Telephones have existed in the United States since 1876, and they have experienced an impressive evolution. A device that once was a rare commodity is now something that individuals and businesses rely on each day. The same goes for the internet. When the internet was invented in the 1980s, it was slow and rarely used. However, the internet today is considered a necessity for schools, businesses, and homes.
It’s clear that modern businesses depend on reliable phone and internet services, and companies are always looking to improve their efficiency. One of the most efficient ways to utilize an existing internet connection is to set up a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) business phone system. Could VoIP make sense for your business operations? Keep reading to discover if it’s right for you.
How Does VoIP Work?
VoIP is a system that allows businesses to make and receive calls over the internet. This method of using digital lines to carry phone calls was created in the late 1990s. Essentially, VoIP is an alternative option to using a local telephone company. If your business has an internet connection, you can make or receive calls without a local phone service or contract. In addition to making and receiving calls, VoIP provides other functions, such as:
- Call forwarding
- Call recording
- Caller ID
- Conference calling and video conferencing
- Hold messages or music
- Fax to email
- Web-based system administration
- Integrations with Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Salesforce, and more
VoIP is incredibly accessible for businesses because 93.5% of people in the United States have access to high-speed broadband internet. Broadband internet includes cable, DSL, and fiber internet. VoIP converts phone calls to data and sends the calls over the internet in less than a second. Your business can access the internet through Ethernet cables or Wi-Fi signals.
VoIP works in four simple steps:
- Your business phone connects to your switch or router in your Local Area Network (LAN).
- When you dial a phone number, your IP phone communicates with your VoIP provider to call the number.
- Your VoIP service initiates the call and exchanges data from your IP phone.
- The VoIP phone transforms the digital signals into the sounds you hear.
Signs VoIP Is Right for Your Company
With VoIP, your business can bypass analog phone systems and telephone companies entirely. Many companies rave about the benefits of business VoIP, but how do you know if it’s right for you? There are a handful of indicators that suggest your business could be a perfect candidate for VoIP, such as:
1. You Have a Small or Medium-Size Business
If you don’t own a large business, don’t fret. VoIP is ideal for small businesses of all kinds. Small and medium-sized businesses are fantastic candidates for VoIP because many small businesses already rely on cloud-based applications for file sharing, file storage, and backing up data. VoIP fits into this equation by utilizing the cloud, no longer requiring expensive appointments with service technicians, and hosting an unlimited number of incoming and outgoing calls.
2. You Want to Simplify Your Equipment
Quality is better than quantity, especially in the business world. If you’re looking to consolidate your business equipment from multiple inefficient systems down to a few reliable systems, VoIP is an excellent option for you.
Say goodbye to the frustrating and tedious process of installing special wiring and bulky equipment. Companies that utilize VoIP don’t have to purchase extra equipment or use an IT team to install or maintain it.
Businesses that use traditional analog phones know that diagnosing and fixing issues when the landline goes down is time-consuming and irritating. With VoIP, you can cut out the landline entirely and rely on your existing internet network.
3. Remote Connectivity Is Important to You
As society continues to change, the business world adapts with it. Nowadays, it is incredibly common for businesses to operate in a hybrid setting where employees come into the office a few days per week and spend the other days working remotely. Many other companies even provide fully remote working opportunities for all employees.
Not to mention, some occupations require employees and owners to travel for work. Whether you want to support your employees working from home across town or traveling to a different state on business, remote connectivity is essential.
VoIP is the perfect business phone system for remote demands because it allows employees to bring their business phone line with them anywhere they go. Most VoIP providers have a mobile app that can ring when a client or customer calls an employee’s business line. VoIP apps also allow employees to make outgoing calls on their business line from their personal cell phones.
4. You’re Looking to Save Money
Most businesses would happily take any opportunity to lower their operating costs. If you’re looking for additional ways to save money, switching to VoIP can help. Since VoIP doesn’t require special equipment or an IT staff, your business can save significant amounts of money. Additionally, most VoIP providers charge a monthly per-use fee instead of a fee based on how many minutes are spent on the phone.
Some VoIP providers even allow free access to some services. Typically, cloud-based business solutions can be as low as $10 to $30 per user, per month. VoIP avoids toll charges from traditional telephone services and consolidates video conferencing, voicemail, and long-distance calling services into one system, allowing your business to bundle services and save money.
5. Your Business Prioritizes Customer Service
If providing excellent customer service is one of your business’s core values, you may be able to increase your capabilities by using VoIP. With the efficiency and accessibility offered by VoIP, your business’s customer service will stand out from your competitors.
Amp up your customer service by starting calls with a customizable welcome message and add pleasant music or an informative message while customers are on hold. You can even utilize call transcription features so that your employees can give their full attention to clients without having to take notes.
Is VoIP Right For Your Business? Get Started Today!
Does your small business sound like one that we described above? If so, you are likely a fantastic candidate for business VoIP services. Don’t wait any longer to save money, consolidate equipment, support remote work, and amplify your customer service; instead, get started with VoIP today.
If you need a trusted VoIP provider, contact Integrated Communications today. Our team will perform a free telecommunications audit report to decipher if VoIP makes sense for your business. For more helpful advice regarding business telecommunications, check out the other articles on our blog.
In a world where crucial businesses processes need unmeasurable accessibility, something was bound to change. While software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) were first introduced in the early 2000s, these innovative systems took over a decade to take root and truly address network issues.
Let’s start with the basics. At its foundations, an SD-WAN is a software-defined approach to wide-area networking. For enterprises and companies with multiple network endpoints — this is a revolutionary step forward. What does this mean for network managers?
An SD-WAN allows for automated business policies, routing freedom, and the ability to monitor performance and usage for end-to-end visibility of the entire wide area network.
Network Management & SD-WAN: The Basics
Network Management Definition
Let’s get the boring information out of the way.
- The process of managing, operating and administering a data network through a network management system.
Today, we combine both hardware and software to collect and interpret data. Network management best practices leverage a centralized server to harness and analyze this data. Yes, this is an incredibly basic way to explain a very complex infrastructure. But it should help provide some framework for how an SD-WAN can improve your company’s network management processes.
What About SD-WAN?
