Blog

May 4th, 2016

 

Carrying a four-leaf clover might work for leprechauns. But when it comes to Internet abuse by employees, In less than 60 seconds, you are about to learn 10 things that could save you days – or even weeks – of downtime, not to mention the undue stress on your company, and potentially thousands of dollars lost, due to a data disaster…

Use this article as your checklist in a conversation with your IT company to assure that your business has the right plan in place to get back up and running quickly if and when disaster strikes.

Keep a written plan. Simply thinking through in ADVANCE what needs to happen when things go south on you, and documenting it, can go a long way toward getting your network back up and running quickly if it gets hacked, flooded or compromised by human error or equipment failure.

Outline the types of disasters that could happen, and a step-by-step recovery process. Be sure to include a budget, what to do, who should do it and how. Store printed copies along with key contact information and login details for essential websites 1) in a fireproof safe, 2) off-site at your home, 3) at each key employee’s home and 4) with your IT consultant.

Hire a trusted professional to help you. Trying to recover data after a disaster without professional help is business suicide. One misstep can result in weeks of downtime, or permanent data loss. To improve your odds of a quick recovery, work with a pro who has experience in both setting up your plan and helping you recover when a loss occurs.

Have a communications plan. What if your employees can’t access your office, e-mail or phone system – how should they communicate with you? Make sure your plan details the alternatives, including MULTIPLE ways to stay in touch.

Automate your backups. THE #1 cause of data loss is human error. If your backup system depends on a human being doing something, it’s a recipe for disaster. ALWAYS automate your backups so they run like clockwork.

Keep an off-site backup copy of your data. On-site backups are a good first step, but if they get flooded, burned or hacked along with your server, you’re out of luck. ALWAYS maintain a recent copy of your data off-site.

Be able to access and manage your network remotely. You and your staff will be able to keep working if they can’t get into your office. Your IT manager or consultant can quickly handle an emergency or routine maintenance. And you’ll love the convenience.

Image your server. Storing your data off-site is great – but bear in mind, if your system goes down, the software and architecture that handles all that data must be RESTORED for it to be of any use. Imaging your server creates a replica of the original, saving you an enormous amount of time and energy in getting your network back in gear. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about losing your preferences, configurations or favorites.

Document your network. Network documentation is simply a blueprint of the software, data, systems and hardware that comprise your company’s network. Let your IT manager or consultant create this for you. It’ll save you time and money in the event your network needs to be restored.

It also speeds up everyday repairs and maintenance on your network when technicians don’t have to waste time figuring out where things are and how they’re configured. Plus, it may help with insurance claims in the event of losses due to a disaster.

Maintain your system. While fires, flooding and other natural disasters are certainly a risk, it’s ever more likely that you’ll experience downtime due to a virus, worm or hacker attack. That’s why it’s critical to keep your network patched, secure and up-to-date. And don’t forget: deteriorating hardware and corrupted software can wipe you out. Replace and update them as needed to steer clear of this threat.

Test, test, test! If you’re going to go to the trouble of setting up a plan, at least make sure it works! Hire an IT pro to test monthly to make sure your systems work properly and your data is secure. After all, the worst time to test your parachute is AFTER you jump out of the plane.

Need help getting this implemented? Contact us by May 31 at 203-268-5947 x101 or email Jay@CrestviewIT.com for a FREE Backup And Disaster Recovery Audit.

May 3rd, 2016

2016May3_BusinessIntelligence_BWhen it comes to marketing, it can be tough to determine the most effective strategies. There are so many different ways you can try to lure customers to your brand: a free ebook, email marketing and press releases are few strategies often used. But how do you know what’s most effective? It all comes down to looking at data to see what works best. We’ve done some legwork for you to show how this old school marketing tactic is still influencing customers as much today as it did decades ago.

What is one thing every consumer has in common? They all love to save money. This is why the marketing technique of offering coupons is still as effective today as it was decades ago. Shocked? Don’t believe this is true? Well, let’s explore some statistics.

