4 Reasons Why You Will Move Your Phones to the Cloud

UCaaS in Chicago

4 Reasons Why You Will Move Your Phones to the Cloud

At times, there are events that are sudden- like a snow storm or a flood. At other times, events move like an erupting volcano. Other events have the change occur like a glacier- over time and colossal. In technology, we have change advancing at a rapid pace. Yesterday’s invention is tomorrow’s necessity. In business communications, the shift has been tremendous.  Communications have shifted from premise based systems to hosted systems. Communications have shifted from being its own separate network to another application running on the network.

The business communications industry is seeing some of the greatest changes of its time. The leading driver being the steady adoption of the cloud, specifically unified communications (UC) and the delivery of these services, better referred to as unified communication as a service (UCaaS).

As we see in every space, products have life cycles. It’s becoming clear that the premises-based phone systems that many businesses relied on are quickly approaching the end of theirs. According to Gartner, there has been a 6.6% decline in premises-based revenue over the last 5 years.

So, why the steady decline of premises-based systems?

Many businesses today are faced with aging premises-based phone systems and are left with the choice to either replace them with the same technology or migrate to newer technology like cloud-based UC solutions. Premises-based systems have a tough time competing with cloud based UC systems in several key areas.

Here are 4 reasons why UCaaS is rapidly replacing premises-based systems.

  1. Cost

From large enterprise businesses, all the way to small non-profit organizations, everyone is looking to reduce costs and become more cost-efficient. Companies are moving away from systems that require high upfront capital expenses and are gravitating to solutions that allow them to pay for only what they actually need and use. With premises-based systems, upgrading an entire system is no longer a financially attractive option, with many systems requiring a longer commitment and the inability to scale.  Cloud-based UC models offer greater flexibility, with financing options and the ability to add and remove services and users whenever needed, providing businesses with the assurance that they can scale at anytime with ease.

  1. Advanced Features

Businesses are no longer interested in replacing older phone systems with newer ones that offer the same functionality. Companies today are looking for mobility, flexibility and more efficient ways to collaborate and work. Cloud-based UC systems integrate traditional telephony solutions with other communication and productivity applications on an internet protocol (IP) network, enabling a myriad of capabilities, including audio, web and a video conferencing, company-wide chat, presence, email, file sharing and integrations with leading CRM solutions. The enhanced capabilities that cloud UC solutions are able to deliver are much more equipped to meet the growing demands of the modern workforce.

  1. Maintenance

Premises-based switched telephony systems, typically a PBX or IP-PBX system, can be time-consuming, complex and costly to maintain, requiring dedicated IT staff to manage the systems and servers for even the most basic of changes. With the additional costs and complexities, companies are fleeing to the simplicity and maintenance-free technology of the cloud. Unlike equipment that just depreciates, the cloud continues to update automatically and often for no cost. Cloud-based UC systems, like Broadview’s OfficeSuite UC™ , SNET Cloud Phones or Zultys Cloud Services which are easy for both employees and administrators to manage the features of the system without IT support, provide the ability to save even more time and money, while improving operations.

  1. Security

Premises-based systems don’t offer much in the area of security, with equipment and critical data all stored on site.  Cloud-based UC systems on the other hand, especially those that utilize the cloud for 100 percent of its storage and processing are hosted on the provider’s servers and accessible through an encrypted web browser, ensuring that nothing is left  on-site where it could be vulnerable to hacking, theft or damage.  The best cloud UC providers even guarantee calls using the public internet are encrypted from the handset into a secure network, ensuring call data remains protected and confidential. An added assurance is offered by the most secure UC providers like Broadview Networks, who encrypts calls, messages and recordings with Transport Layer Security (TLS), cryptographic protocols that provide communications security over a provider’s network, and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), a symmetric encryption algorithm. Some cloud-based UC systems even allow internal IT staff to change user settings through flexible web portals that work across multiple devices. Offering these additional internal abilities, like controlling who is permitted to forward voicemail, further safeguards private information.

Businesses today are becoming more strategic with their communications investments. In addition to the desire for enhanced capabilities and collaboration features to improve employee productivity and customer service, they are also looking for solutions that are future-proof, secure and allow for growth and expansion. This extreme market shift and steady rise in cloud adoption and UCaaS is an indication that businesses are seeking a more holistic communication solution that extends well beyond voice communications.