Think of an SD-WAN as a virtual version of a more traditional WAN infrastructure. It allows a business to utilize existing transport services, such as MPLS, broadband, and LTE internet services, to connect users to company applications.
In its current state, SD-WAN leverages a centralized control function to direct traffic in a secure way across the WAN. SD-WAN checks all of the boxes with network management best practices as it both speeds up functionality while also lowering overall cost.
SD-WAN at a glance:
- Enables cloud-based enterprises
- Provides superior application quality of experience (QoEX)
- Empowers application-aware routing for faster service
Let’s Go Back in Time
Before fully understanding how an SD-WAN can simplify your company’s network management processes, we need to take a trip back in time.
Back in 2003, the world was a much simpler place. This was true only in general terms but also regarding network management. Companies that relied on remote offices relied on rudimentary software and applications to run operations. Most businesses needed email, a standard enterprise resource planning software (ERP), and a handful of custom applications.
In addition to these remote offices was a data center that housed a wide range of servers. To connect these two points, multiprotocol labeling switching (MPLS) offered a reliable and high-quality connection. The issue was the expense.
An MPLS connection was incredibly costly and required each office and data center to have individual routers that weren’t cheap.
As the years progressed, applications became more complex, and cloud-based software began to take hold — the amount of traffic a business relied on for everyday operations became incredibly taxing on an MPLS connection.
Sending cloud traffic that is destined for the internet back to headquarters doesn’t make much sense. By relying on this outdated method, companies suffered from:
- Added delay
- Degraded application performance
- Costly lease line bandwidth consumption
Where We’re at Today
Today, these MPLS connections are dealing with the same basic requirements of facilitating email, ERP systems, and custom applications. However, they are now overburdened with certain modernities.
From social media and SAAS programs to the countless cloud-based systems needed to compete in the current marketplace — the ways of yesteryear simply can’t keep up. The classic WAN structure that relies heavily on traditional routers was not designed for the cloud.
Now, companies need a better way to manage network processes that prevent backhauling cloud-destined traffic to and from data centers. SD-WAN systems offer:
- Improved business productivity
- Better user quality of experience
- Accelerated business initiatives
- Potential to lower costs
How SD-WAN Can Simplify Your Network Management Processes
Your users don’t care about where their apps are hosted. Whether it’s in a SAAS, data center, or the cloud — they simply expect optimal performance and fast speeds.
If you were to ask users whether their online performance is better at home versus the office — most answers would state that their home provides faster speeds and more reliable connections. That’s because when they are at home, they are accessing applications directly through the internet instead of dealing with countless traffic backups that exist in a modern business.
So, let’s answer the million-dollar question: How can an SD-WAN simplify your company’s network?
A software-defined wide area network with the right features gives companies the ability to securely utilize the internet as a way to reliable route for WAN transport, expand (and overtime even replace) MPLS services.
Internet speed, accessibility, and reliability is the catalyst for a high-performing business. It’s not rocket science. But, it doesn’t stop there. SD-WAN systems offer a solid bedrock for future innovations and changes within both cloud-based systems but also emerging technologies.
SD-WAN offers four unique benefits for businesses struggling to integrate existing applications with cloud services.
- Increased security by removing traffic vulnerabilities.
- Boosted performance by centralizing control functions.
- Lower costs by cutting down on hardware reliance and network management.
- Optimized cloud experience through automation and augmentation to organize tasks and allow for faster remote accessibility.
Take Charge of Your Company’s Network Management
As cloud-based systems continue their conquest, it’s become a necessity for businesses to make changes to their network management best practices.
For companies that rely on branch offices — an SD-WAN offers a way to lower traffic overhaul that could lead to slow speeds. This is because SD-WANs offer a way to customize the orchestration of channels and traffic. Not only will this make UX more consistent, but will also make the network far more reliable, even if you have existing MPLS connections.
Resource-intensive network administration such as installing, upgrading, and maintaining software for network performance can also be drastically reduced through SD-WAN systems.
Whether you’re looking to completely revamp your company’s network management process or want to slowly transition to an SD-WAN system, the choice is yours. At the end of the day, you’ll receive faster, more reliable performance for a fraction of the cost.
More and more, businesses are relying less on traditional office settings as they turn to remote work structures. Due to this shift to remote work, companies depend on mobile internet solutions to receive reliable broadband internet connections from anywhere.
Mobile internet solutions such as tethering and hotspots allow employees to tune into conference calls on the road and access important shared folders from different locations. Both solutions can provide fast internet access to enhance business operations. However, tethering and hotspots differ in how they secure an internet connection.
Between tethering and hotspots, are you curious to know which is the right choice for your business? Keep reading to explore the pros and cons of each mobile technology.
What Is Tethering?
Tethering is one way to obtain an internet connection through a mobile device. With tethering, you can use your existing data plan on your mobile phone to share an internet connection with another device, such as a laptop or tablet.
In order to share an internet connection with another device through tethering, you need to connect the two devices through mediums such as:
- A USB cable
Traditionally, tethering was accomplished by physically connecting two devices with a USB cable. However, most modern smartphones allow you to set up a private, secure Wi-Fi hub that you can connect to on another device. This Wi-Fi hub is commonly referred to as a “personal hotspot,” which is not to be confused with the mobile hotspot devices we’ll explore later.
Tethering Pros and Cons
Mobile tethering offers an excellent solution for getting quick work assignments done when out of the office. However, it is typically not compatible with consistent use during business travel. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of tethering for business operations.
One of the main positive benefits of tethering is convenience. When you connect other devices to a Wi-Fi hub on your mobile phone, the other devices share your cellular network’s data limits, speed, and reliability. Because of this, people know what to expect when they connect to a tethered network.
Since mobile tethering is based on an individual’s cellular data plan, many businesses opt for tethering if they don’t want to invest in dedicated mobile internet hardware for out-of-office operations.
Tethered connections achieved via a USB cable offer immense data security. Since the data is confined to the wires inside the USB cable, the connection is strong and typically not prone to interference.
If you want to create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot via tethering, the caveat is that most smartphones require an unlimited data plan to support personal hotspots. If your individual network plan has data limits each month, you may not be eligible to create tethered hotspots unless you upgrade your plan with your wireless service provider.
