Cloud and Human Resources

Cloud computing is penetrating every corner of business, and this includes human resources. Human resources professionals can benefit greatly from effective communication, instant access to information and applications, and cloud-based systems. HR is often thought of as a pretty administrative job. With the implementation of cloud tools and resources, HR professionals can remove this administrative stress and instead turn their attention to the employees and the business. Here are some benefits of cloud computing for human resources:

Cloud Software for HR

There is a lot of HR cloud software available, and the best ones combine the many functions of HR into one central place. This software can help get a lot of tasks done, including tracking applications, searching resumes, generating reports, calculating payroll, tracking performance appraisals and maintaining data on current employees. This streamlines many HR processes, helping to boost productivity and communication. And the end environment remains familiar. Users might not even realize they’re working in the cloud.

Businesses and customers also get quick access to the software they need, as it can be installed company-wide in hours, rather than days. They will also receive access to the latest software updates automatically, which is a perk of a cloud software subscription.

Efficient Recruiting

Recruiting is a huge part of human resources, and today the pool of talent is increasingly competitive and complex. HR cloud solutions make it easier to create job postings and expand their reach to multiple platforms, while collecting candidate information. HR and talent acquisition professionals have to be able to grow their reach without needing to greatly expand resources. Luckily, cloud software can track, measure and report from various online databases that hold candidate information, helping HR professionals access more talent. And once they’ve accessed talent, big data can compare various candidates and provide both relevant and targeted results to HR professionals. This means that positions can be filled faster, reducing time between hires and costs of hiring.

A Mobile Workforce

You’ve probably heard it before, but we’ll say it again: cloud computing offers professionals the ability to access their data and applications on-demand via the Internet. This means they can work from any device, in any location, at any time. Yeah, that’s pretty hard to beat. This allows businesses to grow a mobile workforce. HR professionals can access their programs and data on the go. So if they’re off on a recruiting trip, these employees can still take advantage of cloud software and maintain communication with the folks back at the office.

An Affordable Solution

Cost concerns are always prevalent when considering new technology. Fortunately, cloud computing makes HR solutions affordable for any size business. The costs that often come with server space, extra in-house IT personnel, expensive software and licenses, and maintenance are eliminated. A provider like RapidScale comes in and manages the solutions, simply offering the business access to these resources.

Sophisticated Security

Like cost, security will always be top of mind when looking at new technology. Cloud security has greatly matured in recent years and HR professionals, who often work with sensitive information, get access to sophisticated security systems through their provider. Cloud provider’s depend on their reliability and reputation, so they go great lengths to ensure client information remains secure. This includes measures like in-flight and at-rest encryption, geographically diverse data centers, strong firewalls, 24×7 monitoring and support, strict SLAs, intense physical security and more.

 

This was written and published on the Rapidscale Blog by Sommer Figone. 

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4 Top IT Decisions that Business Owners/CEOs Will Have to Make in 2015

In today’s business environment, owners need to assess the advancement in all technological areas, but paying special attention to these four areas will yield exponential benefits in the next calendar year. Here are the four decisions that need to be made:

Is It Time for Me to Downsize My In-House IT Department? IT departments have long served as a vital support structure for ensuring that all business operations run smoothly. However, as more software and hardware applications migrate to “the cloud” and the number of managed services providers grows, businesses need to start taking a hard look at whether or not it is fiscally responsible for them to pay for full-time IT staff. Advancements have made it possible for remote technicians to fix computer problems off-site and run constant monitoring, management and data optimization software to improve the efficiencies of a company’s network. In many cases, entire teams are used to ensure optimum network performance, something that a single employee cannot hope to deliver consistently. As the playing field has leveled, more sophisticated tools have been developed, making this job even more competitive. In fact, many large organizations are beginning to outsource key areas of their IT operations entirely, and it is not long before outsourced IT departments are commonplace.

