Owners and IT managers of fast growing, multi-location businesses are looking to the sky to see if they can lower the costs associated with keeping their distributed enterprise connected.
With the cost of transporting one Gig of data at about $10 over a wireless 4G network, the idea of rolling out a multilocation 4G network to either augment and backup an existing terrestrial data network (or even replacing a terrestrial data network where total monthly data payloads are light) has great appeal.
But how expensive or painful is it for an IT department to roll out a 4G wireless WAN?
To help business owners and IT decision makers answer this question for their own business environment I asked Tom Azelby and Adil Zaidi of Bandwave Systems what they had to go through to build a multilocation 4G wireless WAN for their distributed enterprise business customers.
If your business is currently reviewing the costs versus benefits of rolling out a 4G wireless WAN for your own business, please feel free to download and review the information on this blog page.
We've attempted to show any busiess owner or IT manager what they would need to do on their own so they can estimate their own DIY ("do it yourself") costs to see if it makes sense to undertake the project in-house.
If you estimate that your own DIY 4G WAN costs would exceed $200 per location per month then you might want to give Bandwave a call at 888-396-7182 because their fully loaded 4G customer project prices often come in at a price WAY UNDER $200 per month per location.
To learn more about how Bandwave does what they do, check out the two short "explainer" videos.
In addition to helping multilocation businesses with distributed enterprise data requirements put together 4G wireless WANs, Bandwave has over a decade of experience helping multilocation businesses aggregate multiple wide area network Internet connections including DSL, cable coax, satellite, fixed wireless and fiber.
Registration is not required to read our whitepaper or glossary so you don't need to worry about a salesperson calling you before the download even finishes.
Just click the following links:
and don't forget the associated
Keywords Defined in the Glossary
4G, appliance, antenna, automatic failover, bandwave systems, bandwidth aggregation, best effort, business continuity, coax, blackbox, BYOB, bring your own bandwidth, coaxial cable, copper pair, CoS, class of service, CPE, customer premise device, DSL, digital subscriber line, DHCP, Distributed Enterprise, dome antenna, dynamic host configuration protocol, edge device, End-Point, EoC, Ethernet over Copper, fiber, firewall, fixed wireless, hotspot, IAD, integrated access device, internet bonding, LAN, latency, load balancing, local area network, M2M, machine to machine, managed router, managed service, microwave, MiFi, mobile WiFi, modem, MPLS, multilocation business, multiprotocol label switching, Mushroom Networks, network acceleration, omnidirectional antenna, oversubscription, packet compression, paddle antenna, panel antenna, Peplink, QoS, quality of service, paddle antenna, Riverbed, Silver Peak, SIP, Session Initiation Protocol, SLA, service level agreement, speed test, switch, Talari, TDM, time division multiplexing, traffic shaping, truck roll, VAR, value added reseller, VoIP, voice over Internet protocol, VPN, virtual private network, WAN, WAN optimization, WCS, Wholesale Carrier Networks, wide area network, XRoads Networks, Yagi directional antenna,
Telecom Expense Management or "TEM" in its simplest form helps the business end-user accounting departments apply proper GL (general ledger) codes to the different parts of their phone bills.
When all the phone bills for a businesses come from the same phone company the monthly process of applying these GL codes can be fairly simple as the GL code accounting software only has to accommodate the phone bill format of a single phone company.
But what happens when a business gets hundreds of phone bills from dozens of different phone companies - all in different formats?
That's when selecting a good "carrier independent" TEM software program can really pay for itself in short order.
Why Not Use "Free TEM" Software Offered by a Phone Carrier?
Most all the POTS consolidation carriers do provide TEM software that you can use for free - but only if you're an active customer with them and only if the margin they're earning from your carrier account meets their criteria.
The biggest "free TEM software" problem that occurs between the customer using it and the carrier that provides it is when the customer wants to use the software to manage phone bills that are not on the carrier's direct service and that the carrier can't import or does not want to import due to the labor costs involved.
Bottom line with "free" TEM software? If the POTS consolidation carrier will allow you to use the software for ALL the phone bills you want to manage then there's a good fit. If not, then you'll need to compare the carrier independent TEM software packages.
Click here to view & print our Telecom Expense Management (TEM) Buyers Guide.
The guide comes with questions that end-users will want to ask themselves before they start shopping for a TEM package.
The guide also comes with a list of Telecom Association recommended telecom expense management channel sales partners who can provide consulting to help you choose a good TEM package.
The guide also provides a list of Telecom Association recommended telecom expense management software vendors.
The buyers guide and all the content in the guide is constantly being updated every month so please be sure to check the date on the guide to make sure you have the most current edition of the buyers guide.
To find other buyers guides in other categories along with TA recommended partners and vendors please visit www.TArecommended.com.
Recommended TEM Partners
The following TEM software consultants received the the highest TA Review scores over the past 24 months. While each provide their own "in-house" TEM software solution, each are also experienced enough to help multi-location business customers compare the costs and benefits of one TEM package to another.
Recommended Carrier Independent TEM Vendors
The following "carrier independent" TEM software providers received the the highest TA Review scores over the past 24 months. As a software provider as opposed to a solution consultant, each is likely to know a great deal about their own product but unlikely to be able to help you compare their TEM software to another TEM software package.
1. "WinBill" by TTI
2. "ClearView" by Valicom
3. "PINNACLE" by Calero (Veramark, Movero)
4. "Dimension Data" (Xigo, Invoice Insight)
5. "Connect" by TeleSource
Blog Photo Credit
Blog keywords: TEM, telecom expense management, carrier independent, software, channel sales partner, GL, general ledger codes, accounting department, phone bill, POTS consolidation, buyers guide, questions, Telecom Association, Erny Bonistall, Global Solutions, Marko Spremo, Telapprise, Jill Plouffe, 4Telecom Help, David Hopper, Auditmacs, WinBill, TTI, ClearView, Valicom, PINNACLE, Calero, Veramark, Movero, Dimension Data, Xigo, Invoice Insight, Connect, TeleSource,
Owners and IT managers of multi-location businesses know two things for sure:
First, every employee in every location blames their slow Internet connection for productivity losses, and
Second, there's not a single nationwide company that provides Internet service that's high in quality, low in cost and available everywhere.
