How Do Mobile Users Drive VoIP Decisions in the Corporate World?

Mobile users are driving VoIP decisions in the corporate world.How hard is it to find a group of adults, ready to sit down to a meal, with no mobile devices in sight? The addictive element of a mobile device usually involves an app and can lead to less-than-collaborative human interactions. Voice over IP (VoIP) may or may not be involved, but connectivity is certainly a must.

This can happen when business professionals are in the same room, on the go, or simply trying to make a connection. The demand for instant access when on the move stems not just from a change in consumer behavior, but from a desire to be in the field where it’s easier to connect with the customer. It’s a must in today’s market and it’s driving the demand for mobile. When VoIP is involved, the capabilities reach a whole new level.

In fact, the demand for and use of mobile devices has significantly influenced VoIP and unified communications (UC) in the last few years. Mobile apps for both continue to mature, driving tighter and more seamless integration, ease of use, security, and significant convenience as users easily align their device of choice with the technology needed to accomplish their goals. To that end, the demand for cloud-based solutions continues to grow as such assimilation allows for deep integration and support with VoIP and UC.

Likewise, mobile apps and the desire for better accessibility continue to drive the choice of phone systems within the corporate environment. If a company needs nothing more than the ability to communicate via VoIP, then any VoIP system can easily handle the need. If employees are also using their mobile devices to connect to the VoIP system, the demand changes according to what these employees need. Given that they are generally field-based, including support or sales professionals, the demand may include video conferencing, web conferencing, text messaging, presence, instant messaging, email transcription, admin tasks, screen sharing, and calendar integration.

So how des this affect the way in which VoIP solutions are selected? The employees that use mobile devices for business typically aren’t in the office. They rely on their communications in the field. They also need seamless integration of mobile devices to ensure full phone extensions and access to remote applications at any time. Finally, mobile device policy dictates the use of such devices for business and personal cases.

If you’re ready to embrace these opportunities but you’re not sure where to start, look to Focal Solutions. It’s our job to help our clients evaluate their options, available solutions, and the type of VoIP that fits their needs. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you.

Security in the Age of the Mobile Workforce

The mobile workforce presents unique security concerns for IT. How can enterprises protect their data?The mobile workforce is a boon for enterprises. No longer constrained by geographical concerns when hiring, corporations are able to attract the best talent and offer them a high level of flexibility and the ability to collaborate with their peers across the globe.

Remote access allows employees to work from wherever they are, and field employees can access all the data and resources they need on their mobile devices. In addition, companies save on travel expenses as their employees enjoy the ability to hold virtual meetings in which collaborative software makes it easy to brainstorm and discuss a project.

Increasing Cloud Migration 

The rise of the mobile workforce wouldn’t be possible without the increasing adoption of cloud technology. These two growth areas are intertwined and present a complex security landscape for IT. Here are a few of the concerns on the minds of CIOs trying to protect their systems and data:

  • Providing a secure and reliable data connection for the mobile workforce
  • The complexity of bring your own device (BYOD) culture
  • Supporting technology for a global team, including syncing time differences and facing infrastructure challenges and language barriers

Security in the Cloud

With so much data flying around the mobile workforce, data centers, and the cloud, there’s a lot of opportunity for security breaches, which can be costly in terms of disaster recovery and from a public relations perspective. Every CIO faces concerns when they consider allowing all of their data to move outside the relative safety of carefully-constructed corporate firewalls.

The good news is that the cloud can be as safe as any corporate environment with the right security tools in place. In addition, disaster recovery tends to be much less costly than it is in an on-premise system. The flooding of a data center in a river valley, for instance, won’t cause an interruption in business processes because the data is stored in the cloud.

Putting out Fires

Many CIOs, confronted by the complexity of security in the age of the mobile workforce, are turning to managed services for a variety of areas, including mobile security. In a changing landscape in which cloud and mobile technology are significantly disrupting the IT industry, CIOs are realizing the value of outsourcing some aspects of security management. It frees them to focus on strategy and innovation, rather than putting out security fires.

The mobile workforce adds a new layer of security concern to an already complicated cloud environment. Talk to your clients about outsourcing their security, with Focal Solutions as your partner. Contact us today to discuss the new challenges in mobile security.

 

Addressing BYOD Challenges Using the Cloud

Cloud, BYODBring your own device (BYOD) policies are on the rise, and not just at startups: recent surveys have shown that over 70% of organizations either have a BYOD policy in place or are planning to introduce one. The benefits, from lower hardware costs to increased employee satisfaction, are clear. Unfortunately, so are the drawbacks – increased IT support costs and heightened security concerns among them. One surprising answer to these concerns may be cloud computing.

 

The Challenges of BYOD

BYOD policies buy flexibility on the employees’ end with a decrease in centralization and standardization on the company’s. Employees may choose to do their work from different devices (such as computers, smartphones, and tablets), on different operating systems, and from different locations. This may include accessing company data from unsecured networks and using devices or browsers with security issues or ones that aren’t compatible with file types used. This increases the burden on a company’s IT department, as they may need to become fluent in supporting a number of different platforms.

 

Cloud Computing’s Answer

While cloud computing may seem like a step away from controlling company data and employee access, it actually allows a company to add a layer of abstraction between employee devices and company resources. This layer can then be optimized for security and access.

Moving documents to the cloud, for example, allows the cloud-based service to enforce its own access protocols, and may also allow for more sophisticated locking, check-in/check-out procedures, and version tracking/control. Cloud services may offer two-factor authentication and other protocols for access management. And if an employee’s device should be stolen, having documents in the cloud – rather than allowing local copies to be kept on the user’s device – mitigates the risk.

