National Preparedness Month is over- are you ready for disaster?

Icy weather

National Preparedness Month is over- are you ready for disaster?

The National Centers for Environmental Information reported that as of July 2016, there have been eight weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. Every September, known as National Preparedness Month, we are reminded of the toll natural disasters like hurricanes and wild fires take on businesses. However, business leaders know that in reality, smaller man-made disasters, such as spilled coffee, have an even greater chance of impacting our daily lives and operations.

We are now in the beginning of October so consider the following three tips to provide continuity  for your organization’s communications from all business disasters and disruptions.

Back up Business Data
Eliminate costly downtime and risks of on-site failures by securing all critical communications and information exclusively in the cloud. The ability to access information is vital to make day-to-day business decisions and to keep critical communications with customers and clients intact, especially in the case of any disasters. We can help make sure all pertinent data from desktops, laptops and servers are backed up in the cloud to make a business more accessible and flexible to both customers and employees.  Make sure that your provider encrypts calls and keeps data secure in the cloud so that nothing is vulnerable on-site.  If primary data is lost, corrupted or inaccessible, a backup copy of the data stored safely in the cloud, provide recovery tools and allow quick restoration of files on demand easily – no matter the location.

Off Site, Not Out of Touch
By outsourcing the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components, in the case of an event where power dies or flooding shorts out the server, the device will be elsewhere.  Before moving your infrastructure to the cloud, consider reliability. Our service provides a service level agreement (SLA), a written guarantee that details its reliability and guarantees 99.99 percent uptime. Scalability is equally important so make sure you can turn up and turn down servers on demand. All of our hosted products allow you to make changes using an online portal,  a web-based customer portal that allows you to get new resources up and running on a moment’s notice, regardless of location and without any capital investment or additional IT resources. The last thing you need to worry about during a recovery is how to fund your next server, upgrade an existing server on the fly or allocate more resources (RAM, CPUs, storage or bandwidth) to meet unanticipated demand.

Reassess Your Phones
Keeping phone calls flowing with customers and employees is a key factor in helping your business recover after a disruption. With hosted voice solutions the phones are in your office, but the intelligence of the service is secure in the cloud so that no matter where you are, you can use the system to help your business survive any disaster. Hosted voice offers unique applications and features, like softphones and mobile twinning that are cost-effective ways to enable mobility and disaster avoidance across your organization. The softphone is completely integrated, offering your employees professionals full office phone functionality and seamless communication, making and receiving calls through any internet-connected PC, from any location using the same extension and accessing the same features, such as call forwarding, extension-to-extension dialing and voicemail. Mobile twinning allows you to send calls to your cell and desk phone simultaneously for complete coverage, allowing inbound calls to be sent to your cell and desk phone at the same time so you don’t have to be in the office to take calls. The ability to turn any device into your office phone means that you can switch from device to device. Start a conversation on your desk phone in the office and seamlessly continue it on your mobile device should you need to leave the office.

National Preparedness Month is a great time to start placing business continuity at the forefront of business planning. However, consider prioritizing preparedness year-round so that you may never need to recover from disasters – natural or man-made – because you can avoid them altogether. By choosing to equip your business with any one of our hosted voice cloud phone services, no matter what issues affect your organization, the system will remain safe and employees can easily continue “business as usual” anytime, from any location.

Presence management

7 Ways Small Businesses Benefit from UC Solutions

Happy Small Business Week! National Small Business Week has been celebrated every year since 1963 and recognizes the key contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they generate about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. Since many of our customers are small businesses, we see first-hand how hard they work and the impact they have on America’s economy.

Regardless of the size of your business, communications is the most essential component. In the past, having the latest communication technology in place was a costly challenge for small businesses to maintain. Fortunately, this has all changed with cloud technology and the developments of cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) solutions. With many of the most advanced features built-into UC systems and the top providers including maintenance and free upgrades, remaining professional and connected to customers and colleagues has never been easier or more affordable for even the smallest of businesses.

Here are 7 ways that small businesses can benefit from UC solutions in a big way.