So what's a multi-location business owner or IT manager to do to improve their employee's Internet speeds, morale and productivity without creating an in-house telecom department to manage and pay all the different Internet phone bills from all the different low-cost Internet service providers for all their different locations?
Broadband Internet Aggregation...
But how does that work and who's got a successful track record of doing that? We do, of course!
Invest the next 90 seconds of your life watching the following video that explains how "broadband Internet aggregation" can solve your multi-location Internet connections headache and then give us a call to discuss what we can do for you.
Are you drowning in any of the following terms and acronyms? Cable, fiber, DSL, 3G, 4G, LTE, T1, WAN, MPLS, metro Ethernet, wide area network, Cox, Time Warner Cable, Comcast? Call us. We're independent telecom agents and channel sales partners who know the "inside secrets" to help your business get the best Internet connectivity from the highest quality but lowest cost providers.
We are also your local authorized distributor for Bandwave Systems' broadband aggregation solutions. We've helped many businesses aggregate their multi-location Internet challenges and we look forward to helping you as well!
Why do we even have office desks, office computers and office phones for any employees?
When they're on their office phone they're obviously talking to someone who's not sitting next to their desk.
Wouldn't it make more sense to move the employee closer to the person they need to talk to to get their job done?
From a company profit standpoint, is there greater margin to be had by forcing employees to work at their desk -- far away from the people they need to interact with, or is the greatest margin accessible only when employees are sent away from their desks to "where the work is" or "where the customers are"?
This is a tough call for many small business owners as many believe that their employees will only be productive under a watchful eye of a manager and that can only be accomplished inside the confines of a physical office.
Mobility & Productivity Lessons from the "Great Recession"
Several recent articles (article 1, article 2) relating to remote workers seem to suggest that workers with repetitive tasks to perform are most productive in an office while workers required to generate more creative work product are more productive outside the office.
One sure lesson that the Great Recession has taught us is that businesses can continue to increase worker productivity and profits with fewer employees. What's making this possible? Largely business communication technology advances that allow one employee to do the work that two employees used to do -- all all work can be accomplished away from the office desk!
Can Your Office Take Advantage of Productivity Through Mobility? Call Us to Find Out!
Take a moment to watch the short video below from CenturyLink that shares tips on how to achieve productive mobile employees.
After that give us a call to see which of your employees can be "made mobile" and more productive. As experienced telecom agents and independent carrier sales partners we've worked with hundreds of business clients grappling with some of the same communications problems you're facing now.
We can help you learn how your productivity problems can be overcome by mobilizing key employees utilizing recent business communication technology advances.
Video Transcript: Take Your Business Mobile
This content is copyright protected. To license this content for your own website please contact Dan Baldwin at Dan@OTMA.us. Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com #22980662, Keywords: technology, mobile data services, cut costs, going mobile, work smarter, mobile productivity, wireless hardware, cut the cord, smartphone, laptop, cellular, email, modify document, share databases, productivity applications, netbook, tablet, wireless network, wireless router, wired connection, mobile broadband, wi-fi, wimax, encrypted, collaboration, meeting software, phone conferencing, CenturyLink, telecom agent, independent carrier sales partner, business communication technology,
My brother who lives in Alaska says that he and all his neighbors never lose their car keys because they always leave the keys in the ignition of the car.
When I asked my brother if that practice doesn't lead to an increase in car theft he said, "No because everyone in Alaska also owns a lot of guns - and we know how to shoot them at car thieves".
Well, think what you will of Sarah Palin, but I for one would not try to steal her car out of her driveway or the cars of any of her neighbors because I'm convinced they have a credible security system in place.
Does your business have a credible security plan in place to prevent cyber thieves from snooping around your digital asset "business driveway" to see what unprotected information you have lying around that's just begging to be stolen or corrupted so your employees or customers can't use it?
Take a minute to watch the small business data security and protection video below provided by CenturyLink for a few useful tips. After that call your local telecom agent or independent telecom carrier sales partner to schedule a digital asset security audit of your business.
Let an Independent Telecom Carrier Partner Help You With a Data Security Check
As an experienced telecom agent and an independent telecom network services sales partner we help our clients conduct security audits of their digital assets to confirm that they are properly protected or confirm that vulnerabilities exist.
In the past, a significant investment in "on-premises" data security hardware and software was required to protect corporate information. Today however, as more businesses migrate their information off-premises" and into more secure public or private "clouds", much more comprehensive data security is available to even the smallest of businesses at a fraction of the price that would have been paid to protect the same assets in the past.
Give us a call so we can share with you the benefit of our data security experience.
This content is copyright protected. To license this content for your own website please contact Dan Baldwin at Dan@OTMA.us. Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com #8934156, Keywords: digital assets, security threats, personal information, data collection, business interruption, Symantec, small business, anti-virus protection, desktop PC, backup, endpoint protection, information systems, intrusion, security threat, hardware failure, natural disaster, power outage, viral intrusion, theft, productivity, data backup, secure device, recovery, networks, e-mail firewall, unauthorized access, security passwords, encryption software, storage devices, decoding key, mobile device, wifi portal, Internet, security, redundancy, point of entry, anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, security camera, security checklist, Sarah Palin, guns, telecom agent, independent telecom carrier sales partner, security audit, private, public, cloud,
If you've got operations problems in your business you know you're loosing money.
So where's the best place to start looking to find something in your operations that's broken that you can actually afford to fix?
Start first by looking at your voice & data communications systems.
Many business owners have discovered that the root of their business operations problems were actually found in the way their business was communicating information between business units within their company and their customers, prospects and suppliers.
How do you Connect, Transmit and Protect your Business Information?
As the short video below suggests, finding the root of operations problems can often be as simple as confirming how you are connecting your different business operation units to each other, how your units are transmitting information to one another and how that information is protected before, during and after transit.
Should you connect over public or private networks? If you can afford a private MPLS network to connect your multiple, geographically dispersed business units you will command the ability to closely monitor and protect all aspects of your operations.
If cost is an issue, creating an IP-VPN using cheaper public Internet connections like DSL or coax cable works for may businesses but the higher long term labor costs of managing a public Internet IP-VPN could prove more costly in the long run.