Cloud computing can also be made more secure by mandating the use of certain policies and tools:

  • DNS firewalls. Part of the appeal of BYOD policies is the ability to work from outside a company office, whether at an out-of-state conference or a local coffee shop. But these unsecured hotspots may be attractive targets for opportunistic hackers. DNS firewalls, so long as they’re kept up-to-date with accurate threat data, can safeguard activity on unsecured networks.
  • Standardized software. Even if the devices show startling diversity, the software run on them doesn’t need to. Employees can be required to access company resources using certain applications on their devices, or even to use Software as a Service cloud applications. This narrows the scope of what IT needs to keep an eye on.
  • Requiring appropriate devices. A BYOD policy doesn’t have to mean that anything goes. A company can meet employees halfway by allowing them to use one of a variety of devices – so long as those devices meet minimum hardware and OS requirements, or come from a pre-approved list. Options available could be validated by IT departments to ensure that they are free of major security vulnerabilities.

 

Implementing BYOD

There’s no one-size-fits-all BYOD implementation, and cloud computing isn’t the only tool available. To learn more about the perils and payoffs of BYOD, contact us today.

Orchestrating Improved Business Productivity and Efficiency with Video Conferencing

The use of video conferencing is growing exponentially. As technology advances, companies of all sizes are recognizing the benefits of this powerful business tool. The IDC predicts that over the next four years, the video conferencing industry will surge to be worth over $6 billion.

This unprecedented growth is largely due to the benefits companies are able to gain by active deployment, and the fact that cloud applications have enabled businesses to access video technology in a cost-effective way.

 Building Efficiency

Video conferencing makes it easier to structure collaboration and coordination between in-house employees and remote teams. Employers are now able to enhance communication between key staff members by making video sessions a viable option to meet the needs of a growing number of remote workers.

Moreover, training protocols are streamlined. Rather than absorbing extra labor costs by training new team members one-on-one, leaders may conduct video orientation sessions for multiple new hires simultaneously.

Video sessions also enhance the decision making process. Team leaders and executives are in a better position to make informed decisions because of the heightened transparency of face-to-face contact. The confusion, omissions, and similar problems created through emailing and texts are eliminated.

 Increasing Productivity

Cloud-based video conferencing tools offer effective customer service and vendor communication alternatives that improve productivity. Organizations are able to engage customers and suppliers directly and easily maintain detailed recordings, removing the need for follow-up calls. The recordings may also be used for developing improved service metrics.

This type of data-driven record keeping is particularly beneficial for corporations and similar entities responsible for compliance laws regarding meeting minutes. User-friendly tools automatically allow businesses to record and store an unlimited amount of sessions, which can then be accessed and shared at a later date.

 Reducing Expenditures  

Collaborating with global users through video conferencing tools allows businesses to severely curtail travel costs. Additionally, whereas hardware-based options often limit the number of guests, cloud technology easily allows businesses to adjust the number of users relative to immediate need. Scalable access creates long-term savings by controlling costs and eliminating lengthy set-up and implementation.

The popularity of video conferencing is growing because of the scalable, accessible nature of cloud-based solutions and the cost saving benefits it provides in today’s global marketplace.

How VoIP Affects Customer Service

VoIPCompanies must strive to enhance the consumer experience at every turn. Meeting client needs in a timely and professional manner helps generate lasting buzz about a business’s brand and can lead to word-of-mouth marketing, which is vital in increasing visibility.

With optimal customer service, companies are able to improve reputability and increase recurring business across the board. For any new or existing business to survive, however, it must tap into current technological trends. This includes Voice over IP (VoIP), which is designed to streamline and centralize communications across the board.

​The Benefits of VoIP

VoIP alleviates the need for outdated and costly business phone systems. And no matter the industry, niche, or sector, the benefits of VoIP are truly bountiful for clients and employees alike. These benefits include:

  • Internet telephony systems that seamlessly integrate with existing hardware and software applications;
  • advanced features such as Find Me/Follow Me and call forwarding that ensure businesses never miss a call;
  • integrated and cohesive platforms for agents, which establish true comprehensive communication protocols across the board;
  • data sharing and uploads from one central online platform; and
  • integration with work and cell phones.

Extended Customer Support Hours

Since VoIP systems are Internet-based, businesses do not have to rely on in-house or domestic workforces to meet company directives and initiatives. Remote employees are able to meet customer needs and requests from literally any location at any time. VoIP also facilitates customer service in the following ways:

  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR) enables callers to easily connect to extensions with live representative assistance.
  • VoIP features multiple options for clients within a user-friendly interface.
  • The system reduces miscommunication for callers, while eliminating expensive labor and overhead costs.

Increased Phone Call Speeds

VoIP also increases phone call speeds, which are vital in minimizing holding times for clients. With VoIP, clients and callers are assured:

  • optimal phone speeds to improve overall communications and performance;
  • automatically retrieved client information upon calling, which reduces wait times and eliminates the need to repeat information for representatives; and
  • multi-faceted platforms that allow more than one representative to answer calls.

VoIP is a cost-effective alternative to traditional business phone systems and makes it easier to conduct day-to-day errands and tasks. Unlike traditional phone systems, VoIP has little to no overhead costs and is compatible with existing communications protocols and systems. It is more efficient to deploy than conventional systems, which have long been obsolete in this challenging and competitive marketplace. For businesses that continue to struggle with telecom issues, VoIP is an effective solution.