A recent report by Valassis, a large marketing firm that serves clients across the globe, provided some enlightening information on the effectiveness of coupons. Here’s what they discovered in terms of how coupons influence consumers.

  • 82% of all consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally because of a coupon
  • 85% are influenced to try a new product because of a coupon
  • 84% are more likely to switch brands because of the weekly specials on offer
  • 24% choose to shop at another brand’s store over their preferred because of better advertised bargains
This same report also uncovers some interesting data about brand loyalists, revealing that 78% are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally patronize, due to a coupon. While this number is surprising close to the amount of total consumers influenced by coupons (as mentioned in the first bullet point above) this next bit of data may come as more of a surprise: 43% of brand loyalists have a more positive view of a company that offers coupons over those who don’t.

While this recent report goes a long way to revealing the benefits of coupons, how do they compare to another common marketing offer used today: free information products?

The appeal of coupons over information products

According to one marketing firm based in Waterford, Connecticut, a coupon was chosen 9 out of 10 times over an ebook when offered simultaneously. This raises an interesting question: why would a coupon be more effective than a free ebook or other information product? Let’s look at some common psychology triggers at play here.

Broad appeal - simply put, coupons have mass appeal. While information products are likely to be seen as more valuable to those with a higher education, a coupon can appeal to all income brackets - from the very wealthy to the very poor.

Instant value - to gain results from an information product requires a time investment and action. For example, if a customer receives a free 30 page ebook that explains how to get the best discounts on electronic equipment, he or she needs to read the book and then take action (and possibly create a plan) to gain the rewards of that time investment. Many consumers would rather spend their time doing something else, but a coupon on the other hand offers immediate value. Simply hand it over to the service provider, and you save money instantly. What’s not to love about that?

Uniqueness - the online marketplace is flooded with free information products. While they’re still an effective tool to gain a prospect’s email address, far fewer businesses offer coupons on their website, especially in the small business sector. By offering a coupon, you provide a free offer that immediately separates you from the pack.

The point here is that just because a marketing tool is popular doesn't mean it’s the most effective. This is why we encourage you to review data and statistics before implementing any marketing technique in your business. It can save you a whole lot of time and also make your business stand out.

Want more valuable business information that can help you connect better with your customers? Curious to learn how IT can help collect data more easily? Call us today to find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
April 29th, 2016

2016Apr29_AndroidPhone_BIt’s the middle of the month and you’re waiting to meet a colleague outside a restaurant. As you wait, you idly browse the web and check emails, and then suddenly you’re hit with the notification you dread most. Your Android phone’s data is almost out. Questions race through your mind...how will I make it through the last couple of weeks with limited data? Should I buy more? Should I just suck it up and use the slower connection once it’s gone? Let’s face it, these are all questions you want to avoid. And here’s how you can do just that with some tips to save data on your Android phone.

Data Saver for Chrome

We all know surfing the web sucks up data. But did you know there’s a way to reduce the amount of it used while riding the Internet waves? Google Chrome enables you to do just that by compressing Chrome pages, reducing data use by 30-35%. To activate this feature, press the three dots on your Chrome browser > Settings > Data Saver. Switch it on here, and start saving data now.

Video Compression on Opera

Google Chrome isn’t the only browser with a compressing feature that saves data. The Opera mini browser also compresses data, but with video instead. Of course, if you’re trying to save data it’s a good idea to avoid streaming video while not connected to Wi-Fi, but if you must do so, follow these steps on your Opera mini browser to load videos faster while saving data: go to Settings > Data Savings and tick the video compression box.

Eighty-six Facebook and other data-draining apps

This extremely bloated app has caused multiple problems for Android users. Not only has it been linked to causing Android phone slowdown, but it also consumes a ton of data. A few alternative ways to access Facebook sans the application are to use the web app Tinfoil or via your Google Chrome web browser.