Downnsize IT Department

How Can I Secure My Network From Threats? With cybercrimes on the rise, more and more businesses are beginning to take proper precautions to prevent company downtime or data loss. Spyware, malware, data backup and anti-virus protection are all vital to the economic well-being of any stable business. In emergency or negligence situations, critical data loss can set teams back for weeks and put a giant damper on productivity. Many businesses are reexamining their Acceptable Internet Usage Policies (AUPs), to make sure that employees are only visiting work-related sites when at the office. These types of threats are usually found on dangerous websites, which can be eliminated entirely with simple site filtering tools that restrict access to unnecessarily volatile sites. Many companies see this need, especially in the case where businesses derive funding from institutional and private investors. These organizations are often required to spend a significant portion of their yearly budget on security enhancing technologies to make sure that all sensitive information remains perpetually protected.

Network Security

Big Capital Expenditures or Small Cloud Transition Costs? With servers and telephony shifting from the standard on-premise solution of old, to more software-centric and remote operation, many businesses are choosing to invest heavily in the transition to the cloud. The biggest driving factor behind this decision is that from a financial standpoint, most businesses want to upgrade their technology, but don’t want to create a large amount of capital expenditures, which constrain financial resources. Technologies with rental programs, or lowered total cost structures are increasingly popular because of their minimal impact on a budget. With plenty of equipment nearly obsolete, many businesses are investigating technologies which leverage a fixed-cost of ownership in their cost structure. This helps businesses avoid big capital expenditures, keeping them lean and mean for the next year.

Cloud Hosting Icon

What’s Our Policy Regarding Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD)? Networks are the backbone of any business. However, when employees bring their own devices onto the network, they can often disrupt the infrastructure and slow the overall speed of the network drastically. Furthermore, these devices can pose as security threats when they are not properly configured to run in concert with all of the other technology endpoints on the existing network. It’s a complex web and network design is an intricate process, which is absolutely essential to get right. Some businesses refuse to let people bring their own devices onto the network, yet the vast majority of businesses allow employees to bring their own mobile devices onto the network, as long as they are properly configured by a leading technology specialist. That way, employees can utilize the tools they feel most comfortable with, without derailing anyone else’s performance on the network.

Bring your Own Device

 

Want to know more? Need help in talking out your decisions? Give us a call at 847 329 8600 and let’s begin the discussion.

Small to Mid-Sized (SMBs) Businesses Deploy Mobile Workforces to Increase Sales and Productivity

 

According to a Cisco study, the growth of the mobile workforce has evolved from startups to enterprises and 3 out of every 5 workers say that they no longer need to be located in an office in order to be productive. With clear benefits in reduced rent costs, flexibility in scheduling, reduced employee commute times, environmental friendliness, improved employee morale, results-focused productivity and enhanced accountability, it’s no wonder that managers and employees alike are embracing the notion of the mobile workforce.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to embrace the idea of a remote workforce is that there is finally the capability for business owners to properly manage telecommuters through recent advances in technology. Also, the functionality of such technologies has matured to the point where they are reliable, simple and scalable.

One such feature that is quickly rising in popularity is called presence management. This technology enables a manager the same functionality as if they were in the same room as a remote worker, without actually needing to physically be there. Presence management technologies monitor employee location, track laptop activity, share availability and enable instant messaging for quick collaboration. In fact, presence management has gotten so precise that it can actually notify a manager when a remote worker has left his or her desk, is on the phone, or has taken a break to go to lunch. With managers constantly within an arm’s reach for assistance, this advancement completely eliminates the frustrating element of “phone tag” inherent in antiquated telecommuting environments.

Many of today’s businesses operate with a central folder on the Local Area Network (LAN) which stores all of the businesses key documents, spreadsheets, presentations and files. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one that enables remote workers to access all of the exact same files as if they were sitting at their desk in the office, through a secure and safe remote connection. With VPN access, remote workers can instantly collaborate with in-office or out-of-office coworkers, since they all have the same documents at their fingertips.

