Voice Over Internet Protocol is the Cloud Phone Solution Many Businesses Turn to for Scalability and Affordability

Streamline Cloud Communications and Lower TCO with MiCloud

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Mitel helps service providers streamline cloud communications and lower TCO with MiCloud

New features expand on Mitel’s ‘speed-to-market’ advantages.

Mitel has added new features to its MiCloud portfolio aimed at helping service providers quickly deliver cloud communications to their customers. Additionally, the latest release of the MiCloud solution contains a number of enhancements to help service providers lower total cost of ownership (TCO) even further.

This coincides with news from Synergy Research Group that Mitel is the global market share leader for cloud business communications based on subscribers and seats, with nearly 20% worldwide.

“Customer interest in our Mitel-powered cloud communications solution has been growing as customers seek flexible, affordable communications solutions that fit their unique business needs. MiCloud’s new features further strengthen our offering increasing our scale up into large enterprises while adding even more mobility for our SMB customers,” said Bertrand Laurioz, Telecom BU Director, Hub One.

A comprehensive cloud communications solution, MiCloud powers Mitel’s own cloud services as well as providing the platform for a growing number of service providers. MiCloud enables service providers to customize solutions to reach their target audience, from small-to-medium size businesses up to large enterprises. New features enhance mobility, increase scalability for enterprise customers and further tighten integration with popular applications including Salesforce.com and Google Business Applications.

Lower TCO

With more features now included in Mitel’s licence bundles, MiCloud offers even more functionality at a lower cost. These include features aimed at supporting an increasingly mobile workforce. Additionally, Mitel has streamlined the provisioning, management and support of Mitel users to further lower the TCO.

Flexibility and speed to market

New features for MiCloud simplify provisioning of new services, helping service providers to quickly configure, upgrade or downgrade service bundles. Not only does this accelerate the on boarding of new customers, it also allows service providers to easily provide attractive new ‘try and buy’ promotional offerings.

To help service providers quickly deploy a new MiCloud solution, or to help optimize existing services, Mitel has introduced standardized and tested solution blueprints and an expanded suite of professional services.

“Mitel now offers what we believe is not only the most compelling cloud communications solution for service providers, but also the most price-competitive offering for their customers,” said Andy Bull, managing director of Mitel South Africa. “This lowers initial costs, and more importantly, the long-term total cost of ownership.”

MiCloud powers more than 33 million cloud connections per day. Solutions include applications for unified communications, audio and video collaboration, and contact centers.

For more information please visit Mitel.

Provided by Mitel.

Is a Cloud CRM Right for Your Business?

cloud storage servicesBenefits of a Cloud CRM

Cloud computing has changed many aspects of business.  Some studies indicate that cloud platforms will dominate IT spending by next year, and half of all businesses will be using cloud-based software by 2017.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is frequently the first platform businesses move to the cloud.  Like traditional CRM software, these platforms track sales interactions and identify patterns.  Using a cloud-based platform has some particular advantages.

1) Cost

Many cloud solutions mean upfront costs are significantly lower. Cloud based CRMs are usually subscription-based and paid monthly.  There’s no upfront licensing or installation fees.

2) Productivity

Cloud-based CRMs are very helpful for employee productivity, especially for sales people that are working off-site, at conferences, or from a customer’s location.  The ability to access the CRM from anywhere is exceptionally helpful when a team is spread out. Additionally, it scales easily for businesses in a major phase of growth.

3) Advanced Data and Analytics

Many CRMs offer excellent business intelligence without the need for manual uploading and backups.  Because cloud-based softwares sync in real time, executives can always have a current picture of customer data, sales, and invoices.

 

While there are many advantages to Cloud CRMs, it’s important to ask the right questions when choosing a provider.  As many companies learned during the recent Verizon cloud outage, not all clouds are the same. Before committing to a platform, ask about up-time, back-ups, and security.  If you want help choosing the right cloud provider, give us a call. We’d be happy to help you find the right solution for your business.

 

 

 

Is Your Network Ready for VoIP?

If you’re considering switching your office phone system to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), you need to be sure your network is ready for the traffic.  Voice packets, unlike data packets, are large and require high quality connections.  When you introduce voice packets to an existing network, bandwidth can suffer.  Lost data packets can cause glitches in programs, but lost voice packets mean interrupted (or poor sound quality) conversations.

Obviously, poor call quality is unacceptable in a business environment, so it’s critical that your network provide adequate bandwidth for voice and data applications.