For more tips please watch the short video below from CenturyLink that provides tips for improving your business operations.
Let a Telecom Agent or Independent Carrier Sales Partner Diagnose Your Ops Problem
When it comes to identifying and cost effectively solving communications problems that are creating operational problems for your business, no one has more experience than your local telecom agent or independent carrier sales partner.
Agents and partners are vendor neutral and so they can share with you all the communications war stories that they've learned from their other customers who've already solved some of the problems that you are currently struggling with.
Technology is vital to improving the operations of your small business. It can greatly increase your efficiency. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, business productivity increased at a 3.6% annual rate during just the first quarter of 2010. Much of this increase is due to technology.
So, what technologies do you need to gain maximum productivity?
Wise technology investments to improve your operations will make you more productive. Use this checklist to ensure you are on track.
This content is copyright protected. To license this content for your own website please contact Dan Baldwin at Dan@OTMA.us. Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com 22459799, Keywords: technology, operations, small business, efficiency, us bureau of labor statistics, connectivity, website, e-mail, dsl, cable, satellite, T1, PRI, atm, frame relay, fiber optics, data, internet based cloud computing, data storage and management, on-demand, self service, pay as you go, POP, IMAP, data storage management system, network area storage, NAS, direct attached storage, DAS, storage area network, SAN, operations problems, voice, data, communications systems, information, connect, transmit, protect, public, private network, mpls, ip-vpn, internet connection, telecom agent, independent carrier sales partner, DSL, coax cable,
Just when you think phone numbers themselves have become obsolete in an age of social media and smartphones, a client says to me, "Oh, and don't forget, I have got to have a new phone number that ends in '000' or something else that's really easy to remember".
I respond confidently, "No problem (I hope)."
Back where there was just a couple local phone companies that a business could get local phone service from, getting an easy to remember "vanity" number was not too difficult because just those few phone companies had access to all the unused numbers that existed in a particular area code.
That was then. But today, literally hundreds of "phone companies" are available these days to offer local phone service in any area code. These companies might be one of the old Bell phone companies or a cable company or a cell phone company or one of hundreds of "VoIP" phone companies.
Why is having so many phone companies in a single area code a problem? All the easy-to-remember, unused numbers are now spread across many phone companies. Worse than that, the different phone companies "own" all their unused numbers.
If you are able to find a phone number you like and want to use you are obligated to activate that number with the phone company that owns it. The phone company with the phone number is under no obligation to release that number to you so you can use it with another phone company.
So How Did I Find a Good Phone Number for My Client?
My client was starting a new division that was advertising on the television which was the reason for needing a vanity number and the client really wanted a number ending in "000" that was "easy to remember". The VoIP phone company we were placing the business with assured us that getting a vanity number would be "no problem".
It was a problem. Two weeks before our installation deadline, our VoIP vendor claimed there was no way to do any sort of "vanity search" with their underlying carrier vendors and the only way to filter through the carrier's unused numbers was to pull up each area code and prefix one-by-one and then go through all numbers in order hoping to find a vanity number. After several days of doing this we still had no decent numbers to choose from.
At the HostedNumbers site I was easily able to do a vanity number search but only after entering a city and state. (Because my client was advertising their phone number nationally I would have preferred to search all vanity numbers without narrowing down to a state and city first.) Because of this search limitation, to find cities with great area codes to start searching I went to www.AllAreaCodes.com and then made a list of the cities with an area code that would make a great 3-digit start to an easy to remember vanity number like, Washington D.C. (202), Albuquerque NM (505) or Napa CA (707).
After a couple hours penciling down several dozen possible acceptable vanity numbers for my client from HostedNumbers.com I called the VoIP carrier we were placing the business with and asked them why they didn't have a sweet vanity numbers lookup system like HostedNumbers.com.
My contact at the VoIP carrier asked me for a couple samples of the vanity numbers I found at HostedNumbers.com and we looked them up on www.FoneFinder.net to see who the underlying carrier was for the vanity numbers. We quickly learned that BroadVox and Bandwidth.com were the two carriers behind a majority of the vanity numbers were looking at.
Fortunately the VoIP carrier we were placing the business with also had a relationship with one of the carriers behind the vanity number we most wanted and they were able to claim the number as it was also available to the VoIP carrier. It seemed that while HostedNumbers.com has a terrific search platform for vanity numbers, they are only searching available number databases from several carriers -- not vanity numbers that they exclusively own.
So I lucked out by finding a number my client liked at HostedNumbers.com and then by having our carrier of choice having access to be able to reserve the same number. If this was not the case my second backup plan was to "port" the number away from HostedNumbers.com to my carrier. HostedNumbers.com claims they allow customers to port their numbers away but my carrier advised that number ports can take anywhere from 5 to 30 days which which in a worse case scenario meant my client would not make their TV commercial deadline.
TollFreeNumbers.com Rocks for Affordable Toll Free 800 Numbers
My client also wanted to advertise a toll free (800, 888, 877, 866 or 855) vanity number along with their non-toll free vanity number. For this option I had already decided to go to www.TollFreeNumbers.com owned by Bill Quimby as I had acquired some great toll free vanity numbers with him for my business clients in the past.
In under an hour at Bill's site I had compiled every combination of vanity TFN that my client might consider and then after a quick decision from my client the "purchase" was made and the RespOrg change (switching "ownership" control of the TFN from Bill's company/carrier to my client's carrier) was being accomplished.
Unlike porting that can take 5 to 30 days for non-TFNs, changing carriers on a TFN will usually only take a couple of days (two weeks at the max) if all parties are professionals and al the paperwork is done properly. Bill Quimby is the best in the business at fast number ports. If you're looking for a great toll free number and you need it right way there's no other place to go.
I asked Bill if he's getting into the non-toll free vanity number business like HostedNumbers.com and he replied that he was looking at some sort of play in that area. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with.
Let Your Telecom Agent or Independent Carrier Partner Find Your Number
The work it took me to find my client two acceptable numbers likely took a dozen man-hours (and I'm a 20+ year industry veteran). While a highly motivated business customer might have equal success it would have likely taken much longer.
If you're a business customer looking for a great vanity number, let your local telecom agent or independent carrier partner do the leg work for you. To find a "Recommended Partner" in your area please visit www.BusinessPhoneNews.com and click on "Recommended Members".