And while we’re on the subject of applications, consider deleting other apps that consume high amounts of data. Of course you likely have dozens of apps on your phone, so how do you know what’s consuming the most? Simply go to Settings > Data usage. From here you can see what apps are consuming the most data and delete them if you so choose.

Restrict background data

If there ever was a nemesis to data usage, it would be background data. This pesky feature of Android consumes data when you’re not browsing the web or using an app. To prevent this from happening, click Settings > Data Usage > Restrict Background Data.

Mind your auto-updates

Just because a new version of an app is available doesn’t mean you should update it right now. Doing so when not connected to Wi-Fi eats up a lot of data, which is why it’s important to turn off auto-updates because when switched on your apps will update automatically regardless of whether you’re connected to a Wi-Fi signal or simply using data. So set your Android to only update in the presence of Wi-Fi by going to Google Play Store > Settings > Auto Update Apps > Auto-update Apps over Wi-Fi Only.

Hold-off on streaming music

We know you love streaming music on YouTube, Spotify, and similar sites but, let’s be honest, this is killing your data. There’s nothing wrong with streaming music from these sites in and of itself, simply wait till you can connect to Wi-Fi to do so. In the meantime, listen to music you have stored on your phone to get your tunes in.

Take your apps offline

Many apps provide an option to access them offline without consuming any data. Google Docs is a prime example. You can choose which documents you’d like to access while not connected to the Internet. Make it a habit to check which of your apps have offline access options and enable that setting whenever possible.

Saving data on your Android device is not rocket science. Most of the time you simply need to be a bit more conscious of your online activities, and you can save a tremendous amount of data in the process. Hopefully these tips will help you do just that. If you’d like to learn how else you can improve your Android devices, get in touch with our experts now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
April 28th, 2016

2016Apr28_Security_BHackers come in all shapes and sizes. From kids trying to gain notoriety on the Internet to political groups trying to send a message, the motives for a cyber attack vary widely. So how can you protect yourself? It all starts with getting to know your enemy a little better. Here’s a profile of four different types of hackers.

Script Kiddies

When it comes to skill level, Script Kiddies are at the bottom of the totem pole and often use scripts or other automated tools they did not write themselves - hence the name. With only an elementary level of technical knowhow, Script Kiddies usually don’t cause much damage...usually. The Script Kiddy virus known as the Love Bug which sent out an email with the subject-line “I LOVE YOU” fooled millions of people, including some in the Pentagon, in the early 2000’s. The virus reportedly caused around 10 billion in lost productivity and digital damage.

So who is a Script Kiddie? Most of the time they’re simply bored youth looking for a thrill or notoriety. Many never evolve into a full-time hacker, and instead just use their skills as a hobby. Oddly enough, many Script Kiddies find a career later on working in the security industry.

Hacktivist

If you’ve heard of Anonymous, LulzSec or AntiSec, then you’re familiar with Hacktivists. These groups are made up of members of varying skill levels, all the way from Script Kiddies to some of the most talented hackers in the world. Their mission is largely politically motivated as they aim to embarrass their targets or disrupt their operations, whether that be a business or government body. Two of the most common ways they attack their target are by stealing sensitive information and exposing it or denial of service (DDoS) where a server is overloaded till it finally crashes.

As a small or medium-sized business owner you are not necessarily immune to Hacktivist disruption. If your business or a company you’re associated/partnered with participates or provides services that can be seen as unethical, such as Ashley Madison (who fell victim of a major Hacktivist attack last year), then you too may be targeted by Hacktivists.

Cyber Criminals

Often talked about in the media and well-known by most SMBs, cyber criminals are after one thing: money. Their targets run the gamut, including everyone from individuals to small businesses to large enterprises and banks. But what do these targets usually have in common? They either have a very valuable resource to steal or their security is easy to exploit...or a combination of both of these. Cyber criminals can attack in a number of ways including using social engineering to trick users into providing sensitive information, infecting an organization/individual with ransomware or another form or malware, or exploiting weaknesses in a network.

