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What are the different VoIP options for SMBs?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as a telephony solution allows small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to choose between traditional desk phones (hardphones) or software-based devices (softphones). Read on to learn which option best suits your organization’s needs.

What’s a hardphone?

A hardphone functions like a normal phone, but it's connected to your business's IP network instead of a telephone line. There’s no learning curve associated with VoIP hardphones and they allow your staff to call anyone worldwide at an affordable price. More advanced hardphones have built-in video displays and touch screens for video calls, eliminating the need for separate equipment for video conferencing.

What’s a softphone?

A softphone is any electronic device that uses a software application that allows users to turn their PCs, laptops, and tablets into phones that can make and receive local and international calls. Softphones let you dial a number on your computer or mobile device and speak through its embedded speakers and microphone or through a headset with a microphone, so you can make and take calls wherever you are.

Which VoIP phone is for you?

When choosing between hardphones and smartphones, consider the following questions:

Are your employees always moving around?
Do they require 24/7 connectivity?
Does your company take pride in offering top-notch customer service?
What’s your IT budget?

Your answers to these questions will determine the type of equipment you need.

Why choose hardphones?

Nothing beats the voice clarity and noise cancellation features of hardphones since they are designed specifically for voice calls, unlike softphones that share power with other programs on a device. They also let you make and receive calls without being disrupted by poor PC performance or malware.

Because you have to purchase actual phones, the initial setup costs for hardphones are greater than those for softphones, but the monthly phone bills are more affordable. Not only that, softphones may be more costly in the long run, as they require separate headphones and microphones that may need to be replaced or maintained frequently.

Why choose softphones?

If your company has a mobile workforce, adopting a softphone solution may be the way to go. Softphones feature call routing, which allows you to divert calls to one or several specified internet-enabled devices, ensuring your clients have 24/7 access to your company. This is most useful in a contact center environment. Transcribed voicemail messages are another helpful feature, as this enables you to receive messages promptly, even if you’re in a meeting or on the road.

Our experts are available 24/7/365 to answer any questions you may have pertaining to VoIP and especially about whether hardphones or softphones are right for you. If you’re interested in upgrading your telephony infrastructure, give us a call today.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/05/24/what-are-the-different-voip-options-for-smbs/

Publish Date: May 24, 2021


Why Quality of Service is crucial for VoIP

One of the most essential aspects of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems you should consider is Quality of Service, or QoS. To make sure your provider will deliver optimal service with minimal downtime, ask them these questions about their QoS.

What is QoS?

VoIP providers and IT experts define QoS as the overall performance of a VoIP system or network. This performance is usually measured by looking at objective statistics like bandwidth usage, transmission delay, call jitter, error rates, etc. Subjective data, like what the end users think of the system’s performance, are also factored in.

Why does QoS vary among providers?

QoS does not only apply to VoIP, but also to traditional phone systems. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the quality of landline calls is near perfect. This is because all traditional phone network providers invest in physical networks and connections that offer high QoS. That means switching from one provider to another doesn't affect the quality of the calls.
But investments in physical networks are expensive, and customers end up shouldering the costs. The high cost of maintaining the transmission network (phone lines, switches, etc.) is also why there are only a couple of phone providers in most areas. In other words, it's just too costly for small companies to launch a traditional phone network system.
In comparison, VoIP systems are a lot cheaper to set up and maintain. This has led to a high number of VoIP providers. And because anyone with capital can set up their VoIP systems without having to adhere to a standard, the QoS amongst providers can vary drastically. To find the provider with the best QoS, ask them these three questions:

How much of the network infrastructure do you own?

Almost every VoIP provider will rely on public infrastructure in order to transmit data. The rule of thumb is, the bigger the company’s share in the infrastructure, the higher its QoS is. This is because the provider will have more control over the technology.
One of the best options is to look for facilities-based providers. These companies own almost all of the network that carries VoIP calls and can therefore offer better services and quality.

How much traffic will run over public internet?

Some of the most popular solutions like Vonage will use almost 100% public internet for their traffic. Other companies will use a mixture of public and private networks, often using public internet for more affordable packages and private internet for high-end users. If you often use VoIP for functions that require heavy bandwidth like conference calling, then you may need to sign up for more expensive packages so the QoS doesn’t drop.

What level of quality can you guarantee?