A professional telecom agent or independent carrier sales partner will ensure that you get a great number and then get that great number to work on the right phone service carrier.
This content is copyright protected. To license this content for your own website please contact Dan Baldwin at Dan@OTMA.us. Photo credit iStock 19104725, Keywords: telecom agent, independent carrier sales partner, Bill Quimby, TollFreeNumbers.com, toll free number, vanity number, TFN, HostedNumbers.com, PATlive, ATG technologies, voip, phone carrier, resporg, easy to remember phone number, phone company, broadvox, bandwidth.com, port,
Has AT&T created an "Edsel" with its new small business phone system dubbed MS2085?
We're not trying to create or jump on an anti-AT&T business phone system bandwagon. In fact there are some AT&T phone systems we like such as their SynJ® SB67138 line that we did a mini-review of on this post.
If you watch the AT&T promotional video we've shared below, the MS2085 would seem to be an easy answer for small branch offices that can get by with four phone lines or less.
But as you can see from some of the review quotes below (we found 10 bad reviews out of 10 on 4/23/13) small business owners that purchased the system trying to save money did not save money and only earned a headache for their trouble in addition to the frustration of having to return the phones.
Sample Quotes from Online Reviews
"I never write reviews, but couldn't go past this one. Very disappointed to return this phone. I've searched for a new phones for my business for such a long time, and now I am still stuck in a middle of nowhere. Well..."
"This phone might seem good at first but once it's in use you will soon realize that it is about as useful as a paper holder. We are always loosing calls from our customers. We will go to answer the phone and it will hang up on them. Some customers will try and call 4 times before they will finally get through."
"This phone is a pile of discounted garbage. You can't get a clear line on it, hold a 3 way conversation, pull phone numbers and redial easily. You have degraded a great phone line. This was our 7th AT&T Phone. Now, we have to start shopping other lines. We are returning it. Each day becomes another issue. Tech support is a joke. Your manual is confusing and online support doesn't exist."
I could post more reviews but reading them proved too painful for someone like me that consults and sells business phone systems for a living.
How Do You Find a Phone System You'll Love? Call Us!
We're not against buying cheap business phone systems from a big box warehouse distributor as evidenced on this post. We've helped hundreds of business customers of every size choose the right system for their budget and their unique requirements.
You don't need to buy the most expensive system to get good quality. You don't even need to buy a new system as there are plenty of great deals to be had from buying a used phone system.
Give us a call. In just a couple minutes on the phone we can let you know if the phone system you're looking at is the right deal at the right price or a headache waiting to happen.
Overview Video of the AT&T MS2085 Phone System for Small Businesses
While most business owners advise employees against downloading suspicious file attachments to avoid computer virus infection, do employers now need to mandate that their employees use one search engine instead of another to minimize infection?
The following overview of a detailed AV-TEST study reprinted here with permission recently revealed that although search engine operators such as Google and Bing make a lot of effort to avoid doing so, they sometimes deliver websites infected with Trojans and similar malware among their top search results. Other search engines do an even worse job.
It took the AV-TEST Institute from the German city of Magdeburg a total of 18 months to carry out a study that would confirm its initial suspicion, namely that the best-known search engines Google and Bing are being used to include websites containing malware among the top search results delivered to users. This exploitation of search engines is causing their operators to be tripped up by their very own systems.
Behind the scenes, the operators are therefore working to solve the problem and are already filtering out a multitude of infected websites. Nevertheless, if Internet users choose to surf the web without good protection software, they are sure to be hit by such infections themselves at some point in time.
The study carried out by AV-TEST between August 2011 and February 2013 did indeed confirm this suspicion. During its study, the institute investigated over 40 million websites delivered as search engine results.
Very Complicated – Very Effective
Malware developers are now putting more and more effort into their work, for example in order to distribute their spyware programs or Trojans. They therefore exploit search engines for their own purposes and sneak infected websites into the top results delivered to users.
The trick used by these criminals is actually very simple: they first create a multitude of small websites and blogs before selecting the most frequently used search terms from top news stories and using backlinks to optimise these terms for search engines. This process of optimising websites for search engines, known as SEO (search engine optimisation) for short, is used by all major website operators to ensure that their sites are easier to find. The way to ensure that a website is the quickest to be found is to achieve a place in the top ten search results delivered by Bing or Google.+
The study revealed that it was precisely those search results concerning the latest news that particularly frequently contained malicious links. Users are the least suspicious in such cases and therefore quickly click on the links provided. This extremely perfidious system works well, meaning that PCs with less reliable protection software soon become infected. In 2012, the test institute from Magdeburg constantly tested almost all of the security programs available on the market. The average detection rate of these programs throughout the year was 92.5 percent, which indicates that 7.5 percent of users are potential targets for malware attackers.
If a user relies on a good security program, the detection rate can be as high as 100 percent. You can find out which Windows products provide such impressive detection rates for free by visiting www.avtest.org/tests/home-user.
Google Is Better than Bing
The study carried out by AV-TEST evaluated close to 40 million websites over a period of 18 months. A good 20 million of these websites were provided by Google and Bing in equal parts. The other websites examined in the test were accessed via the globally used search engines Yandex, Blekko, Faroo, Teoma and Baidu. The heavyweight of the search engines tested was the Russian system Yandex, which provided over 13 million of the websites investigated. Google achieved the best results in the study, followed by Bing.
Attention must, however, be drawn to the fact that Bing delivered five times as many websites containing malware as Google during the study. The Russian search engine Yandex even delivered 10 times as many infected websites in comparison with Google. All of the websites tested revealed a total of 5000 potential pieces of malware.
When fed into calculations, this result only leads to a small overall percentage of infected websites. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that Google alone deals with a phenomenal total of 2 to 3 billion search requests worldwide every day. If this total is factored into the calculations, the total number of websites containing malware found by the search engine is enough to make your head spin!
Up-to-Date Systems Are More Secure
The infected websites mostly use malware that exploits existing security vulnerabilities in users’ software. These vulnerabilities normally involve outdated browsers, old add-ons or extensions and out-of-date versions of PDF readers. Users can drastically reduce the likelihood of infection by keeping the software on their systems up to date. They can also guarantee that they have the best possible protection by additionally using high-quality security software that is constantly updated.