Insiders

Perhaps the scariest type of hackers are the ones that lurk within your own organization. Insiders are made up of disgruntled employees, whistleblowers or contractors. Oftentimes their mission is payback; they want to right a wrong they believe a company has perpetrated toward them, so they’ll steal sensitive documents or try to disrupt the organization somehow. Edward Snowden is a prime example of an insider who hacked his own organization - the US government.

Now that you know what motivates your enemy, you’ll hopefully have a bit of an idea as to whether or not you’re a target. To learn more about how to secure your business from these types of hackers, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 27th, 2016

2016Apr27_Healthcare_ARansomware is becoming a growing problem for the healthcare industry. And with around a dozen attacks on hospitals being reported since the beginning of the year, you may be wondering just how severe the problem is. Should you be alarmed? How can you protect your practice? Here’s an inside look at how the ransomware epidemic is affecting the US and Canadian healthcare systems.

The ransomware strike on Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center on February, 5 was one of the first major attacks this year. The hospital lost control of its computer system to hackers and was forced to pay them $17,000 to regain control.

“The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this,” stated Allen Stefanek, president of the medical center.

Thankfully, access to Hollywood Presbyterian’s EMR system was restored on Monday February, 15, over a week after the initial attack. So what can be learned from this story? Well, it raises a very important question…

Should you pay a hacker who’s infected your system with ransomware?

It’s a vexing question, and unfortunately the consensus on the answer is split. The problem is that the ransomware is very intelligently designed. And while it may sound absurd to pay so much money to a hacker, especially when there’s no guarantee your systems will be restored, oftentimes there’s not much choice.

“The ransomware is that good. To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom.” said Joseph Bonavolonta, an Assistant Special Agent of the FBI’s CYBER and Counterintelligence Program.

While Bonavolonta and other law enforcement officials have advised to pay the ransom, the US government has oddly enough said the opposite. In a release made public late last month, they noted, “Individuals or organizations are discouraged from paying the ransom, as this does not guarantee files will be released. Report instances of fraud to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center.”

The reasoning behind this argument is that by paying the ransom, you’re encouraging hackers to attack more practices.

How deep does the ransomware epidemic go?

According to Symantec’s 2015 Internet Security Breach Report, the healthcare industry had the highest number of data breaches for four years in a row and suffers 37% of all breaches that occur. In fact, last year alone there were more than 250 separate incidents of data breaches in healthcare totaling over 112 million records. And the problem doesn’t look to be getting any better as many experts believe that attacks are likely to grow in number and scale.

Why healthcare?

Hackers know that most healthcare facilities haven’t installed proper security measures to protect themselves. Hospitals have tight budgets, often emphasize convenience over security and have multiple entry points into their system, all of which makes them easy prey for cyber criminals. Of course hackers don’t breach a system just because it’s easy. They do it because there is valuable information stored inside, and healthcare facilities are ripe with info that can fetch a high price on the black market and help criminals steal a patient’s identity. The fact that the system is easier to breach just makes healthcare facilities a more alluring target

What can you do?

It all starts with paying more attention to security in general. But some tips to help any practice secure their system should include staff training that allows employees to better identify phishing emails, restriction of access to sensitive information, encryption and two factor authentication. While these are a few basic tactics you can use to get started, consulting an IT provider that specializes in healthcare security can be a wise decision that provides peace of mind and safety for your valuable data. We are happy to help your practice gain the highest level of security possible. Give us a call today to learn more.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Healthcare
April 25th, 2016

2016Apr25_InternetSocialNetworkingAndReputationManagement_B500+ LinkedIn connections can seem like a lofty goal. You have a business to run, and probably don’t have much time to dedicate to the platform. However, carving out the time to grow your LinkedIn network can prove invaluable as it will provide social proof to yourself or organization and presents the opportunity to connect with new clients. So how can you get to 500+? Here are some ideas to get started.