The best providers will be able to guarantee a QoS that is comparable, or even better, than traditional phone networks. This is especially important for businesses that are looking to switch to a full VoIP solution. Ask your prospective provider to run a few tests on your network and to give you a quality assurance. If the numbers are too low for your business needs, look for another provider.
Do you want to know more about how to pick the best VoIP provider and how VoIP can benefit your business? Get in touch with our experts today.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/03/08/why-quality-of-service-is-crucial-for-voip-2/

Publish Date: March 8, 2021


Protect your private data with mobile device-based biometrics

Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for ways to steal information, so you should seek to beef up your data protection. One such way is with biometric authentication on mobile devices.

Authenticate your profile on your mobile device

Chrome OS, Windows, MacOS, Linux, and Android are all adding features to help users safely log in using biometric identification via USB, Bluetooth, and NFC devices connected to smartphones and tablets. With such convenience, users can verify their accounts on the go.

iOS users already enjoy either TouchID (fingerprint scanning) or FaceID (facial recognition) authentication, depending on their specific device. Android users can also use biometrics to protect their data, as most new Android devices have fingerprint scanners that make use of a secure storage protocol called Trusted Execution Environment.

Prevent cyberattacks with browser-based biometrics

Passwords are notoriously bad at protecting users’ accounts and the information they store. Thankfully, facial scans, fingerprints, and voice recognition make it exponentially harder for hackers to commit identity theft. That means you’re also less likely to be duped by an email from a hacker pretending to be your boss asking for the company credit card’s details.

The concept behind this protection is the practice of two-factor (2FA) or multifactor authentication (MFA). This means that access to private information requires two or more stages of authentication, instead of just one. And because biometric authentication is an active authentication attempt by the user, it makes unauthorized access much more difficult to attempt.

Enjoy more secure online transactions

Biometric verification will also retire the need for logging in your information when shopping online, streaming videos, using cloud applications, and other internet-based transactions. Windows 10 has already adopted features that offer limited account management with fingerprints and facial scans. Another example is Samsung Pay, which turns smartphones into digital wallets that are protected by fingerprint or iris scans.

Browser-based biometrics is starting to revolutionize and streamline the steps in verifying online accounts. It promises to add more security and ease in logging in and transacting on the internet.

To keep up with the latest and greatest in browser-related innovations your company can benefit from, give us a call now.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/01/20/protect-your-private-data-with-mobile-device-based-biometrics/

Publish Date: January 20, 2021


The best practices in collecting customer data

Customer data offers an insight into information such as customer demographics, behavior, and preferences, enabling businesses to create quality products and positive experiences that will cater to their client base. But it’s not enough for a business to collect customer data — it must collect data that is useful and relevant. Here are some of the best ways to collect useful customer data and avoid challenges.

Customer data collection offers a suite of business benefits, but there is a limit to what kind of data can be gathered. Customer privacy has become a serious concern in modern society, and there are various regulatory frameworks that ensure the protection of people’s private information. To avoid running afoul of the law, inform your customers that you will be collecting their data, and specify exactly what data you’ll be gathering.

1. Collect identifiers
Whether you’re creating an online survey or a signup form, collecting identifying information (i.e., names, date of birth, age, gender, address, etc.) is crucial. This information will form the foundation for future analysis and segmentation.

2. Track customer interactions
Define important customer interactions. For example, if you own an online store, you need to know how your customers arrived at your site, the items they clicked on, the items they added to their cart, and what they eventually purchased. Tracking each step of their buyer journey — from learning about your business to becoming a customer — will give you insights into what your customers need and want.

3. Gather behavior-related data
Don’t focus solely on customers who made a purchase. Think about what other indicators produce meaningful data. In our online store example, you might want to track how many sign up for your email newsletter, which pages they visited on your site, or how much time they spent on each page. Analyzing this information will help you determine which aspects of your efforts are most effective and which ones need improvement.

4. Automate data collection
When gathering customer data, you must minimize the risk of human error. The most effective strategy is to automate as much of the collection process as possible. Apps and tools such as online forms and optical character recognition systems feed information directly into your database and eliminate paper-centric processes that often lead to mistakes.

5. Integrate your systems
Redundancies and errors are also common when there are multiple databases managing the same information. You can prevent these issues by working with an IT provider to integrate all your apps, databases, and software solutions. This way, data collected in one database will be synced and consistent across other platforms, reducing manual data entry and, consequently, human error.