What Should You Do to Protect Your Firm? Call Us!
As telecom & technology solution providers we have a rich history of consulting with our business customers large and small about what reasonable protections they need to avail themselves of and at what price points.
We'll be happy to meet with you and match you up with a network security solution that meets you budget and your unique requirements. To learn more about the study in this article please contact:
Magdeburg, Germany, 6th April 2013
Author: Markus Selinger
Please contact the team at AV-TEST GmbH if you have any questions.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel.: +49 (0)391 6075460, website: www.av-test.org
So you've taken the leap and decided to start your own business?
Fortunately business technology has become much more affordable over the past decade which means that even a start-up business can look like a Fortune 500 business if you select the right technology tools to operate your business.
Presented below are some good business technology ideas from the national Small Business Administration website.
Call Us for Customized Technology Plan Created for Your Unique Needs
We're business technology experts that work with very large, multi-location businesses as well as very small businesses that are just getting started with a couple part-time employees. We can give you quick advice over the phone or schedule a complimentary consulting meeting to analyze your unique business technology requirements.
On our consulting call we'll seem a lot smarter if you have some general ideas about where you want to start with technology, how many employees you'll want to support over the next couple years as well as what your technology budget can afford. Please review the rest of the information on this page and watch the vide. Then give us a call and we'll explore your thoughts and share with you some of the solutions our other business clients are successfully using.
Using Technology to Stay Competitive from SBA.org
As a business owner, it is vital that you understand and use advanced technologies. Technology can help increase business efficiency and even expand operations.
Accounting software. This is important, even if you have your own accountant or bookkeeper. Accounting software allows you to see your profits and losses at a glance. It can also help you design and maintain a budget for your business.
Planning software or tools. A calendar system is a must. There are many online planning systems that can be utilized to help you keep your calendar organized. Find a system that meets your business' needs and be sure to stick with it.
Time tracking software. A time tracking device will help you determine what tasks result in a profit and what tasks do not. This will help you determine what tasks can be eliminated, outsourced, or improved. If you’re looking at software that requires a fee, ask for a free trial first to make sure it’s the right software for you.
Email management. As a business owner, you probably use several email accounts to manage the various aspects of your company. If you streamline these emails to one account, you'll be able to stay organized and abreast of your emails.
Mobile internet access. Access to the internet on your mobile device will not only make your life easier, it will also help you maintain a positive reputation for your business. For example, if you are able to follow up with a client by email immediately after a meeting, you will be showing that you are accessible, timely and professional.
Once you decide which types of technology are right for you and your business, you'll be on your way to being more organized and efficient than ever.
This content is copyright protected. To license this content for your own website please contact Dan Baldwin at Dan@OTMA.us. Photo credit iStock 11930996, Keywords: time tracking software, email management, mobile internet access, mobile device, start your own business, business technology, small business administration, accounting software, budget, calendar system,
Everyone loves to get a "two for one" deal when it comes to parting with their hard earned dollars. I got married on Valentines Day and now every year I get a two for one deal when I take my wife out for our anniversary dinner.
Business owners can get a two for one deal when they invest in upgrading their communication technology because they will quite often discover that improved business communications leads to improved business marketing results.
Following are just a few examples of how better communication technology tools improve a firms normal operations as well as their marketing.
More & Better Phone Numbers
Years ago one of the most important annual decision a business owner would make is "Do I change my Yellow Pages listings?" Now instead of printed directory advertising business decision makers are deciding where to invest in on-line advertising.
To determine which on-line advertising buys are pulling the greatest response, savvy business owners use a different phone number for every different on-line ad. SIP phone numbers are a new technology service that allows any phone number in the world to be answered by any phone in the world.
With SIP phone numbers and their advertising business owners can decide how to move their advertising dollars around on a day to day basis by monitoring which phone numbers are being dialed through a web portal. No need to wait for the phone bill at the end of the month.
Cloud Blogs & CRM
If you've been thinking about which of your on-site computer applications are best suited to by moved to "the cloud" take a look at your blog and customer relationship manager or "CRM" software first. While it's difficult enough to maintain working in-house computers for your employees it can be harder still to maintain separate in-house computers for individual applications like your company blog or CRM.
With "cloud" services applications like TypePad.com, WordPress.com for blogs and SalesForce.com and Zoho.com for CRM's, getting your marketing applications off of old in-house computer equipment and onto a cloud solution with all the latest upgrades has never been easier.
Who Can You Call to Get a 2 for 1 Technology / Marketing Deal? Call Us!
We started in the phone business and phones have always been a marketing tool. Now we're in the "cloud business" and the cloud is certainly a marketing tool. Give us a call so we can share with you how we've been able to help many clients just like you get improved technology AND improved marketing all the the same dollar.
Following is a short video from CenturyLink that shares additional ideas for using technology to improve marketing.
Your business depends on bringing products and services to market.
Attracting customers is essential, and the more ways you do that the better. In
fact, by integrating several ways to reach customers into your marketing you
can significantly increase sales. By combining text messages, social media and
e-mail one small business was able to increase sales recently by 28%.
Now, technology can supercharge your marketing. Today customers are easier to reach than ever before. Smartphones, laptops, Netbooks, and software all enhance your opportunity to connect. All you need is the right strategy.
Well, here are some ways to build one.
Marketing today is still about the fundamentals, and technology has evolved very quickly to support it. With the majority of consumers online, reaching people has never been easier and more profitable.
Taking advantage of multiple ways to market instead of just one can help you retain customers, attract new ones, and ensure the best use of your marketing dollars. Use this checklist of essential components to cover the bases.
For more detailed resources like brochures and white papers go to centurylink.com/smb-resources.
This content is copyright protected. To license this content for your own website please contact Dan Baldwin at Dan@OTMA.us. Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com # 19431199 Keywords: communication technology, marketing, blogs, phone numbers, crm, text message, social media, e-mail, coupon tracking, company identity, search engine optimization, seo, business cards, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter,
When it comes to getting the very most bandwidth for the very least amount of money business owners ask, "If a coax cable broadband internet connection works just fine at my home, why can't I use coax cable on my business wide area network or WAN"?"