Before You Switch

Prior to implementing VoIP technology on your existing network, your IT staff and your VoIP provider need to fully understand your company’s voice and data requirements. Priority should be given to voice traffic so that call quality does not suffer.  If your existing network does not have the capacity (bandwidth) to support voice and data, don’t try to force it.  VoIP implementations where the network was inadequate at the outset can end up costing a business much more in the long run.

If you have questions about whether or not your network is ready for VoIP, call us today at 757-497-3100.

 

Download Our Guide to Choosing a Business Telephone System

Selecting the right business telephone system for your company can be a daunting task.  Over the years we’ve helped thousands of clients work through the process and have found there are some consistent questions and functions that need to be addressed, no matter what size the business.

As a result of our experience and expertise, we developed a Guide to Choosing a Business Telephone System, available in PDF format.  Click here to download a copy now.  If you have any questions, please contact us for a no-obligation conversation about your business phone system needs.

How Does a VoIP Phone System Work for My Business?

Voice Over IP Telephony, or VoIP, is the modern standard for business phone systems. It has replaced premises based private branch exchange (PBX) as a way for companies to  to operate their phone systems over broadband connections and save money on expensive landlines. While VoIP is a bit of a catch-all term, companies utilize it in two main different ways.

IP-PBX Phone Systems

The equipment for IP-PBX is located on the office premises like traditional PBX. The difference between the two is that instead of a hardwired user network. IP-PBX uses SIP trunking, an IP-based private branch exchange and a PTSN gateway to route calls. All hardware is housed on site and since it is self-hosted, is the responsibility of the office. Usage charges vary from month to month. This is a reliable VoIP option for businesses with more than 20 employees and a high call volume. It is also highly customizable.

Hosted Phone Solutions

Hosted phone solutions take the pressure off of a company to house hardware, as the key functions of this type of phone system are completed off-site. The only hardware delivered to a business are the phones themselves. The hosting provider shoulders responsibility for keeping the system up and running and managing network downtime. Cost is on a per-user basis and doesn’t vary from month to month. This is a great option for small-to-medium companies without IT departments and those that need room to grow

What Type of VoIP Is Right for My Business?

When deciding on a VoIP solutions, business leaders must consider how much control they want over their company’s phone system. If the business has a robust IT department, consistently high call volume and a need for meticulous customization, IP-PBX is the best choice. If a business is looking for a simple outsourced solution that is feature-rich with predictable costs, a hosted solution might be a good fit.

No matter your unique needs, BCS Voice and Data Solutions offers a VoIP solution for you. Whether it’s an IP-PBX system, Mitel AnyWare hosted phone solution or perhaps just a new phone system, we are excited to help. Click or call today.

Ring in the New Year with a New Business Phone System

What are your business’s communications challenges?

  • Outdated phone units that don’t offer new features? 
  • Unpredictable monthly costs? 
  • Unwieldy cabling and cluttered wiring?
  • Limited and unreliable teleconference capability?

Every company is different, and that’s why BCS tailors our services and recommendations to each company’s unique needs.

For those with outdated phone systems….

As an exclusive Mitel partner, BCS can outfit your company with new business phones that allow for seamless communication. You can go with traditional wired units, cordless phones or even a desktop Softphone. Most even pair with mobile phones, so your employees never have to miss a call.

For those who live in fear of the phone system bill…

BCS offers Mitel AnyWare hosted phone solutions as the perfect alternative to traditional IP-PBX and premise based PBX systems. For one monthly fee on a per-user basis, Mitel AnyWare gives small business owners peace of mind. Even more, AnyWare grows with your business. Add users as needed and know exactly what you’ll pay.

hosted telephone solutions

For those who have no clue where those cables lead…

Hardware failure is one of the leading causes of network downtime. This is why maintaining hardware like cabling, wiring and server components is an essential part of IT operations. Entrust your hardware to our expert structured cabling technicians. They will install (if necessary), inspect and organize your company’s cabling so that a frayed wire or bad connection won’t bring business to a halt.

For those who want the whole picture…

Relying on consumer-level video conferencing apps to connect with remote employees and distant clients is fine to a point, but exceptionally professional organizations need teleconference solutions that integrate directly with their phone and Unified Communications systems. BCS sells, installs and maintains a variety of the latest enterprise level teleconference equipment and applications.

Whatever the problem is, make a 2014 resolution to update and streamline your company’s communications technology by partnering with BCS Voice and Data Solutions. We specialize in providing tech solutions like feature-rich business phones, hosted PBX service, Unified Communications suites and more to small-to-medium businesses in Hampton Roads and beyond.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/luigi diamanti

Best Cordless Business Phones for Retail

Calling all retail managers! With Christmas less than a week away, we’re sure that you are experiencing more than your fair share of stress and long hours, but we have some advice that may change the way you do business in-store (and hopefully take some stress out of the equation in 2014).