6. Consider who will view the reports
Inevitably, you’ll need to convert data into business intelligence reports. It’s a good idea to identify who will read your reports so you can highlight the most relevant insights for them. For instance, sales managers want to see quarterly sales figures, and human resources teams want to see labor costs compared to revenue.

7. Update data in real time
Companies today need up-to-the-minute data accuracy in order to stay relevant. Use business intelligence dashboards that collect, organize, and filter data at the click of a button so that you’ll never have to wait a day or more to receive critical information that can guide company decisions.

Looking for technologies that can help you optimize data collection? Call our IT consultants today. We’ll recommend best-of-breed technologies that track the information you need to grow your business.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/01/18/the-best-practices-in-collecting-customer-data/

Publish Date: January 18, 2021


VoIP theft of service: What you need to know

Theft of service is the most common type of fraud that impacts Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems. Let’s take a closer look at how it affects VoIP networks and how your organization can prevent or minimize the risk of this type of fraud.

What is theft of service?

VoIP theft of service is the most common type of VoIP fraud. At its most basic level, it involves the theft of your organization’s VoIP account credentials, including usernames and passwords, either by eavesdropping or by introducing malware into your system. Once cybercriminals gain access to your account, they can freely make phone calls or change your call plans, running up your VoIP bill.

In addition, cybercriminals may use the stolen data to carry out other fraudulent activities. They can also use theft of service to flood your VoIP network with promotional calls similar to junk email via an attack called spam over internet telephony, or SPIT. Once they infiltrate your communications network, they might broadcast unsolicited messages or advertisements over your VoIP system. This keeps users from making or receiving calls, which can have a significant impact on your business’s operations.

How can you avoid theft of service?

Preventing VoIP theft of service simply requires using a little common sense and implementing some technical preventive measures.

  1. Make your passwords as secure as possible. Passwords must be 8–12 characters long, consisting of a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. For added security, use passphrases, which are sentence-like strings of words. They’re usually longer than passwords, easier to remember, and more difficult to crack.
  2. Install firmware patches for your VoIP phones and infrastructure regularly, and keep your antivirus software up to date.
  3. Use fraudulent call routing detection and encryption software.
  4. Set up an enterprise-grade virtual private network (VPN) for employees working from home. A VPN encrypts incoming and outgoing traffic without compromising call quality.
  5. Review your organization’s call logs for any unusual trends or behavior, such as higher-than-usual call volumes or calls made during off-hours.

VoIP is an essential business communication tool, so it makes sense to understand what theft of service is to avoid its impacts on your company’s operations. For more information and useful tips on how to keep your VoIP system secure, drop us a line today.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/01/06/voip-theft-of-service-what-you-need-to-know/

Publish Date: January 6, 2021


Reasons why a CRM is good for your business

Business success comes down to whether profitability can be sustained, which is why building and maintaining relationships with your customers is crucial. To help with this, business owners are implementing customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

Imagine buying a product, and it breaks the first time you use it. You contact customer support and describe the issue, only to be told to wait for another representative to call you back. You wait for hours, and still nobody calls. After sending an email to customer support, you finally get a call from a customer service representative, but it’s from someone unfamiliar with your problem. You awkwardly explain your problem for the third or fourth time, during which you wonder if the value of your time has exceeded the value of the broken item.

We’ve all been there before, but this scenario can be avoided by having an effective CRM system. Here's what you need to know about CRM systems and how they can mitigate frustration among customers and keep them delighted.

What is a CRM system?

CRM is a system that allows businesses to manage, record, and evaluate their customer interactions to provide better services and boost sales. You can use CRM to store customers’ contact details, accounts, leads, and sales opportunities all in one place.

What are the features of a CRM system?

  • Data management – When customer data is recorded, the CRM system centralizes the data into one file called a master file. Everyone within the company then has access to this data source, preventing confusion from inaccurate or duplicate data.
  • Collaboration – Nowadays, clients demand quick and efficient customer service, so all involved departments must work together to quickly resolve client concerns. CRM systems enable collaboration by facilitating the sharing of customer information among departments. This way, everyone is on the same page about clients’ circumstances and requirements.
  • Customer segmentation – A CRM system arranges your customers into groups based on criteria such as age, gender, location, and even their likes and dislikes. This allows you to target marketing messages to your customers more accurately, potentially increasing engagement and conversion.
  • Task tracking – CRM systems have task tracking features that help your employees stay on top of important tasks, such as contacting customers via email or phone and following up on leads. CRM systems also send reminders to employees about their assigned tasks so that nothing falls through the cracks.
  • In-depth reporting – CRM systems provide a thorough analysis of your customer base. CRM reports give details including an overview of product sales numbers, marketing strategy performance, most successful products or services to date, and even a prediction of whether your sales target will be met at the end of the month.

