How CIOs Can Benefit from IT Innovation

shutterstock_131515541While innovation certainly has been a large aspect of running a business for CIOs in the past, it appears as if it has become less of a focus point for them over the years. This is particularly apparent in the way CIOs handle Unified Communications and other IT businesses aspects. IT needs to do what it can to provide innovative solutions that are secure, top-quality and cost-efficient.

If IT was more involved in the business as a partner inspiring growth, CIOs could find that their businesses benefit from more innovation. There are ways for IT staff to have a bigger role in business without becoming distracted from primary IT functions.

Here are some steps CIOs can take to encourage innovation with IT.

1. Develop Business Impact Strategies

Businesses can inspire more innovation if a group gets together to discuss how each branch of the business can get involved. In many cases, a simple solution can positively affect ROI, and IT might be responsible for that solution.

Business leaders can come together to look at all aspects of business operations to determine where improvements can be made. This will generate criteria that will be helpful for both IT personnel and unit teams to follow. Each team involved in looking at business impact should ideally have no more than two or three people to offer ideas and suggest which projects are worth continuing.

2. Have IT Go into the Field

This step involves a small team of IT staff members with a business mindset, and a few representatives from the business side, such as members of sales and operations teams. Together, they can take a closer look at the issues employees are facing by asking questions and listening for feedback that might be helpful. The goal here is to figure out what might be decreasing productivity or resulting in unneeded expenses.

It may take a couple of weeks to gather all of the information needed and to come up with a solution. IT solutions to issues that are discovered might include developing customized applications, opening access to specific tools, and adding VoIP, or other communications elements.

3. Meet to Focus on Innovative Solutions

At this phase in the process, IT and a business unit team meets to discuss what each has managed to find, and determines which efforts can ultimately improve business operations and decrease unnecessary spending. Innovative ideas will be needed to help ensure success. A scatter chart displaying results of solutions as they relate to business impact and ease of implementation might be helpful in this situation.

4. Develop Technology Prototypes

Here is where IT will actually develop the technology solutions, which can take one or two months. A schedule that keeps IT professionals aware of the length of a project should be created. Prototypes developed should include aspects such as the user interface, and should project how the solution will affect ROI and business operations. IT staff will also want to determine if new technology might be beneficial, performing research to do so.

5. Build the Prototype

Once approved, the prototype project can finally be built. This step won’t involve the customer as much because they have already reviewed all of the expenses, risks, and technological options involved. Building the prototype won’t take long, and development of the prototype might actually introduce IT professionals to new technological innovations.

6. Repeat the Process for Future Innovations

After the above steps have been completed, they can be used again within another project.

How to Keep SIP Trunking Services Secure

shutterstock_125160770SIP trunking services are often vulnerable to security risks, which is why you should look more closely at your SIP phones to determine if they are truly secure. The very fact that SIP telephony connects to the Web means that without the proper security measures, it is vulnerable to attacks.

What SIP trunking customers need to remember is that while SIP providers might keep the admin login secure, user logins might be exploitable. Unfortunately, it’s the user logins that are often widely posted with documentation, disclosed passwords for new users, and revealed workarounds. This information could be dangerous in the wrong hands, but making sure that SIP is secure at all times will avoid any issues.

Place a Higher Emphasis on Security

While it may be more convenient for users to be able to modify certain aspects of their logins, including specific data fields, it might be better to sacrifice those permissions for the sake of security.

SIP customers should consider how they will avoid SIP attacks. One of the best ways to secure an SIP system is to ensure that the only traffic coming through is from the provider’s ports and IPs. SIP devices used off-site are protectable with Virtual Private Networks along with other security options.

There should be no holes in your network, and keeping them covered might mean sacrificing some user abilities.

Keeping Separate VLANs

To further improve SIP trunking security, companies should try to keep devices on separate VLANs, even if they both connect to the same cable in the same LAN. To do this effectively, each port should only have access to certain VLANs, with the firewall and router actively monitoring and regulating traffic on each VLAN.

The one time there may be a management problem with this process is if the organization is using phones that aren’t purchased from the SIP service provider. Providers won’t support any devices that aren’t bought from them, and they will also refuse to support endpoint management if customers insist on retaining total control over logins on the system. The reason for these restrictions is because of providers’ reasonable fear of security breaches.

In order to avoid attacks that can cause several services and programs to fail at a time, SIP trunking customers should closely examine their network ports and determine if those ports put the network at risk. Organizations should make sure that they understand exactly how each device connects to the network.

Use a Session Border Controller

A highly effective way to keep your SIP network secure is to use a session border controller (SBC) on both the service provider and customer ends. VoIP systems are extremely vulnerable to vicious attacks if left unchecked, but the SBC helps make sure that all network traffic is controlled and properly routed. An SBC avoids the issues found with VPNs, mainly, timeouts that go unnoticed because of the network still appearing connected. Companies should know which specific platform the SBC is designed for prior to using it.

Setting up simple firewalls might seem like a thorough security fix for SIP trunking, but the fact is that organizations need to do more to keep their networks entirely secure. SIP needs to be properly maintained and configured from the start, which is vital for a system that connects to so many internal and external locations. Believing that thorough VoIP security measures are simple and quick could result in a costly compromise.