Auto Attendants
Auto Attendants are one of the greatest built-in benefits of cloud-based phone systems. They ensure that all incoming calls are answered and directed to the appropriate place, no matter who is physically available. For small businesses, this is a huge advantage. You get the ability to pre-record the greeting you’d like customers to hear, ensuring you project a professional image with every single call. Plus, you save significantly by not having to designate employees to answer calls or worse, answer them all yourself. Since the most common reasons for calls are for hours of operation and directions, using an Auto Attendant for this purpose alone will reduce the number of routine calls that need to be answered by 25%, allowing you to focus on your business and better serve your in-person customers.

On-hold Greetings
The best cloud-based phone systems include on-hold greetings and music options. This feature can really make a difference in how your company is portrayed. While customers are on-hold, you can take advantage of this time with pre-recorded messages to promote and advertise specials, your website and upcoming events to boost sales or attendance, all for free. Free direct advertising opportunities like this are few and far between and definitely a great benefit for businesses with limited advertising budgets. Additionally, small businesses instantly sounds larger and more legitimate having professionally recorded messages or music entertaining callers while they are waiting on hold.

800 Numbers
Another great feature that helps to project a larger company image are 1-800 numbers. They can be used in a variety of ways, such as designating a phone number for advertising campaigns to track results, to direct calls to a specific employee, or to just project a larger company image in a specific location. They are a great way to centralize calls for little to no cost and a huge advantage to provide customers who would otherwise be calling long distance.

Online Fax
Faxing may seem obsolete, but it’s still very much alive in business. With online fax, you can fax digitally and eliminate the need for a traditional fax machine and the high costs associated with it, like phone lines, paper, maintenance and ink. Faxing with UC systems is basically free and so are you. Free to fax to and from any device, from anywhere. Transactions become instantaneous, secure and hassle-free from wherever you need them to be.

Video Conferencing
Face-to-face meetings are critically important, but can be costly if your business serves clients located in other parts of the country or the world. Delivering personalized service and collaborating on deliverables can be both affordable and simple with the right video, audio and web conferencing software. These solutions allow you to share documents, give presentations and meet and connect with clients or team members from any device, anywhere, for a fraction of the cost of travel.

No IT Required
A big draw for UC systems are their ease of use. These systems are designed with the user in mind and provide access to every service, feature and setting, so you can easily and independently manage your own communications without the need of costly outside support. Systems that are even more advanced, go beyond just admin privileges and enable you to grant access to your employees so they can manage the features you need them to, which saves you even more time and money.

Online Management
With cloud-based systems, everything is well, in the cloud. This is incredibly helpful for a business of any size, but especially a small business because everything can be managed and accessed remotely at anytime through a secure online portal. Many small businesses have limited staff available so for basic changes like recording a greeting or checking the company voicemail, owners would previously have to physically go to their place of business. Everything with cloud UC systems becomes mobilized and flexible, giving you the ability to forward calls, fax, listen to voicemail, change greetings about hours and much more, from any device, anywhere.

Small businesses work with limited resources. All-inclusive, cloud UC solutions offer an affordable path to the latest technology for a low monthly fee and often no capital expense. This gives businesses of any size, the opportunity to compete with even the largest of competitors, while improving their sales, operations and customer service. We expect to see an increase in UC adoption in all markets over the next few years, but small businesses can most certainly reap the benefits of having these solutions in place for their business’ communications.

Chicago Managed IT Services

Eight Reasons Why Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Need Managed IT Services

Chicago Managed IT Services

Managed IT services is rapidly becoming one of the hottest solutions in business today because it dramatically improves an organization’s profitability, frees up internal resources, and offers a unique competitive advantage.   Simply put, managed IT services are designed to assist companies in maintaining and supporting their network and IT infrastructure with the assistance of an outsourced managed services provider (MSP).  Types of services may include remote network monitoring, programming and reporting (24/7), firewall monitoring, intrusion detection, preventative tasks, disaster recovery, data backup and help desk support.  There are eight critical reasons why small to midsized businesses (SMBs) need managed IT services now and throughout the life cycle of their business.

Dependence On IT

Almost all businesses have become more dependent on computer technologies in the past few years.  And, it’s a rapidly changing environment.  Every business has become dependent on its IT infrastructure to perform at a high level, while effectively delivering its products or services.  As a result, it has become more difficult to maintain the expertise to properly deploy, manage, and monitor this new technology, especially as a business evolves.