Not to mention, using your mobile phone to create a Wi-Fi hotspot requires a great deal of power, which in turn drains your phone’s battery at a fast pace. Additionally, some wireless service providers limit shared data, which could cause you to reach a data cap quickly when you share between devices.
What Is a Hotspot?
Dedicated mobile hotspots are different than personal hotspots that were mentioned above. While personal hotspots can be achieved through tethering, a mobile hotspot is a wireless router that connects to your service area’s cellular tower.
This wireless router provides multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices with constant access to broadband internet. Unlike tethered personal hotspots created on smartphones, dedicated mobile hotspots provide high-speed LTE network coverage to up to 15 devices. Routers and modems are commonly used today because they are built to connect multiple devices to the internet simultaneously.
Mobile hotspots can be used in people’s homes, allowing each family member to connect all their devices to the same network. Additionally, mobile hotspots are often used in public spaces such as restaurants and coffee shops where customers can connect to the wireless network via a password.
Hotspot Pros and Cons
Just like with tethering, mobile hotspots offer advantages and disadvantages depending on their intended usage. Common pros and cons of mobile hotspots are:
Compared to tethering which drains battery life, many mobile hotspots run on large lithium-ion batteries that can support Wi-Fi for 24 hours on battery power alone. With a mobile hotspot, you can achieve a day’s work with battery power instead of only a few hours.
Additionally, most mobile hotspot devices offer impressive internet speeds. Since mobile hotspots are specifically designed to connect multiple devices to the internet, their antennas provide a better connection with faster speeds compared to internet connections created on a mobile phone. Depending on your network provider and individual mobile hotspot, you can see speeds of up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps).
Mobile hotspot devices also provide robust security features. Many mobile hotspots support virtual private networks (VPNs), which allow users to create a safe, private Wi-Fi network. In the case of multiple devices, mobile hotspots will enable you to:
- Customize what can be seen in guest networks
- Track how much data each connected device uses
- Adjust guest access credentials
Mobile hotspots don’t have too many drawbacks. The only potential disadvantages of mobile hotspots are paying for the physical device and having to set up an additional piece of hardware.
However, if you don’t mind paying for the mobile hotspot hardware and setting it up or carrying it around, mobile hotspots make for a fantastic solution for businesses.
Which Connection Is Best for Your Business?
Tethering and mobile hotspots both offer solutions for internet connectivity. While tethering uses cellular data on a mobile phone to provide internet access to other devices, a mobile hotspot connects multiple devices to the internet through a physical piece of hardware. When it comes to business operations, using a dedicated mobile hotspot is generally a more sustainable way to provide internet access to multiple devices.
If you’re looking for support or advice about which internet networks to use, reach out to Integrated Communications today. You can schedule a free network audit to determine the best telecommunications options for your business.
Numerous companies are changing the way they communicate internally each year. Businesses are seeking cost-effective and efficient solutions as technology continues to adapt. Most companies find success through unified communications as a service (UCaaS), and with all of the benefits UCaaS offers, it’s easy to understand why.
Are you interested in taking your business to the next level by streamlining internal communications? Read on to discover the top benefits of UCaaS that will enhance your business operations.
What is UCaaS?
As you read the term “UCaaS,” your mind may think of a similar acronym, “CCaaS” (Contact Center as a Service). The history of contact centers as a service is similar to unified communications as a service, but the two services are used for slightly different purposes. CCaaS handles customer communication through efficient call center services, live-chat help, and email communication.
The difference is that CCaaS deals with outbound customer communications, and UCaaS handles internal business communications. UCaaS offers helpful internal communication features such as:
- Call routing and forwarding
- Conference bridging
- Instant messaging
- Video conferencing
- Virtual receptionists
- Voicemail-to-email transcription
- Fax-to-email transcription
The most impressive characteristic of UCaaS is that it consolidates a company’s enterprise communication applications into a single cloud-based platform. UCaaS solutions are designed to support flexibility and interdepartmental collaboration through modern, streamlined workflows. Typically, a business’s IT team purchases UCaaS solutions to improve internal communications.
3 Impressive Benefits of UCaaS
So, UCaaS accommodates internal communications, but why should businesses switch to UCaaS from their current operations? Is there that much of a difference? The answer is yes; UCaaS offers a plethora of exciting benefits for businesses. Let’s dive into three of them.
1. Remote Work Support
Ever since March of 2020, remote work has become normalized and preferred by many companies. Many employees prefer working from home because it offers added flexibility and accessible accommodations for people with particular health needs. Some people appreciate the flexibility as they raise children, and others value not making long commutes. Whatever your reason for operating remotely, it’s here to stay.
However, with remote work comes communication challenges. Collaboration, tracking tasks, and interacting with co-workers become difficult to execute in a remote setting. Thankfully, UCaaS solves a lot of issues that past communication systems couldn’t remedy.
UCaaS operates in the cloud, meaning all of your company’s virtual communication can occur whenever and wherever. UCaaS pulls this off by delivering video calling, document sharing, virtual meetings, chat rooms, and voice calling all through a single platform.
Your employees can even set up one phone number so people can reach them in the workplace and out in the field. This allows your employees to collaborate whether they’re in the office, at home, or a mix of the two.
2. Improved Efficiency
Every business owner knows the consequences of too much downtime. So every company is searching for ways to work faster and more efficiently. With UCaaS, business operations excel because blackouts and hard drive crashes become a thing of the past. Your team never has to miss a beat because even if one communication channel goes down, you can smoothly switch to another format in the cloud.
With cloud-based communication through UCaaS, manual updates are not needed. This means your IT team no longer has to spend precious time tending to your communication system when they could be improving functionality elsewhere.
With UCaaS, all updates are automatic, and they’re delivered in small batches to avoid disruptions. Any time spent tinkering with internal communication issues can be better spent moving your business operations forward.
When you have a UCaaS platform, you have the flexibility to choose between multiple communication methods depending on what would be most efficient for your company. Additionally, UCaaS can work with your employee’s own devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets. This allows employees to use whatever devices they’re most comfortable with, which can help their productivity levels.
