Business VoIP Solutions – Can VoIP Save Your Corporate Budget?

As Voice over Internet Protocol communication matures and as high-speed Internet becomes cheap and ubiquitous, an increasing number of businesses are ditching conventional landlines and jumping to VoIP. Companies are not only marketing products or services, but marketing themselves as well. No matter the size or type, every business should have the tools and solutions needed to present themselves in a professional manner, while maximizing their ability to work efficiently and stay connected to customers and co-workers.

While some small businesses may believe they can get by with simply using their smartphones for work purposes, even the smallest of businesses can benefit from a central business phone system, because it presents a unified face to customers, employees and partners.

Are the potential pitfalls worth the potential monetary payoffs? I’ll walk you through the basics, discuss the pros and cons, and take a look at three commercial VoIP services of varying complexity.

While it may be intuitive, mobile phone plans are simply not set up to offer the same business features that specifically designed business phone systems offer. For example, mobile phones can’t offer a virtual receptionist to answer calls and quickly and easily connect customers with the proper company contacts, or provide important business information like hours and directions.

Generally, things are pretty simple if you’re looking for a hosted service. Many of the top VoIP providers handle all the heavy lifting offsite, delivering calls to your phones and software clients without much hassle, especially if you use phones that are plug-and-play certified for the service in question. The majority require no additional on-site hardware aside from those phones; at most, you might need to find a space for a small box of hardware somewhere on-site.

In contrast, maintaining a self-hosted, on-site VoIP system requires a bit more work. You need an IP-based private branch exchange-a VoIP-friendly version of the PBX phone systems that many offices use-to route your calls to the appropriate phones on your network, as well as a device called a PSTN gateway. The PSTN gateway sits between the IP-PBX software and the analog signals of the public switched telephone network, converting calls to and from digital signals as necessary.

No matter which option you choose, typically you can handle the basic settings for your phone lines or extensions over the phone, while tweaking more advanced options requires diving into your provider’s online account interface.

What Do You Need to Implement VoIP?

Depending on the size of your company and the infrastructure you already have in place, jumping on the VoIP bandwagon could cost your company next to nothing, or it could entail significant up-front costs.
Even home broadband connections can handle several VoIP calls simultaneously, though you’ll need to be sure to leave bandwidth available for other applications as well.VoIP requires a broadband connection-and the more simultaneous users you have, the more bandwidth you’ll need. If you work alone out of a home office, or if you have only a few employees, you won’t have much to worry about; for example, on my setup, running RingCentral’s Conection Capacity utility shows that my 15-mbps home Comcast connection could handle 11 calls simultaneously even if I had Netflix, Spotify, and an instant-messaging client running on the network at the same time.

Make sure that your internal network-including your routers and switches-can handle the load, too. Most providers suggest using a router with configurable Quality of Service settings and assigning VoIP high traffic priority to maximize quality.

If your Internet service provider has a bandwidth cap in place, you should take that into consideration as well. Most VoIP service providers use the high-quality G.711 codec for VoIP communications, which consumes 64kb of data every second you talk. In reality, even a large number of people should be able to chat it up on VoIP without having to worry about hitting bandwidth caps, but you’ll want to keep close tabs on your data usage to avoid exceeding that cap.

You’ll need a SIP-enabled phone, such as the Snom 300, if you want to make VoIP calls.Finally, even if you subscribe to a cloud-based hosted VoIP service, you’ll need to make sure your phones can communicate over VoIP. Most VoIP systems use session-initiation protocol technology to assign each phone or VoIP software client a specific address; that’s how the IP-PBX routes calls to specific lines. As such, you’ll need a SIP-enabled phone to make VoIP calls. (Some VoIP systems use H.323 technology rather than SIP, but those are rare.) If you want to keep your old analog touch-tone phones or fax machines, you can plug them into an analog telephone adapter (ATA), but they won’t be able to use many of the advanced features that SIP-based VoIP phones provide.

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Build a Sound Business Foundation

Sometimes people will start an internet business that has no business background at all. This is a big reason for the high failure rate of new internet entrepreneurships. If you do not have an education in business, then you would be very wise indeed to speak with those who are well versed in business.

An internet business of any kind is a BUSINESS. It must be run like a business and it must be build upon sound business practices. The only ‘dumb’ questions are those that are never asked. You need information and the best way there is to get the information that you need is to simply ask questions of those who have the answers.