Furthermore, telecommuters can now leverage Desktop Optimization Centers (DOCs) which monitor, manage, enhance and fix remote laptops or desktops with ease. For example, regardless of location, an employee can call into a designated customer service line and get immediate assistance with any technical issues that arise. In fact, DOCs often solve computer issues much faster than in-house IT staff because of the inherent scalability associated with these firms and sheer number of technicians available. For example, if a computer crashes during an installation of new software program, an employee simply calls the technician and the technician remotely connects to the off-site computer and resolves the problem right in front of the employee’s eyes.

Lastly, call accounting, call forwarding and caller ID features have absolutely vital use-cases in the work-from-home environment. Sales managers can utilize simple call accounting software to track employee outreach, see how long employees spend on the phone, number of calls, and screen calls all the way down to specific words that are used. So, if a salesperson is never supposed to say “free,” a manager can know how many times that word was used. You now can have a remote workforce that essentially functions “under the same roof,” enhancing the customer experience. To the outside world, calls will sound the same to the end user whether that call is being answered at an employee’s home or in the boardroom.

When you have the same level of technology in the home office as you do in the corporate headquarters employees are able to save time on their daily commute, business owners can scale the organization more effectively by adding staff and everyone involved can enjoy increased flexibility and productivity. Now, business owners can leverage the talents and skill sets of people all over the world and it is our role at Prime Telecommunications to provide the technology and the guidance to get this accomplished.

Mobility in the Cloud: 5 Reasons to Make the Switch

With the increasing number of smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices proliferating the tech world, businesses are grappling with the question of how to incorporate these new technologies into their operations. Rather than outfit entire workforces with company-owned tech, BYOD (bring your own device) initiatives are integrating employee-owned, personal hardware into day-to-day business functions.

While proprietary software and unified communications systems can fully integrate all devices into the daily workflow, the practical problems of large-scale IT management begin to raise red flags. How does a company manage mobile devices, apps, and security on a network that includes both corporate and employee-owned devices? The answer is often overlooked: cloud mobile management.

Below are some advantages to a cloud-based mobile device management system.

1) Device Options: With such a broad array of mobile devices on the market operating on various platforms such as Apple’s iOS, Android, and Blackberry, it’s important that IT management solutions can cover each platform equally. Cloud-based management solutions can support all operating systems, offering a company flexibility and diversity when choosing hardware and software.

2) Rapid Deployment: Cloud-based MDM services can be rolled out faster than ever. This allows companies to deploy management services almost instantly rather than the weeks or months required for a traditional MDM system. Policies and access controls can be put into place and calibrated with easy, no-fuss configuration.

3) Single Console Management:Management of a broad range of hardware devices typically requires multiple control consoles, often requiring extra deployment time and longer development windows. With cloud-based MDM, all operating systems can be monitored and managed through one console that can be regularly updated to account for new developments in mobile technology.

4) Instant Updates: As the pace of new technologies quickens, the ability for mobile IT systems to shift at a moment’s notice is the new forefront of managed mobile systems. Traditionally, IT responses to software and OS updates can lag days, or even weeks behind. With cloud-based management, providers can update their services almost in an instant, allowing for real-time support that stays abreast with ongoing developments.

5) Adjustable Payments: Unlike fixed-fee MDM systems, cloud-based services allow companies to adjust their payment plans as they grow for optimum scalability. With convenient cloud systems in place with single console monitoring and easy updates and rollout, consistent IT resources can be devoted to any growing company, no matter the size. The efficiency and usefulness of a cloud-based MDM is unmatched.

Cloud mobile device management is the comprehensive and up-to-date answer to the widespread technological advancement occurring around the world. With complex software and communications systems keeping businesses running, Cloud MDM allows companies to run smoothly and focus their attention where it matters: on the customer.

