily because they're looking down at their phones instead of straight ahead?"

This new acceptance of notifications amongst smartphone-wielding customers as a necessary convenience represents some huge marketing potential. It is possible to collect information about a customer through their interactions with apps and websites. This data can then be turned around and used to prompt notifications on a smartwatch when products in line with their tastes and habits are available. Location-based notifications are also something that retailers are experimenting with. Shoppers can get a notification about a new sale or offer when they walk by a display. This is the kind of augmented and simplified experience that is helping to change the way that businesses market to consumers.

Mobility: The marketing mantra
Smartphones are powerful channels of engagement. Not only are people desiring immersive connections between the people they know, but they're also eager to interact with the businesses they love. Being able to instill constant brand awareness via an application or online portal that is always a glance away is a powerful way to keep valued consumers involved and to encourage further loyalty.

Customers are, in many ways, the most important part of any enterprise. Making them feel connected and enabled via their personal devices should be a priority for every marketing department out there.

Jul 15

Cloud assets becoming status quo for enterprise


The cloud should be old news by now. But while it's true that public awareness of the cloud may have reached something resembling saturation point, that doesn't mean it has become something to avoid. The conversation may be changing to some degree, but this is only reinforcing the idea that the cloud should be a given part of any organization's daily operations.

According to The Guardian, accounting software company Xero believes that the state of modern business demands cloud functionality. The focus is no longer on the technology itself, but where it can take the companies that implement it.

"At this crucial point in the 21st century, the digital revolution is not about apps and software being hosted in the cloud," Xero stated. "That's the mechanism, but it's not the revolutionary aspect. What creates this new shift in models is the additional benefit that the cloud engine offers. You can be quicker, more powerful, have more capacity and be more efficient – in exactly the same way that steam did. And, here's the revolutionary part: cloud creates benefits and opportunities that simply weren't possible before now. And in doing so, it changes everything."

One such opportunity comes in the form of cloud communications. The cloud is popular because of its ability to be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. Leveraging things like business phone systems in cloud-based environments means that employees are connected to critical networks at all times. This is the kind of productivity that businesses are going to need in the very near future.

Increasing number of businesses cite cloud success
The cloud - both literally and figuratively - is everywhere these days, especially in the enterprise. This may have something to do with all of the benefits that cloud is capable of providing. This is particularly true in terms of the competitive advantage that more businesses are experiencing when they have the cloud in place. According to a recent study conducted by Frost & Sullivan,81 percent of companies believe that the cloud plays a significant role in their success over competitors.

"The pace of transformation in U.S. industry is accelerating," said Frost & Sullivan vice president Lynda Stadtmueller in a release. "Widespread cloud adoption has helped U/S/ companies stay ahead of competition and make the most of the new business models that emerged as a result of the digital revolution. Coupled with shifting economic conditions, the need to constantly innovate and to accelerate time to value, organizations simply need to be more efficient and adaptable in order to survive."

One of the best ways to stay out in front with the cloud is to implement cloud communications. Whether VoIP is obtained through SIP trunk-enabled legacy systems or an off-site provider is selected, more companies are realizing that the agility of the cloud is seemingly tailor-made for telecom. Now that so many workers are enabled by their personal mobile devices, the idea of allowing remote access is appealing for a number of different reasons.

For one, younger professionals especially are looking for jobs that will allow them to work from home when they so desire. Another great reason for cloud communications to be utilized is related to expanding businesses and companies with traveling employees. Being able to instantly connect new offices from across the country or allow staffers to remain connected on the road can save time and money while increasing productivity and reducing downtime. This is the kind of thinking that will be important for the modern business to engage in. The cloud is not an endgame - it's a means of establishing and fulfilling new goals.

"With the Web becoming a way of life around the world, commercially the cloud as a mechanism is no longer the primary focus," stated Xero. "Rather, what's important is the benefit that digital can bring. In this respect, it's not about the engine, it's about all the new places that engine can take you."

Cloud proving to be revolutionary
The consumerization of IT has empowered millions of professionals. The average skill level for operating and maintaining tech has never been higher. Enterprises should be focusing on how to embrace changing opinions, attitudes and capabilities for the good of the company. Part of this may mean making significant investments in things like cloud business phone systems.

"What's needed is the ability to step outside your business and think about the new opportunities that are available to you as a cloud-enabled business," Xero stated. "For a start, you can be completely mobile and work from anywhere. That ability in itself raises many new ways of working with your customers, flexing your work/life balance and creating teams of people who aren't tied to one specific location."