The fact that this new technology is new makes it more difficult for the average employee to understand and use effectively.  The level of demand and sophistication from today’s businesses are driving up complexity.  Distinct disciplines or specialties are emerging in a variety of technology related areas such as telephony, desktop, network, application and database support.  The breadth and depth of technology an organization requires immediately places the resources at a small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) at a distinct disadvantage.

Insufficient Solutions

Traditional support options such as a one man IT consultant, or a one or two person in-house IT department cannot effectively handle the occasional network breakdowns that are bound to occur. This is especially true when compared to a team of external resources that  proactively monitor the SMB’s installed technology at all times.

Lack of Process

An IDC study reinforces the notion of lack of process, showing that 78% of all IT downtime is caused by change.  If you could simply eliminate change from the computing environment, you would substantially decrease the risk. Unfortunately, most SMBs lack the procedures, documentation standards, and scope of work, which often results in major disruption and downtime.

Increased Use of Technology

Increasing use of computers, new software and procedures, often leads to increased complaints and loss of productivity. Typically, when network or desktop problems arise and escalate inside a company, the response time of the one man shop or internal staff is quite slow. This dramatically increases employee complaints and lowers productivity.  In many situations employees have to wait in line to receive help.  As a result the downtime and morale will impact the organization’s bottom line as well as their ability to meet their customers’ needs.  By implementing a managed IT services program, the demand on internal IT resources are lessened, and they can now be utilized for other purposes such as directly supporting strategic business objectives rather than becoming bogged down in frequent break/fix issues.

Controlling Costs

During these challenging times, the IT budget is frequently reduced.  In a recent survey of nearly 950 IT managers at companies in North America and Europe; nearly half of the U.S. respondents said they have already cut their IT spending budgets.  Unfortunately, a cut in IT spending doesn’t mean there is a cut in demand for services.  This adds tremendous stress and pressure on internal departments to support the same amount of work with fewer resources.

Technology Erosion

Computer systems must be maintained just like any other systems used within the business. Vehicle fleets, manufacturing equipment, and the physical plant, have all moved to a preventative approach. If a company does not implement this preventative maintenance strategy for its technology components, disaster might be the unpleasant and unprofitable result.


Finally, the technology utilized within an organization in most cases must meet specific compliance standards.  For example, a company’s business processes supported by technology may need to comply with Sarbanes-Oxely, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and other requirements. Most companies don’t have the resources to fully understand and comply with all the detailed requirements of these regulations.

All of the above issues are driving the popularity of partnering with a managed IT services firm.  Companies that have made the transition already answered this question.  If deploying, managing and monitoring my IT infrastructure has absolutely nothing to do with the core competency of my business, why wouldn’t I outsource it to an expert?  This is a fairly easy question to answer and these organizations have reaped the rewards of increased profitability and a competitive advantage.

Presence management

Presence Management: The Greatest Form of Communication

Want to increase communications and productivity between employees and customers?  Then, presence management is the way to go.  This wonderful technology gives all individuals within a company the ability to know what everyone is else is doing in real-time.  Is someone in the building or even at their desk? Are they in a meeting? Are they on the phone? By having this information one can determine if and in what manner to connect with another person.  That’s essentially the purpose of presence management and it’s enhancing the way we communicate. Having this information presents one with an array of communication options that’s dramatically driving up productivity for those companies – both large and small deploying presence management.

Unified presence management is driven off of a company’s voice and data system and empowers people to control every facet of their communications.  It includes and functions off of all devices such as computers, cell phones, Voice over IP (VoIP), and personal communications services.  As soon as someone logs onto their computer a pop up window appears containing the names of fellow employees and their current activity as well as their location.  Essentially, the technology lets you see the presence status of others, send emails and voicemails, receive faxes, control all your phone calls via desktop phones or a softphone, send secure Instant Messages and voice messages, launch a collaborative web conference session – all with a single mouse click.  Users may also put notes into presence for everyone to see.  For example, a note may have the time when an employee will be back in the office from lunch or say an off-site meeting.  Another user may make everyone aware that they may be working from home that day.  Knowing everyone’s availability offers greater options to rapidly assist with everyday business issues.

The power of presence is absolutely incredible.  For instance, a customer may contact your facility with a question and the individual that answered the phone may not have the necessary information to respond appropriately.  Immediately, the employee can view presence and see who is available to assist the customer.  They may send a question via an instant message or put the caller on hold, contact their colleague to gather the information or directly transfer the call while giving the colleague a heads up.  The flexibility of presence is tremendous and one can assume that it is easily driving customer satisfaction levels through the roof.  A basic phone system cannot operate in this fashion and unfortunately those that utilize traditional telephony are missing the boat.