3. Lower Costs
The only thing better than an efficient and flexible internal communication system is an affordable one. Switching to UCaaS from older communication systems can prove to be incredibly cost-effective because it saves you money on:
- IT labor
- Updates and maintenance
- Network-carrier service fees
When you purchase UCaaS, you don’t have to buy and set up large amounts of hardware. Instead, the provider hosts the equipment at their facility, and all access is secured through the cloud.
Since your IT team doesn’t have to set up a bulky system or find storage space, your business saves a considerable amount of money on IT labor costs. Not to mention, there are hardly any upfront costs associated with cloud-based services. Rather, the service provider covers the equipment costs, and you pay as you use the service. With UCaaS, you only pay for what you need, which saves you a significant amount of money.
We’re not done yet. With UCaaS, you don’t even have to worry about updates or maintenance. These details are covered by the service provider, so you never have to pay for time consuming system updates or frustrating repairs.
Say goodbye to costly network-carrier service fees because all you need to access UCaaS is an internet connection. With all the money you save from switching to UCaaS, your IT staff can focus on other important projects that directly impact your company’s growth and expansion.
Make the Switch to UCaaS Today
As you can tell, UCaaS offers many pivotal benefits for your business such as remote work support, efficiency, and affordability. Beyond these top 3 benefits, UCaaS is also flexible, easy to operate, and provides stringent security. So what are you waiting for? Say goodbye to your clunky, slow, and expensive communications systems and step into the future with UCaaS.
If you’re ready to take your business’s internal communications to the next level, reach out to Integrated Communications today. You can schedule a free network audit to discover the best telecommunications solutions for your company. For more tips and tricks on how to improve your business communications, check out the other articles on our blog.
In today’s world, you can’t get far without a solid internet connection. The internet connects us to information, socialization, business operations, and more. Businesses across the country are discovering the benefits of SD-WAN services, Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), and fast internet.
There are many ways faster internet enhances business operations, including higher productivity levels, robust security, and efficient cloud access. There are two primary types of internet: cable and fiber. Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities of cable internet vs. fiber internet and narrow down which type is best for your business.
What Is Cable Internet?
Cable internet is also referred to as broadband internet. Cable internet is quite literally delivered using cables. The same copper coaxial cables that provide cable television also deliver cable internet. A coax cable can supply internet and television connections at the same time. The wires are comprised of:
- A copper core
- An insulating sheath
- Copper and aluminum shields
- A plastic outer layer
Typically, a cable internet modem delivers internet, but neighborhoods and areas connect each network. Connections from different households, offices, or businesses converge together, often on a utility pole on the street, and they share bandwidth.
How Fast Is Cable Internet?
Cable network speed can usually accommodate large downloads. However, since the network is connected and shared by neighborhoods, slow speeds often occur during high usage times. If your business is located in a highly populated area, you may experience dramatic slowdowns during peak business hours when you need to be productive.
Cable download speeds range from 10 to 500 megabits per second (Mbps). The upload speed range is 5 to 50 Mbps. You select your preferred speed when you sign up for cable internet. The higher the speed, the more money you pay. Even still, the speed you pay for isn’t guaranteed. Many cable service providers have data caps, and if you go over the data limit, you may need to pay additional fees.
Cable Network Availability
Cable networks are available just about everywhere across the country. If you live in an area where you can access a television network, you can also access cable internet. Cable internet is available in all 50 states and has 89% coverage across the United States. Cable internet availability is higher in urban areas compared to rural areas.
For the most part, cable internet for business is very reliable. However, electricity outages can affect cable connection. Cable internet is not as reliable in areas with frequent electricity outages and cable interruptions. Backup internet sources may be needed during power outages. Even still, cable internet is more reliable than other internet sources such as digital subscriber lines (DSL) or satellites.
What Is Fiber Optic Internet?
Now that you have an understanding of cable internet, let’s explore the offerings of fiber internet. While cable internet uses copper cables, fiber internet uses fiber optic cables to deliver internet to homes and businesses. Fiber optic cables are comprised of optical fibers, which are incredibly thin strands of glass or plastic.
Fiber utilizes LED or laser pulses to transfer internet data over long distances. Fiber cables carry more bandwidth than copper cables, which makes fiber internet a popular choice. Fiber internet technology is newer, so it is not as widely used as cable internet.
How Fast Is Fiber Internet?
Fiber internet is the fastest internet available today. Fiber cables can transfer large amounts of data without delays in processing. Additionally, fiber optic internet does not have bandwidth caps, so you can use as much as you need.
Fiber internet does not share networks, so peak-time lags are not an issue as with cable internet. High-speed business fiber internet help improves productivity and customer satisfaction. Fiber speeds for uploading and downloading are no less than 250 to 1,000 Mbps, which is significantly faster than traditional broadband internet.
Fiber Network Availability
Fiber internet is still in an expansion stage, so connections are not as easily accessible as cable internet. However, as fiber internet gains popularity, it is becoming more available. Fiber optic internet would be more difficult for rural businesses to obtain, but it is more accessible in metropolitan areas.
Fiber internet is incredibly reliable. Electricity disruptions do not affect fiber network availability, so internet connections continue if the electricity goes down. This reliability is because fiber optic cables are made of glass, and they do not conduct electricity.
It is incredibly rare for a fiber network to get interrupted. This consistent network reliability makes a considerable difference in productivity for businesses when they need it most.
The Best Choice for Businesses
Fiber internet is the most efficient choice for businesses in metropolitan areas with access to fiber. Fiber internet boasts the fastest speeds, large bandwidth capacities, and network reliability unimpacted by power outages. Companies with high productivity demands will find that fiber internet best suits their needs.
For rural companies or businesses with less demanding needs, cable internet is suitable. If businesses don’t have many content needs, mission-critical internet applications, or on-location servers, cable internet can adequately meet their needs while saving a little bit of money.
Are You Ready to Upgrade Your Internet?
Even though cable and fiber internet have many similarities, they also have differences that distinguish them from each other. Gone are the days of satellite and dial-up internet connections. At a minimum, businesses need cable internet to operate. However, the best way to improve speed, productivity, and reliability is by installing fiber internet.