Want to know more? Get your head in the cloud! FREE eBook

How the Cloud Saves you Money

We’ve all heard it before: cloud computing can save you so much money! The question, though, is exactly where are these savings occurring? When businesses work with a cloud provider, they will see many existing costs transfer over, becoming the provider’s responsibility instead. While some of the savings are pretty obvious, others might surprise you. Thanks to the cloud, businesses are able to focus on developing their business while at the same time cutting major costs – it’s the basic concept of getting more for less. Let’s take a look at how the cloud can save you money:

Fully Utilized Hardware

Top-tier equipment is expensive. It’s costly to pay for the technology needed for your employees and business to work successfully. Often, businesses purchase more hardware than they need in case a failure occurs. When you switch to the cloud, you can phase out equipment that you don’t really need. Instead of purchasing all of the equipment and resources yourself, the cloud provider deals with these costs and offers the infrastructure to businesses as a service. The vendor provides you with the necessary computing resources to run your cloud solution, lowering the costs of installation, maintenance, hardware, upgrades and support. Providers also deal with redundancy so you don’t have to duplicate equipment in-house. Most cloud providers have multiple geographically-diverse data centers that mirror company data and applications so failures won’t affect your operations.

With a public cloud solution, these costs can drop even further. When you share vendor infrastructure with other organizations (which is called multi-tenancy), everyone wins. The businesses see lower costs due to shared resources, and the cloud provider optimizes hardware use.

Unique Payment Model

Most cloud providers use a pay-as-you-go model. Businesses are charged based on what they use, whether that includes the amount of storage, number of email boxes or virtual server hours – essentially, businesses rent services from the provider. This method helps businesses keep costs low by eliminating unused resources, postponing unnecessary purchases and allowing you to test solutions or programs without needing to fully commit to them.

Reduced Capital Costs

Capital costs can practically be eliminated with the cloud. There’s no need for you to invest in costly infrastructure, so you don’t see huge upfront costs. The capital investment of servers, power, software and more becomes the cloud provider’s problem. You can acquire resources quickly and easily, and the cloud provides a scalable solution to businesses. Rather than investing in resources used minimally, you can get exactly what you need, when you need it. As your business needs change, your company can increase or decrease its cloud-use accordingly. This helps keep your budget in check, while ensuring you always have what you need to operate successfully.

 

Software Savings

Businesses can purchase applications directly through the Web, getting immediate access to the programs they need. Rather than waiting weeks or months for company-wide installation, your business can see cloud software deployment occur in a matter of hours. When your employees spend less time waiting, they can spend more time working. This boosted productivity will definitely show in your profits. The upfront cost of licensing and price of constant upgrades can be eliminated, as you experience per-user costs and automatic upgrades instead. And if you’re not happy with the software, you can cancel the service. This greatly reduces the financial risk of software that doesn’t work for your business.

 

Decreased Power and Space

Idle equipment wastes both energy and money. Due to better hardware utilization, the need for excessive power is cut. The cloud makes it easy to consolidate servers, saving space and cutting power costs for everyone involved. Additionally, this consolidation optimizes the cooling of data centers. The decrease of power and space saves businesses money on office real estate, equipment and electricity while cloud providers create a smaller footprint on the environment. This is both a money-saving and Earth-saving benefit.

 

Reduced Labor Costs

As equipment and support is moved to the cloud provider, the responsibilities of managing, repairing and replacing infrastructure move too. Additionally, many services and tasks can be automated with the cloud. As these needs are eliminated on your end, you can free up your IT staff to focus on business development and strategy instead, areas which will ultimately make more money for the company. If necessary, you can even reduce your staff size. This is especially beneficial for small start-ups, as they are able to keep their workforce light by using cloud computing.

 

Flexibility and Mobility

The cloud allows users to access their business data and applications from any location and computing device at any time. While this creates dozens of new ways for businesses to operate, it also helps with cost savings. Your business data is not stored on physical devices or networks – instead, it’s stored virtually in the cloud, making it accessible to your users at all times. This means you don’t need to invest in the fanciest, most expensive computers for your office just to work efficiently. All you need are devices that can access the Internet – even a smartphone can do that! This mobility simplifies your needs and lowers your costs. Users are able to use devices they already own, like tablets, mobile phones or laptops, to be productive away from the office. On the more extreme side, this can save your employees the commute to work and even eliminate the need for a physical office.

The Big 2012 Communications Predictions: How Are They Faring

As a global leader inbusiness communications systems, Avaya takes its position seriously. That’s why at the beginning of the year, it gets its best thinkers together to make predictions about communications technology trends, service innovations and broad market drivers.

