What is VoIP and why it is good for business

Benefits of VoIP Chicago

What is VoIP and why it is good for business

What is VoIP?

VoIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, basically refers to voice communications that take place over the Internet. Thanks to advanced technology and high speed Internet connectivity, VoIP has become a more valuable and flexible asset to companies and individuals alike.

Traditional analog and digital phone service was the main mode of telecommunications for most of the 20th century but it is / was mostly restricted by the feature set of the accompanying PBX or Key System it was connected to. Today, with continued build outs of cable and fiber optic networks, high speed Internet service provides a solid foundation for faster data transmissions and VoIP platforms.

VoIP solutions provide the consumer with a feature rich platform to build on. In many instances the technology delivered through the VoIP system becomes a valuable business tool. A reliable Internet connection with a strong VoIP provider become the building blocks for many growing businesses today.

Using VoIP for business means that you can expand, have flexibility and maximize productivity while often reducing expenses. Many VoIP providers offer both “Hosted” and “Premise” based delivery options. Other sections of the website will focus on the pros and cons of each.

A good VoIP offering delivers digital calls with clarity, compared to traditional analog phone service. In summary, the benefits for businesses are significant.

Benefits of VoIP

When focusing on business VoIP, there are several key business benefits that the service provides. This section will highlight a few of the most important ones as they relate to business users.

Cost Benefits

Pound for pound, VoIP service tends to cost less than traditional analog phone service. As the LECs (Local Exchange Carriers) and Cable Companies are adjusting the way they deliver access, VoIP immediately comes to the forefront. In today’s marketplace the larger carriers would rather push customers in the direction of VoIP. It makes sense from a delivery and maintenance viewpoint. As older infrastructure becomes more and more expensive to maintain, the carriers would rather invest in moving customers in a forward direction rather than invest in older and dated technology. VoIP technology is more robust and scalable on a long term basis. In the end, all of this technological advancement usually paves the way for cost reduction for the business consumer.

Functionality

With VoIP service, business users have access to a wide range of features and options that simply don’t exist with traditional phone service. With too many to list for this section, we will highlight some of the more popular examples below.

  • – Voicemail to Email Technology
  • – Call Recording
  • – Find Me Follow Me
  • – Real Time Call Accounting
  • – Interoffice Dial Plans
  • – Remote Workforce
  • – And many more….

In the end, whether you are a growing and thriving business or a new startup business, VoIP provides many useful features to assist with all aspects your business. No doubt that the benefits of business VoIP service for the small business, all the way to the major corporation, far outweigh traditional phone service that has been used for decades.

Benefits of a Sole Provider

Traditionally, many businesses are used to dealing with multiple service providers. In many cases companies deal with 2,3,4 or more providers for network, voice, equipment and other technology related services.

There are many benefits of single point of contact service for technology. Time is money and sometimes a few hours can save a business thousands of dollars in potential lost revenue. Many businesses have built long-term relationships with service providers for the above mentioned services. In taking the time to assess a single point of contact provider, be sure to recognize that they offer a top tier level of customer service, support, and overall features that are needed in today’s competitive businesses environment.

There is, however, a significant advantage to relying on a sole provider for all of your telephony needs. Single point of contact providers are, in most cases, fully equipped to handle all of your telecommunications requirements with state-of-the-art handsets and options that will help you maximize productivity.

By having a single point of contact for your telecommunications needs, you streamline the process and, as any business leader knows and understands, the more streamlined the system or process, the more efficient it can operate.

In looking at single point of contact provider be sure to also consider Disaster Recovery (DR). How is this telecommunications provider equipped when the next Super Storm comes through town to assist you in making sure your service stays active? Make sure they can offer your business a Voice Continuity Plan that is a proactive solution for anything that can happen from circuit failure, PBX failure or Natural Disaster. Sole Provider solutions with dedicated service to a client, in most cases, would get an automatic failover DR system in place, meaning peace of mind for the telecom aspect of your business. Pre-planned solutions for voice and data DR will keep you connected to your customer base, which can save you millions of dollars.

When you choose a good sole provider for voice, data and DR, you gain the power of experience, dedication, and a commitment to you and your business.

Resources

Prime Telecommunications  provides a wealth of resources to help guide you through the process of choosing the right VoIP system for telecommunication design for your company’s needs.

When you review these pages, if you have questions or wish to learn more about how each feature can benefit your company, contact us and we’ll guide you through the process.

When you choose Prime Telecommunications, Inc, you choose a company with experience, dedication and a partner that will help you maximize efficiency and productivity while minimizing expenses.


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 for Real Estate

Technology, especially cloud computing technology, provides huge opportunities for real estate organizations and should become a priority. 80% of the top real estate performers are using some form of cloud. Their use of the cloud can certainly improve though, while other organizations can follow their lead and realize the benefits of the technology.

Real estate is a relationship-driven sector, hence the emphasis on marketing, sales, client service, and collaboration. And when you think about it, real estate is a mobile business. After all, the majority of real estate business activities occur outside of a traditional office space.

Already, these characteristics make the sector a perfect fit for cloud computing solutions. Today, real estate organizations rely on email, file sharing, data storage, Web hosting and mobile applications. These actions are best performed in the cloud.