The business-class phone companies will all answer this customer question with, "Cable's just a 'best effort' consumer grade product that you can't trust for business applications..."
Other times the phone companies will just fall on the ground and beg, "No! Please don't go cable!"
Well chiding and begging aside, if patching together cheap internet connections can be done using cable, 4G/LTE, DSL and fiber - shouldn't it be tried by cost conscious business owners?
Sometimes it works great and sometimes it doesn't work very well at all. It all kind of depends on what kind of business applications you're running over your WAN and how sensitive the applications are to network speed and latency.
Where Does One Start? The Yellow Pages or our WAN Toolkit & Buyers Guide
"Aggregated WANs" have been successfully created by many businesses looking for an inexpensive backup or an alternative to expensive MPLS networks.
Creating one simply requires a great deal of patience and labor as doing it successfully requires successfully interfacing with dozens of different Internet service providers or "ISPs" depending on how many different locations your business has and in what part of the country they are located in.
How Much Do You Do Yourself?
A lot, a little or none. Again, depending on your tolerance for dealing with all the ISPs you way want to engage the services of a professional WAN independent sales partner, aggregator, reseller or integrator.
If you type "WAN optimization" or "WAN aggregation" into your favorite search engine you'll be amazed at how many vendors you can find that want to help you with this sort of WAN aggregation project. Many solve the problem with people. Others solve the problem with better "secret sauce".
Let us give you some free advise.
We're in the business of helping business owners and IT decision makers navigate the murky WAN optimization vendors. Whether you want a gold-plated MPLS network or just something that works but at the least possible price - we can direct you to the vendors that can help.
That's what we do. Please give us a call.
Just because Leprechaun season is fast approaching doesn't mean tiny men with golden promises should be put in charge of choosing your next business phone system.
But I know it's tempting...
If you check out the video below you might be left with the impression that the most difficult part of installing a business phone system is getting the phone system's key service unit out of all the bubble wrap it's shipped in.
While bubble wrap can certainly be a problem, the bigger problem for small business owners is thinking that their next phone system is not more complicated to choose then their last phone system was to choose.
Does Your Current Cell Phone Look Like the One You Owned Five Years Ago?
The cell phone you owned five years ago made phone calls and had all your contacts on speed dial. The "smart phone" in your pocket now has all your business contact phone numbers AND access to all your business software applications that you can't possibly live without.
If you couldn't conduct business with the cell phone you had five years ago, why do you think you can do business with the same office phone system technology that you purchased for your office ten years ago? You can't. You'd be better off only doing business with your smart phone then trying to conduct any sort of office business on an "old-school" phone system.
How Do You Find an Office Phone System That Works as Well as Your Smart Phone?
Step one is to seriously consider an office phone system that has all it's "smarts" in the cloud - just like your smart phone.
The small business phone system in the video below is "old-school" because it requires a key service unit or KSU be mounted somewhere on your business property and then connected to all your desk phones and dial-tone. The only problem for this design is that all your employees are now required to be in your office for this to work
What if you have more than one office? What if your employees are always on the move? What if, like your smart phone, you need your office phone to interact with other business applications like GPS or voice recognition?
You Can Afford a "Smart" Phone System IF The "Smarts" are IN THE CLOUD
You don't own the GPS technology in your smart phone that helps navigate your from one business appointment to another - you just rent it on a monthly basis as part of your cell phone bill. It's a good thing that you don't own it because you likely couldn't afford it and you don't have the room for the computer that makes it work.
It's OK to rent the "business smarts" that your company needs to stay connected.
In today's ever evolving business environment it's difficult to be able to predict how many employees you'll need in one office or another or if the people you'll need will even be working out of an office.
Call Us to Explore the Modern Hosted Cloud Phone System Solutions
Just as do-it-yourself old-fashioned "box" phone systems come in hundreds of sizes and styles, so do the more modern "cloud hosted" phone systems.
Some are based on proprietary Broadsoft technology and others are based on Metaswitch. Still others are designed on "open" Asterisk software and are reported to be cheaper but less secure to hacking. Which is a safe option for your business?
Call us and let us know what's important about the way your business will be doing business over the next couple years. As independent business technology sales partners we're experts at matching you with the vendor or combination of vendors best suited to your business vision AND your budget.
This Might Be the Best Business Phone System Solution For You if ...
In all fairness to the fellow in this video, this is a perfectly reasonable business phone system solution for single location businesses that have just a few employees and the way they "do business" is very old-school (and they do not expect that to ever change).
The "Great Recession" that began in 2008 resulted in over eight million people loosing their jobs. Many of these people were skilled white collar employees with great phone skills.
As of this year it's reported that only half of the jobs lost since 2008 have been replaced and most have not been replaced by the same high-quality jobs that were lost.
What does this mean for business owners looking to expand but find themselves limited by employable prospects in their immediate geography?
Get High Quality Contact Center Reps with a Cloud Contact Center
As you can see from the SafeSoft Solutions video below, a cloud-based contact center that can handle both inbound and outbound call center campaigns require your contact center employees have nothing more than a headset, a computer and an internet connection - anywhere in the world.
If you don't even have a call center now because you don't have qualified employees in your immediate geography, now you can create a call center to generate more sales without investing in a new phone system or expanding your own office to accomodate more "butts in seats".
Call Us to Determine Which Cloud Contact Center Vendor is Right for Your Business
SafeSoft is just one of hundreds of "cloud vendors" like Five9, Avaya, TelStar Hosted Services, YTel and others that will promise your business incredible returns for almost no money up front. Unfortunately your time conducting trials is still worth quite a bit of money so it's important to start your cloud contact center trials with the vendor that's best suited to your unique business environment.
Call us to help sort through all the different vendors. We're independent and we're experienced with all the cloud vendors that want your business. We'll help analyze your specific requirements and then match you to one vendor or a combination of vendors that can deliver what they promise.
One Example of Many Cloud Contact Center Solutions
So let's say you're an interstellar asteroid bent on doing whatever is required to interrupt the non-stop internet broadcasting of cute kitten videos from the planet Earth.
What do you aim for? One of the communications satellites spinning around the Earth (kind of like hitting a bullet with a bullet) or do aim for the Earth (kind of like hitting a barn).