How do you handle in-store communication? Expensive cellphones? Hardwired cordless phones?  Consider transitioning to one of the business phone systems in Mitel’s IP-Digital Enhanced Cordless Communication (IP-DECT) arsenal. These cordless business phones connect over a wireless network and provide all the features of complex desktop phones with all the convenient portability of traditional cordless units.

And since no two companies’ communication needs are exactly alike, Mitel offers several different cordless phone units. All cordless business phones run on the the Mitel IP-DECT System for on-premises wireless communication.  As a certified exclusive Mitel partner, BCS Voice and Data Solutions is happy to offer this technology to SMBs in Virginia Beach, Virginia and beyond. These Mitel cordless units are two of our favorites.

Mitel MiVoice 5603 Wireless Phone

The Mitel Mivoice 5603 Wireless phone is perfect for small businesses that need a low-cost, basic cordless phone that though simple, is maximally reliable.The 5603 offers plenty of features to streamline the way your employees communicate with each other and the outside world. 

  • Customizable Graphical User Interface (GUI)
  • Phonebook with up to 500 entries
  • Speakerphone
  • Six languages
  • Vibration alert
  • High-quality voice
  • Call list with 25 most recent calls
  • Excellent battery life: 16 hours (talk) and 180 hours (standby)

Mitel MiVoice 5610 DECT Handset

For businesses that need to accommodate more users with more features, we give you the Mitel MiVoice 5610 handset with stand. This wireless handset operates much like a cellphone and offers all the features of the 5603 phone and more.

  • IP DECT Stand that supports up to 8 handsets and three simultaneous calls
  • Stand accommodates MiVoice 5312/5324/5320/5330/5340 and 5360 IP Phones
  • Handset with vibrant color display and adjustable brightness
  • Teleworker support
  • 9 Customizable polyphonic ringtones
  • Battery life: 8 hours (talk) and 240 hours (standby)
  • Multiple language support
  • MiVoice Business & MiVoice Office support
  • Has an operating range of up to 150 ft indoors and 300ft outdoors

Don’t be tethered to the desk by your business phone system. Give your employees the mobility and technology they need to get the job done. Call or contact BCS today to learn more about our cordless business phones and other business phone systems.

The Three “H”s of VoIP Productivity

You may turn back the clocks this weekend, but that doesn’t mean you should turn back the clock on your approach to business communications. Technology in this industry is always changing, and falling behind could mean the difference between efficient productivity and lagging progress. VoIP and virtualized IP environments, for instance, have been adopted in recent years by the higher education, hospitality and healthcare fields. All three industries utilize IP communications to simplify once cumbersome processes.

Higher Education

Colleges and universities are full of bright minds, great ideas and data…a great deal of data. Rather than risk the loss of vital scholarship and student records, schools are widely transitioning to virtualized environments.

From Mitel: “A virtualized, IP communications environment enables educational institutions to run multiple operating systems via one physical machine—all of which can run on multiple servers. This way, if a blackout suddenly sweeps campus, the school’s IT administrator can access the central, physical machine via a remote server to ensure that all documents, projects and important files that were opened can be kept safe and restored.”

Hospitality

Last year we wrote about the success certain hotels have had with the implementation of VoIP technology. As the rise of mobile phones devalued hotel phone systems, hospitality managers transitioned to VoIP systems which allow users to make calls at a lower rate than the mobile provider’s. Read the full post here.

Healthcare

Efficiency and accuracy are important, especially when it comes to caring for people’s bodies and health.  This year, Cibola General Hospital in Cibola County, New Mexico,upgraded their Internet, data storage and phone services to a VoIP based system. Cibola General is one of many small hospitals that have grown to recognize the value of cutting edge communications technology. According to Rick Smith, the IT director at the hospital, “We’ve dramatically improved performance with built-in redundancy, which means there are two points to get to the same data backup system…If we put in a whiz-bang system but the nurses and doctors can’t use it, then it’s of no value.” (Cibola Beacon).

We agree with Mr. Smith that IT is nothing if it’s not user-friendly. That’s why BCS is proud to offer extremely intuitive Mitel IP Business Phone systems, innovative VMware virtualization solutions and more. Call or contact us today to learn more about how VoIP can add value to your enterprise.