Lead and Marketing Management

There are countless lead and marketing management cloud solutions that can be extremely valuable for the real estate sector. These solutions help real estate professionals capture leads, as well as track the success of marketing efforts and automate communications.

Email marketing is one of the most popular cloud services for real estate. There are many third-party cloud email services available, including MailChimp and Constant Contact, that are not only cost effective and easy to use, but also customizable, insightful and reliable. Perhaps one of the most beneficial features is real-time insights. It’s easier than ever to gain statistics about who’s opening emails, when they’re opening them and what links people are clicking on. These statistics deliver leads to a business, making it easier for the team to go out and gain new clients. This really helps connect the marketing and sales teams, enhancing collaboration.

Additionally, effective communication now comes in other forms. Marketing communication use to include direct mail, magazines, face-to-face communication, cold calling and other outdated methods. Now, effective communication is taking place over email, apps, websites and connected devices. By taking advantage of these solutions in the cloud, real estate companies can more quickly respond to inquiries while boosting their credibility. Additionally, professionals will work more effectively and provide better service when they are connecting with clients on modern platforms.

Mobility for the Professional

With cloud computing, real estate organizations can essentially move the office online, allowing professionals to be productive – always! They can work from any location, using any device – this really makes life simple. When real estate agents use the cloud, they can access a fully synced address book and calendar, as well as easily stay in contact with the office, clients and other business contacts. If they’re with a client at a property, it’s easy to pull up necessary property information or show comparable options using virtual tours or street-view maps, right from a smartphone or tablet. This doesn’t only simplify processes. It’s also impressive from a client standpoint, and allows an agent to close deals more frequently and quickly.

Customer Relationship Management

Customer Relationship Management is also commonly known as CRM. This type of cloud platform allows a real estate organization to both access and capture information about potential and current clients. It also allows for interactions between the company and its customers. A CRM system manages growing connections in a growing business.

The CRM provides valuable insights around the actions and progress of a company’s workforce. Additionally, it allows the company’s sales team to access and input potential and current client information on the go, easily and quickly. Agents can track properties, leads, referrals, sales, lease expirations and more with a cloud CRM service. Companies can even integrate existing software into the CRM platform, like marketing or storage software, making it easier to compile contact lists or find files all in one spot.

As for building connections, a CRM helps a real estate team collaborate with customers, makes documentation and information available to clients, and gathers valuable insights that help improve business.

Security, Cost Efficiency and Scalability

Though it’s not necessarily the first industry that comes to mind when talking about data security, real estate professionals definitely manage sensitive information including drivers license numbers, credit scores, social security numbers and more. Cloud computing helps the companies achieve higher levels of security and adhere to guidelines found in other strict industries, like financial.

The cloud also helps real estate companies save a substantial amount of money, as the cloud provider handles the costs of infrastructure, upgrades, cooling, power, software licenses, etc.

Scalability is one of the most popular features of the cloud, allowing companies to use resources as needed. This helps real estate companies deal with temporary swells in numbers. For example, if payments consistently come in at a certain time of month, the company can increase power for that period and then reduce again as things stabilize.


Don’t Make These 5 Cloud Migration Mistakes

The cloud has many benefits that countless businesses are taking advantage of today. But this convenience and efficiency doesn’t happen with a snap of your fingers. A smooth and smart cloud migration takes preparation. Here are five mistakes to avoid when moving to the cloud:

1. Assuming All Clouds Are Equal

Just as your business brings its a unique set of goals and requirements for moving to the cloud, each cloud provider has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. You can’t assume that a solution working for another business will automatically work for yours. There’s a wide array of providers and cloud services, so you need to choose the best one to fulfill your needs. You will go about the transition differently than the company next door.

Additionally, there are different cloud options, and you need to know which one(s) you want. Does your business need a private, public or hybrid cloud environment? Are you a small or large organization? Do you need IaaS, PaaS or SaaS? Different workloads mean different clouds! It’s definitely worth your business’ time to evaluate the options and make the most informed choice. The decision to move to the cloud isn’t just a yes or no one. It’s all about the “how,” “when,” and “which.”

2. Not Doing Your Homework

Yes, you have to do some work first!

Businesses commonly think that the first step to the cloud is searching outside the organization for a provider, but this skips a crucial personal evaluation.

Instead, you should first look inside your organization to identify your own needs, current environment and spending, usage, and hopes or expectations for the cloud. Only then can you move on and thoroughly research and identify providers that suit your business.

The perfect provider is one that lines up with your needs and goals. To determine this, reach out to multiple providers and be prepared to ask questions. What exact security measures do they have in place? Can they meet your compliance needs? How involved are they? What’s their specialty? The answers to these types of questions are key.

3. Moving Too Fast

It’s okay to start small! In fact, we recommend it.

Faster doesn’t mean better. There’s a difference between proactivity and rushing. In fact, moving too fast will likely result in unpreparedness. Take time to consider what makes the most sense in the cloud and be prepared from the get-go.

You can take a test drive by moving a non-critical application to the cloud that will still make a positive business impact, like a collaborative tool. Once you’re comfortable, confident and more experienced, it’s easy to repeat and eventually you can start taking bigger steps.