If you’re looking to improve customer service and increase sales conversion using a CRM system, contact us today!

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2020/11/18/reasons-why-a-crm-is-good-for-your-business/

Publish Date: November 18, 2020


Ways to protect against VoIP threats

Every business today uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to enhance team collaboration. But while the benefits of VoIP continue to ease the burdens of business communications, there are security risks associated with using it. Unsecure VoIP platforms may be harming your computer networks without you knowing it.

What many companies don’t realize is that valuable information moves across VoIP networks just like sensitive data is shared via email. In some cases, internet-based calls are more vulnerable to fraud, identity theft, eavesdropping, intentional disruption of service, and even financial loss. With numerous VoIP-based attacks, it’s crucial to implement these security measures now.

24/7 monitoring

VoIP security breaches usually take place outside operating hours. Attackers make phone calls using private accounts or access call records with confidential information on the sly. Contract outsourced IT vendors to monitor network traffic for any abnormalities to avoid these security breaches.

Virtual private networks

Virtual private networks (VPNs) create a secure connection between two points, as if they belong in the same closed network. It’s like building a safe secret tunnel between you and the person you’re calling. Using a VPN can also help overcome complications involving Session Initiation Protocol trunking, a recommended VoIP feature.

VoIP firewalls

Firewalls specifically designed for IP-based telephony curb the types of traffic that are allowed into your network. They ensure that every connection is properly terminated at the end of a session and identify suspicious calling patterns. Virtually every VoIP vendor provides these protocols, but you should always consult with your IT services provider as to how these protocols will be managed within your organization.

Encryption tools

Due to lack of encryption, VoIP systems can be easily broken into by even inexperienced hackers who can download and deploy tools to eavesdrop or intercept your calls. Some services claim to have built-in encryption, but companies still need to be vigilant and investigate how effective these are.

Using encryption ensures that even if hackers successfully download audio or video, they still can’t decode the file unless they have the decryption key.

Password protection

Using passwords to authenticate your access to private information is not as secure as it once was. Hackers can easily guess a password and use it for cyberattacks. This is why protecting the passwords themselves adds a great layer of protection against threats.

Employees should never divulge any compromising information during a VoIP call, as eavesdropping is one of the easiest and most common cyberattacks against VoIP networks.

VoIP is as important as any of your other network security considerations. It requires a unique combination of protection measures, and we’d love to give you advice on these. Give us a call today to get started.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2020/10/16/ways-to-protect-against-voip-threats/

Publish Date: October 16, 2020


Calculating the total cost of a VoIP system

Cost is always an important factor to consider when it comes to technological investments. Especially with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems, you have to be careful that investing in one doesn’t put you way over budget. Even if that phone system comes with a host of features, it’s important that you evaluate not only its upfront cost but also its total cost of ownership (TCO).

TCO is the overall sum of procuring, deploying, and operating a VoIP system over its life cycle, which is typically five years. A VoIP expert should be able to give you an informed approximation, but here’s what to expect:

Upfront costs

Upfront costs are largely determined by whether you buy a VoIP system outright or rent it from a third party. Although the former carries a steep upfront cost, payment does not continue indefinitely. This makes sense for large, fully staffed corporations with massive budgets. Meanwhile, the latter option is better for small- and medium-sized businesses that prefer to pay a small monthly subscription rather than make a huge initial investment.

Beyond the price of the VoIP package, upfront costs also include additional costs like headsets, webcams, and a stronger network connection to ensure crystal-clear calls.

Implementation costs

A majority of implementation costs go to the fees of the consultant or managed IT services provider that designs, deploys, and configures your VoIP system.

But since you’re installing a completely new phone system, you also need to factor in costs associated with training employees on how to use the VoIP system effectively and securely.

Operational costs

This covers monthly recurring costs of voice and data plans. For example, some service providers charge local and long-distance calls per minute, while others offer unlimited local calls for a fixed monthly fee.

If you’re managing your VoIP infrastructure yourself, you also have to take into account monthly power, cooling, and maintenance fees. If you opt for hosted VoIP services, however, you are only billed for maintenance.