Jul 15

Debunking VoIP myths for SMBs

The unknown is a scary idea. As humans, we like patterns and predictability. That's why we stick to our routines, develop habits and take safety precautions. For some small and medium-sized businesses, single source communications might be a foreign idea that strikes up a bit of fear. Just remember: you can't knock it until you try it. To help lift the veil of unfamiliarity off of VoIP phone systems, here are the real truths to some common myths.


Myth 1: VoIP phone systems are costly
The misconception of digital phone solutions being expensive is understandable. The initial switch to single source communications isn't free, but it will save SMBs money in the long run and can certainly fit into a small business budget.

The cost of using VoIP business phone systems is relatively inexpensive. The low, monthly payments are affordable, and buying hardware is usually not necessary for most VoIP systems. Long-distance calling costs are also minimized with single source communication because of the way your voice gets transmitted to the other line. The caller's voice gets broken down into small bits of data that travel through the Internet instead of cables. Since VoIP providers don't have to spend money on maintaining telephone cables, services cost less and save you money. Additionally, your VoIP provider will be able to handle questions about maintenance and installation. This enables you to have a fully-functional phone system without the cost of an IT team.

Myth 2: We don't need VoIP because our regular phone system is good enough
Analog phone were the go-to phone system for small businesses before digital phone technology. Sure, it has the basic functions of redial, hold and mute, but the features typically don't extend much beyond that. Analog phones haven't really changed but customer demand has. It's important to keep up with the changing market in order for your business to reach its full potential. Here are some examples of how a VoIP system can boost the success of your small business:

  • Increase customer satisfaction
    The growing digital age has raised the expectation of instant gratification in society, and it's not changing. Therefore, it's up to businesses, big and small, to cater to the changing customer needs and keep up with e-commerce competition. The find me/follow me features will allow you to do just that. If customers can't reach you at the office on the first few rings, the phone will automatically forward the call to another predetermined line where you might be available. This boost in customer satisfaction can increase sales, bolstering the success of your business.
  • Maximize collaboration
    The features of VoIP phone system will increase productivity and efficiency in SMBs. For example, certain coaching tools allow small businesses to optimize employee phone training. Employers can communicate to trainees while they are making the call without customers hearing or knowing. This real-time communication enables employers to convey direction and make corrections in the moment rather than after the call has ended. Other collaboration features include instant messaging, presence information, video calling and conference calling. All of these are useful for keeping business members connected to strategize and problem solve efficiently.

Myth 3: Transferring to a unified communication system will be too difficult to manage
Without the proper IT experience or personnel on hand, installing phone systems can be intimidating, maybe even enough to cause SMB leaders to avoid the transition altogether. Fortunately, there are many resources to help with the change, your VoIP provider being one of them. Additionally, VoIP phone system installation usually does not require a lot of new hardware, relieving yet another potential anxiety.


Jul 15

How to eliminate workplace distractions with VoIP

One premise behind unified communications technology is to link people together who can't be physically present. Now, people might be physically present, but they aren't necessarily using that closeness  to facilitate collaboration. Workplace distractions like loud conversations and water cooler gossiping force employees to tune out. Whether it's by coming into the office early, working from home or simply playing music through headphones, employees will go to great lengths to stay focused. Fortunately, UC's collaboration capabilities can help employees maintain focus by eliminating distractions


Distractions can be a serious damper on business success. For every bit of time someone is distracted from their work, the company is doling out money for nothing. A few hours a week and 52 weeks a year mean big cost wastes for companies. Open offices have a lot of benefits when people are available to share ideas, so the solutions need to allow both for open office's benefits and interruption-free environments.

With VoIP digital phone solutions, phone calls are made over the Internet, which means employees can talk through their computers. Headphones are the go-to equipment for this element of UC, and they can help eliminate distractions. Many headphones are equipped with noise-cancelling technology. Using these in an office not only enables employees to communicate important information, but the headphones themselves will minimize noise and reduce distraction. Plus, phone calls will ring in the employees' ears through the headphones instead of creating a distracting sound for the whole office to hear.

Coaching tools
Many digital phone solutions also have an application where a manager can speak to an agent who is live on the phone without the client hearing anything. Everyone turns their heads when the boss walks by, so this feature of VoIP helps elimination the distraction of an extra person present. Additionally, the side conversations and the antics of nonverbal communication necessary without this coaching tool would be a major distraction for those sitting around the agent.

Presence Information
One place that definitely should go without distractions is the meeting room. What happens if an employees is holding a video conference with a client when a co-worker comes up to say hello? The distraction wastes the employee's time, the client's time and company money. Not to mention, an organization's reputation with the client certainly wouldn't improve with unprofessional workplace distractions. Digital phone solutions have presence information capabilities that let co-workers know when someone is unavailable. This way, unnecessary interruptions are minimized and embarrassing situations are avoided.