Image: freedigitalphotos.net/stockimages

The Risk of Relying on Consumer Cloud Storage Services

Stephen Pritchard of ITPRO believes that the consumer cloud is experiencing a crisis of confidence and that this has implications for businesses who elect to use certain cloud storage services. In reference to the Google downtime earlier this week and other recent consumer cloud shutdowns (Amazon/Netflix and Microsoft in particular), Pritchard says,

“Companies are increasingly allowing, or even relying on, the use of services such as Google Drive, or Microsoft’s Office365….If businesses use these services to store documents, or instead of desktop software, even a short outage can cause a real loss of productivity. If companies build business processes around services such as Google Drive, the impact reach[es] even further.” (ITPRO)

Even if the company doesn’t officially adopt consumer cloud storage services like Google Drive and Microsoft’s Office365, individual employees often find them convenient for easy document storage and collaborative work on a project-by-project basis. The use of these services by employees may seem harmless (or maybe a little reckless), but as we saw with the Google server issues on Tuesday, the unpredictable nature of the consumer cloud has the potential to stall important office operations.

Best Cloud Storage Practices

We don’t mean to shed any suspicion on cloud-based data storage as a whole, but rather to emphasize the superior security of enterprise-class cloud services, which can be tailored to the unique needs of each business. When it comes to the cloud, you really do get what you pay for. A business that deploys an enterprise-class cloud storage service on a private network enjoys far less risk of downtime and increased efficiency (especially when paired with 24/7 network monitoring).

It seems obvious that companies should refrain from depending on the consumer cloud storage services , but the issue presents a more nuanced choice for IT strategists: Should use of consumer cloud services be prohibited in-office on an individual basis? The challenge in answering this question is that it is nearly impossible to remove such services entirely. Instead, as Pritchard recommends, “…companies should look at improving their in-house IT to make it more attractive, or else invest in enterprise-grade cloud services, and promote their use.”

If your business is currently relying on consumer cloud storage services for data storage, don’t wait until major downtime hurts productivity and revenue to research your options for enterprise-class cloud services like VMware’s Private Cloud. And if a dated IT infrastructure is leading employees to opt for consumer cloud services, consider an upgrade.

Call or contact BCS to talk to IT experts about your company’s cloud options as well as network monitoring services and outsourcing. We are your IT department (if you want us to be)!

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Looking for a New Business Phone System? 10 Terms to Know.

When on the hunt for a new business phone system, navigating the waters of technical jargon can be exhausting, limiting and just plain frustrating. Whether you are thinking of investing in a cloud-based solution, a premise-based solution or even one of our used business phone systems to pair with your existing infrastructure, we’ve compiled ten key industry terms to help guide your search.

business phone system

  1. Auto attendant- a virtual receptionist that can run a phone system even in the event of network downtime. Directs callers toward their desired extensions and often has the capability, if the desired party is out of office, to direct said caller to the extension’s mobile device (see “mobile twinning”).
  2. Cloud-based business phone system-  Also known as a hosted phone system or hosted PBX (private branch exchange), a cloud-based business phone system stores all communications data wirelessly in the cloud. Requires subscription to a cloud-based VoIP PBX service like Mitel AnyWare and generally has fixed monthly charges on a per-user basis. Usually managed via a graphical user interface. (See: 5 Ways Hosted Telephone Solutions Can Help You Do Your Own Thing)
  3. Hosted PBX- See Cloud-based business phone system.”
  4. IP address- Internet protocol address. A series of numbers assigned to each device on a network. Can be either dynamic or static (fixed).
  5. Mobile twinning- A phone system’s capability to direct a call from a user’s desktop phone or softphone to his or her mobile device.
  6. On-premise PBX- Traditional Private Branch Exchange analog technology with hardware and connectivity maintained on site.
  7. On-premise IP PBX- Uses on-site SIP trunking to make calls and otherwise communicate over the Internet (VoIP). Communications costs vary month-to-month based on usage.
  8. SIP Trunking- Stands for “Session Initiation Protocol.” Acquired through an IP service provider, SIP trunking allows companies with IP-PBX phone systems to place calls outside of the office environment over the Internet.
  9. Softphone- Generally a Unified Communications client, a Softphone allows the user to place and receive phone calls from the desktop of their PC, just as they would from a desktop phone unit.  (See our recent product profile on Mitel’s MiCollab Client Softphone)
  10. Unified communications- Refers to the strategic integration of phone, instant messaging, video conferencing and other communication channels over the Internet through the private network.

Call or contact BCS to talk to an expert who can answer your questions about bettering your business’ communication potential. We’ll offer you advice, perspective and, most importantly, solutions.

 

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net