Are you curious to know if fiber internet is right for your business? Integrated Communications can help. We will perform a free telecommunications and networking audit for your business. Don’t wait any longer to determine how your business can improve user experience, save money, and increase productivity; instead, contact us today!
In today’s business landscape, companies need to adapt to the latest technology or risk losing valuable sales to their competition. From high-speed fiber-based internet to Contact Centers as a Service (CCaaS), businesses across the United States are improving their performance with modern, efficient services.
Another valuable service for businesses is a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN). SD-WAN services optimize software and applications necessary for business operations because traditional WANs no longer hold up to today’s connectivity needs. Still on the fence about switching your business over to SD-WAN? Let’s dive into SD-WAN and its four significant benefits.
What Is SD-WAN?
Business SD-WAN solutions are essential for optimizing online traffic. SD-WAN services move traffic away from slow, hardware-based storage solutions on traditional wide area networks (WANs) to the preferred method of storage: the cloud. “The cloud” refers to servers that are accessed over the internet rather than computer hard drives. Software and databases can run through the cloud, which frees up storage space, and ultimately allows processes to run smoother and faster.
Why Don’t Traditional WAN Systems Work Anymore?
Original WAN systems work by hosting servers at a data center and connecting additional users to the original server. An example of this is a traditional internet router you may have in your home. Older WAN systems were not designed to accommodate modern cloud traffic.
Therefore, WAN systems often experience backhauls because they can’t meet today’s traffic and data demands. These backhauls lead to delays, lost productivity, and poor user experience.
As businesses continue to adopt software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) on multiple clouds, companies need to switch to SD-WAN to provide high-quality user experiences.
If businesses keep their traditional WAN services, they will experience an incompatible traffic explosion when they mix cloud-based services and hard-drive-based services. This traffic incompatibility results in:
- Poor user experience
- Decreased employee productivity
- Rising WAN expenses
- Increased security threats
- Unpredictable application performance
That’s where SD-WAN comes in. Since SD-WAN systems are optimized for the cloud, businesses no longer have to deal with frustrating backhauls and poor application performances. SD-WAN allows enterprises to securely connect users to applications by utilizing any combination of transport services, including:
- Long-Term Evolution (LTE)
- Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)
- Broadband internet
4 Major SD-WAN Benefits for Business
SD-WAN benefits are plentiful, so it’s easy to understand why so many businesses are making the switch. SD-WAN is the answer to all of the issues and difficulties businesses experience when they try to mix cloud services and traditional WAN.
SD-WAN services can be set up quickly, and your business will immediately see the benefits roll in. SD-WAN offers a multitude of advantages for businesses, but the four significant benefits that attract business owners are:
1. Increased Security
When businesses mix traditional data centers and cloud operations, they experience security concerns. The two different systems are not compatible, so data becomes vulnerable when traffic moves across systems. As more and more software and data exist on the cloud, protecting traffic for business-critical operations is vital.
One of the best perks of SD-WAN is that it comes with built-in security. Integrated security features help prevent things such as:
- Lost data
- Legal liabilities
- Regulatory violations
Customers and clients can rest at ease knowing their private information is secure in the cloud with SD-WAN services. Integrated threat protection features are enforced at the right time and place, so businesses can catch security breaches before they happen.
2. Improved Performance
SD-WAN simplifies the management of networking services for small businesses. Simplifying operations from a central portal results in ease of performance. SD-WAN can even be configured to prioritize critical traffic and real-time services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Traffic for high-demand applications gets routed through the fastest connection. Prioritizing the most critical traffic allows SD-WAN networks to reduce standard performance issues such as lagging and jittering.
With SD-WAN, fast networks are highly available and predictable, so businesses can rely on consistent performance when it matters most.
3. Lower Costs
One of the main reasons businesses switch to SD-WAN is because of how cost-effective it is. Since SD-WAN services utilize technology that you already have, such as ethernet or WiFi, your business doesn’t need to spend money on complicated new equipment or IT services.
Essentially, SD-WAN helps you get the highest performance out of the connectivity you already have, so there is no need to pay for extreme IT involvement or new overhead costs. SD-WAN solutions only use the circuits they need to get the job done.
SD-WAN leverages low-cost local internet access, reduces unnecessary traffic, and provides direct cloud access. The automated management feature on SD-WAN systems removes the need for network engineers to make system changes and reduces the effort needed to maintain a network. All of these modern functions reduce usage and labor costs.
4. Optimized Cloud Experience
Businesses and the general public are utilizing cloud storage more and more each day. The average person who used to store digital photos and documents on computer hard drives now can easily access them through cloud applications such as:
- Google Photos
- Microsoft OneDrive
- Google Drive
- Apple iCloud
- And more
SD-WAN is continually being revamped to provide optimized connectivity over the cloud. SD-WAN is appealing because it dramatically simplifies cloud connectivity compared to traditional WAN services. It can automate simple tasks and organize complex tasks in the most efficient way.
Gone are the days of needing to be connected to a centralized data center. With SD-WAN for business, employees can access cloud applications remotely to be productive from any location.
Optimize Your Business With SD-WAN Today
As you can tell, there are numerous reasons why businesses across the country are switching from traditional WAN services to SD-WAN. Don’t let your competition get ahead. Instead, take advantage of cost-effective SD-WAN services that will increase your security and performance.
At Integrated Communications, we partner with the most trusted SD-WAN providers in North America. Are you ready to make the switch? Contact us today to set up a free telecommunications audit. We will assess your company’s performance and help you determine the best path forward for your business network.
Does your small business utilize landlines? Do you have more employees working remotely than ever before? Whatever stage your small business is in – you could benefit significantly from Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP. VoIP gives small businesses the freedom to answer calls wherever they are, using the internet. VoIP is the perfect solution for small businesses looking to grow their operations with increased flexibility and easy scalability.
There are numerous VoIP benefits for small businesses and companies of any size. Utilizing VoIP gives businesses the ability to stay connected wherever they are. If you move offices, you won’t have to worry about transferring landlines. Setting up new lines is simple, making it easy for your phone services to grow with your business.