Upgrade costs

You should also set aside some room in your budget for VoIP upgrades. For instance, to improve customer service, you may need to integrate customer relationship management (CRM) software with VoIP, but that requires the help of a certified CRM expert.

Evaluating all the costs that apply to your business will give you a clear idea of how much you can expect to pay for your VoIP system. If you’re having difficulty calculating the actual costs of VoIP, call our experts today. We’ll help you figure out which VoIP solution is most ideal for your business and budget.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2020/09/07/calculating-the-total-cost-of-a-voip-system/

Publish Date: September 7, 2020


Optimize your phones by fixing these VoIP issues

When a technology that promises to halve your current expenses sounds too good to be true, it usually is. So when it comes to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and its claims of radically reducing phone costs, what’s the catch? Here are some issues you need to watch out for.

Any of these VoIP issues can tarnish your company’s reputation and result in a profit loss, so it’s important to implement the following solutions.

Jitter

Jitter or crackly sounding calls result from electromagnetic interference, damaged equipment, or insufficient enough bandwidth. Here are some ways to fix this:

  • Make sure the phone cables are not damaged
  • Move your VoIP equipment far apart from each other to avoid electromagnetic interference
  • Do a bandwidth speed test

Echoes and audio delays

Echoes and audio delays are common issues usually caused by network latency, headset lag, or the device itself. Here are tips to solve this problem:

  • Make sure the device is properly plugged in and has the latest software updates.
  • Unplug the phone and plug it back in. This will empty the buffers and allow the phone to re-sync with your internet connection.
  • Try using a corded headset. Bluetooth headsets tend to lag, resulting in audio delays
  • Make sure you have enough internet bandwidth.

Dropped calls

Some users experience calls being dropped after 11 minutes. This usually happens when phones are not using the latest firmware, or because of a user datagram protocol (UDP) timeout. Here's how to fix these issues:

  • Make sure your phones are using updated firmware.
  • Adjust your router settings to avoid UDP timeouts, or use Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).

Can't make calls

If you're unable to make outbound calls, or if you see a big X on the VoIP phone's screen, it could mean that you're using two routers dropping critical packets of data. This issue is caused by your network layout. Disable your router's Session Initiation Protocol Application-Level Gateway (SIP ALG). You also have to make sure that you're not using two routers, as this can inhibit the flow of data packets. Another way to fix this issue is to connect your VoIP phones to a virtual local area network (VLAN).

No sound

Are your calls connecting but you can't hear the person on the other line? Chances are, your firewall is blocking the Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) packets from coming through. To address this issue, you need to open some ports in your firewall.

Calls are redirected to voicemail

If you notice your VoIP phones are not ringing, it's possible that the calls are being redirected to voicemail. To fix this, make sure that your phone is not set to Do Not Disturb (DND) mode. Also, check if your VoIP phones are still registered with your VoIP provider.

If you need advice on installing a new VoIP system or fixing your current one, don’t hesitate to call us. Our experts can provide you with the consultation, support, and service that will enable your business to enjoy the cost savings and power of VoIP. Call us today.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2020/08/16/optimize-your-phones-by-fixing-these-voip-issues/

Publish Date: August 16, 2020


3 Disaster recovery myths, debunked

With advancements in cloud computing, disaster recovery (DR) has become more efficient and affordable than ever. But many business owners still cling to some DR myths that can safely be disregarded. Here are three of those myths, and the sooner you stop believing them, the better.

Myth 1: Tape backups are the best DR solution

Tape backups are physical objects that deteriorate over time. Try listening to a cassette tape from the ’90s. Its sound may be distorted already, or it probably doesn’t work at all. Similarly, your tape backups will start to fail as years pass. At first, only a few files will be affected, but you may gradually lose all your data.

It is also a common practice to store another set of tape backups outside your premises so that they will be safe in case a natural disaster befalls your office. However, if your storage spaces themselves are unsafe from natural disasters, this could pose a problem.

Unlike tape backups, cloud-based backups are safe from deterioration. They are also stored in multiple secured locations that are protected from natural disasters. This means your data backups are as safe as they can be.

What’s more, cloud-based backups save you time in several ways. Data is automatically backed up online, so you don’t need to manually copy information onto your tapes. You also won’t need to manage boxes of tapes, freeing you to focus on your assigned tasks.

