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Power of UC: Your Phone System and The Marketing Machine

200020650-001The features and benefits that Unified Communications (UC) systems are bringing to companies are truly making a positive impact on real-world business challenges. Though many of us have heard the names of these features, and maybe a description of what they do, it’s sometimes difficult to picture exactly how these features will help your company make or save money. It’s great to know that UC systems, like Switchvox, have mobile applications and give you call control outside the office, or that they have IVRs (interactive voice responses) to allow you to automate call flows, but… What does all that actually mean for YOUR company?

Well, we are going to answer that question with our newest blog series, The Power of UC. We’re going to take a look at real-world business problems and see how UC helps solve those problems, and how the right UC feature may even turn that issue into a strength or competitive advantage for your organization. Let’s kick off the series by looking at marketing and UC.

The Marketing Machine

One of the biggest challenges that small and medium businesses (SMBs) deal with in today’s business environment is not being able to effectively market their business or products. Some of the major factors of this marketing challenge are that the business doesn’t have the budget to dedicate to marketing programs, and may not understand how to market in today’s digital and social media-driven world. One of the more significant roadblocks is that managers have a hard time determining the effectiveness of the marketing programs that they do have in place. If they can’t determine the ROI, it’s difficult to see the value of marketing at all. This is where UC comes in.

To see how UC can help improve and quantify your marketing campaigns, let’s take a look at the following (fictional) scenario:

ABC Widgets, Inc. has decided to rent space on a roadside sign (billboard) and purchase airtime on a local radio station to advertise the company’s new product. They have a dedicated team of sales people for this particular product and a separate group for everything else.

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Control the Flow

Companies spend a lot of time developing effective messaging and advertisements and a lot of money putting them in the right place. However, they oftentimes misunderstand whether the incoming call traffic is coming from a paid advertising campaign, or just a regular Joe calling in to get information. Not to mention, it can be a struggle getting that caller to the right employee.

Here’s how Switchvox helps ABC Widgets solve this problem:

  • Intelligent call routing by incoming phone numbers allows users to decide what to do with calls coming in from a certain number. ABC Widgets purchases two dedicated phone numbers (around $2 per month), one to be used on the billboard, and the other one to be used in the radio ad. Switchvox allows them to determine which advertisement the caller saw (and responded to), based on the phone number used.
  • IVR lets ABC Widgets record and play back additional information to these callers as they reach their system. Of course, they control the messaging the callers hear.
  • Caller ID control allows ABC Widgets to use Switchvox to add the caller ID so when the call gets to the correct employee, they are able to see which ad campaign likely triggered the call. So, the employee will see something like 555-555-1212 Widget Radio on their computer and phone when the incoming call is received. This enables the employee to answer the phone and be prepared to address the messaging in the ad.
  • Call Queues ensure that the ABC Widgets sales team dedicated to selling their new product answers the calls that originate from the corresponding ad phone numbers; all the other incoming calls are routed to the rest of their staff.
  • Mobility allows the ABC Widgets team to receive these calls from anywhere and still see the proper Caller ID information.

 

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Measure the Results

Smart business owners and managers need to be able to measure business activities to ensure they are getting a return on their investment. Marketing activities can be difficult to measure financially, but Switchvox can help you get started. Here’s what ABC Widgets did:

  • Call Reports allow companies to run reports by incoming phone number. Now ABC Widgets knows how many calls were generated by each ad campaign.
  • Queue Reports allow managers to understand the performance of groups of employees. They can see metrics like wait times, talk times, abandoned and answered calls, and much more. Managers at ABC Widgets now have a solid understanding of how incoming calls are being handled.
  • Call Logs allow managers to track an individual call from start to finish. They know who talked to the caller, and if the caller was transferred or disconnected for any reason. Now they can stay ahead of customer complaints and issues.
  • Scheduled Reports allows managers to set up reports and automatically send them to their email inbox on the day, time, and frequency that they choose. This gives the managers the data they need, when they need it.

As you can see, ABC Widgets now controls who their callers (customers and prospects) talk to, determines what messaging they hear, knows their experience throughout the call, and measures all of this using on-demand and scheduled call reports. This level of detail helps provide a more accurate ROI for the company’s ad campaigns. Oh, one last thing- the setup takes no time at all!

You too can have these tools and many more at your disposal.

