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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Increase Productivity with Unified Communications for Small and Medium Businesses

Increase Productivity with Unified Communications for Small and Medium Businesses

This article is the first in a three part series of articles on how to “Increase Productivity with Unified Communications for Small and Medium Businesses.”

Part 1, what is Unified Communications?

Global value chains, mobile workforces, social networking, pervasive video, and information overload: this is the new normal. To address these business complexities, many Small and Medium Businesses are implementing Unified Communications (UC) that connects people, information, and teams. UC is a buzz word in the telecommunications industry that will be mainstay in a few years. If your company would like to achieve any of the following objectives, you should definitely read this article:

Connect co-workers, partners, vendors, and customers with the information and expertise they need.

Access and share video on the desktop, on the road, and on-demand, as easily as making a phone call.

Facilitate better team interactions, dynamically bringing together individuals, virtual workgroups, and teams.

Make mobile devices extensions of the corporate network so mobile workers can be productive anywhere.

Innovate across the value chain by integrating collaboration and communications into applications and business processes.

Unified communications can link all of your messages and contacts into a single presence. You can see, hear, and communicate with colleagues and customers through any common channel, and route it to a standard interface. Many businesses actually have deployed some form of Unified Communications without even recognizing that there is a technical name for what has been deployed. For example, some companies with traditional Phone systems might purchase an e-fax service where the faxes are routed to their email. So fax is now integrated with emails. Unified communications is sometimes confused with unified messaging, but it is distinct. Unified communications refers to both real-time and non-realtime delivery of communications based on the preferred method and location of recipient; unified messaging systems takes messages from several sources (such as email, voice mail and faxes), but holds those messages only for retrieval at a later time.

Unified communications represents a concept where multiple modes of business communications can be seamlessly integrated. Unified communications is not a single product but rather a solution which consists of various elements, including (but not limited to) the following: call control and multimodal communications, presence, instant messaging, unified messaging, speech access and personal assistant, conferencing, collaboration tools, mobility, business process integration (BPI) and a software solution to enable business process integration. The term of presence is also a factor – knowing where one’s intended recipients are and if they are available, in real time – and is itself a key component of unified communications. To put it simply, unified communications integrates all the systems that a user might already be using and helps those systems work together in real time. For example, unified communications technology could allow a user to seamlessly collaborate with another person on a project, even if the two users are in separate locations. The user could quickly locate the necessary person by accessing an interactive directory, engage in a text messaging session, and then escalate the session to a voice call, or even a video call – all within minutes. In another example, an employee receives a call from a customer who wants answers. Unified communications could enable that worker to access a real-time list of available expert colleagues, then make a call that would reach the necessary person, enabling the employee to answer the customer faster, and eliminating rounds of back-and-forth emails and phone-tag.

The examples in the previous paragraph primarily describe "personal productivity" enhancements that tend to benefit the individual user. While such benefits can be important, enterprises are finding that they can achieve even greater impact by using unified communications capabilities to transform business processes. This is achieved by integrating UC functionality directly into the business applications using development tools provided by many of the suppliers. Instead of the individual user invoking the UC functionality to, say, find an appropriate resource, the workflow or process application automatically identifies the resource at the point in the business activity where one is needed.

This "business process" approach to integrating UC functionality can result in bottom line benefits that are an order of magnitude greater than those achievable by personal productivity methods alone.

Unified communications helps businesses, small and large alike, to streamline information delivery and ensure ease of use. Human delays are also minimized or eliminated, resulting in better, faster interaction and service-delivery for the customer, and cost savings for the business. Unified communications also allows for easier, more direct collaboration between co-workers and with suppliers and clients, even if they are not physically on the same site. This allows for possible reductions in business travel, especially with multi-party video communications, reducing an organization's carbon footprint.

Unified communications is very useful for knowledge workers, information workers, and service workers alike, many of whom may cross the lines between the three sectors on a daily or hourly basis, depending on the task and the client. With an increasingly mobile workforce, businesses are rarely centralized in one location. Unified communications facilitates this on-the-go, always-available style of communication. In addition, unified communications technology can be tailored to each person’s specific job or to a particular section of a company.