Included in presence are such features as find me follow me.  This unique technology gives people the ability to reach a specific individual anytime, anywhere based on the implementation of a few easy to set rules in the system.  A can call come in and the caller has the option of finding the person on their cell phone or at another predetermined location.  The user may also have all calls set to directly transfer to the cell as well.  Another relatively new feature is twinning – a setting that rings both the desk and mobile phone simultaneously.  Reaching the person you want to, has never been this easy.

Time is more important than ever in today’s business environment.  Presence management saves an incredible amount of time because of the technology’s innate ability to drive efficiency and productivity.  Every business owner realizes the positive impact that even a minimal amount of improvement in this area can have on an organization’s bottom line, not to mention the empowerment an employee has to make better-informed communication decisions that in the end drives satisfaction in the workplace.  Presence management is a true win for everybody!

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.


Communications solutions Chicago

What Is the Best Communications Solution for My Business?

There are so many alternatives out right now for companies and organizations that are looking for a communications solution. There are many factors that need to be considered in making the decision. Sometimes you come across an article that you just have to share. This is a case where I came across an article that encapsulates almost all of the necessary elements of that decision and is a very well organized presentation. As always, we are here to listen and to help you make sense of all of the information presented. Please feel free to call us and we will gladly explain what you may be confused about or would like additional information on. For over 20 years, we have helped businesses and organizations throughout Chicago make sense of the two, three and four letter acronyms that make up crucial components of your communications solution.


Click on the phone to Call Us!

Sandra Palumbo, research fellow, reports into Yankee Group’s Research Council. Her research focuses on cloud computing, enterprise mobility and service provider strategies, with particular emphasis on software as a service (SaaS), mobile applications, Web portals, managed services, professional services and wholesale.

Picking the Right Communications Solution for Your Business Is Critical in This Fast-Paced World

Businesses large and small continue to evolve their communications infrastructure in an attempt to garner the greatest benefits from the latest technologies. Today, the technology options available to businesses of all sizes are greater than ever before. Instead of just choosing between a managed service and a traditional on-premises deployment of a communications solution, we now have cloud delivery as an option. The move to communications and collaboration applications is not just thought of in terms of office worker use, but mobile worker use as well. Security, reliability, performance and flexibility are solution criteria that are now more important than ever before in a highly competitive, rapidly evolving world.

History shows that while many companies struggle with choosing the best communications solution for their business, other companies enamored with the promise of the latest technologies move quickly to adopt them without considering how those new solutions fit into their existing infrastructure and if they will truly benefit the business and its employees.

Enterprises are rapidly extending beyond their physical borders and to be successful, businesses must be able to communicate and collaborate with their employees, partners and customers, no matter where they are located. Implementing technology solutions that are easy to adopt and can scale to meet the needs of the business today and tomorrow is a real challenge for any IT department looking to stay competitive in today’s marketplace (see image 1).

image 1This report examines the evolution of communications services and their associated underlying technologies. Specifically, we analyze the architectural and feature evolution of managed/hosted telephony, VoIP, IP trunking and unified communications (UC). Additionally, we present key decision criteria for selecting the right IP telephony solution for a particular business.

The Evolution of Managed and Hosted Telephony

In today’s complicated technology world, the terms “managed telephony” or “hosted telephony” can often refer to a variety of solutions. Yankee Group defines VoIP/IP telephony as the use of business-class voice and multimedia applications provided through IP telephony systems, handsets and software. When the terms “managed” or “hosted” are added to “VoIP,” “telephony” or “IP PBX,” we are referring to businesses using a third-party service provider to manage and maintain at least some aspect of the voice service. Typically, this includes the monitoring and management of any hardware and software required to make the voice solution work. Managed solutions typically involve some on-premises equipment and hence remote management and monitoring, while hosted services are typically more cloud-based or hosted at the service provider’s location.