Sign up for a personal demo of Switchvox and see how Switchvox can change the way your company communicates.

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Ensuring business success with Unified Communications

Implementing a successful Unified Communications solution is about much more than just technology.

Implementing Unified Communications (UC) solution is nothing like your typical IT project or deployment. If successful, you are literally changing the way the business works and communicates. It’s hard to name another IT project requires as much strategic planning and business engagement.

Unified Communications is a journey, not a single product or project you buy and deploy. The first step is understanding the “why” behind UC for your business. If you can’t define the why, you can’t build your business case and measure success

  • Can your business explain why you’re even starting the UC journey?
  • What are you expecting to achieve?
  • On what timelines?
  • How will you measure success?

Only once you define your goals and business case, can you move into looking at solutions. The journey to UC is riddled with complex considerations and potential blind spots. You will encounter complex technical challenges such as compliance, security and integration with other applications or systems, such as existing phone systems and networks. Equally you will have to manage the business impact and changes in business process and user experience. All these challenges and complexities can be overcome with the right planning and engagement. Here are 5 tips to help ensure your success.

5 Ways to Ensure Your UC Implementation Succeeds

1.       You need a strategy.

2.       You need to assess and measure the business value.

3.       You must address the cultural impact.

4.       You need business buy in.

5.       Don’t underestimate the importance of user training and adoption.

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[Webinar Recording] LAN Synchronization for IP DECT Base Stations

Spectralink now supports LAN-based synchronisation for IP-DECT base stations. This delivers a number of important benefits for both resellers and customers.

On the 18th of August Wavelink had a webinar about the benefits of LAN synchronisation using IP DECT base station. For those who missed the session click on the recording below or download the slides below.

Back-to-school gift to you…

Written by Amy Bennett | Lightspeed Systems

Our Rocket Web Filter and Email Manager customers can expect a nice surprise when they log into their boxes today: a slew of new custom reports that we’ve created and sent straight to your Rocket. That means as students come back to school and back to your network, you’ll have the detailed information you need at your fingertips without having to do a thing!

To see these new reports:
1. Log into your Rocket
2. Click the Reports button
3. You’ll see a new section titled “Lightspeed Custom Reports.”

What searches and sites have been blocked? Who sends the most email? What are users visiting on mobile devices? You have immediate answers to all those questions — and a lot more.

These are some of the most popular custom reports and we know they’ll come in handy — especially this time of year. Take a look and check them out. (Our long-time TTC customers are sure to recognize many of them right away.)

Learn More

 

Secure Text Messaging: The Killer App in Healthcare

BY RICHARD HARVEY, SENIOR TECHNICAL CONSULTANT, SPECTRALINK

The number one question I’m asked by healthcare IT teams is about implementing Secure Text Messaging on mobile devices. They recognize that without providing a solution, their clinicians will resort to texting using consumer applications on their own personal smartphones for work related communication, regardless of policies prohibiting it. This was confirmed by a study done by Spyglass Consulting Group last year that said 67% of hospitals interviewed reported that staff nurses were using personal smartphones despite hospital policy restrictions. Consumer texting applications lack the necessary security for healthcare and can result in a leak of patient information if a clinician’s device is stolen or lost, potentially exposing the hospital to stiff financial penalties.

It is understandable why staff want to use texting to communicate between each other at work. It has become second nature as most people text in their social lives. Receiving a text is often less disruptive than trying to answer a phone call, as the recipient can respond after they’ve completed a task, such as talking with a patient, and texting is much less annoying to patients than overhead pages.

Fortunately there are now many secure text messaging solutions available for healthcare. These solutions are designed to support a hospital’s requirements, such as security, reliability, accountability and HIPAA compliance; and provide the user with the same familiar look-and-feel of a consumer texting application. They support users working from desktops, workstations and mobile devices running Android or iOS operating systems.

In fact these secure texting solutions can deliver far better user experiences than consumer texting applications by presenting more contextually relevant information to the user. For example, these applications can show an address book highlighting those nurses currently working, or offer secure group texting to staff associated with a particular patient, or allow a user to choose a suitable reply to an incoming text using a single key press. These types of incremental enhancements can improve a user’s productivity and reduce frustration by making workplace communication more efficient.

Many of our application partners in our AIMS Program provide secure text messaging solutions, and also offer additional workflow capabilities like task management, alarm notifications and management, in order to make workers more productive.