There are courses available both out in the brick and mortar world as well as on the internet about how to set up and run a successful business. You can’t abide by the rules if you don’t know what the rules are. Do your homework before you launch your business.

You need to lay a rock solid foundation so that your new business doesn’t become one of the casualties that are caused by poor planning or even no planning. You need a business plan. You need a business model and it needs to be one that you can understand and follow. Jumping in and hoping for the best isn’t a plan. That will only insure that your new internet business will not still be in existence four months from now.

Take your time, choose the right business, and people to work with wisely!

I had to learn this the hard way but you don’t have to.

Thanks
Lenny

Beginners’ Guide to Business Intelligence Solutions

Current Condition of the Business Intelligence Tools Market

The sustained interest in Business Intelligence applications has driven large corporations, offshore software development centers as well as custom software development companies to focus on developing a wide range of Business Intelligence Tools suitable for each and every industry. The use of Business Intelligence tools in key industries from aerospace to iron and steel has also increased in recent years due to the uncertainty in global markets. Currently available tools including the Microsoft Business Intelligence software include numerous paid, freeware as well as open source and proprietary software, which are often customized by a custom software developer to suit the requirements of a specific client. Some of the additional categories of Business Intelligence Tools are discussed here and these constitute only a few of the business intelligence reporting tools commonly utilized by the enterprise.

Data Mining

Data mining combines key elements of statistics and computer science with the objective of identifying patterns in large data sets. Currently implemented data mining methodology includes various elements of database systems, statistics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver actionable intelligence to managers, decision makers and data analysts in an enterprise. Apart from the analysis of the available raw data, additional operations performed by data mining process include online updating, visualization, discovered structure post-processing, complexity considerations, metrics to determine interest as well as data management. Data mining is distinct from information processing or large-scale data analysis as the process is based on “discovery” i.e. the detection of something new. As data mining deals with large data sets, various automated and semi-automated solutions are available to carry out the task. Data mining applications developed by any software development company focuses on performing the following tasks- anomaly detection, association rule learning, clustering, classification, regression as well as summarization. Current business applications include data mining in applications related to customer relationship management, determination of successful employee characteristics using HR department data, identification of customer purchase pattern by the marketing department as well as much more. Leading companies engaged in providing data mining tools for use in business intelligence reporting include Extra-Data Technologies, Clarabridge, Versium Analytics, emanio and Polygraph Media.

Data Warehousing

Data Warehousing in simple terms refers to any database utilized for reporting as well as analyzing enterprise data. The data in an enterprise is usually obtained from all over the organization including the HR, Marketing, Sales, Customer Support, Warehouse, administration departments. In some cases, the raw data may undergo a small degree of pre-processing prior to being used for reporting in a Data Warehouse. A traditional data warehouse (a warehouse operating on the extract-transform-load mechanism), houses the key functions by using separate staging, integration and access layers. The staging area stores all the raw data obtained from various enterprise-wide sources. In the integration layer the raw data stored in the staging area is integrated to transform it into a form suitable for analysis and stored in the data warehouse database. The data stored in the data warehouse database is arranged in hierarchical groups, which are accessible by the user through the access layer. Each data warehouse is often subdivided into data marts, which store subsets of the data integrated in the warehouse. The key objective of a data warehouse is thus to store data in a format suitable for analysis by the user using various techniques including OLAP and data mining.

The earliest data warehouses used by an organization were offline operational data warehouses. In these warehouses, the data was updated periodically (fortnightly, weekly or monthly) from operational systems and stored in a report-oriented format. In the next stage of data warehouse evolution, offline data warehouses came into existence. In offline data warehouses, the data was updated regularly from operational systems and the structure of the stored data was designed to aid the reporting process. The offline data warehouses later evolved into Online Integrated Data Warehouses, which updates the data in the warehouse in real-time by recording every transaction performed on the source data. Further evolution of data warehouses has resulted in the creation of the integrated data warehouse, which compiles the data obtained from the various departments of the enterprise to provide users with real-time access to actionable intelligence from all over the organization. Leading data warehousing solutions companies include Accenture, IBM, Igate and Infobright.