Now that we’re into 2013, Avaya decided to take stock and see which predictions have been on target and which have missed the mark. You can see the full report at http://www.avaya.com/usa/resource/assets/whitepapers/12CommunicationTrendsfor2012Update.pdf

Here’s a synopsis:

#1: Mobility raises the expectation of availability. There is no question about the accuracy of this prediction—but it probably didn’t go far enough. Mobility is no longer just about availability. In its mid-year update, Avaya notes that employees now expect the same features and functionality in mobile devices as they have in their office.

#2: Contact centers test the value of voice. This is true, but it’s turning out to be a bit more complicated. In its update, Avaya points out that in today’s customer service world, it’s not about pitting one mode (voice, e-mail, text, etc.) against another, but “offering the right channel at the right time.” This requires proactively determining what kind of experience the user wants. “Once you identify the preferred channels, you can focus energy and resources on making them — and the customer experience — great.”

#3Contextual data spans the last mile of personal productivity.  Contextual data is information about the communications, not the communications itself.  Having contextual data easily accessible, for example, lets you retrieve a dial-in number and passcode after being dropped from a conference call. Or lets you instantly see a list of participants with information about how you’ve interacted with them and the documents and other resources relevant to the interaction. Getting contextual data is happening, but perhaps not as fast as expected. “At this point, contextual capabilities remain in their infancy,” Avaya notes, “with promising prototypes surfacing in the marketplace.”

#4: Businesses advance from social media to social business. Despite Facebook’s troubled stock market debut, social media is still hot. In the update, Avaya points out that companies increasingly use social media not only as a listening post but as a springboard to action. Establishing a command center for monitoring and responding to social media is becoming commonplace.

#5: Social media and customer care enter into an arranged marriage. Not only that, but the marriage seems happy all around. Avaya notes that as organizations get their arms around social media/customer care alignment, it helps them put real legs on their social media strategy.

#6: The SIP bar is raised again. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is the foundation for streamlining enterprise networks and extending advanced communications to small and medium-size businesses. As more SIP-enabled applications become available, Avaya sees more organizations abandoning a cautious, stepwise approach to deploying SIP.

#7: Social interactions expose customer care’s flaws. There is no hiding in the world of social media.  Avaya notes that companies are getting used to its rough and tumble dynamics and responding by creating a culture of openness that encourages employees to engage.

#8: IT support staffs converge, part 2. This prediction will never be NOT true. But Avaya notes that while the movement to bring voice and data staffs together continues unabated, challenges keep arising (e.g., how to deploy unified communications.) Facing these challenges, IT continues to proceed cautiously “perhaps too much so in the eyes of some users,” notes Avaya.

#9: Continuous connectivity drives communications support services. Raw connectivity is critical to support services, allowing vendor support teams to “swarm” a customer problem using real-time by video and other tools.  In its mid-year update, Avaya notes that some companies are also migrating to other approaches, such as managed services, total outsourcing or software as a service (SaaS).

#10: Clients take control of managed services. IT departments are becoming more discriminating in the managed services they purchase and asking tougher questions, such as “Are our IT operating costs predictable? Do we have the IT staff we need? Do we have the budget to invest in the infrastructure to meet organization expectations?”  Answering “no” to any of these questions can make a company a prime candidate for managed services.

#11: UC managed services/outsourcing facilitates alignment between IT and business units.  Yes IT and business units keep cozying up. More and more, they are conducting unbiased analyses to determine whether creating a solution internally or turning to a service provider offers better value.

#12: “True” UC apps proliferate. Expectations for UC continue to grow, especially as BYOD enables true UC applications on smartphones, tablets and other devices. But barriers remain, as conflicting technologies and approaches limit usability and adoption. At midyear, Avaya is counseling companies to “discount the hype and do the homework.”

How Avaya Stacks up Against Enterprise Video Competitors

Video is changing the workplace, and by most expert accounts, will enable more remote workers than ever and even replace phone conversations someday. Several major factors explain why the rollout has been slower than originally predicted, including worries about cost, lack of sufficient bandwidth and trouble scaling solutions to meet the needs of individual businesses.