If your businesses is looking to move to the cloud or upgrade to a more secure cloud-based UC solution, Prime Telecommunications can help!  Our stable of award-winning unified communications solutions are  100 percent cloud-based, making it more secure and easier to use and manage than any other system.

Our solutions operate solely in the cloud, eliminating the reliance on phones, servers and power to operate and ensures nothing is stored on-site where it can be vulnerable to threats or theft.  With encrypted calling, messages and meetings, and its intuitive online dashboard, which features customizable user profiles, employees can quickly, easily and securely manage any feature of the system from anywhere, eliminating the need for IT support, increasing productivity and ensuring business continuity.


7 Technologies to increase sales

7 Technologies that will IMPROVE your SALES

In business, time is money, especially for those who are responsible for producing and increasing sales. Salespeople by nature, are on the go and often under tight deadlines. Therefore, empowering these individuals with technology that allows them to work as efficiently as possible is key.

Here are 7 technologies that will help your team increase sales and work more efficiently.

1. CRM and Business Communication Integration
Customer Relationship Management solutions (CRM) provide a valuable way to manage and analyze customer data throughout the sales lifecycle. However, they become even more effective when they are integrated with your business communications. Cloud-phone system and unified communication integrations eliminate the need to switch back and forth between multiple systems and provide salespeople with immediate and direct access to important contact records. With convenient screen pop ups, click to dial functionality and instantaneous access to contact history, salespeople can communicate and work more effectively, while providing a more personalized customer experience.

2. Video Conferencing and Online Meeting Solutions
 In person meetings are always a great way to establish a new relationship, but can sometimes be challenging logistically. Some business deals require multiple decision-makers from different locations, or may take place far away and require multiple meetings where reoccurring travel is not feasible. For these circumstances, and so many others, HD video, audio and web conferencing solutions are a must-have technology for every salesperson. Having the flexibility to hold face to face meetings with upwards of 100 different people at one time from anywhere is a huge advantage. These solutions provide opportunities to give personalized and interactive demonstrations and share contracts and other important documents in real-time. Not to mention, they cost a fraction of the cost of travel.

 3. Email Follow Up Automation
Email is an important communication method with your customers and prospects, but can be time consuming to maintain, especially for busy reps on the go. Using software like HubSpot Sales allows salespeople to automate their follow up emails by creating sequences to send a series of emails to prospects over time. By personalizing and tracking each message, reps are better able to collect data and identify which messages are most effective.

5. Business Intelligence
A huge part of sales success is having the ability to analyze important data and be able to transfer that into actionable intelligence. However, when the data comes from systems that rely solely on data entry, you can be missing the big picture. Call history can tell you a great deal about sales performance. Phone systems that offer built-in call history reporting enable sales management and team members to pull reports by individual, team, department and location and view important call data such as: number of calls made, received and their duration by any given time period. These reports are more accurate and allow you to drill down to a more granular level to better evaluate and improve performance.

5. Visual Voicemail
Voicemail may seem like a pastime and for many, in our personal lives it is, but in business, customers will still resort to leaving voicemails. Fortunately, we no longer have to waste time finding a quiet place to listen to them or writing down what they say. Many cloud phone systems today offer the convenience of visual voicemail, where messages are transcribed so reps can read them quickly, easily and most importantly, discretely while out on other appointments. This is a huge time-saver and lessens the burden of voicemail, especially when on the road.

6. Internal Chat 

Whether your company utilizes a stand-alone chat client or one that is built-into your phone system portal or video conferencing software, internal chat can be incredibly helpful in sales. There are often times when reps or prospects have questions that could make or break a deal and require an immediate response. Sending a quick chat message to a manager or coworker will ensure they receive a quicker response and eliminates reliance on a colleague’s overflowing email inbox.

7. Business Apps
There are so many useful business apps out there that every professional should be taking advantage of. However, one that definitely comes in handy for any salesperson is Profit Story. This easy to use app, calculates what the margin would be on each deal in advance, along with other important profit-based metrics that are always good to know going into a meeting.

There is no doubt an arsenal of technology solutions available for your business.  We are fortunate to live in a time where technology is booming and advancements are made daily to improve how we work and live. Taking advantage of these 7 technologies and other valuable tools available will not only help increase your organization’s sales, but will streamline your daily operations and improve your overall efficiency.