I'm not sure asteroids actually give wanton destruction of internet kitten videos this much thought, but if they did, I'm betting that they aim for the barn over the bullet.
Do What Today to Avoid Bandwidth Interruption Tomorrow? Think Satellites & Cloud
Whether it's a "Superstorm Sandy", a 150-foot asteroid named DA12 or just 30-inches of snow falling on a Monday morning, it's obvious that both Mother Nature and Divine providence don't really care whether our phones work, our employees can get to work or if our internet is connected. But you do.
As a business owner or a telecom and technology systems manager, your job is to keep your employees productive and connected no matter where they are stuck. To do this you need to move your data and applications to "the cloud" and be able to get an internet connection from a satellite.
Since most disasters that a business can plan for are regional in nature, it's best to plan NOT TO HAVE all your critical business data and applications in just one region.
Watch the CenturyLink video below for a short tutorial of how "the cloud" puts your business critical data and applications into hardened, dispersed and secure data centers around the country and immune to a disaster that affects just one region of the country.
But what's the point of having your data and applications survive if you can't connect to them? That's where a business continuity Internet connection for a company like X2nSat comes in. Even large regional disasters don't take out orbiting satellites.
Call Us Today to Get a Business Continuity Plan Customized for Your Business
CenturyLink and X2nSat are just two of dozens of business continuity and disaster backup telecom and technology vendors that an independent technology sales partner can integrate into a solution that's customized for your business.
Which combination of vendors is right for you? Call us and let us help you pick the right ones.
How the Cloud Protects Your Business Data & Applications
When your business absolutely, positively has to be connected all the time - satellite offers "business connection protection" for disaster recovery.
The Importance of Connectivity
Business continuity is a vital arm of large and small businesses alike, assuring constant connectivity and resilience in today's increasingly digital world. Virtually every process of modern enterprise operations involve network interface, increasing productivity while also making the entire organization vulnerable to network disruption. Productivity, logistics, revenue and employee safety are significantly impacted when primary connectivity is down for even a short period.
While everyday factors such as human error and equipment failure cause the majority of minor disconnections, the constant threat from excavation incidents, acts of terrorism and increasingly occurring natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and fires can take networks down for extended periods of time. Some of these risks could take your organization offline for only an hour, others for weeks, but in a competitive and highly-automated environment, even minutes of lost communication between company sites or processes can have significant results. In a recent internal study by Hewlett Packard, it was found that unexpected network downtime costs their organization approximately $900,000 per hour.
Download, Read or Listen to Our Whitepaper Interview with Garrett Hill
X2nSat is a business based in California that specializes in business continuity and disaster recovery solutions that utilize an affordable, business class satellite technology.
Click here to view and print a seven-page whitepaper interview I recently conducted with X2nSat CEO Garrett Hill. In the whitepaper Mr. Hill provides a detailed overview for his business continuity and disaster recovery satellite solutions and provides a competitive comparison to related solutions.
Click the audio player below to listen to the interview now or download the MP3.
Does a Satellite-Based Business Continuity Solution Make Sense for Your Business? Call Us!
Long gone are the latency challenges that have previously prevented businesses from seriously considering satellite technology as the wireless data link they use to augment their wide area data network.
If you are currently considering 3G, 4G, LTE or WiMax wireless data as part of your business continuity or disaster recovery solutions, such as the one shown in the diagram below, please contact a recommended solution partner in your area to learn how a managed satellite solution from X2nSat can provide a 2 meg symmetrical wireless data connection that may be far superior and more economical.
Keywords: x2nsat, garrett hill, business continuity, satellite, whitepaper, disaster recovery, wireless data, 3g, 4g, lte, wimax, wide area data network. Image: iStock
As Washington wrangles over the details of avoiding a national "fiscal cliff", business owners and managers should take a day or two to find the fiscal cliffs buried in their current telecom agreements.
Just as the nation's taxpayers want their Washington political representatives to eliminate spending on overpriced or underutilized services, so too should every business be scrutinizing the details of every contract for voice and data services that generates a monthly invoice.
Auto-Renewal = Going Over the Telecom Cliff
I've been in the telecom business since 1990 and the only rates that I've ever seen go up year after year are copper phone line rates from AT&T and Verizon. All other rates on all other services have gone down every year for over 20 years.
The reason telecom carriers write their contracts so they auto-renew at the end of a term is to prevent their customers from asking for lower rates. If you do not notify your telecom carriers that it is your intention to review and renegotiate each and every agreement prior to the expiration of the term you are locking in lower business profits for yourself and giving your telecom vendor higher profits without your vendor giving you more value in return.
How to Renegotiate Your Telecom Contracts Without Switching Voice & Data Carriers
The main reason most business customers let their contracts auto-renew is because they simply don't have the time, energy or resources to conduct a thorough market analysis of their current vendor's competition and they really don't want to change providers anyway.
While an aversion to switching carriers is understandable since that's when major outages can occur, an aversion to saving 10% on a voice or data phone bill is hard to understand, especially since it can be accomplished without switching service providers if a professional network services "independent partner" is engaged for a contract renewal consulting agreement.
The trick to successfully negotiating a lower contract rate from your existing provider is in being able to convince your current provider that you can easily access the same or better service at a lower rate from one of their competitors. Unfortunately, getting competitive contract pricing information from your current carrier's competitors (that you have no real intention of switching to) can be tough. This is where an independent sales consultant is invaluable.
Independent telecom agents or "channel partners" work with all the different voice and data competitors and are very familiar with the most aggressive pricing that all the vendors provide to retail customers in any given competitive scenario. More often than not, an independent sales consultant can provide the exact documentation you need to get your current provider to lower your current rates IF and ONLY IF you've not let your agreement auto-renew.
How Can You Get Contract Renegotiation Help? Call Us!
Click here to find a recommended telecom agent or independent network services sales partner in your area. All agents and partners help customers in different ways and at different price points. Some charge a straight hourly rate, some charge a "shared savings" percentage and others simply charge a "management over-ride" percentage of all the monthly invoices they help you manage.
To find the right partner for your renegotiation needs you'll want to work with someone that understands your specific network voice and data design so that competitive comparisons are done in an "apples for apples" manner.
