In the event we don’t have an exact category for a blog post, you’ll find it here! If you have suggestions, be sure to let us know.

Ring in the New Year with BCS

2017 flew by, and we are just a few days away from starting the new year. You’ve probably reviewed the past year and created budget and IT goals for 2018, and it’s time to put your plans to action! Getting started now on making these goals happen will help you have a year that runs smoothly and efficiently.

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How Remote Employees Are Beneficial

We often review the ways in which cloud-based systems, phone conferencing and video conferencing can help you stay connected with remote employees. Most companies offer a few positions that can be done remotely, and many potential hires are looking specifically for remote jobs. However, some may still avoid hiring remote workers out of fear of unproductivity.

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When to Use Video Conferencing

With all of the phone and video conferencing systems available today, staying connected with clients and employees has become easier than ever. During office meetings, you can have remote employees call in to stay updated even when they are away. For clients in different cities or states, these systems make it convenient to stay in touch when in-person meetings can’t happen.

But how do you determine when to use video conferencing vs phone conferencing? Here are a few factors that can help you decide when to use video conferencing:

Duration: How long will the conference be? If you just need to give/receive updates or have a quick chat about an upcoming event, a phone call is the way to go. Video conferencing can take more organization on both sides to make sure systems are ready to go, and it may not be needed for a shorter conversation.

Topic: What is the topic of the meeting? If you’re discussing something that requires visuals like charts, graphs and photos, video conferencing is a great tool. It allows you to display the item and avoid confusion about where to direct attention. You’ll also be able to point out specific pieces of the visual better, too.

Audience: Who is on the other line of the conversation? If it is a client who has an office close by, skip the video conferencing and meet in person. If it is a remote employee who you speak with frequently, a phone call may be more appropriate. However, if it is a client who is farther away, or a potential client in a different area, a video conference can show that you are focused and engaged in the meeting and give a face to the company’s name.

If you are ready to improve employee and client interactions with video or phone conferencing systems, contact BCS Voice & Data today at (757) 497-3100 to find out which options are best for you. Ask about a free demo of the Starleaf Breeze video conferencing system.

Does Your School Need A New Phone System?

August and September may be busy months for students, but they are even busier for teachers and school employees. August prompts last-minute phone calls about registration, class schedules, and individual student needs. September brings calls about school supplies, schedule changes, books, and parent nights. If your school, daycare center or private academy has an older phone system, the influx of calls at the start of the school year can be tough to manage. Calls can be disconnected, transferred to the wrong person, or never picked up at all. Avoid frustrated employees and upset parents by updating your phone system before school starts!

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Windows Server 2003 Support is Ending

Microsoft is shuttering its Windows Server 2003 support on July 14, 2015. This gives business owners, entrepreneurs, and IT professionals just a few months to replace their systems and migrate to new platforms.

And trust us, you will want to migrate. The end of support from Microsoft means that the 2003 version of Windows Server will not receive any more security updates, will not receive patches for any remaining software bugs, and may not interact well with other (newer) products that companies may integrate with. The software will become a cancer of security risk and outdated technology that will limit the potential growth of your computer systems.

Many business will ultimately have to upgrade, and there are several “next steps” in the migration process that BCS can assist with:

  • The first step is to discover how much of your infrastructure relies on Microsoft Server 2003. This includes applications, workloads, documents, and more. A business that heavily relies on the antiquated service will need to invest more time and more money in their upgrade process, but that business may also stand the most to gain in a well-facilitated upgrade with new opportunity and competitive advantage.
  • In the upgrade process you are likely to find that more than just Microsoft Server 2003 is out of date. Prioritizing all of your applications and workloads that rely on the service will give you a larger picture of your network strengths and vulnerabilities.
  • After researching and prioritizing your current situation and pitfalls (or lack thereof) its time to determine the best migration path for you. This may include transferring to cloud computing and off-site data-centers. Virtualization using the Windows Cloud OS network or Microsoft Azure could be the next big step for your business, but any transition you make will require research and planning.
  • The final step is to build a detailed migration plan that meets the requirements that you have set forth in the steps above. They will give you a detailed list of what you need and help define where your business fits in the growing digital landscape.

The change can be daunting but it also allows for new opportunity and a time to upgrade. BCS can help facilitate the transition to new platforms and ensure that your business reacts in a way that fits your budget and your needs.

Structured Cabling for the Smart Office

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You’ve likely seen news stories about the “smart home” of the future.  You may even have a smart home feature like the Nest thermostat installed already. But what about your office? Established office and retail spaces should have the structured cabling in place to take advantage of many of the new automation technologies coming to market. Sometimes retrofitting of the existing cabling is needed to take full advantage of the new systems.

While WiFi is great for many applications, when it comes to high quality AV applications, hard wiring is still superior.  In areas where you have projectors or monitors meant for display it’s important to have both Cat5 and coax cable run.  Likewise, alarm systems for security, smoke, and carbon monoxide are best hardwired with a cellular backup feature. There are numerous options for automating functions like lighting and surveillance cameras that involve a combination of structured cabling and wireless technologies.  