Office suite UC portal

6 Must-haves for every UC Portal

 

Since unified communications (UC) solutions are cloud-based, the actual brains behind the systems are in the backend online management platforms or, as most refer to them as, online portals. When it comes to your ability to remain agile, mobile and productive, the interface you use holds all the power.

Here are 6 must-have features and abilities every UC portal should offer.

1. Centralized Technology: One of the greatest benefits of UC solutions is their ability to centralize all of your communication services into a single platform. You no longer need multiple systems and logins to access services beyond your phone system, like faxing, video conferencing, email and toll-free. The most advanced unified communications systems will unify your access right through their online portal. This not only applies to customers, but agents who manage multiple customer accounts through other providers. A single point of access to everything streamlines the administration of your system significantly.

2. Intuitive Design– Time is everything, especially in business. So having a portal that offers an intuitive design is crucial. The last thing you want is a complex menu tree or hierarchical system that is difficult to navigate. With one portal for everyone, managers and employees alike, the portal design should be straightforward and offer the latest technology like drag and drop and click-to-dial capabilities. The most common functionalities: listening to voicemail, setting individual preferences, uploading contacts, forwarding calls, recording greetings, paying bills and adding new services, should be both easy and possible without any IT assistance.

3. Mobility– Today’s workforce is mobilized, so the platform you use needs to match your organization’s work style, Your online portal should offer unlimited mobility, where users can access any feature and make changes as needed, from any device, anywhere. With the increased need for mobility and the popular BYOD trends, support for mobility is a critical component to every UC offering and the online portals that support them.

4. Permission-based Controls– In every organization, different employees and departments have various functions and levels of authority. User profiles are a new way that businesses can achieve optimal productivity, yet remain in complete control. With portals that allow you to create custom user profiles based upon individual user personas and needs, administrators can grant employees access to self-manage the features that are applicable to their role, saving time and resources.

5. Collaboration– Many companies today have multiple locations and employees that travel or work remotely, so having an online portal that unifies your entire organization is a definite must. Features that encourage internal collaboration like real-time presence that showcases the availability of each employee, company-wide chat, and the ability to video conference online, will enable your organization to stay connected and collaborate seamlessly, no matter where they are.

6. Built-in Intelligence– Beyond just being used to manage communication services, online portals provide us with a great opportunity to tap into the intelligence of the system. Advanced tools are now built into portals, such as call history reporting, so you can extract and evaluate important call data that will help improve the sales, customer service, marketing and operations of your business. Agents can also benefit from built-in intelligence tools from provider’s portals and gain greater visibility into their customer accounts, product revenues, contract renewals and customer satisfaction levels.

Online portals are really the heart of any UC system, so when purchasing or recommending your next unified communications solution to your customers, be sure that the online portal used to access and manage the important features of the system offers the functionality you will need both now and in the future.


Labor Under Correct Knowledge

Are You Relying on Luck? Key Technology for Business Continuity

Luck is in the air, or is it? St. Patrick’s Day may be today, but relying on luck in business can be catastrophic, especially when it pertains to your business’ communications. Luck is really L.U.C.K – and that means ” Labor Under Correct Knowledge.  You have to run your business on knowing what is the right way to deal with the changes in the business environment.

The reality is, things go wrong. And, just like we have insurance for our homes, car and life, the same precautions and investments are needed for the continuity of our business.

Many small and medium-sized businesses have neglected or postponed the adoption of business continuity due to the perception that the cost was too high. Years ago, this may have been the case. Developing a disaster recovery plan previously required your IT staff to completely re-engineer your entire business phone system so it could be recovered successfully in the event of a disaster. However, with the emergence of cloud-based systems, safeguarding your business has become both affordable and worthy of any investment.

With pay-as-you-go cloud-based unified communications (UC) solutions, businesses are now provided with the ability to move to the cloud, without requiring a hefty capital expense. These models also enable companies to scale up and down as they see fit, eliminating any risk of over investment.

So, how does cloud-based UC technology provide business continuity?