Myth 2: The RTOs you want are too expensive

Essential to any DR plan are recovery time objectives (RTOs), or the ideal length of time needed to get everything up and running again to avoid serious losses. Before the cloud, a “swift” recovery time would take days and cost up to six figures.

Cloud and virtualization solutions have made this much more affordable and faster than ever before. Most DR providers can back up your critical data in an hour or two. And if you ever need to recover data, most services can do so in less than a day.

Myth 3: Disaster recovery is for big businesses, not SMBs

Because of the astronomical costs previously associated with DR, only big businesses could afford backup and recovery solutions. But now, the cloud has made these valuable services affordable for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). From dental offices to small retail operations, SMBs can now take advantage of the best DR solutions in the market. Advances in IT and the cloud have also eliminated the obstacles of complexity, costs, and insufficient IT resources.

We hope that by dispelling these myths, you’d be convinced to implement a disaster recovery plan (DRP) for your business. Not only is a DRP necessary to your business continuity, having one is also more affordable and efficient than ever. If you’d like to learn how our disaster recovery solutions can safeguard your business, send us a message and we’ll fill you in.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2020/08/12/3-disaster-recovery-myths-debunked/

Publish Date: August 12, 2020


How will 5G improve VoIP?

Much more of VoIP’s potential would be tapped by businesses, thanks to the enhancements that 5G will bring about.

Mobile VoIP

VoIP calls rely heavily on sufficient download and upload speeds. For example, when mobile VoIP users on 4G networks are limited to 12 Mbps upload and 2 Mbps download speeds, they experience unstable and poor call connectivity and clarity. These limitations could also lead to something called packet loss, which happens when one or more “packets” of data traveling across a computer network fail to reach their destination, typically caused by network congestion. Packet loss reduces audio/video quality and could even cause calls to be dropped.

5G’s greater speed prevents packet loss, but the tech has another feature that makes it better than 4G. 4G network providers set a fixed amount of bandwidth for every direction it transmits a signal to, but with 5G, the bandwidth can be adjusted on the fly.

This means that 5G network providers can allocate bandwidth to mitigate congestion as soon as it manifests itself. In practical terms, businesses could reach their customers even if the latter are in packed places that normally max out 4G mobile network capacity constraints, like in football stadiums or airports.

Improved video conferencing

The major factor holding web and video conferencing back is how fast current networks can transmit data. Fortunately, innovations like Web Real-Time-Communications (WebRTC) and 5G networks will enhance VoIP for businesses. Providing open and stable streaming as well as sufficient transfer speeds will soon allow businesses to accommodate higher-quality, even 4K and 8K resolution, videos.

Beyond improved streaming quality, 5G networks will also be able to support video calls with an increased number of participants. This means that businesses can serve more customers and conduct larger video meetings, which is timely, considering the current shift toward remote working.

Virtual and augmented reality

With 5G network speeds, virtual and augmented reality will become more common for SMBs. 5G will blow past 4G’s Gbps (gigabits per second) limit, which is currently holding back the adoption of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications.

VR and AR need to process significantly more data because of the visuals they must process as users move, and this puts an enormous strain on mobile networks. 5G is also set to ensure a better user experience by facilitating smoother connections and preventing network delays from affecting your bottom line.

When your business decides to adopt the up-and-coming 5G network, you can expect to see significant VoIP improvements. Ensure the success of your SMB with increased network speeds, better call quality, and conversations with consistent connectivity. If you’re looking to set up a VoIP system for your business, call or email us today!

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2020/07/31/how-will-5g-improve-voip/

Publish Date: July 31, 2020


Benefits of SaaS: What you should know

Technology continues to create more solutions that enable businesses to cut costs and improve efficiency. One of those solutions is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Learn more about what SaaS is, and how it benefits your business.

What is SaaS and what makes it appealing?

SaaS is a software delivery model that allows you, the user, to access software from any device through the internet. This gives you more flexibility since you don’t have to go to the office to use the software. You can work from anywhere as long as you can go online.

As opposed to a traditional on-premises setup where software is stored locally, SaaS is hosted in the cloud. By transferring software hosting to a third party, you’re outsourcing all the responsibilities that come with maintenance, such as upgrades and troubleshooting. In a way, getting SaaS is like renting a car: somebody else owns and spends for upkeep of the vehicle, but you get to drive it.