I’ll wrap up by adding, as ubiquitous as text messaging has become for communication, there are times when a telephone call is of critical importance, so healthcare IT teams must still ensure their chosen smartphone platform and wireless network infrastructure can reliably deliver high quality voice audio. After all, that patient those clinicians are calling about could be you.

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Fortinet introduces new cloud-managed WLAN access points

Fortinet launched a new series of wireless LAN access points that are managed by its FortiCloud management system. The new FortiAP-S series of APs are being touted as secure Wi-Fi APs with Fortinet’s cybersecurity technology running right on them

Learn More

Going Mobile: Digium’s Respoke Launches iOS and Android SDKs

Since Digium launched the Respoke real-time communications (WebRTC) platform last fall, thousands have signed up for an account to quickly add live communications features to web applications. Today, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve extended the same possibilities to mobile developers with the launch of our software development kits (SDKs) for iOS and Android. The Respoke mobile SDKs make it incredibly easy to incorporate live audio and video calling, instant messaging, and presence into native applications. We’ve also made some key changes and additions to the Respoke platform to optimize the mobile user experience.

Until now, building in-app communications features on native mobile platforms has required a small army of specialized experts, people with a deep understanding of call signaling, media subsystem integration, codecs, encryption and packetization. With the Respoke SDKs you can leave all of the plumbing to us. The Respoke libraries handle identity, message delivery, call signaling, and – in an industry first – mobile push notifications. You simply add code to handle various events and to incorporate various Respoke features into your user interface. Adding a rich suite of in-app communications features typically takes only a few hours of planning and coding.

Bringing web communications capabilities to iOS and Android was a significant undertaking. Our development team spent many months designing, testing and refactoring intuitive programmatic interfaces that match the general design of our JavaScript library, yet adhere to best practices for iOS and Android. To make it easy to get started, we integrated the SDKs with CocoaPods and Maven, the package repositories for iOS and Android. And because we believe in the power of open source software, we’ve chosen to license the SDKs under the extremely permissive MIT license. This gives developers the freedom to adapt the SDKs to best suit their projects.

Doing live communications on mobile poses some challenges. While it’s quite common to have many desktop applications running simultaneously, the resource constraints of mobile platforms allow for only one active application at any time. To extend battery life, mobile devices quickly revert to a power-saving sleep mode when not in use. This makes things interesting for communications applications, which need a way to interact with the user even when backgrounded or offline. We solved this by incorporating support for push notifications using the push services provided by Apple and Google.

The latest version of Respoke includes a number of features that lets your app use push to send messages and calls to applications, even when offline or in the background. The Respoke developer portal now contains a push configuration tab which allows you to set the credentials and certificates required by Apple and Google. Here you can also set the rules that control if and when push notifications are sent. For example, you might chose to send push messages only when the user isn’t available on another connection (perhaps from a browser or desktop application).

In the spirit of “eating our own dog food” (i.e. using the software we build for our own applications), Digium’s Respoke team used the new SDKs to build mobile versions of our home-grown collaboration suite. There’s nothing quite like having to choke down some kibble to help you get things right; our experience quickly showed us that mobile is a different beast. It took several stabs at push notifications before we found a balance between simplicity (automatic push messages) and elegance (being able to control and format push messages for optimal user experience – what became our PushEvent feature). Getting that right was a huge effort, but totally worth it as it made the mobile collaboration client a true peer to the web client.

The users who helped us beta test the SDKs seem to think we got it right. “The Respoke mobile SDKs made it so easy to implement the real-time communications features of our app,” said Jason Adams, founder of Ninjanetic, an early user of the SDKs. “The interface is simple and straightforward, allowing us to implement all of the complexities of chat, calling, and identity with just a couple of classes. A surprising amount of that code came straight from the example applications.”

It’s something of an understatement to say the team is excited to see the SDKs released. We’ve been hearing from existing and potential customers that mobile support is a key requirement.  As of today, we have a platform that supports web and mobile on equal footing. For everyone who asked for mobile and waited patiently, thank you very much. Now we’re looking forward to seeing what kinds of awesome mobile apps our developer community can cook up.

Ready to find out more? You can get started with a free trial from Respoke and then easily migrate to one of our pricing plans, based on active number of user connections.

To get started with the Android SDK, view the Respoke documentation for Android.