Cloud-based systems eliminate the threat of down-time and provide continuity for your communications in the event of outages. Since communications are centralized, hosted virtually and routed through the internet, disastrous events or disruptions from landlines are no longer an issue. The technology itself is no longer stored on-site and can be managed online from anywhere, so you are not bound by the internet connection at your physical business. Should the internet go down, calls can easily be routed to cell phones, home phones or other locations without the disruption of call quality, enabling your employees to communicate with customers from anywhere needed.

Advancements of the cloud continue to eliminate the hurdle of price, providing cost-effective and scalable methods for infrastructure, applications and data. Companies relying on luck because of the once burdened financial commitment can now have a feasible and efficient path to business continuity thanks to cloud-based unified communications solutions.

So, don’t test your luck, check into cloud-based options that can protect and enhance your business.


Are you a good fit for the cloud?

Is your company a good fit for the cloud?

Are you a good fit for the cloud?
When deciding if you are a good fit for the cloud, there are tell-tale signs that serve as reliable indicators.

This post is a great starting point if you’re looking to qualify whether your company is a right fit for cloud applications:

Of course, as a cloud computing provider, we geek out and get pretty excited about the cloud and the opportunities it presents to businesses. However, customers won’t necessarily have the same reaction. And some aren’t even great targets in the first place, either because they’re closed off to the concept of moving to the cloud, or they’re functioning fine as is. Rather than focusing on these organizations, it’s important to focus efforts on businesses that are open to change and have needs that the cloud can address. These early technology adopters and innovators will be excited to learn more about the solutions. Other good targets won’t even know how much the cloud can help their organization, and that’s where you come in. Below are some key things we look for:

For Cloud Computing

While we strongly believe that many businesses are ready to move to the cloud because it addresses various aspects of IT, there are some specific signs that an organization is a particularly good fit for the cloud in general.

We ask companies the following questions right off the bat:

  • Do you want to upgrade software?
    Do you ]want to refresh your hardware?
    Are you in need of a data backup plan?
    Do you want to cut down on CapEx?
  • Do want to implement BYOD (bring your own device)?

Once we’ve discovered some of you needs, we find out more about your organization.

  • What’s in its service catalog, and what are the top applications it runs the business on?
  • What are its goals and requirements for the future?
  • Who currently supports IT, and what is the leadership team like?
  • How does the business budget work? Is the organization in a stage of growth?
  • Do its users need data access 24×7?

All of these questions are important because they help us determine exactly how the cloud can fit your organization.

Maybe you  think you need one solution, but based on the information we’ve gathered, we know something else is a better fit.

For Infrastructure as a Service

Once we move into the specific cloud services, the signs we look for will change a bit. For Infrastructure as a Service, we  look for companies that are eager to always use the latest enterprise-grade technology but can’t necessarily afford to achieve this themselves.

We look for companies that:

  • Are running applications on physical or virtual servers
  • Are rapidly growing or scaling
  • Want to take advantage of enterprise-level hardware and security
  • Have limited capital
  • Have compliance needs
  • Have disaster recovery needs

Once we determine that you are a company that qualifies with some of the above criteria, we figure out what kind of infrastructure you have  in place today, including how many servers and their specifications (CPU, RAM, Storage). Additionally, we determine which operating system and critical applications the business is running. We are sure to determine if your  business currently has a plan in place if a server goes down, and if any equipment is due for an upgrade.

For Desktop as a Service

For Desktop as a Service, we look for companies that are interested in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend and have traveling or remote employees that have to be accommodated.

W e look for companies that:

  • Deal with refreshing desktops, laptops, or tablets
  • Want to move to a BYOD model
  • Have remote employees
  • Have employees who travel
  • Need the ability to add or remove users quickly
  • Have limited IT resources

Businesses that haven’t yet moved to the cloud may spend a lot of time maintaining devices like desktops, laptops, tablets, etc. We try to find out how much time is going to this task currently so we know if a Cloud Desktop or Cloud Office can help save time. Similar to IaaS, we find out what applications your  organization is running, because these could potentially move to the cloud. We are sure to get details on the licensing they own and how they manage it. Other questions might include how many users the organization has, how users are sharing files, and who currently manages IT?

For Disaster Recovery as a Service

For Disaster Recovery we look for companies that are extremely reliant on the availability of their data at all times.