In “Pervasive Video in the Enterprise,” Constellation Research Vice President and Principal Analyst Dr. E. Brent Kelly examines these pain points and compares the five major vendors in the space: Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, Polycom and Vidyo. The report gives you a real-world formula to compare the total cost of ownership of implementing universal video.

According to the report, the main reason desktop video can be so expensive and not yet pervasive lies in the cost of a hardware multipoint infrastructure and the network required to support ubiquitous HD video. Avaya’s solutions, with a software-based multipoint infrastructure and industry-low bandwidth needs, are the clear future of pervasive video.

Kelly’s conclusions find Avaya Aura Conferencing to be the most affordable, even balancing for different bandwidth requirements and vendor discounts. Avaya’s Aura and Flare solutions can also claim:

 

  • ·       Lowest bandwidth requirement of all compared vendors (1280 kbps)
  • ·       Lower one-time costs than Cisco, Microsoft and Polycom
  • ·       Exponentially lower total cost of ownership than Cisco, even when a 60% Cisco street discount is applied to the formula
  • ·       Integrated call control and integrated audio and video conferencing for full third-party integration with all competitors
  • ·       A system specifically designed to handle audio conferencing and video on the same platform, making it quite flexible to effectively scale for either audio, video or mixed deployments

 

Click here to see the multiple cost breakdowns from Constellation’s formula, compare total cost of ownership, read a thorough explanation of each vendor’s offerings and learn about the advantages of adding pervasive video to your business.

Adding the Human Touch to Mobile Engagement

A power shift is taking place in the dynamics of customer engagement. And it impacts every company—large and small.

The shift began well over a decade ago with the Internet. This made it possible for customers to go online 24/7 to do research, browse solutions and make buying decisions.  Now the mobile revolution is taking this powershift to a new level.  As Forrester researchers Ted Schadler and John C. McCarthy note in their recent report, Mobile Is The New Face of Engagement; ‘by 2016, more than a billion people will be using mobile devices to engage with brands, information, and each other.”

Using these mobile apps, people can act “in the moment” to check a status, find an expert, receive an alert, make a purchase, answer a question, share an opinion, send a message, etc. This shifts more power from institutions to individuals. It takes the revolution that was started by the PC and the Web, bringing it to an entirely new level.

But this powershift isn’t all one-way. Companies can also take advantage of the powershift to differentiate themselves and maintain the connection with their customer base that is critical to long-term success. In fact, it’s a business imperative for companies doing business on those terms to find  ways to add the human touch to mobile engagement.

Avaya has provided a fascinating analysis of this in a whitepaper that focuses on how this dynamic is playing itself out right now in the insurance industry. (To see the full whitepaper, go to http://www.avaya.com/uk/resource/assets/whitepapers/SVC7067%20Claims%20Processing%20WP.pdf

According to the consulting firm Accenture, nearly half of all insurance policies today are renewed or bought online rather than through agents. As a result, many consumers only interact with their insurance provider when they need to file a claim. When that moment comes, consumers want the convenience of a mobile app, but research shows they also value “concern” from their insurer. They want timeliness, courtesy, promptness and knowledge, but they also want the understanding, empathy and willingness to listen that only another human being can offer.

For insurance companies, this means that personalizing the new mobile interaction channels (e.g. smartphones and tablet PCs) will be imperative. Click-to-call, click-to-chat, co-browsing, one-touch video and other techniques can merge aspects of online self-service with personal live interaction, capitalizing on the best of both worlds.

In words that apply to many industries, the Avaya whitepaper notes that “Today, when alternative insurance options are at every consumer’s fingertips, brand loyalty is of utmost importance… responsiveness and personal interaction at each step of the claims process and at each touch point with policyholders can capture an important opportunity to solidify brand loyalty and, as a consequence, grow their business.”

To read the full whitepaper, go to http://www.avaya.com/uk/resource/assets/whitepapers/SVC7067%20Claims%20Processing%20WP.pdf