This calculated pace allows you to learn more about the cloud as you go, and drives consistent, positive change across your business.

4. Thinking It’s All or Nothing

Just as you don’t have to migrate all at once, you also don’t have to move all functionality to the cloud. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Some applications will make sense in the cloud while others might not be worth it. Always weigh the pros and cons of moving tools and resources into the cloud. Choose whatever makes sense for YOUR organization, and then you can develop the perfect cloud solution.

It’s helpful to prioritize the applications and tools that need to be moved, while considering if the move maintains cost efficiency, usability and security.

5. Not Doing Your Part

The relationship between a business and its cloud provider is an important one. While the provider obviously shoulders the majority of the responsibility, your organization still has to do its part.

You should have an internal team that develops your cloud strategy and ensures you are using the cloud in the best way possible for your business. It’s also important to communicate with your team and educate your employees on why the cloud move is happening. You might initially face resistance, but by demonstrating the benefits of the migration, the team will be more willing to learn about the new cloud services. Involve your employees in each step and keep them informed – this ensures a smooth transition and builds trust.

Additionally, security is up to both parties. The provider will certainly have hefty security measures in place, but you can take steps on your end as well. Make sure your users are creating secure passwords and you have policies in place in regards to personal device usage and data access. Setting these expectations will help keep your information safe.


Cloud for Financial Services

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Financial service organizations include banks, insurance companies and securities firms. These organizations are constantly dealing with extremely sensitive and confidential information. They need to balance strong security and data protection with addressing customer needs and adapting to a rapidly changing business environment. With cloud computing, they can find this balance.

Cloud provides secure IT resources and meets industry regulations while providing a multitude of benefits that are invaluable to the financial sector.

Maintain Security and Data Protection

Security is obviously a hot topic in the financial services realm. These organizations deal with extremely sensitive and personal customer information. For this reason, the sector has been carefully adopting cloud solutions, and that makes perfect sense.

However, cloud computing has finally evolved into a secure technology that definitely rivals and exceeds traditional IT. Providers have taken feedback in regards to security and data protection and have greatly improved these areas to better address businesses needs. It’s now realistic to leverage the benefits of cloud computing without risking data security or violating industry compliances like SOX or PCI DSS.

There is a responsibility on both the client and provider sides to maintain security and data protection. Clients must be aware of the regulations they need to meet, and create policies to meet them. A great provider should have the technology in place to address these needs, protect data, and maintain security.

Improve Business Agility

Business agility is the ability for an organization to adapt rapidly and efficiently to changes in its environment.

Cloud computing leads to greater business agility, which is invaluable, especially in the financial services industry. Financial organizations in the cloud have a competitive edge because they can more quickly deliver new financial products and services, move into new markets, adapt to industry regulations and opportunities, and improve the customer relationship.

Business agility also ties right into scalability, as the cloud allows organizations to scale resources up and down as needed, without overspending.

Build Customer Relationships

All businesses today are facing increasingly demanding customers and are expected to meet changing expectations. Cloud computing makes this happen.

In the financial services vertical, cloud allows organizations to move from just focusing on the transaction to actually building strong customer relationships. This is possible through developments like self-service, new consumer applications, improved, targeted marketing, and mobile banking. In fact, more than a third of customers at major U.S. banks are now regularly using mobile banking, and about half of the top 25 financial institutions in the U.S. are now offering more advanced mobile app features, including person-to-person transfers and remote deposit services, according to Adobe.

The cloud hides the complexity of technology from the consumer, allowing them to maintain their own level of knowledge while successfully completing tasks. It also allows financial institutions to gather valuable information on user preferences to enable customization, personalization, and the ability to adapt.

Experience Reduced Costs

If you’re familiar with the cloud, you’re probably familiar with the fact that it shifts a huge amount of capital expenses to operational expenses. This includes things like software licenses, installations and physical equipment. With a traditional solution, prices add up and it’s extremely difficult to forecast costs. That’s not the case with cloud computing.

When costs move from capital to operational, financial firms get what they need when they need it, and they pay accordingly. This is the pay-as-you-go model, and it allows these businesses to do more, with less. That’s a pretty good deal.

With cloud computing, financial organizations can handle the needs of customers and regulators while also decreasing costs.

Improve Collaboration and Mobility

Collaboration is key in any organization, especially those with multiple levels and locations. Thanks to cloud computing, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch and ensure everyone is on the same page. A hugely popular characteristic of the cloud is the ability to securely access information from any device, in any location. This creates consistency and allows various users to access the same information, even if they’re not together.

On the consumer-facing side, this allows customers to access the services they want and need, whenever they want and need to. This easy access is key today, and customers are expecting it.

Speed Up Time-to-Market

The agility that cloud computing provides allows financial institutions to speed up their time to market. They are able to better adjust products and services to changing market environments and innovate and prototype much faster.

This makes it easier and more efficient than ever to introduce new services that customers are demanding. They want mobility, they want ease, and they want increased knowledge. The cloud helps financial service organizations provide these things, helping take them to the next level and achieve things that weren’t previously possible.