Network every day

If you’re struggling to grow your LinkedIn network, you may not be spending enough time on the platform. If you want to become a power player, you need to use the social network often. So dedicate 15-30 minutes a day to network on LinkedIn, and make it a goal to reach 500+ connections.

Join and participate in groups

Utilizing LinkedIn groups presents an opportunity to meet other professionals (and eventually add them as connections) as well as learn and share valuable advice. The point is not to just join a group, but actively participate in them. This requires a degree of focus and smart selection.

How many groups should you join? Shoot for around ten. This will ensure you have time to participate in each group and connect with its members. As for the groups you join, you’ll obviously want to join those in your industry, but you should also diversify. So choose five within your industry and five that relate to your other interests or provide you an opportunity to learn from its group members. Some suggestions to consider are an alumni group for your university, groups that represent causes/charities you care about, and groups that relate to a new skill you’re hoping to learn. Obviously, all the groups you join need to be active. If members only post in a group once a week, this is a red flag to avoid joining.

Once you’ve joined, you should spend some time each day contributing in at least five of your ten groups. You can ask questions, provide advice, or share valuable articles or original content you’ve created. Once you’ve developed a rapport with group members, you’ll have an easy, non-awkward way to connect with them.

Personalize your “Connect” request

The less you know a person, the less likely they are to connect with you if you send a generic connection request. You know the one: “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Many people will simply ignore requests like this. This is why it’s important to include a quick note that either refreshes that person’s memory of you, mentions a common interest or connection you might share, or simply introduces yourself and your reason for connecting. The more personal your note the better.

Use keywords in your profile

Just like Google, Bing and the other search engines, keywords help you get found on LinkedIn. Plant these keywords in your professional headline, profile summary, and skill endorsement section. How do you know what keywords to use? Think about what you want yourself or your business to be endorsed for. What skills do you have to offer your clients? For example, if your business specializes in web solutions, some keywords you may think about using would include SEO or “web content”. As for your skills, be careful not to choose keywords that are too narrow. For example if your business is in the financial services and tax preparation industry, don’t use the names of niche tax solutions you specialize in like “estate taxes” or “small business taxes” as your endorsed skills. Instead, choose more general words like “tax preparation”. By doing this, your connections will be more likely to endorse you as it’s a broader category.

By following these tips and spending at least 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn, you’re sure to see the number of connections you have grow. And the more connections you make, the less work you’ll have to do to grow your network as more and more people will send you connection requests instead. This will provide more business opportunities and chances for you to meet new clients. If you’d like more ideas how to improve your social media efforts, feel free to email or give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 21st, 2016

2016Apr21_Office365_BMost of us like to think we’d never click on a suspicious link in an email. But the fact of the matter is this is one of the most common ways a business is hacked. We’re all human of course, and we make mistakes. Yet now Microsoft is trying to prevent this. Here’s an inside look at a new Outlook security feature that aims to protect the email of Office 365 users.

Aptly called “Safety Tips”, Microsoft Office 365’s new security feature is designed to help make your employees (and yourself) more aware of which emails may contain harmful content. By analyzing the data patterns of millions of emails, the feature uses a color-coded bar at the top of an email to help you determine what emails are safe, suspicious, or fraudulent.

How it works

Safety Tips uses a simple system to help you identify the safety level of an email quickly. The system consists of four colors that categorizes an email as suspicious, trusted, safe or unknown. The details of each of these categories are outlined below.

Suspicious email Color label: Red Description: This has either failed sender authentication or is a known phishing email. These messages should be deleted.

Unknown email Color label: Yellow Description: Exchange Online Protection marks this type of email as spam. However, you can move this item to your inbox by clicking it’s not spam in the yellow bar.

Trusted email Color label: Green Description: If this email comes from a domain Microsoft deems safe, then it falls into this category.