Shifting software ownership away from your business also changes how much you spend on it. With on-premises software, you purchase a license and pay yearly support fees, which can amount to 22% of the price of license fees (ouch!). With SaaS, you pay a monthly or annual subscription fee that covers licenses, support, and other fees. This is better since it allows you to spread out costs on a monthly basis, instead of purchasing expensive licenses outright and ending up with a huge maintenance bill every year.

Will my data be safe?

Some companies hesitate to switch to SaaS because of data security concerns. Who will own my data? Will my data be safe? What if the vendor goes out of business?

Here’s something for your peace of mind and safety: when you’re outsourcing your software to a SaaS vendor, you have to sign a service level agreement (SLA). This should specify that you own the data and that the vendor is obliged to provide access to your data even if the vendor suffers from extreme circumstances like economic difficulty or disasters.

Data hosted by a SaaS vendor will be more secure than that stored on the average SMB's network. That’s because SaaS vendors regularly undergo strict security audits, forcing them to invest more in security, backup technology, and maintenance than a typical SMB.

Should I switch to SaaS or stick to on-premises?

SaaS is an ideal solution for small- and mid-sized businesses that want to reduce upfront costs. Large businesses or those with complex processes will benefit more from a traditional on-premises solution since it offers more functionality and allows for full customization.

Still unsure about whether SaaS is the right answer for your organization? Want to know more about SaaS before making the transition? Call us today! Our experts are ready to answer any questions you may have about SaaS.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2020/07/27/benefits-of-saas-what-you-should-know/

Publish Date: July 27, 2020


Open-source or proprietary VoIP: Which one is for you?

Your managed services provider may have your business communications covered, but knowing a thing or two about Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will help you understand what VoIP solution best fits your business. What are your choices? Which one is better? Read on to learn more about VoIP.

What are proprietary systems?

When most companies release VoIP software, such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom, they make it almost impossible for users to view or alter the programming code. This is to retain control over which hardware and software systems it is compatible with, and prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities.

Pros and cons
One of the biggest benefits of proprietary VoIP systems is a consistent user experience across supported hardware and software. Brand-name handsets and third-party software must be programmed by the VoIP platform’s developer for compatibility, so you know everything will be optimized for a reliable user experience.

In many cases, however, the added security and polished integrations of these systems cost more than open-source alternatives.

What are open-source systems?

The programming code making open-source VoIP protocols such as Session Initiation Protocol work is free and accessible to anyone. Open-source systems are made to be more of a starting point than a finished solution, meaning they’re usually pretty rough around the edges until they are customized.

Pros and cons
The biggest benefits of an open-source system are the cost and flexibility. The core system will be free, but tailoring it to your desktops, handsets, and servers will require a significant amount of time and technical expertise. This usually requires a larger upfront investment when compared to proprietary systems, but will pay off with lower operational costs over time.

The tradeoffs between open-source and proprietary systems are even. The former is often better for business owners who prioritize cost savings, while the latter is ideal for those who prefer refined solutions. Choosing between the two comes down to your customer service model, IT resources, and business priorities.

Small businesses like yours can enjoy personalized, high-end IT solutions, but you need expert support. With years of experience in VoIP, we’re the answer to all your problems. To learn about what we think is best for your business, call today!

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2020/07/10/open-source-or-proprietary-voip-which-one-is-for-you/

Publish Date: July 10, 2020


Why your business should record calls

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provides small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with the convenience of making and receiving calls from anywhere with an active internet connection. VoIP enables your staff to meet the demands of your clients, which boosts customer satisfaction. VoIP also has another feature that can take your customer service to the next level: call recording.

#1. Improve customer service

One of the most important reasons why businesses should always record their calls, no matter its significance, is to ensure high-quality customer service. By reviewing calls, managers can understand how their agents have been dealing with customers, find out whether or not they’ve followed company protocol, and pinpoint any aspects that can be improved on.

Without call recording, managers would have to listen to each call in real time, which is a time-consuming process. By recording each call, not only will your managers save time, but your employees will also be motivated to perform at their best every time they’re on the phone because they know their calls can always be reviewed.

#2. Upgrade employee performance

According to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning, people only remember 10% of what they’ve read, 50% of what they’ve seen and heard, and 90% of what they’ve done. By providing your agents with actual recordings of good and bad calling examples during training sessions, and have them simulate calls afterwards, they’ll be able to learn better and provide high-quality customer service faster.