Keywords: independent telecom agent, sales partner, network services, contract, service agreement, renegotiation, shared savings, auto-renewal, at&t, verizon, cliff, telecom fiscal, Image: iStock
Sure, the economy seems to be picking up a bit but 2013 would still be a rotten year to get fired by your boss (or your customers).
To help you keep your job (or make more money), following is a short, 5-point checklist of what you need to be looking at in the area of "office communications technology".
Please run through this checklist as soon as you can because "unified communications" is getting cheaper and sticking with outdated technology is getting more expensive.
1. Connect Your Offices Better - The same connections that connect your computers together in your office are now inexpensively available to connect your offices together in a secure environment.
Ethernet & MPLS are two technologies that allow any business owner to use to connect the local area network (LAN) of each separate office over a single wide area network (WAN) to eliminate the perceived communications barrier of distance.
2. Bond Better Bandwidth - If the contracts for the bandwidth you're using to connect your offices together or to connect to the internet are more than twelve months old then you're either paying too much or you're missing out on needed diversity.
Most MPLS WANs that have been around for a while are creeping along at T-1 speeds of 1.54 megs at very high prices. If you're got a T-1 based MPLS, make sure you're getting the best price and check out how cheaply you can "bond" more and better bandwidth to or around your current WAN connections.
What constitutes "better"? Cheaper and faster. While an MPLS network is still viewed by many as the most secure way to communicate critical data between locations, not all of your business traffic needs to traverse over a gold-plated WAN. Take all your business "junk" data traffic off your MPLS and route it over low-cost data connections like cable, DSL or satellite using either equipment or software that shapes and prioritizes your business data traffic.
3. Unify Your Phone System in the Cloud - Seriously, why is your phone system still in your broom closet, server room or basement? While a reasonable argument can still be made that owning a phone system might be cheaper in the long run than "renting" one via many current "hosted VoIP" or "unified communications" business phone system solutions, even businesses that own their own phone systems are moving them to "the cloud".
If you're a business owner with multiple locations you already know how important it is to have your multiple locations all function as one. Just as you can connect your multiple local area network computers over a single wide area network you can now connect the desk and mobile phones of all your offices and remote employees over a single phone system.
If you own more than one phone system or callers to your main phone number can't be routed to any employee or any office then 2013 should be the year that you change that. The technology to accomplish this has been real world tested for over a decade and it's finally affordable.
4. Become Indestructible - How many single points of failure do you have engineered into your multi-location business critical voice and date systems? What happens if your basement floods? What happens if your main telecom carrier goes down? What happens if your employees can not physically be present in one or more of your offices for a week?
If you've already implemented the first three points on this list then you're already half-prepared to become an indestructible, fully-redundant, self-healing business. To become a fully indestructible business simply go through your wide area network diagram and start "breaking connections" and blowing up servers.
If one communication path is blocked, where's the re-route? If one application or data set is destroyed, where is the backup and how quickly is it moved from secondary to primary? You'll soon see that having multiple network service connections from multiple vendors that can also provide "managed services" like remote data backup and remote hosted applications can easily make you completely indestructible without your having to buy more in-house equipment or software.
5. Eliminate all Desk Chairs - By completing the first four items on this list you'll have prepared all your non-human business assets for increased profitability. To properly prepare your employees to take advantage of your office communication technology upgrades, eliminate all desk chairs.
Think about it. Can your employees shake hands with new prospects or current customers while sitting at their desk? Why are they sitting at their desks anyway? Probably because there's a chair there.
If your best employees insist that there are profit increasing activities that they can only engage in while parked at their desk, make a list of all those activities so you can find, migrate or create an office software application that can allow that activity to be completed using a smartphone or tablet computer while your best employees are visiting with customers or prospects or traveling between costumers and prospects.
Who Can Help You With These Checklist Items? Call Us!
Office communications technology is blurring the lines between phones, computers and "the cloud". It's also getting cheaper and more complicated every day.
To help you decide whether the business communication technology advances of 2012 mandate that you spend or move money around differently in 2013 talk to a business communication technology expert. Click here to find one near you.
Keywords: office communication technology, application, redundant, self-healing, business phone system, cloud, hosted voip, unified communications, MPLS, wan, cable, dsl, satellite, t-1, bandwidth, ethernet, lan, local area network, wide area network, checklist. Image: iStock
Trying to get your best people out of their desks and in front of your customers and prospects?
If so, 2012's top two business communication technology stories helped make that easier.
1. Microsoft Rolls Out Their New Operating System - This is a big deal for business owners that are still running their shops on an older Microsoft operating system like XP or older thinking that they'll upgrade after they get a chance to look at Microsoft's new OS.
Well it's time to look and decide whether you want to keep the old OS another year or whether the time is finally right to get into "unified communications & collaboration" or simply "UCC".
Microsoft has designed Windows 8 to pull all their shared computing and communications solutions together including Windows Phone, Lync and Office 365. If your business runs on Microsoft software, 2012 is the year that Microsoft removed all your "we're-not-ready-for-unified-communications" excuses.
If you want to know the "presence" of all your employees all the time and then be able to instantly communicate with them via instant message (IM), voice, video or conference using almost any end-point (phone, tablet, PC, etc.) then Microsoft has a solution for you that works.
2. Microsoft, Google and Apple All Target Your Tablet - While Apple re-invented the tablet by bringing out the iPad a couple years ago, most business owners could be forgiven for not buying one for each employee. In 2012 though business owners started wondering if tablet-powered employees might be the secret to increased productivity. Thoughts like these tend to proliferate when you see the three biggest tech companies all battling it out in the 2012 "tablet wars".
While business owners and their IT managers used to be devising ways to keep employees blocked out of time-wasting tablet apps, now they're thinking how do we migrate our own critical business applications onto these tablet devices and then get our employees in front of more customers?
How Do You Capitalize on Business Communication Technology Advances? Call Us!
Unified communications is blurring the lines between phones, computers and "the cloud". To help you decide whether the business communication technology advances of 2012 mandate that you spend or move money around differently in 2013 talk to a business communication technology expert. Click here to find one near you.
Keywords: Microsoft, Google, Apple, Tablet, business communication, technology, windows 8, lync, 360, presence, instantly communicate, instant message, IM, voice, video conference