Once you learn more about VoIP, it will be obvious why it’s such a good choice for small businesses. Here are just a few more reasons why you should consider switching your small business to VoIP:
- Increased mobility and flexibility for employees.
- Improved connectivity during web and audio conferencing.
- Easy to scale when your business grows.
- Straightforward integrations with Microsoft Teams, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and other programs.
- Text and SMS capabilities.
- Worldwide coverage possible.
- Improved reliability and responsiveness from traditional landlines.
- Low cost and unique features.
What is VoIP?
If you’ve never heard of VoIP, you might be wondering how it works. The concept is simple: voice data is digitized and sent over the internet. VoIP, or hosted phones, enable small businesses to make and receive calls over the internet, using various devices. Whether your company operates using laptops, tablets, smartphones, or a combination of devices, you will be able to stay connected with business VoIP.
The only thing your small business needs to use VoIP is an internet connection. Hosted phones use bandwidth only when needed, unlike traditional phones that use circuit switching. VoIP allows small businesses to send voice, video, and data over the internet. It offers a very affordable phone option that can keep your employees connected and mobile.
Why Make the Switch to VoIP?
Small business VoIP solutions are second to none. There are so many reasons to consider switching your business phones from traditional landlines to hosted phones. Listed below are a handful of VoIP benefits your company will enjoy when you make the transition.
Mobility and Flexibility
VoIP for small business offers mobility and flexibility that you can’t find with traditional landlines. Do your employees travel often? Are people working across different devices, whether at home or in the office? These are all reasons to make the switch to hosted phones. With VoIP, your employees can make and receive calls wherever they are – as long as there is an internet connection.
Staying connected has never been easier, with emerging technologies and the rise of remote working. Giving your employees the ability to be mobile and flexible thanks to VoIP will lead to increased productivity. As technology improves, so should your phone lines. Employees will be able to use a variety of devices with VoIP, from tablets to laptops to mobile phones.
Does your team utilize CRM, Outlook, or Microsoft Teams? Then you’re in luck. VoIP can easily integrate with these programs and more so that your team stays as productive as ever.
Business VoIP offers improved connectivity during web and audio conferencing. More small businesses than ever before are utilizing video calls to stay connected and productive, especially if employees are working from home. When you have VoIP, you don’t have to worry about spotty connections during these important work calls.
Grows With You
It can be an absolute headache to add lines with traditional landlines. Often your service provider will have to come out to your office or workspace and add the lines manually. This is such a hassle for businesses that need to get employees up and running right away.
One of the best small business VoIP benefits is the scalability hosted phones offer. It takes no time at all to set up a new line when you have a team member join. Whoever has access to the admin portal can add their line. It’s so straightforward and simple! Plus, you won’t have to buy a new hardwire or get stuck arranging your office to coordinate with phone plug-ins. If you ever move offices, your hosted phones can easily move with you.
Small businesses won’t believe how many amazing features they will have access to with hosted phones. From text and SMS capabilities to worldwide coverage, it’s easy to see why so many small businesses are making the switch to VoIP.
Here are a few of the features you can enjoy with VoIP for small business:
- Mobile management
- One-line sharing on multiple phones/devices
- Ring groups
- Voicemail to Email or Text
- Automated attendant
- Caller ID and call blocking, forwarding, waiting, and transferring
- Conference calling
- Contact Center/Call Center
- Fax to Email
- Hold music
- Web-based system administration
Traditional phones are not always reliable, especially after a storm or other event that causes power outages. It is often hard to contact your provider and get a clear answer about when your phones will return. With hosted phones, you don’t have to worry about that. All you need is a reliable internet connection to stay available.
Last but not least, cost always matters when it comes to small business budgeting. Choosing VoIP means lower costs than traditional phone lines. Most small businesses already have a reliable internet connection. Installing a hosted phone system doesn’t take much more, and adding lines is inexpensive. VoIP is a great deal for small businesses because it offers a low-cost option for phone and video calls.
Choosing VoIP for Your Small Business
Small business VoIP solutions offer companies a flexible hosted phone plan that can grow with your business. There are great VoIP benefits for small business operations, like easy integrations that boost employee productivity and features like hold music and an automated attendant. You won’t regret making the switch to VoIP.
As technology advances, the business world adapts to it. Things like video calling, content management systems, and fast fiber optic internet enhance business operations. Contact centers are another valuable modern service that improves the efficiency of your business.
Even though communication styles and mediums have changed over the years, reliable communication has always been essential for businesses. Today, Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is the most efficient way to communicate effectively with customers. Let’s take a look at what CCaaS is and how it came to be.
What is Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)?
Contact Center as a Service is a cloud-based contact center. CCaaS programs were invented to function in the cloud, and they operate as an all-in-one service for customer interactions. They can route calls, track customer details, and allow customers to communicate through a variety of mediums, such as:
- Live chat rooms
- Social media
- Phone calls
The automated nature of CCaaS simplifies operations because it does not require expensive on-site software. Companies only have to purchase the technology they need, which saves a lot of money due to:
- Reduced IT staffing
- Streamlined billing
- Reduced employee downtime
- Lower operational costs
- No upfront investments
CCaaS is the most efficient way for contact centers to grow and scale as their operational needs change. Contact Centers as a Service easily allow businesses to add or subtract customer service agents depending on customer demands. Customers lose patience and interest when navigating long on-hold times and confusing routes to problem resolution. CCaaS software tracks customer wait times and high call-volume periods, which enables your business to adjust accordingly and provide a better customer support experience.
CCaaS is also ideal for employees because the software synthesizes all critical information onto a single screen. As a result, representatives have quick desktop access to all the tools they need, saving time and frustration for both parties.
Data is essential for business growth, and CCaaS can quickly gather customer data. Recording data such as abandoned calls, questionable language from agents, and caller queues helps businesses make ongoing improvements for customer and representative interactions.
The Origin: Call Centers
Before we had CCaaS, we had call centers. Call centers originated in the 1950s, and they were often referred to as “phone rooms.” Telephone operators answered inbound calls. Call centers existed for:
- Customer service
- Placing orders
- Calling the “operator” for phone call assistance
In the 1960s, technology continued to advance. For example, automatic call distributor (ACD) technology became popular to manage high volumes of calls. ACD technology developed an algorithm that automatically assigned agents different calls instead of relying on a human operator.