To get started with the iOS SDK, view the Respoke documentation for iOS.

Have Wi-Fi, Will Learn—From Anywhere

Campus Technology 2015 wrapped up last week—what a show. So much was addressed and discussed and shared at this year’s event that it takes a while to digest it all. Distance learning was a big topic, along with the quality and quantity of course offerings and how well-prepared students are to tackle the working world. There were quite a few viewpoints, with one of the most interesting being Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc’s keynote.

He posits that education is at a crossroads, facing issues including cost, quality of education and access. Students are still burdened with debt when they graduate. Some students still have challenges accessing education, and sometimes the courses offered aren’t what the students want—with few options to get what they want. That combines to create a difficult situation. He quoted an interesting statistic that 75 percent of university provosts believe their graduates are ready for work the day they graduate—while only 11 percent of employers believe the same. It’s quite a glaring difference! Yet there are opportunities as well, such as distance learning, to broaden the reach and maintain quality education.

Distance education and distance learning have made great strides since the concepts were introduced. Those strides have been supported, to a huge degree, by technological innovations. Wireless networks are one of those innovations. And it got me thinking—how does the wireless network on a physical campus enable distance learning and allow universities and colleges to educate more people?

The wireless network is an integral part of distance learning. A weak network will cause nothing but problems…while a robust network will make nearly anything possible. Today’s campus wireless networks must be robust, redundant and available everywhere to withstand the onslaught of connections on campus. Great demands are placed on wireless networks at every hour of the day, every day of the year—and that’s “just” the on-campus demand.

At Campus Technology, we saw a number of vendors displaying solutions to create, manage and distribute streaming or archived multimedia content for digital curriculum and blended learning, including distance learning and lecture capture. These new technologies are constantly enabling new teaching styles and new ways of learning: video conferencing immersive environments, MOOCs, blended learning, and more. Mobile devices are making it possible for on-campus students to participate in class while not in the classroom—and the same holds true for instructors as well as distance learners. Students can participate in chat sessions, online discussion groups, take tests, review materials, engage one-on-one with instructors and more—whenever they are available, wherever they are located. It is a revolution in education, and it is made possible with wireless networks (and, of course, other technologies). The combination of distance learning and on-campus learning hugely increases network demand, so additional capacity must be made available to support both.

The Meru Education-Grade (MEG) wireless platform powers distance learning. It provides ubiquitous learning environments by meeting and exceeding Wi-Fi expectations throughout campus. Knowing there is a robust and reliable network, instructors can feel comfortable developing cutting-edge content and delivery methods and know their students can access it. Students can rest assured they won’t have issues when streaming lectures, participating in video chats or taking tests—because the network is built to seamlessly support thousands upon thousands of concurrent connections.

University of Toronto is a great example of a large enterprise campus-wide Wi-Fi deployment. U of T has around 100,000 users and developed a network to cover approximately 10 million square feet of campus. University wireless usage increases by around 50 percent year-over-year, with peak wireless traffic up a whopping 233 percent year-over-year. And the Meru-powered Wi-Fi network is holding the line, maintaining the always-on availability users expect.

There is no shortage of uses for campus Wi-Fi and other technologies. And there are endless creative ways to build networks to support those uses. I agree with Paul LeBlanc that IT can elevate distance learning and help improve education overall. What do you think?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Switchvox winner of the 2015 TMCLabs Innovation Award

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We are thrilled to announce that Switchvox has been honored with the Unified Communications TMCLabs Innovation Award. TMC is a global, integrated media company that supports clients’ goals by building communities in print, online, and face to face. ITMC publishes multiple magazines including Cloud Computing, IoT Evolution, Customer, and Internet Telephony.

.The TMC Labs Innovation Award honors products that have demonstrated innovation, unique features, and noteworthy developments toward improving communications technology.

“Digium has displayed its commitment to quality and innovation in the development of the unified communications industry,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “I look forward to more innovation from Digium and their continued effort toward improving the future of the UC industry.”

Choosing a phone system that offers the best fit for your business is easy with Switchvox. Looking for the simplicity of a cloud-based UC system for a low, monthly price? Need the power and control of an affordable, on-site IP PBX solution? Prefer the flexibility of a hybrid VoIP solution for your growing organization? No matter which deployment option you require, Switchvox has you covered – including all the features and savings you expect.

 

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