Part 2, Top Benefits of Unified Messaging…to be continued next week
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Dan Young is President & CEO of Young Consulting Group, a boutique business consulting firm, focused on helping owners grow their business. Young Consulting Group provides Telecom Consulting services for companies in the Small & Medium Business Sector. For your FREE Telecom Cost Analysis, call us at 800.798.7996 or email us at info@YoungConsultingGroup.com.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Telecom Cost Audits: A CPA explains why your company should have them done.

Telecom Cost Audits: A CPA explains why your company should have them done...

The following article explains why a Telecom Cost Audit should be done.  The interesting thing about Telecom Cost Audits is that the customer does not incur incremental costs as a result of the Audit.  The Audits are generally self-funding.  Click on the link below to learn more...

Telecommunications Audits

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Dan Young is President & CEO of Young Consulting Group, a boutique business consulting firm, focused on helping owners grow their business. Young Consulting Group provides Telecom Consulting services for companies in the Small & Medium Business Sector. For your FREE Telecom Cost Analysis, call us at 800.798.7996 or email us at info@YoungConsultingGroup.com.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Internet Data Access, a strategy for selecting T1, DSL, or Cable Modem

Internet Data Access, a strategy for selecting T1, DSL, or Cable Modem

The primary difference between DSL and a T1 is in the dedicated bandwidth and level of over subscription that occurs before the service reaches the end user. When you purchase a full T1 of Internet access, you are generally getting access to 1.544 Mbps of transmission on the carrier’s network, regardless of what other customers are transmitting and receiving. To better illustrate this, let’s assume that a carrier has capacity for 150 Mbps at any given time. This means that they would sell is 100 T1s at the most; Tier One carrier networks are seldom oversubscribed. For every megabyte of capacity, they can sell one megabyte access to a customer.

DSL works differently than T1 lines - and costs less - because of over subscription. When you use a DSL connection your service runs through a piece of equipment called a DSLAM, as opposed to running directly into the Internet. The DSLAM acts as a point of aggregation between the DSL subscribers and the direct connection to the Internet (normally a T1 or DS-3). Typical DSL over subscription rates run from 4:1 to 25:1. Or in other words, for every one megabyte of demand coming into the DSLAM, a fraction of that is available. For example, if the Carrier provides a 3.0 Mbps DSL Line to its customer, that line will be shared by 4 to 25 customers, thus allowing .12 Mbps to .75 Mbps per customer. The benefit to this design is that a DSL provider can provide a 3 Mbps connection for a fraction of the T1 price. The disadvantage is that when the DSLAM gets busy, your connection speed will slow considerably.

Each T-1 channel can be used to run both voice and data. For instance you could have four channels dedicated to four different voice numbers with the remainder allocated to data. Virtually any permutation is available. The voice channels simply plug into the phone company's jacks into the channel bank where the voice service is located, and that's it. Many carriers will be able to offer long distance at a very reasonable price as well.

A DSL connection has a low price and is less reliable than a T1 connection. A T1 is much more expensive than a DSL connection but is also much more reliable.

So are you looking for reliability or price? Reliability becomes critical when customers or employees depend on your connection for immediate responses.

If your customers use your connection to access your databases or your server or the Internet then reliability of your connection is critical. If your employees depend on your connections because you host the e-mail server in house or host web servers, your connections is considered critical.

A critical connection can be viewed much like a life line, without which your business would be negatively impacted. Your monthly savings of having a sub-par connections will not make up for the loss in productivity of your employees or loss of customers when your DSL connections gets bogged down or cut off.

The price for T-1’s circuits have dropped dramatically in recent years. Generally, for companies with more than 5 lines, a T-1 circuit will be very cost competitive.
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Dan Young is President & CEO of Young Consulting Group, a boutique business consulting firm, focused on helping owners grow their business. Young Consulting Group provides Telecom Consulting services for companies in the Small & Medium Business Sectors. For your FREE Telecom Analysis, call 800.798.7996 or email us at info@YoungConsultingGroup.com. You can also find more Business Growth ideas by going now to http://www.YoungConsultingGroup.com.