Shortly after, toll-free customer service numbers were introduced. You may remember calling in to vote for a contestant on a television show using a toll-free number. Technology developed further in the 1970s when customers could use Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to tell the business why they were calling based on voice recognition commands.
Once the internet took off in the 1990s, e-commerce companies needed a reliable way for non-local customers to contact them, inquire about products, and place orders. Call centers were the widespread solution for internet-based companies. Additionally, telemarketing was at an all-time high.
In 1991, customer backlash to telemarketing prompted Congress to pass the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA restricted telemarketing calls by setting a limit on when calls could be made. In addition, solicitors were required to honor the National Do Not Call Registry, and companies were no longer allowed to use pre-recorded messages for sales calls.
Eventually, many companies in the early 2000s realized that it was cheaper to outsource customer service calls outside of the United States. As a result, businesses outsourced their calls to call center companies overseas, which often caused frustration for customers and employees alike.
With internet improvements and the addition of social media, the call center landscape needed to adapt. Many younger customers wanted alternative ways to contact customer service representatives, while many older generations wished to keep the option of a traditional phone call. Eventually, Contact Center as a Service was born.
Adapting to CCaaS
As customer demands for internet-based service options increased, call centers had to adapt. In the 2000s, companies realized that there was an opportunity to create call center software and host it in the cloud. This change allowed representatives to access call center software from any internet browser, not just their specific computer in a call center.
While original CCaaS providers found success, there were still bugs and issues to fix. The original software was built during a transitional time of technology. Most codebases were still produced for on-site systems, not the cloud. The downtime was often significant, and the effort to make basic improvements would require long development cycles.
As technology and coding improved, CCaaS systems began to get built natively in the cloud. This improvement removed the time-consuming and confusing process of attempting to integrate two differently designed systems. As a result, CCaaS systems can now operate at a rapid pace with fewer errors and downtime.
Where We Are Now
Today, Contact Centers as a Service are the standard way for businesses to communicate with customers effectively. CCaaS benefits are endless, offering faster speeds, simpler processing, lower costs, and multiple avenues for customers to reach out.
Integrated Communications is honored to bring high-quality customer service to your company by partnering with the following contact center groups:
- Evolve IP
CCaaS Continues to Adapt
Improvements are constantly being made to existing CCaaS software. If we have learned one thing from the history of call centers, it is to continually change and shift to meet customers’ needs. Thankfully, modern CCaaS software has the capacity to adapt easily.
If your business needs a new or updated CCaaS system, contact us at Integrated Communications. We are here to help you save money and enhance productivity.
Businesses of all sizes in every industry rely on fast internet access to be competitive. The speed of a business’s internet directly affects its success. As technology improves, internet speeds get faster and more reliable.
Traditional cable or DSL internet providers offer speeds between 10 and 30 Mbps (megabits per second.) However, businesses that operate with fiber-based internet experience speeds up to 1000 Mbps. Fast internet for business is essential for ensuring the satisfaction of customers and employees alike.
Keep reading to learn 5 ways faster internet improves your business.
1. Access to High-Speed Internet Reduces Costs
Don’t let the initial startup costs of high-speed internet deter you from signing up for it. The initial costs often pay for themselves through the added efficiency and productivity that your business will experience.
Other direct savings options are available with fast internet for business. High-speed internet offers a telephone service called Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). This gives companies the option to have a telephone voice service connected to their high-speed internet. Depending on the number of employees and extensions your business has, you could save thousands of dollars by connecting a VOIP service to your internet.
VOIP allows your business to make calls through a handset, headset, laptop, tablet, and an app. All your business needs is a connection to high-speed internet to utilize this service. The best part of this telephone service is that caller IDs will register your business name and number.
2. Faster Internet Allows for More Productivity
Businesses majorly lose out on productivity levels if employees are waiting on a slow internet connection to load their work. Most employees in many types of businesses are incredibly reliant on internet access to successfully perform their job.
High-speed internet not only cuts down on the time that employees wait for applications and software to load, but it also supports multi-tasking across multiple applications at once. Delayed internet speeds affect research capabilities, customer service, emails, and in-house communications. All of these areas add up and cause your business to lose valuable time and money.
High-speed internet for business allows employees to operate efficiently between tasks and projects. Employees can complete tasks faster without dealing with the frustrations of a slow internet connection.
Traditional DSL internet easily gets interrupted with:
- Poor weather conditions
- Physical breakdowns
- Electrical interference
These circumstances are far less likely to interfere with high-speed internet.
Reliable connection keeps your customers productive, too. If your business’s website loads slowly or even crashes, customers will be quick to take their business elsewhere. Maintain a loyal customer base with a reliable and fast internet connection.
3. High-Speed Internet Has Better Security
High-speed internet is better equipped against hacking and security breaches compared to traditional internet services. Security breaches present considerable risks and damages to businesses. Recovering from illegal access is always an expensive process.
Preventing security breaches before they happen is the safest and most affordable way to handle the cybersecurity of your business. You don’t want to risk losing valuable information about your business, or about your customers. Customers will not be happy with you if their personal information gets leaked in a data breach.
To further protect valuable data, many businesses backup their data offsite. As the amount of data increases, so does the need for reliable internet service. Slow internet connections interfere with data backups, often leaving some attempts unsuccessful.
Fiber optic internet can accommodate large data transfers. These smooth and quick transfers put your employees, customers, and owners at ease.
High-speed internet also protects your business with:
- Security systems viewable from anywhere
- Clear HD imaging
- Protection against cybercrime
- Adding phones, tablets, and other devices to your security system
4. Effectively Collaborate Remotely
High-speed internet allows your employees to work remotely with ease. You can extend your talent pool to the entire country if you can effectively operate remotely.
Remote workers depend on quality internet connections in order to successfully collaborate with other remote and in-house team members. Running a successful remote operation also allows you to save money on overhead costs.
Even if your employees only work remotely while traveling, high-speed internet allows them to share files, print necessary documents, and collaborate on company platforms as if they were physically in the office.