Safe email Color label: Gray Description: This type of email has either been marked safe by the user’s organization, has been moved from the junk folder into their inbox by the user, or the email is from a contact on the user’s safe sender list.

Color coding will look different between the Outlook app and Outlook for the Web. In the Outlook application, only suspicious emails will be flagged, whereas in Outlook for the Web all four types of emails will be color-coded. However, it should be noted that most emails won’t have any color code as they’re only added when Microsoft thinks they’re relevant.

With hackers getting smarter by the day, and human error a roadblock to a secure business, this new feature will hopefully add an extra layer of security to your organization. If you’d like to learn more about Office 365 or other security services we offer, get in touch today. A more secure business awaits.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
April 20th, 2016

2016Apr20_Web_BThese days, it’s almost impossible to see a business that does not have a website. Even small businesses have taken to the Internet to find more customers and create an online presence. The problem is, with so many companies creating their own websites, yours can get lost in the shuffle. Luckily, a great web design can make a big difference. Here are five web design trends that could help increase your web traffic.

Scrolling

Scrolling is a convenient method for traversing a website. Instead of navigating through confusing menus and drop-down tabs, a scrolling one-page site has a cleaner look and is usually more intuitive for the user. This web design style is definitely more important today, now that people have grown more accustomed to mobile web browsing.

You also have to decide how far visitors will have to scroll to get to know your company. While a long scrolling page gives you more white space and content to work with, a short scrolling page can quickly convey your company’s message and encourages call to actions. The next time you revamp your company website, consider the appropriate scrolling element for your page.

Flat design

To achieve an optimal viewing experience for users, many companies adopted a flat design for their websites. The flat design style replaces the elements that gives an illusion of depth, like shadows and textures, with minimalist typography and colors. For example, Google employed this style to get content to viewers more efficiently. The company added flat design colors and used a sans-serif font. This allowed the logo to load faster and made it was easier to read as well.

Animations

One way businesses have been setting themselves apart from others is by including customized animations to their pages. Now this doesn’t mean you should overload your site with flashy effects that take forever to load. If you want to use animations on your site, give it a subtle twist. For instance, Slack’s loading animation features their logo.

Additionally, animations can be used to increase user interaction and engagement. Hover animations will allow your users to mouse over your content and get an immediate response without having to move between pages. Slideshows on your homepage can also showcase what your company is about without throwing too much information at the audience. When deciding to add an animation to your page, figure out how a specific effect can enhance the user experience while showcasing your business.

Full-screen forms

More websites and apps are using full-screen forms to increase user interaction. Rather than being redirected to another page when your visitors decide to register or login to a website, you are welcomed by a full-screen form without leaving the home page. This is also especially useful for mobile users since they are less likely to misclick sections of the form.

Customized photos

The next time you want to use photographs to highlight your company, forget about using stock photos. Businesses who exhibit their own photography on their homepages look more personal and stand out from the competition.

While these trends are popular at the moment, don’t blindly adopt them all because it will end up looking very messy. The best way to approach these web design trends is by making sure that the design fits your target audience. You won’t exactly have mouse over animations for a website that doesn’t have very many images. Use the trends that are best for your company.

If you want to learn more about current web design trends, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
April 20th, 2016

By Robert Stevenson

A while back I did a huge favor for someone and never heard anything from them… Zip, zilch, nada, nothing. Just a simple “thank you” would have been nice…but they acted as if it was expected of me. To say that I was disappointed is putting it mildly.

To me, disappointed is a very powerful and scary word. You see, disappointed can turn into other “dis” words, such as disgruntled, discouraged, disenthralled, disillusioned, disheartened and possibly even dissatisfied with our current personal or business relationship. I might start noticing that this relationship (business or personal) is really all about YOU and how YOU can benefit; the words reciprocation or gratitude don’t seem to be in your vocabulary.

