The usual even-flow of office dynamics at Integrated Communications was no different yesterday, September 4th, than every other day at the small business in Golden Valley, MN. Kip and Thalina headed-out around 9:30 am to meet a client, Sandy shuffled through the morning mail, Mary was hard at work in the front of the office, and Nate, Nick, and Setara were wrapped-up in some calls in the three back offices within close proximity to our D-Mark. All was silent, all was still for a brief moment in telecom history, when a POP emanated from our electrical room, followed by heavy drilling noises. “What was that”, Nick yelled. “I’m not sure; is someone drilling”, Setara questioned. Thankfully Sandy made her way to the back of the office building to give Nick some mail, and that’s when she noticed the fire.
Our morning was filled with chaos, fire-fighters, a local news crew and a disaster recovery plan as our office encountered a small disaster; an electrical fire broke-out in our back electrical room.
How did we handle the disaster at our office?
Besides a crazed pregnant lady running panicked out of the building, the employees at Integrated were ready to contain the disaster, and start implementing a solution.
- Get everyone out of the building and to safety – We evacuated the building and stood a good distance away from the perimeter of our office
- Call 9-11 – The police were informed of the fire and the location of our building ASAP (further on this topic will be discussed)
- Extinguish Fire? – It was possible for our two shining heroes at Integrated (Nick and Nate) to locate a fire extinguisher and put the fire out, and then exit the building to get to safety while public safety officials arrived
- Notify Boss – Although Kip was on his way to meet with a client, we called him immediately to inform him of the situation ensuing at Integrated
- Speak with Public Safety Officials – After a few fire trucks arrived and the men and women of the Golden Valley Fire Department did their diligence in assessing the disaster, we spoke with the fire-Chief and received information on what may have occurred, and the proper steps to take now that the fire has been terminated.
- Contact proper channels – Insurance, Electrician, Clean-up Crew, and our folk at A Couple of Gurus (IT Company in MN) were called within minutes of the incident to be informed and to gear-up in an effort to help us solve any problems that may have occurred. (Thankfully, A Couple of Gurus accommodated our server worries and backed-up our entire system within a few hours of the fire).
- Go to lunch to debrief and come-up with a company game plan – After the event took place, and the proper people were notified, we ventured out to Doolittle’s for a quick lunch and company chat about what our next steps will be. While the office was to be cleaned and fumigated that night and the following day, we decided it was safer for the employees’ health to work from home until Friday (or further notice of safety has been recommended).
A HUGE piece of our disaster recovery plan was knowing who to call in case of an emergency. All of our bases were covered, and the proper people were informed of our situation within a moment’s notice. Great partnerships and equipment also hold value at a time when disaster strikes: Dave Johnson with Velocity Telephone graciously offered office space if necessary until our office and system were cleared for work…
And, on that note, the use of our VOIP phone system through Velocity Telephone came in handy in several ways on the day we needed it most. When the fire started, our phone lines were in flames as well – fortunately, with our VOIP phone system we were able to dial out to 9-11 without operating phone lines. Furthermore, our plug-and-play VOIP phone system made the capability of our employees working from home extremely feasible! Anywhere there is Internet, we are able to plug in our office phones and work – what a great feeling.
**Make sure your company is prepared for a disaster, no matter how big or small the event may be
And now for some pictures…
Near and far our toys and our cars are shipped and sold to us from out-of-State and out-of-Country. While this has been great for the consumer wishing to lower their overall spend, it isn’t great for the consumer who incurs problems and needs to get a hold of the manufacturer or have their issues solved in a timely fashion. Telecom, IT, and other technology facets, these days, seem to be no different; businesses big and small are working with carriers and vendors who are “housed” in another area.
Is this a problem?
Well, as these carriers grow and expand into uncharted territories, their appreciation and attentiveness for their clients depletes significantly. Calls being made by a client to their provider are being handled outside of the local sector and businesses are starting to experience extreme down-times as they wait for their connectivity issues and/or business needs to be handled – oftentimes incurring endless “on-hold” hours.
How can this be avoided?
Stay homegrown! Many businesses are beginning to turn back to their local providers and/or agents (such as business internet MN master-agent Integrated Communications) to handle their business’ services and voice and data needs. IT companies such as Velocity Tech Solutions are seeing the change and it’s becoming a huge factor for many local and multi-site businesses. Anne Tarantino of Velocity Tech Solutions (2013) notes, “Big businesses are competitive and are taking many local vendors out of the market; but, things are starting to shift back towards the use of local vendors as people realize the satisfaction, customer service, and timeliness with big businesses just isn’t there”.
If you are a business looking to ensure your needs are met and issues are being handled instantly, then you need to go homegrown. Integrated Communications has partnered with many local voice and data carriers, as well as phone and IT vendors to ensure your business has the proper resources just around the block. Call us at 763-443-7009 for questions regarding our homegrown style of business and the partners we love.
*Velocity Tech Solutions is a partner IT vendor of Integrated Communications – located out of Spring Lake Park, MN
Hacking is a term we relate as a potential danger for our personal banking information, social media accounts, etc… Unfortunately, hacking goes beyond our individual assets and can affect the businesses we operate and utilize on a daily basis – no business is safe being hacked, including Billion dollar companies and banks (Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and even the Government is at a constant risk). If you are a business owner and/or IT administrator of any sorts, it is extremely imperative that you defend and secure your companies’ PBX phone system. We have all heard of the hackers that break-in through your voice mail due to poor password protection and give themselves international privileges on your company’s dime, but, what about the new age of VoIP phone systems hackers? Are you prepared to combat the new wave of one-click internet hackers out to get you for every penny you’ve got? Be prepared for both!
Here are a few tips from the experts we work with on securing your PBX phone system.
– Understand your provider.
According to Carl Wallin of Acticor Technologies (a phone vendor in the Twin Cities – check them out @ www.acticor.com), hacking has become a huge issue over the past few years – especially with the expansion of VOIP. One of their current customers’ phone system was hacked and as a result they were billed for over $8,000.00; unfortunately, the provider they were with at the time gave no lea-way or “grace”, so-to-speak, in that type of situation and the company was left to pay for the entire bill. Wallin suggests knowing what your provider’s protocols are in those particular situations: “speak with your voice provider ASAP regarding their preventative and quantitative measures for detecting and combating hackers. There are definitely providers I would not suggest for these exact reasons, and others that have developed and maintained software for these circumstances and are better equip to handle a disaster before it occurs, as well as prepared to tackle the aftermath of the hacking calamity if something were to transpire”. The Allworx system, provided by Acticor, addresses the issue of hacking and has impeccable software to protect against the lurking dangers of outside influences on your phone system.
– Understand the target.
Hackers do not generally target any of your “regular” phones – they target your 3rd party, generic extensions…your break room PBX, conference PBX, Android/I-phone applications, etc… Be sure to password protect ALL equipment used for your business, and speak with your providers about what they do for hacking detection and prevention. Default passwords just do NOT cut-it anymore. It’s time to move beyond the default password (you know – the 1234 or 0000) and create a sound password that is not easily detected or hacked by a computer.
– Understand Security Audits.
Regularly check and maintain security authorizations on your network and your PBX phone system. Be sure to remind your employees on a scheduled basis to implement a new password for both their phone (voice-mail) and their internet security check-points. Hospitals, as well as banks and other businesses requiring immense protection due to protocol and patient/customer privacy should be sure to place prompts on their employees’ system to activate a password change every few months.
Speak further with your telecom agent, phone provider, and vendor to make sure you and your company are protected from hackers and unwanted billing.