Decision Engineering

Decision Engineering is defined as a framework, which unifies various leading practices in the field of enterprise decision-making to improve the overall decision-making procedure by providing a structured approach. The decision engineering process is designed to overcome problems resulting from a “complexity ceiling” of the decision-making process. This “complexity ceiling” usually results from a mismatch between the complexity of a particular situation and the sophistication of the decision-making procedure being implemented. Decision engineering acts as a framework for providing advanced analytic techniques to a non-enterprise user while simultaneously integrating machine learning and inductive reasoning techniques to streamline the organizational decision-making procedure. The use of Decision Engineering as a business intelligence tool by enterprises is still in its infancy and further development would be required before decision engineering develops into a viable business intelligence reporting tool.

Reporting and Querying Software

Reporting and querying software are designed to provide users with access to the data stored on enterprise databases subsequent to submission of user-queries. Such tools are designed to provide a logical format to the available data sets to support enterprise-wide data accessibility as well as speed-up the organizational decision-support process. Currently, various open source business intelligence tools as well as commercial business intelligence reporting software are developed by software development companies all over the world. Some of the leading reporting and querying tools are mPower, Zoho Reports, Cognos BI, GNU Enterprise and JasperReports. Many offshore software development companies in India also provide customized versions of reporting and querying software to streamline the overall enterprise-wide decision making process.

Spreadsheets

A spreadsheet is defined as an interactive computer program, which allows the analysis of available information by use of a tabular format, which originated from the use of paper-based accounting spreadsheets. On a spreadsheet, users can modify the values in each cell of the spreadsheet and are now used widely by the financial sector as a replacement of paper-based accounting methods. The digital spreadsheets allow users to automatically calculate values after making modifications to the available data as and when necessary. Apart from the standard arithmetic calculation support, currently available spreadsheets also features support for a wide range of statistical and financial operations built into this commonly used business intelligence tool. Spreadsheets are probably the most widely used and easily available among a wide range of proprietary and open source business intelligence tools. The first spreadsheet introduced for a micro computer was Visicalc, which was overtaken by Lotus 1-2-3 at a later date. Currently Microsoft Excel, available as part of the Microsoft Office Package, is the leading spreadsheet solution utilized by enterprises all over the world.

The Beginner’s Guide To A Strong Business Foundation That Will Enable You To Prosper

Are you frustrated by where you find yourself in your business or are you thinking of starting a business? There is a ton of information out there to assist you to achieve success, some of it sound, but much of it bad. If you are one of the 28 million small businesses in the US, or interested in joining their ranks, the following three tips can save you time, money, and frustration.

1- Understand what products or services you are offering. Did you know that 90% of all purchases are made subconsciously? Purchases are made based on emotions and then justified with logic. Because of this, it is never the product or service that you are offering, but the feeling it will provide the customer that is the real reason they will purchase.

2- Understand what makes your business unique. There are so many ways that a customer can purchase an item these days, you’ll need to be able to stand out from the crowd for them to notice you. It is the things that make you or your products and services unique that will allow you the visibility you desire and need to be successful. Now, don’t worry, you don’t have to be 100% exclusive to stand out, you just need to create the perception that you are different from your competition.

3- Understand who is your ideal customer. The current estimated population in the world is 7.6 billion people. That is too many people for you to be able to have as customers and do a good job and just imagine the expense of trying to reach all of them. By getting clear on who your ideal customer is you’ll be able to streamline your marketing, saving you time, money and effort. You’ll also do your best work with customers you that you enjoy. And isn’t that a great reason to be selective?

An additional tip is to understand what it is you want to achieve in your business. With so much information and advice available, before you take a step, you’ll need to know what direction it is you want to go. By understanding what it is you want out of your business, you’ll understand what steps are appropriate for you to take. You’ll also know when you have successfully achieved your desired ends. Without knowing what it is you want to attain, then any step or action will work, but you’ll probably end up somewhere you do not want to be.

With all these tips, it is essential that you be as specific as possible when you define them for your business. The more specific you can be, the clearer and easier it will be for you to determine a path forward.

It is also essential for you to write them down. The act of writing your answers down will do two things. On the one hand, it will help you in clarifying the items. Clarity will happen because you’ll have multiple senses involved in the process; your sense of sight, your sense of touch, and your thoughts. On the other hand, thoughts are very transitory. By writing your answers down, you’ll be able to refer back to them and share them. If you keep your answers in your head, you’ll probably forget them, or they will change with the changes of your thoughts.