#3. Retrieve missed details and prevent litigation

With hundreds of phone calls daily, it’s understandable if your employees don’t catch every single detail. And for companies that require their agents to manually input information during calls, there’s always a possibility that they’ll forget or miss certain information. Needless to say, this could lead to disgruntled customers. If not properly handled, this can harm your reputation, reduce work opportunities, and if things escalate, proceed to litigation.

VoIP’s call recording feature lets you replay saved audio files to make sure you haven’t missed any details, ensuring that all customer demands are met. And if you ever get into a dispute with your clients regarding who said what, you can always retrieve the exact audio file and have both sides listen to it, saving you thousands of dollars in legal fees.

#4. Understand customer preferences

Have you ever received an inquiry about a product or service that’s not included in your offerings? While your agents usually jot these requests down and pass them on to the relevant personnel, they may end up forgetting some if numerous calls are being made that day. Tiny issues like this can lead to potentially huge losses.

With call recording, you can review all your calls at the end of the day. You’ll have a better picture of what certain customers are looking for so you can address them better.

VoIP allows businesses to make on-demand calls affordably, and its call recording feature helps companies improve their customer service and prevent litigation. If you think business VoIP is right for you, or if you have any questions, give us a call today.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2020/06/22/why-your-business-should-record-calls/

Publish Date: June 22, 2020


How MSPs are supporting clients during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic and the sweeping shutdowns to contain the spread of the virus brought about significant impacts on businesses. Many small companies realized they lacked the resources to rapidly adopt a remote work setup and tapped their IT partners to help address their technology demands. Here’s how managed IT services providers (MSPs) are rising to the challenge.

Providing infrastructure and service desk capabilities

In today’s digital work landscape, MSPs are keeping their noses to the grindstone to fulfill customer demands and help keep businesses running. While many small companies have taken the first step of transitioning to remote work, they still need help managing the logistics.

Right now, MSPs are providing customers with IT infrastructures and taking on a host of network tasks, including configuring hardware, establishing remote connections, and managing backup and storage options, among other activities. These all help to ensure that company networks are reliable enough to facilitate a remote workforce.

MSPs are also offering service desk capabilities, providing companies with a centralized resource for employees, customers, and business partners to answer questions, troubleshoot problems, and facilitate solutions. Appropriate and timely support is crucial, especially in times of great uncertainty.

Simplifying cloud adoption

Cloud solutions are ideal if IT environments must be quickly modified to meet changing demands or difficulties, which is why MSPs are now helping businesses leverage a variety of cloud technologies and even move their data and applications online.

And because cloud migration can get complex, many MSPs are also offering managed migration plans that help companies transition key workflows and processes to the cloud safely and efficiently.

Offering remote support where possible

The current travel restrictions and social distancing measures make work-related travel difficult and risky. And with highly distributed workforces, many companies would rather source local service technicians for break/fix assistance, cabling, and other IT solutions.

Partnering with MSPs ensures that systems and networks are protected all the time and critical support is provided within 24 hours. What’s even better is that some providers have technicians in different locations, making it easy to provide tools, resources, and support even in hard-to-reach areas.

Delivering flexible solutions

As business needs continue to shift, MSPs must move in lockstep and provide support wherever they can. Here are some other ways MSPs are helping their clients navigate these trying times:

Assisting with IT projects
Because of how broad and challenging IT projects can be, it’s not uncommon for companies to lack the right skills and resources to handle them. MSPs are helping them by providing the expertise and technologies needed to pursue these projects, allowing companies to keep moving forward.

Foregoing long-term contracts
Some companies need IT support and services but can’t afford to commit to long-term contracts. Similarly, some want to augment their IT only for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. What's great is many MSPs are providing flexible IT solutions, giving customers all the services and support they need, when they need them.

Offering faster response times
Especially now that downtime could likely spell the end of a business, companies seek quick turnaround times. Since MSPs typically offer 24/7 support and tout specialists with a wide range of experience and knowledge, they can proactively address issues and ensure that IT infrastructures are working as efficiently as possible.

Providing better customer service

As many businesses are still adjusting to the new normal, providing positive customer experiences will go a long way to earning trust and ensuring customer loyalty post-crisis. By being compassionate and empathetic to the situations of their customers, MSPs are showing companies that they're navigating these trying times together.

Call our IT experts today to help configure the perfect remote work setup for your business.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2020/06/15/how-msps-are-supporting-clients-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Publish Date: June 15, 2020

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