Isn’t it frustrating when a video meeting crashes or glitches? Slow internet gets even slower when multiple employees are working at the same time, not to mention an entire team. High-speed internet supports multiple employees each working on multiple devices during the day.
You can count on your video meetings to run smoothly with fiber optic internet. This is guaranteed to make your employees happy because the only thing worse than meetings is meetings that last way longer than they need to.
5. Faster Speeds Improve Cloud Access
The constant need to upload, download, and store items in a business setting is supported by cloud access and remote data storage. Things like software-as-a-service (SaaS), content management systems (CMS), and customer relationship management (CRM) programs rely on the cloud.
Slow internet speeds negatively affect the performance of these programs and applications. If customers on the other end of CRM programs experience a lag in processing data, they will lose their confidence in your business.
Almost all new software programs are designed to rely on fast cloud access. If your business has traditional slow internet, it will directly affect how these programs perform. High-speed internet is essential for utilizing new software that is designed to help your business find more success.
Take Your Business to the Next Level With Faster Internet
Fast internet for business is what takes your profits from good to great. Save money, collaborate productively, and keep your data safe with high-speed fiber optic internet. Faster internet is a valuable investment that pays for itself with the benefits it offers.
Are you ready to take your business to the next level and improve the lives of your employees and customers? Integrated Communications is here to help. Reach out to us to get started today!
Voice over Internet Protocol, commonly referred to as VoIP, is a technology method that delivers voice communications over the internet. Business VoIP systems are essentially the modern form of a business phone. Instead of being tied to a landline, businesses can use the internet to send voice, video, and data communications. There are VoIP advantages and disadvantages, but for the most part companies can enjoy many VoIP benefits like flexibility, low cost, and mobility. Business VoIP is the future, especially with so many employees working remotely. No matter what size business you run, VoIP can help you stay modern and connected. Here are a few of the benefits of using business VoIP:
- Allows employees to work from anywhere, with the use of smartphones.
- Lower cost than traditional landlines.
- Easily scalable for when your business grows.
- Flexible phone option that won’t tie you down.
- More features than conventional phones.
How Does VoIP Work?
The VoIP definition is: communication that works by digitizing voice data and sending it over the internet. This means that you can make and receive business calls over the internet, using various devices such as headsets, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The only thing you need for business VoIP, or hosted phones, is an internet connection. Instead of using circuit switching like traditional phones, hosted phones utilize packet switching, which is much more efficient. It uses bandwidth only when needed.
Business VoIP Benefits
You might be wondering, what are the VoIP advantages and disadvantages? Believe it or not, there’s more than one benefit to using business VoIP. If your company hasn’t switched to it already, you might want to reconsider. Using business VoIP gives your business freedom and flexibility. Your employees will be able to take calls from wherever they are, with whatever devices are available to them. Business VoIP also comes at a lower cost than traditional landlines and is easy to scale up if you hire new employees and your company expands. If you think your business would appreciate this mobility and its low price, then you should consider switching to business VoIP with a trusted VoIP provider. Here are five of the best VoIP benefits to consider when making this critical choice.
With the world of technology expanding and the popularity of remote working on the rise, businesses have to find ways to adjust. Using VoIP phone services is just one way to do that. Employees can work from anywhere and still receive calls with the use of VoIP. Working from anywhere is essential, especially if your employees travel or often have meetings outside the office. With VoIP, everyone will stay connected over their business lines, making it easy to be mobile.
Using hosted phones is significantly cheaper than traditional landlines. Because of the way VoIP operates, you really just need to have a strong internet connection. By providing business VoIP to your employees, you will save a considerable amount of money in your budget, which can then be allocated elsewhere. Think about how much money you’ve spent installing landline phones and rewiring cables, plus adding additional lines whenever you have a new employee. Those days of costly services are gone, thanks to affordable hosted phone plans. Choosing business VoIP will give you mobility and flexibility, not to mention a good portion of your phone budget back.
When your business grows, your technology and phone capabilities have to grow too. Adding additional business VoIP lines is straightforward and easy, making this growth transition that much easier for companies. Instead of having to call your landline provider, buy a new hardwire, and reserve time for installing new lines in the office, you can just add lines through your admin portal. Whenever you hire new employees, giving them a phone line is simple with VoIP. Scalability is one of the many benefits of using business VoIP. Moving offices? That’s no problem either when you have hosted phones you can use anywhere, as long as there’s an internet connection.
Office workers used to be tied to their desks all day because of landline phones and technology that wasn’t flexible. Now, technology has made huge strides so that people can work from wherever they want. Business VoIP operates in the same way. You can stay mobile and flexible, opting to work from wherever suits you best, without giving up your phone lines. Stay connected and remain flexible with business phone hosting. If you and your employees are always on the go, VoIP is the best choice for reliable phone services that are as flexible as your company.
The final fantastic benefit of business VoIP is all the features that don’t always come with a landline phone. The VoIP definition communicates clearly how voice data is simply sent over the internet. These hosted phones can actually do so much more than traditional phones, including integrations with other work productivity systems and voicemail to email. With business VoIP, your phone system will help employees to be their most productive. If your company needs full functionality out of your phone system, then hosted phones are the way to go. Here are several of the features you can enjoy with business VoIP:
- Automated attendant
- Caller ID
- Call blocking, forwarding, waiting, and transferring
- Conference calling
- Contact Center/Call Center
- Integrations with Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Salesforce, and others
- Fax to Email
- Find Me/Follow Me
- Hold music
- Mobile management
- One-line sharing on multiple phones/devices
- Ring groups
- Voicemail to Email
- Voicemail to Text
- Web-based system administration
Choosing Business VoIP
When you choose a VoIP system, you will be investing in your company to grow into the future. Of course, there are VoIP advantages and disadvantages, but we think the pros outweigh any cons. Hosted phones allow for maximum flexibility and scalability while remaining the most affordable choice for business phones. VoIP technology is constantly evolving, and since it is cloud-based, you will always have access to the latest version without any significant changes to your system. Thanks to hosted phones, all you need is a strong internet connection to be able to carry conversations and receive work voicemails from wherever you are, on whatever device is available to you. The benefits of business VoIP are plenty, and it’s one of the best investments you can make for your growing business today.