Everyone likes to be remembered, thanked or appreciated for doing favors, going above and beyond, being courteous, considerate, thoughtful or kind. Being “taken for granted” stinks. Forgetting to show any kind of appreciation for someone who did something for you…that they didn’t have to do…can end up causing you problems later on. You will never know when someday you may need a helping hand, and all those people you took for granted and/or never thanked might NOT be so readily available to help you out.

Francesca Gino, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, did some research on gratitude and looked at 41 fund-raisers at a university, all receiving a fixed salary. The director visited half of the fund-raisers in person, telling them, “I am very grateful for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate your contributions to the university.” The second group received no such expressions of gratitude. What was the impact of the director’s thanks? Gino said that “the expression of gratitude increased the number of calls by more than 50%” for the week, while fund- raisers who received no thanks made about the same number of calls as the previous week.

Organizations and leaders who miss chances to express gratitude lose opportunities to motivate people that actually cost them nothing. Simply stated: gratitude is free and profitable. People may not show that they are upset about not being thanked…but when the time comes for them to help YOU out again, they may just be a little too busy that day. You can transform your relationships, business and personal life with the Power of Gratitude! Never underestimate the power of a thank-you and never pass up on the opportunity to say those two words.

“It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.”
– Anonymous

 

Robert Stevenson is a highly sought after, internationally known speaker. He is the author of the best-selling books How to Soar Like An Eagle in a World Full of Turkeys and 52 Essential Habits For Success. Robert is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and is a former All-American Athlete. He started his first business at 24 and has owned several companies. Robert has international sales experience dealing in over 20 countries, and his client list reads like a Who’s Who in Business. He has shared the podium with such renowned names as Generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, Former President George H.W. Bush, Anthony Robbins and Steven Covey. www.robertstevenson.org/

Topic Articles
April 19th, 2016

2016Apr19_VoIP_BWhen considering a VoIP solution, many small business owners have a lot of reservations. What if the call quality is unsuitable? What if your staff struggles with the technology? What if you have to deal with the headache of installing an additional network? All these assumptions can prevent business owners from giving VoIP a try, but are they legitimate? Absolutely not. Here’s how you can avoid them while optimizing your VoIP solution.

Use the same network for voice and data

A popular reason many businesses choose VoIP is to cut costs, which is exactly why you should run voice and data on the same network. Running them separately will significantly increase set up and running costs. And doing so will add an extra layer of complexity to your business that is completely unneeded. Regardless, choosing to combine your voice and data does take a bit of thought to ensure you don’t bump into unnecessary issues. So ask your provider the following questions before getting started:
  1. Will you be able to scale the service as needed?
  2. How much bandwidth will you need to cover both data and voice? Does your business have enough?
  3. Can you make modifications to the network?

Prioritize voice communication

VoIP saves you money. But you don’t want to do so at the cost of the integrity of your business. If you have unreliable voice communications with clients and colleagues, this can tarnish your reputation. This is why voice needs to take priority on your network over applications and other Internet activity if a bottleneck occurs. You can do this by setting the QoS (Quality of Service) on your router to prioritize voice and VoIP traffic. This can help provide clear voice communications without lag or interruption.

Provide comprehensive staff training

As with most technologies, VoIP has a learning curve. While many business owners are happy to give a few quick tips to their employees along with a brief manual, the training often stops there. However, what if your employees encounter problems with the technology while they’re on the phone with a customer? With proper training you can avoid such scenarios. What’s more, your training also gives you an opportunity to share some of the more advanced features VoIP has to offer such as in-call coaching, hot desking, and call screening.

To ensure your staff can maximize their VoIP experience, your training should include the basics of how the software, hardware and data flow operates. You should also include the procedures to take when encountering a problem with the technology and how your voice and data staff can work together for optimum VoIP performance. Once you’ve done that, don’t forget to test your employees on what they’ve learned and answer any and all questions they may have.

VoIP presents a unique opportunity for your business to gain a more advanced telephony solution while cutting costs. Call quality does not have to take a hit. If you’d like to learn more about how VoIP can improve your business, call us now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP