7 Ways Business VoIP Empowers More Productive Employees

Voice-over IP, also known as VoIP, is a very common system used for business phones. VoIP technology can turn an average network of phones and computers into a robust tool for productivity. Some of the ways business VoIP empowers productive employees will help any company get more out of the resources they already have in place.

 

1. Enhancing Mobility

With VoIP phone systems, it is possible to have calls routed to mobile devices when a worker is not at their desk. This makes employees more productive by allowing them to get around to meetings and client visits without worrying about missing out on important phone calls.

2. Improving Collaboration

Through the use of a VoIP phone system, you can hold remote conferences with other employees very easily. This means that it is much less of a challenge for small teams that are working together on projects to update one another about individual progress, which improves the productivity of each group member.

3. Making Troubleshooting Less Complex

There are few bigger hindrances to productivity than a network or phone system going down. With VoIP, companies don’t need to worry about traditional cabling or all of the potential problems that could come with it. VoIP uses one single network, so that when changes or fixes do need to be made it does not require users to alter hardware or work with live wires.

4. Allowing Document Sharing

Many software platforms that work with VoIP tools allow users to instantly share documents and files with their colleagues. If an employee needs to send over an important report or some numbers regarding a project, they can do so easily thanks to an integrated VoIP network.

5. Better Training

More training usually leads to more productive employees. VoIP can assist with training through its 3-way calling and whisper features. With the whisper feature, you can be on a call with an outside number and someone else on the network can place a call to your number. They will be able to talk to you, but the outside caller will not hear the third party. This feature is great for live training on sales calls, for example.

6. Improving Notes And Recall

Employees who want to be able to go back to a call repeatedly to take thorough notes or glean additional information can do this through the VoIP call recording feature. With call recording, employees can re-listen to seminars or important conference calls with clients to make sure that they are approaching their work the right way.

7. Easier Interpretation Of Voicemails

Everyone knows how helpful voicemails can be for providing information or alerts when someone can’t get to the phone. With the right VoIP systems in place, your employees can access features that transcribe voicemails into text and send the text to an email address. This enhances productivity by allowing employees to instantly learn the information their voicemail messages contain, instead of having to play the message over and over again to write down important details.

 

For more information about ways business VoIP empowers productive employees, get in touch with an expert provider of integrated communication systems so you can see how these tools may be able to benefit your particular organization.

 

At Pentegra Systems, we work closely with our clients to provide them the right audio, video, low voltage and collaboration technologies that support their business goals. Serving customers throughout Chicagoland, Pentegra aspires to be the first company you call for your system integration needs. Ready to learn more, connect with us here. We are happy to help!

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Misconception of Business Class VoIP

When making any sort of important decision, you need all the facts. Whether it is for your personal life or professional life, your home or your business, a thorough analysis needs to be conducted on the road to your ultimate solution. A common issue for both homes and businesses, for example, is what phone system to choose. In the communication industry, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is quite the popular and appealing choice. However there can be quite the misunderstanding when customers assume getting a VoIP Phone System for their business is the same as the one they’d get in their own homes. This is specifically why having all the facts is crucial.  When the average, non-tech savvy consumer hears VoIP, they tend to think of residential phone systems that make calls over the internet and carry the reputation of terrible call quality given the internet cannot be controlled and bandwidth is always an issue. Many businesses are hesitant to go the VoIP route because of this reason. Why would a company choose a phone system if they know terrible call quality is even a remote possibility? More importantly, why would a company choose a phone system that relies solely on the internet? However, they are simply making an assumption without having all the facts.

A business VoIP phone system is actually a premise-based phone system that is Ethernet-based and uses the data pipes of the business. Basically, the VoIP system combines with the business class phone service that the company uses. This system utilizes the data network to make calls within the building only, but uses the standard phone line to communicate anywhere outside the building. Call quality is not an issue since it doesn’t function like a residential VoIP phone. There are several advantages for businesses to use a VoIP telephone system. For instance, changes and modifications to the system can be made much easier and at a quicker rate.  Let’s say an employee needs to move their desk somewhere else in the building. Historically this would require quite the amount of effort to make the move. With a business class VoIP phone system, all of the phones are already programmed. The employee simply just needs to plug it into the network jack at their new desk. This eliminates the unnecessary time and resources it would take to get that employee up and running at their new desk if the company didn’t use a VoIP phone system. A phone system in the office that uses the company’s data line enables the phone system to interact with company computers; accessing contacts, transferring voicemails, managing voicemails and completely integrating with the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, just to name a handful of possibilities. This interaction is called Computer Telephone Integration, also known as CTI. Another attractive aspect to business class VoIP systems is that the company would not need to install a second set of cabling since the existing data cables are already in place. Easier connectivity, countless features and crystal clear sound quality make business class VoIP quite the appealing option to businesses.

As you can clearly see, VoIP in the business world is significantly different than a VoIP system in the home. A residential VoIP phone system does have its own advantages and features that are appealing to the consumer, and all of those features are also available with a business class VoIP system without the quality of the call being an issue like it occasionally is with a residential VoIP. The potential and upside of using a VoIP phone system in the business world, such as the systems ShoreTel offers, is quite large considering all of the integration possibilities of the system. Much like any decision maker, if you want to truly make the right choice and the choice that makes the most sense for both your needs and your wants, you should make sure you have all the correct information first and foremost.

 

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How to Manage BYOD on a Wireless Network

In the past, it was commonplace for employees of a business to only use resources provided and owned by their respective employer. Usual examples include computers and company phones. Businesses had total control of how these devices were being used since they were in-house and more than likely that’s where they stayed. Fast forward to present day, things have changed quite a bit. Through the help of wireless networks, a movement called BYOD has become quite popular. BYOD is an acronym standing for “Bring Your Own Device.” This allows for employees of the company to bring their own personal mobile devices to the workplace to use. These devices are most commonly used to carry out usual business practices which often involve the accessing of privileged company information and applications. BYOD has proven to drive employee satisfaction as well as overall productivity. This initiative also saves companies money since they do not have to supply the employee with a company device. The issues are that since these devices are also used for personal use of the employee, companies don’t have that complete control over these devices and how they are used. Since BYOD is a trend that most likely will grow, the question arises: how does one manage BYOD on a wireless network?

When first implementing a BYOD policy in the workplace, the decision needs input from everyone across the board. If valuable company information is going to be accessible on personal devices of employees, collaboration is needed from top ranked management officers, the IT department, human resources, etc as to what extent of information can and can’t be accessed. Every single person involved needs to be on the same page when thinking about what is best for the company. Once these decisions are made rules and guidelines absolutely need to be put in place as to what employees are and aren’t allowed to do on their devices while using them for work purposes. These rules need to be as specific and as clear as possible to avoid any unexpected or unwanted usage issues.

There are several ways to go about managing BYOD. Companies want the capability to monitor what employees are doing with their devices. Many mobile devices already offer a slew of technologies that can monitor usage of multiple features. Such technologies include GPS receivers, camera recorders and audio recorders. However, most companies commonly implement the use services and suites to closely manage how their users are using their devices. These technologies have the ability to act as a safeguard for both outgoing and incoming files and information. If these devices have access to valuable company information, companies wouldn’t want any of their private information to accidentally leak out. BYOD management software has a tight hold on the data traffic ensuring nothing will fall into unwanted hands. The same principal goes for monitoring what comes into these devices such as downloading files or applications that can be harmful to the business.  Alert systems are also incorporated to immediately notify necessary parties of any sort of issue that arises. Tighter security measures must also be in place for CEO’s and various higher ups within the organization due to their access to perhaps more confidential information than that of the average employee.

Any website, hyperlink or e-mail attachment has the potential to be extremely hazardous. As employees browse the web and open e-mails, the possibilities of viruses arise. Viruses are a significant issue when individual users’ devices get infected given the amount of data stored within those devices (account numbers, financial information, personal information, etc.). However, the issues only intensify when an entire company is at risk. Viruses can’t only steal information; they have the capability of bringing down an entire network. Policies need to be in place where all devices need to be running antivirus and anti-malware programs especially if the device runs a vulnerable OS such as Windows, Android or Linux. These programs will be the first line of defense against incoming threats. In addition to companies already securing their data, companies need to deploy a dedicated device such as SonicWALL to manage the security of the network. Relying on simple firewalls is not enough. Your network should be a managed impenetrable fortress to the outside world.

In an effort to manage the system in a much more efficient way, the BYOD initiative should not include “any” device. Employees shouldn’t assume they can bring whatever device they have and expect it to work with the system. There are a slew of mobile devices available and one cannot expect every single one to be able to be included. The business has quite a large task on their hands as it has to oversee what is going on with everyone’s device, the narrower the spectrum of devices, the easier it will be to manage and create policies and security measures.

Security is the big picture when managing a BYOD program, obviously. Decision makers need to also create loss, theft and exit policies. How many times has one of your friends or family members told you that they lost their phone again? When an employee brings their device to work and has access to company information, these devices indirectly become an asset to that company without the company actually owning them. A prime example is contact information. If an employee leaves a company for whatever reason, they no longer just take away the experience from that job; they have information in their device such as important contacts among other things that they can more than likely utilize elsewhere. These policies will need to balance features and risks to protect the personal information of the user as well as the reputation of the business.

If employees are to use their own personal devices for work purposes, policies and security measures must be in place. However, the employees using their personal mobile devices most likely won’t want their phone or tablet on total lockdown. It’s at this point BYOD creates a risk for both the employer and employee. There needs to be a medium. In terms of what a company can have access to, there needs to be a fine line between a user’s company data and a user’s personal data. This is where managing a BYOD becomes critical for the initiative’s overall success and prosperity. The BYOD system has proven to be ultimately successful if this balance can be achieved.

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Benefits of Premise-Based Phone Systems vs. Hosted Phone Systems

In a world dominated by emailing, tweeting and text messaging, one device has continued to remain an intricate component of communication in business, the telephone. As easy as it may be to send a quick email instead of dialing the phone, there is no more effective method of communicating with another human being other than face-to-face than that of the phone. As far as technology has come, a telephone system is still a necessity in the workplace. When evaluating what VoIP phone system to implement in your workplace, it boils down to hosted vs. premise-based phone systems.  A premise-based phone system is one that is completely controlled and maintained within the business itself while a hosted phone system is one that is hosted in the cloud. In a time where most technology is migrating to the cloud, a phone system in house is still the more appealing option.             

Features

The most obvious starting point when choosing which system suits your business better is what features each has to offer. When researching various hosted phone systems, it’s obvious that they do not offer all of the features as the ones that are offered in premise-based. In most cases this is true as queues (automatic call lineup and routing) and IVRs (interactive voice response) are missing or at the very least, cost extra.  These additional features are more often than not already included with premise-based phone systems at no additional charge. If your business needs its critical business communication features, a premise-based system could ultimately be the way to go.

Control

It’s only natural preferring to have control over your assets. By choosing a premise-based phone system over one that resides in the cloud, the user will have more control and more flexibility. As it is when owning any type of asset, the owner has complete control over its use and operation. The premise-based phone system resides within your facility and is controlled and managed in-house as well making it much simpler to make necessary changes. Having to make any modification such as changing VoIP providers becomes much easier when you own your own PBX and it can be done much quicker as well.

Location

The provider’s location of a hosted phone system is more than likely hundreds or thousands of miles away. This large distance might cause certain latency for your phone system as well as the constant need for a powerful internet connection. Just one of the advantages of a premise-based phone system is the signaling over your own Local Area Network opposed to over the internet. All signaling occurs mere feet away. It’s common knowledge that the speed of the internet is never a constant. Having such a necessary tool as your telephone depending on the speed of your internet connection is an incredibly risky move.

Cost

One of, if not the largest factor that goes into a purchasing decision is the cost. Premise-based systems have up-front costs such as installation. In addition to purchasing the IP PBX, the customer will need to buy all handsets, gateways, routers as well as purchase the proper training for all employees. These costs can initially appear as quite a burden to small to medium sized businesses. However, as mentioned above premise-based phone systems more often than not include all of the premium features businesses need at no additional cost. Hosted phone systems require the user to purchase those extra features. In addition to paying for features, cloud providers also charge extra for service and maintenance costs and upgrades. Premise-based phone systems often include service and maintenance contracts when first purchasing the equipment. Depending on future issues with the system, the maintenance fees that come with a cloud-based system can pile up substantially over time in addition to your yearly or monthly service costs. The total cost of a premise-based phone system could appear large at first, but becomes quite appealing given the amount of years you plan on using it compared to the constant costs of a hosted phone system over that same time period.

As many services transition to the cloud, some services might actually be better off on the physical surface. However, any decision regarding the purchasing of an asset such as a phone system will always boil down to customer need. Phone system providers work with the customer to ensure that they are getting the proper system to fit each of their needs to improve everyday function of their business. Tell us about what type of phone system your company has and why in the comment section below!

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5 Collaboration Technologies That Millennials Want At Work

Millennials are the most tech-savvy, collaborative, and socially-minded generation in human history.  Millennials have grown up using smartphones, Facebook, and the cloud.  They can navigate the web like the back of their hand.  Millennials realize the future belongs to them.  They are determined that today’s workplaces match their expectations and ideals.

In a nutshell, Millennials seek work environments that foster connectivity, meaning, and social purpose.  They seek work hours and arrangements, which reflect their desire to balance career goals with their family and personal aspirations.  In particular, Millennials view work as an “activity,” not a physical place.  Therefore, they look at flexible hours and telecommuting as prerequisites. They want the workplace to reflect their values and ideals.  In short, they want work environments that provide the technological and collaborative opportunities they expect.  Five collaboration technologies that Millennials want at work include:

1) Video:  Traditionally, business people have opted for in-person meetings as their preferred method of communication.  Millennials value face-time, but they have embraced video-conferencing as an ideal tool for conducting meetings, saving time, and enhancing collaboration.

2) Huddle Rooms:  Millennials want to flatten and dismantle hierarchies.  They dislike and distrust command-and-control environments.  They are more interested in team-building than individual status.  In this regard, huddle rooms are an ideal way to tap the creative energies of Millennials.  What is a huddle room?  Essentially a huddle room is a space where a small number of workers can gather to discuss or tackle a common agenda.  Huddle rooms are an alternative to large, costly, and less intimate conference rooms.  Huddle rooms typically involve a display, such as a flat screen monitor, a table or workspace, and a webcam that facilitates video or teleconferencing with outside parties.  Huddle rooms vary in size, as do their specific features, depending on the needs of the organization.  But basically huddle rooms are designed to foster and tap the creative energies of small but nimble teams focused on common goals.  Millennials distrust top-down environments.  Instead, they value work environments where teamwork and horizontal relationships are more prominent.  Innovative working arrangements, such as the huddle room, facilitate the kind of work experience Millennials expect.

3) Social Media:  Technology is the air that Millennials breathe.  They are accustomed to using services like Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-in on a daily basis.  They utilize these platforms throughout the day (at home and on the go) and they expect to use them at work as well.

4) Telecommunication:  By 2025, about 40% of the workforce is expected to work from home.  Millennials value flexibility, comfort, and family time.  Millennials view commuting and the nine to five workday as anachronistic.  Milennialls see working from home as natural.  Indeed more than 90% of Millennials want to work from home, and more than 85% want to work according to their own schedule.  Millennials want to work, but they want technological options that will allow them work from remote locations and according to their own schedules.

5) Gaming Apps:  Millenials have grown up in the world of videogames.  They want work to be fun and exciting; not boring and frustrating like the jobs their parents endured.  According to Adam Penenberg, companies are responding to this reality by developing “gamification applications,” programs and systems that turn the work experience into a something of a game.

Millennials are going to shape the future of work.  Like previous generations, Millennials value work, but they have a different idea of how to get work done than their predecessors.  Millennials value transparency, collaboration, and flexibility.  They believe corporations need to be less hierarchical and more socially accountable.  They want to telecommute and set their own schedules.  They also want work to be creative and fun.   Millenneials will embrace tools that foster collaboration and other ways of interacting creatively with their peers and their work environments.

Resources:

Information Week What Millennials Want at Work

Forbes: 10 Ways Millennials are Creating the Future of Work

 

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Golden State Foods

Golden State Foods

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Founded in 1947, Golden State Foods has become one of the largest diversified suppliers to the foodservice industry. In 2014, Golden State Foods opened a new regional headquarters and logistics center in McCook, Illinois, relocating from locations in Lemont and Bolingbrook. This new 152,670 square ...

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