You may also want to rewire if you have suspicions of unsafe wiring. You should have your wiring inspected at least once every five years to ensure that your equipment stays in good working order. If at any time you notice any scorch marks on plugs or sockets, hear the sound of arcing (buzzing or cracking), or anything unusual you should have your wiring inspected or repaired immediately.

If you’re interested in wiring or rewiring your business to handle all your security and automation needs, call BCS at (757) 497-3100 to talk to one of our structured cabling specialists.

 

Mobile Business Solutions

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Not all business is done in the office. For companies with sales people, trainers, or repair personnel, on-the-road mobile phone connectivity is vital.  For companies that need mobile connectivity, Mitel Mobile Solutions offers many advantages over regular consumer cell phone plans.  Regular consumer cell phone plans have caps on data, charge extra for the use of a mobile hotspot, and mean yet another separate bill to deal with.

Mitel Mobile can support businesses of all sizes and any industry.  They offer the latest and most popular Android and Blackberry phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy models, as well as USB and wireless mobile hotspot–all for a price much smaller than other major cell phone carriers.  Plus! Mitel offers unlimited talk, text, data and hotspot use on all plans with no overage charges or data throttling.

If you’re looking for mobile phones to unify your office and wireless communications, we have the devices and rate plans that will work for your business.  For more information on how BCS can help your business communicate, call us at 757-497-3100.

BCS is a proud Mitel Exclusive Business Partner.

What is VoIP?

VoIP is short for Voice over Internet Protocol

There are quite a few benefits to using VoIP, but is it right for your business? Well, let’s take a look at some of the features:

  • Calls use Internet connection, not a phone line. This saves you money by avoiding long distance charges and by eliminating the need for an expensive landline.
  • VoIP is easy to use. Using VoIP is intuitive and some have video conferencing built right into the device.
  • Employees keep the same extension when working remotely. This increases productivity and makes it easier for clients to contact the employee working out of the office.

Is VoIP right for you?

There are several user-related factors to consider when deciding to purchase a business telephone system. For 30 years, the people at BCS Voice & Data have been the trusted experts in business telephone solutions. We would love to discuss your options.

 

Calling us is the easiest and fastest way to get the answers you need to decide on a phone system. We’ll provide you with a written estimate so you can compare and share what you find.

 

Give us a call.

 

—The Staff at BCS Voice and Data… 757-497-3100

Is VMware Right for My Business?

VMware is a great tool for leveraging your IT infrastructure, allowing your your comptuers to run multiple operating systems and applications, without the expense of adding additional machines or servers.  You can consolidate servers, improve automation and implement disaster recovery solutions.

If you use leading business software operating on your servers, such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, SAP, Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint and more, VMware can create a more seamless and accessible system, using virtualization to access multiple systems.  Typical clients implementing VMware experience 80 percent greater utilization of server resources, up to 50 percent savings in capital and operating costs and a significant benefit in server consolidation.

In addition to server virtualization, we can help with network virtualization — letting you run applications on a virtual network, rather than a physical one.  This is particularly beneficial to growing businesses that need a highly scalable network and fast provisioning, troubleshooting, cloning and monitoring.

There’s no simple answer to the question is “VMware right for your business?”, however, the experts at BCS Voice & Data Solutions use a collaborative approach to identify business needs, future potential needs, and help you and your team identify options that are right for you situation.  Contact us today for a no-obligation conversation.

 

Business Technology FAQ: What equipment does a VoIP business phone system require?

As a trusted hosted telephone solution provider in Hampton Roads, BCS is well-equipped to answer any question you may have about VoIP, Unified Communications, and more, because we’ve just about heard them all.

We get this one a lot from clients: “I understand that VoIP provides lower ongoing costs, but what equipment do I need to make it worth my while? How much do other system components drive up costs?” 

 

Here’s our answer:

First off, there are two approaches to VoIP — a premise-based system that doesn’t use an internet connection, and a hosted or cloud-based solution that does use the internet.  In either case you can use an IP-based business phone system.

 

Internet Connection and a Hosted or Cloud Solution

For hosted or cloud-based phone systems, a fast and reliable internet connection is its main requirement.  However, you don’t need to have a fast internet connection to take advantage of VoIP benefits within your office.  If you’re not sure if your network can support a hosted phone system, give BCS a call and we can perform a network analysis and help you select the best system for your current, and future, situation.

VoIP Business Phone System

If the situation calls for it, a business may not even need a phone system, since VoIP calls can be made from a desktop, laptop or mobile phone as part of a Unified Communications solution.

Newer systems are quite affordable, adaptable, and many are even more feature-rich than the leading analog-based business phones.  IP phone systems like the kinds Mitel offers through BCS grows with your business without the fuss of complicated installation and hardware rewiring.

 

Most of the costs incurred by switching to a VoIP business phone system pay for themselves over time, whether they are cloud-based or premise-based. With minimal ongoing maintenance charges, lower (or nonexistent) local and long-distance rates, and the flexibility of modern business phone systems, you’d be surprised how much you can save by upgrading.

Are you interested in discovering the VoIP phone solutions that are right for your business? Call or contact BCS today to learn more.