We look for companies that:

  • Still run physical servers on-site
  • Live in areas affected by natural disasters
  • Have a very low RTO and RPO
  • Are heavily reliant on their data
  • Can’t afford to be down without their data
  • Need to have quick access to their data in the event of a disaster

We try to find out what kind of disaster recovery plan your business already has in place – do you back up your data, and if so, how long would it take to retrieve backed up data? Do you know what you’d do if all systems were down? We are sure to request your business’ Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO), and find out which business-critical applications are running in-house.

 


Chicago Cloud Provider

How to Work With a Managed Cloud Provider

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Managed and unmanaged cloud options allow an organization to decide how involved their provider is. As a leading managed cloud provider, we’re a huge believer in managed cloud solutions. Some organizations get nervous when they hear the word “managed”, as they’re not exactly sure what it means for their business. It’s not scary – in fact, it’s extremely beneficial and allows everyone to focus on their area of expertise. Let’s learn how to work with a managed cloud provider:

Make sure you know what “managed cloud” means.

Someone has to run the cloud solution. It doesn’t just work by itself. There are a couple of options: you could do it yourself, which means investing your money, time and personnel in managing the solution – or you could work with a managed cloud provider, like RapidScale, and work together. In this situation you’re still accessing the huge benefits of the cloud and top-notch technology, but you also get a team of experts that has your back and runs all of this technology for you. While RapidScale has both options available, we’re all about the managed cloud. It’s the perfect combination because we get to do what we’re best at to help you do what you’re best at!

Choose the best solution for you.

Once you’ve determined that you want a managed cloud solution, you need to make sure you’re going with the perfect one for your business. This requires determining your business needs, goals and desires. Are you looking for a solution to accommodate BYOD? Or do you need disaster recovery services? What about managed infrastructure? These are all separate solutions, and they are not necessarily equal, so it’s important to determine exactly what you’re looking for. Then a managed cloud provider like RapidScale can present you with the solutions it deems fitting. Together, we develop a cloud game plan and move forward from there.

Choose your customized plan.

And even once you’ve decided on a solution, there are still more options! With RapidScale’s managed cloud products, you can essentially build your own solution, customizing it to fit your exact needs. So maybe you only want managed implementation. Or maybe you’re looking for full management, from start to finish! You can determine which applications you’ll be integrating and which overall package you want to go with. This is a huge benefit of RapidScale’s managed cloud products, as they allow you to customize the solution. We know one cloud does not fit all, and that’s why we offer this capability.

Consume the services as needed.

And since cloud solutions are scalable and work on a pay-as-you-go basis, businesses can consume them as needed. You use as much or as little of the cloud resources as necessary for your business, and you get charged accordingly. That’s the basic cloud model, and it’s extremely efficient as you’re not overspending on resources that are wasted, yet you always have enough.

You do your thing – we’ll do ours.

Once you’re set up with the managed cloud service, it’s pretty simple. You do your thing, and we’ll do ours. A managed cloud requires little expertise on the customer end, allowing a business to harness the power of the cloud without stressing about managing it. Instead, you can focus on whatever it is that you do best!

The managed vs. unmanaged cloud choice is an important one. Make sure you consider the options and their potential impact on your business!


Powering Non Profits

Powering Nonprofits through the Holidays with Cloud Technology

As individuals celebrate with family and friends and as businesses close their books for the calendar year, many consider making charitable donations during the holidays. In fact, according to a National Center for Charitable Statistics survey, more than 42 percent of people give more during the holidays than the rest of the year.

Charitable giving is at an all-time high, growing by more than five percent year over year to the nearly $360 billion reported for 2014. With charities of all sizes experiencing increased traffic near the end of the year, it is crucial for them to prepare their IT infrastructure for the influx.

Three simple tips will ensure smooth operations for nonprofit organizations, enabling them to maximize their impact during the holiday season and beyond.

Get your head in the clouds – To best allocate their conservative budgets, nonprofits should assess hardware and software to determine if antiquated technology is occupying valuable space and resources, replacing them with more flexible, mobile cloud solutions such as OfficeSuite HD Meeting. These tools keep employees connected and collaborative throughout the holidays.

Take advantage of the scalability – In a completely cloud-based environment such as the MyOfficeSuite portal, nonprofits can adjust their technology to fit their needs in a matter of moments. The convenience and degree of this scalability keeps organizations functioning smoothly in high-activity times such as the holiday season.

Give your office phone a mobile twin – In our recent customer survey, approximately one-third of respondents reported working remote more frequently during the holidays. During this time, many people are at higher risk of missing calls from current and potential donors. Features like mobile twinning, which sends inbound calls to mobile and desk phones simultaneously, help ensure that your organization never misses these critical conversations.

As nonprofits navigate the busy holiday giving season, these organizations should set a path for success by transitioning to flexible cloud solutions, leveraging scalability and enabling seamless mobile communication.Broadview-Charitable-Donations


Cloud adds value

Using Cloud-Based Technology to Future-Proof Your Business

For entrepreneurs, thinking long-term is key to guaranteeing the health and future success of any growing business. Whether you’re just starting out on a new endeavor, or are looking to ramp up already-instituted processes, you’re liable to be bombarded with a vast array of technological choices. Where you go from here, and the choices you make can have a lasting impact on the future prosperity of your business. Fortunately, cloud-based technologies allow businesses to streamline operations, cut costs, and scale efficiently. You’ll not only be future-proofing your business from servers crashing or going offline, but will position your brick and mortar store as an innovative place to visit and shop.

 

Reduces Capital Outlays

Minimizing overhead costs for any business is essential. And making sure your business is running efficiently on a lean budget is key for any venture to get ahead. That’s why choosing cloud-based technology is not only a sensible, but also economical, step in ensuring the overall performance and lifespan of your business.

As the name suggests, with cloud-based technology, all your information lives in the cloud. This means there is no need to run and maintain a server, which drastically cuts down on costs. There is also no need to purchase expensive hardware, which also reduces capital outlays. In addition, cloud-based software often runs on a subscription model, eliminating costly and binding contracts.

A recent white paper on the overall cost of cloud computing for SMBs, found that that over a four-year period (for a one hundred-employee company), cloud-based software cost 50 percent less than onsite software. Less money spent, means more money saved that can go towards areas of your business you’ve been meaning to improve. Been looking to renovate your dressing rooms? Finally, you have the money to do so!

 

Accessible Data from Anywhere

Using cloud-based technology allows you to work from wherever you’d like. Your data is always available and secure. The flexibility this allows is invaluable. Employees are now no longer tied to their locations but can work remotely and have easy access to important business data while traveling. The ability to access information with this kind of ease encourages better work-life balances for business owners and their employees.

Not relying on an in-house server also reduces the risk of having your business go offline if the server crashes. Being unable to look up customer information or process transactions can have a crippling effect on your business. With cloud-based software, however, your business information is always accessible. Essentially, you’re future-proofing your information from human error and even natural disasters.

 

Ability to Automate Tasks

Arguably the most critical advantage to cloud-based technology is its ability to automate already-existing business operations — encouraging streamlined processes and freeing up your time to spend with customers and family. Cloud-based technology that helps with tasks, such as employee management and store inventory, not only saves time, but also provides convenience rarely offered by server-based computing.

Online scheduling software such as WhenIWork.com, organizes your information, letting you know who’s working when at a glance. While cloud-based systems, such as ShopKeep, provide an easy-to-use iPad POS system that helps business owners take control of inventory management and make smarter business decisions with detailed reporting. Cloud-based POS systems are also streamlined and aesthetically pleasing. This might not seem important, but a modern looking piece of hardware signals to your customers that you are
up- to-date on the latest technology and security measures, and that you take customer experience seriously. You’d never want loyal (or potentially new) customers to pass up coffee at your shop because the place down the street has a better point-of-sale experience.

 

Easy and Automatic Software Upgrades

Unlike legacy software systems, which required expensive in-store software updates, cloud-based software is managed and updated off site; therefore updating your system is no longer a hassle. Since a vendor is storing your data, they are also responsible for taking care of uptime and ensuring that your data remains secure.

Switching from server-based to cloud-based computing can seem daunting, but the benefits it provides will last well into the future The key to a successful transition, however, is to stay focused on the operational needs of your business. Don’t try to replace all of your software at once. To make sure the adoption process runs smoothly, be sure to find providers that integrate with each other. It’s also a good idea to test out the support desk before you purchase a product. You can never be too careful. You want to make sure that the people you will be speaking with are not only friendly, but also knowledgeable.