As enterprises come to terms with the business challenges that prevent them from reaping the benefits of IP telephony and UC solutions, it becomes time for these businesses to understand what solutions exist for overcoming these challenges and leveraging today’s IP networks. Because the underlying network is based on IP, IP telephony solutions can be located anywhere within the network reach, including the telecommunications provider’s cloud or hosting/data center. This allows for the possibility of a business offloading some of the day-to-day management and maintenance work to a service provider. A managed or hosted model is typically a most intriguing option for small and midsize enterprises because they don’t have the same staff expertise or balance sheet flexibility as larger enterprises.

From an economic or cost standpoint, a managed/hosted service is typically less front-end loaded with capital expenditures for equipment. Instead, a monthly service fee is billed over the typical three-year course of a contract. A managed/hosted service also offers savings in terms of time and productivity for IT staff, since most of the day-to-day management and maintenance work is handled by the service provider, meaning internal IT staff can focus on more strategic IT priorities and projects. This lets businesses with small in-house IT staffs do much more with the resources they have.

Many businesses that turn to managed/hosted IP telephony services already have some history with outsourcing and view it as a strategic business priority. With the emergence and adoption of cloud-based services, companies that are newer to outsourced services may find this the perfect time to consider a managed or hosted solution. As more applications are pushed to the cloud, a managed service can be a great first step and foundation for future communications and collaboration application adoption that doesn’t require a lot of heavy lifting from the internal IT staff every time something new is deployed.

Yankee Group’s Anywhere Enterprise: 2010 US Unified Communications (UC) FastView Survey proves that for enterprises, speed and savings are the primary drivers for the move to managed and hosted IP telephony and UC solutions (see Exhibit 2). Enterprises are looking to save on IT maintenance, integration between multiple providers and infrastructure costs. These drivers tie nicely into the value proposition behind all managed and cloud-based or hosted services. Businesses also can benefit from the hosting/managed service provider’s road map for the evolution of available services and applications. It often is easier to undertake technology improvements and refreshes when using a managed service because those arrangements can be worked into the agreement upfront, without having to renegotiate or wait for a contract period to end.

image 2Concerns around a perceived lack of cost savings require some upfront conversations between businesses and their potential providers. Providers and businesses need to work together to identify the best IP telephony solution for a given business, whether it’s fully managed, a cloud-based hosted solution, a more traditional on-premises deployment or a hybrid. Every business will have different needs and goals, and service providers need to partner with businesses in putting together the right solution. Even when cost isn’t the concern but something such as reliability or performance is, VoIP’s benefits are no different in a managed arrangement as in a traditional one and need to be addressed as part of the initial solution plan and architecture.

If cost savings are an overall driver, the business must work with its provider to build a detailed cost assessment of VoIP and UC solutions, bearing in mind the business’ current and future communications environment. This ensures there will be no surprises when the bill arrives each month. Managed/hosted solutions can provide some savings over traditional deployments, but savings aren’t guaranteed until the enterprise architecture is really analyzed and evaluated. In a later section of this report we provide some detailed guidance for areas of consideration in selecting your service provider and solution.

The Benefits of Consolidated Trunking

Despite its benefits, managed and hosted telephony solutions may not be the answer for every business. For companies that choose to keep the IP PBX on their own premises, an architectural change that can have immediate cost savings is to move to consolidated IP trunks. Typically, VoIP is deployed on a node-by-node basis, with each location having its own call control and voice infrastructure. This means each location has its own trunks for calls out to the PSTN. In some cases, multiple trunks may be required for redundancy purposes. This architecture can result in a very high cost together with very low trunk utilization.

An alternative architecture choice is to centralize call control either in a central data center or corporate headquarters and then leverage the corporate WAN to distribute call control. This provides companies with the ability to consolidate trunking services to fewer locations. It also gives organizations the option of using higher bandwidth trunks that can carry more calls, which translates to fewer lines to terminate.

By adopting an IP trunking architecture, businesses can capitalize on the many core strengths of IP solutions, particularly when compared to traditional PSTN voice solutions. In addition to consolidation, these improvements and benefits include:

  • Better network reliability than traditional PSTN solutions. The idea that VoIP is any less reliable than traditional voice is one of the biggest myths holding back greater adoption. IP is a resilient protocol and reliability can be built into the design. For example, instead of having separate voice and data networks, a company could choose to deploy two data networks that act as a backup for one another. This would cost no more than the traditional model but could protect against any network outage. It would also provide better disaster recovery capabilities than running separate networks.
  • Lower intra-enterprise calling costs. All on-net calls (that is, calls within a corporation) are kept on the corporate data network, meaning the cost of these calls can be eliminated altogether or at least greatly reduced, depending on architecture. Cost savings will vary by organization type. A large, distributed multinational company will save orders of magnitude more than a large company located in a single building.
  • Faster deployment of UC applications. Particularly when a centralized architecture is adopted, new UC applications can be deployed in the central location and then distributed to all users over the company network. This can improve the time to market of new applications by orders of magnitude compared with the node-by-node deployment of traditional communications applications.

In these tough economic times, businesses are trying to improve profitability and reduce costs, and they are forced to look for ways to save when it comes to their communications expenses. Additionally, companies with smaller IT organizations must look for new, less staff-intensive ways of solving problems. The right IP telephony solution helps companies achieve the following benefits:

  • Reduced overall communications costs
  • More efficient use of network assets
  • Optimized trunking to match a company’s calling patterns
  • Accelerated deployment of current and future UC applications through the simplification of network design
  • Higher reliability and better disaster recovery capabilities than traditional TDM-based systems

VoIP is the direction every business is moving in and will eventually adopt. The key for businesses today is to find the right solution and the right service provider partner to deliver that solution to their business. And while the decision to move to VoIP may be an easy and straightforward one, choosing the best solution and solution provider can be a bit more complicated.

Finding the Right VoIP Solution

Businesses that do their homework in preparation for the adoption of a VoIP solution will find the decision an easy one. These businesses will also discover that VoIP and UC will benefit their business in many more ways than just cost savings. They bring tremendous productivity and collaboration improvements as well. IP trunking is the most cost-effective method of creating a scalable IP telephony and ultimately UC deployment, and it has benefits beyond those of PSTN trunking. The key to true success, however, is finding the best service provider for your company. What are the key considerations when making the decision?

For every business and situation, the answer varies, but Exhibit 3 offers a guide to better understand the areas for consideration and evaluation in selecting the right solution. We break the table up into two key components—voice and data—because a VoIP solution requires that companies not only have a handle on their voice costs but also their data costs, since the move to VoIP is a move toward convergence. When evaluating new solutions, companies must also understand their current costs (recurring, capital and operating) and be able to compare that to the expected new costs of the various solutions. With the various telephony solutions, it isn’t easy to do an apples-to-apples comparison, but it is possible to know exactly what a company’s investment and costs are with each solution to help make the best decision for how each particular business likes to operate.

image 3Except in some very specific cases, the cost of a solution is not the sole driving factor, especially when dealing with more complex solutions and services. Once a business has a handle on the costs and infrastructure pieces of the decision as outlined in Exhibit 3, IT decision-makers must consider the qualities of the actual solution provider. Features to consider include:

  • The quality and coverage of the trunking service
  • The quality and coverage of the underlying network
  • Experience in the market and availability of reference accounts
  • Interoperability with the major UC vendors
  • Deep expertise in trunking solutions and IP communications solutions
  • Commercial availability of IP telephony services
  • Managed and professional services experience and offerings

VoIP and IP trunking solutions are never going to be one size fits all. Businesses must find the solution that is right for their particular circumstances. Does the business prefer managed/ hosted solutions to premises-based? What are the growth plans? How easy is it to add, remove or change services? What is the state of the current telephony solution? These are just some of the many questions businesses will need to consider, and finding a service provider willing and able to have these discussions and offer business options and flexibility is always a great place to start.

Working with the right service provider partner to deploy a VoIP architecture that leverages IP trunking not only has an impact on costs, but also provides businesses with a road map to other communications and collaboration solutions, such as those found within the UC suite of applications. The right VoIP and UC solution, coupled with the best partner for the business, can lead to a path of change and growth beyond what many traditional communications solutions can enable.

Understanding the Implementation of UC

Communications, collaboration and worker productivity are key components to a business’ competitive advantage. Workers are being challenged to reach more people in shorter periods of time with the right information at hand. To meet these communications demands, many companies are turning to UC, especially as a means to enhance the functionality and use of their IP telephony infrastructure.

UC, in short, brings all a company’s communications and collaborative tools together into one solution. It is the convergence of voice, video, Web and desktop communications built on an IP network and allowing businesses and employees to overcome time, distance and media barriers. UC ultimately enables employees to communicate with each other virtually anywhere, any time and over any device. UC improves the manageability and effectiveness of the ecosystem and makes the enterprise more responsive and agile.

UC consists of the following tools:

  • IP telephony/VoIP: VoIP enables companies to use the corporate data network for phone calls rather than having a dedicated network just for telephone service. Historically, VoIP was considered by many organizations as the foundation of UC. However, during the past year, presence and desktop integration have been elevated to being critical to the success of UC.
  • Presence: The ability for users to understand one another’s availability and willingness to communicate over a variety of devices is critical in today’s quick-moving business environment. While instant messaging (IM) applications are common today, presence is also being used to understand a user’s status on phones, wireless devices, video conferencing and other collaborative tools. Additionally, presence can be extended to objects such as alarm systems, medical devices and even documents.
  • Mobile client: Enterprise mobility is rapidly becoming a key driver for UC. A mobile client mobilizes a UC platform and puts the desktop in the hands of mobile users, which make up 40 percent of the work force. The holy grail of mobility is when a worker can seamlessly access UC applications anytime, on any device.
  • Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC): FMC enables a worker to seamlessly move calls between desktop and mobile phones for voice call continuity. As the mobile workforce grows, the ability to provide mobile integration becomes a key decision point for organizations evaluating UC solutions.
  • IP network: An IP network is required to deliver information and communications to users. IP is the only protocol that is scalable and simple enough to make the vision of UC a reality; it will be the common network for the deployment of all communications systems. Although IP is a dynamic, scalable technology, it does require ongoing optimization. Management of a network life cycle is critical now as more applications are running on the network.
  • Integrated multimedia conferencing: Conferencing applications have existed for a number of years, but only recently have they become integrated into UC. Yankee Group considers the following services multimedia conferencing:
    • Video conferencing: Long a nice-to-have, video is now one of the main applications driving UC deployments. Quality and ease of use have improved dramatically, allowing more users to take advantage of video communications.
    • Web conferencing: This form of conferencing has become popular within the last five years, due largely in part to ease of use and accessibility. Audio and Web conferencing are now the most widely adopted forms of converged conferencing.
    • Audio conferencing: The most mature form of conferencing, audio conferencing through the use of bridge lines is still the most widely adopted form of conferencing. However, as this space evolves, we will see audio become more integrated into other forms of conferencing systems and UC solutions. Yankee Group has seen companies recoup their investment in UC in as little as six months by shedding expensive bridge line services.

Yankee Group believes a strong UC strategy begins with a solid foundation built on a well-planned VoIP environment and leveraging the concept of presence. Exhibit 4 depicts the key components of a full UC and collaboration solution.

image4UC is valuable on many levels. It is one of the few technologies that can fulfill on the promise of any IT project. Specifically, UC can:

  • Lower TCO
  • Increase worker productivity
  • Create new efficient business processes
  • Improve customer satisfaction

Over time, the focus of the value proposition has changed. A few years ago, the primary driver for VoIP and UC revolved around cost savings alone. Though cost savings still remains a key part of the UC decision, especially in tough economic conditions, the real potential is as a foundation for fundamentally changing the business and building long-term competitive advantage. Yankee Group believes we are finally approaching the time when UC solutions will be rapidly adopted by businesses of all sizes as collaboration and communications is poised to take businesses to the next level.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Deploying VoIP and ultimately UC is a key component to transforming into an Anywhere Enterprise®. The business benefits that can be achieved from the flexibility, scalability and functionality of a full IP environment can take business and employee productivity to the next level of success. If deployed strategically, it can also help companies redefine business processes around communications and leapfrog their competition. However, any new technology deployment needs to be a well-planned, strategic initiative with full buy-in at all levels of the organization and the right service provider selection.

Businesses must adopt VoIP and ultimately UC with a view to where their business will be in the future—what technologies and applications are on their road map. Taking into account business expansion, the number of remote and mobile workers, business plans around the customer experience and other possible initiatives all need to be factored into any IP telephony decision. Unlike other technologies, the voice and communications solution chosen by a business today will likely be one that is around for a while. With that in mind, Yankee Group recommends businesses:

  • Ensure full support from management executives to run the show. The deployment of VoIP solutions, hosted or on-premises, is not a one-time project. Long-term service commitment and collaboration from the management team is instrumental in achieving a seamless service migration without sacrificing the expected quality of service.
  • Choose a solution provider that has a robust IP network as a foundation to the service. For a managed service to provide the necessary levels of reliability and scalability, the data infrastructure needs to be rock solid. An all-IP network will provide high-quality services, newer services faster and a level of reliability that is better than a service built off a hybrid of IP and circuit switching.
  • Assess your readiness. UC can be too complex to be deployed across the entire organization in one sweep, especially in larger companies. Find a department or group of workers that would benefit most from UC. A younger group of workers or a highly mobile group is ideal. This will help you establish a strategy for deployment and start a grassroots adoption campaign as UC is slowly rolled out to a wider portion of the company.
  • Evaluate service providers on decision criteria that are relevant to this era of communications. Too often, companies make decisions based on vendor incumbency or simply choose the lowest cost provider. UC is ushering in a new era of communications and decision-makers need to evaluate solution providers based on criteria that will enable this transformation. Specifically, organizations should look for the following: Dedicated account managers and project managers to help with the transition, financial stability to ensure investments in UC will continue, full 911 compliance, a one-stop shop for all a company’s communications needs and an aggressive road map of future UC services.
  • Do your homework prior to any service-level agreement (SLA)/quality-of-service negotiation. Be ready to compare and analyze SLAs among multiple service providers. Assess your major business-impacting breaches to determine optimal uptime and negotiate business-driven SLAs. Be aware of contract lock-in by setting up baseline service requirements and expectations.


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.


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.


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.

Cloud for Human Resources

Cloud and Human Resources


Cloud computing is penetrating every corner of business, and this includes human resources. Human resources professionals can benefit greatly from effective communication, instant access to information and applications, and cloud-based systems. HR is often thought of as a pretty administrative job. With the implementation of cloud tools and resources, HR professionals can remove this administrative stress and instead turn their attention to the employees and the business. Here are some benefits of cloud computing for human resources:

Cloud Software for HR

There is a lot of HR cloud software available, and the best ones combine the many functions of HR into one central place. This software can help get a lot of tasks done, including tracking applications, searching resumes, generating reports, calculating payroll, tracking performance appraisals and maintaining data on current employees. This streamlines many HR processes, helping to boost productivity and communication. And the end environment remains familiar. Users might not even realize they’re working in the cloud.

Businesses and customers also get quick access to the software they need, as it can be installed company-wide in hours, rather than days. They will also receive access to the latest software updates automatically, which is a perk of a cloud software subscription.

Efficient Recruiting

Recruiting is a huge part of human resources, and today the pool of talent is increasingly competitive and complex. HR cloud solutions make it easier to create job postings and expand their reach to multiple platforms, while collecting candidate information. HR and talent acquisition professionals have to be able to grow their reach without needing to greatly expand resources. Luckily, cloud software can track, measure and report from various online databases that hold candidate information, helping HR professionals access more talent. And once they’ve accessed talent, big data can compare various candidates and provide both relevant and targeted results to HR professionals. This means that positions can be filled faster, reducing time between hires and costs of hiring.

A Mobile Workforce

You’ve probably heard it before, but we’ll say it again: cloud computing offers professionals the ability to access their data and applications on-demand via the Internet. This means they can work from any device, in any location, at any time. Yeah, that’s pretty hard to beat. This allows businesses to grow a mobile workforce. HR professionals can access their programs and data on the go. So if they’re off on a recruiting trip, these employees can still take advantage of cloud software and maintain communication with the folks back at the office.

An Affordable Solution

Cost concerns are always prevalent when considering new technology. Fortunately, cloud computing makes HR solutions affordable for any size business. The costs that often come with server space, extra in-house IT personnel, expensive software and licenses, and maintenance are eliminated. A provider like RapidScale comes in and manages the solutions, simply offering the business access to these resources.

Sophisticated Security

Like cost, security will always be top of mind when looking at new technology. Cloud security has greatly matured in recent years and HR professionals, who often work with sensitive information, get access to sophisticated security systems through their provider. Cloud provider’s depend on their reliability and reputation, so they go great lengths to ensure client information remains secure. This includes measures like in-flight and at-rest encryption, geographically diverse data centers, strong firewalls, 24×7 monitoring and support, strict SLAs, intense physical security and more.