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.

Telecommuting and video conferencing go hand in hand

Do you enjoy the benefits of a remote working arrangement? The number of people “modernizing” the traditional workplace and looking for flexibility is constantly on the rise. Technology has started addressing the changing workplace needs and preferences. Telecommuting and video conferencing go hand in hand, allowing for real-time interactions between coworkers, professionals and clients, as well as business representatives and potential partners.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 3.3 million people in the US telecommute and their number is growing all the time. These professionals represent 2.6 percent of the US workforce. The number of individuals who consider their home to be their primary workplace has increased by nearly 80 percent since 2005. Telecommuting grew steadily during the recession and when it comes to self-employed individuals, nearly 80 percent are telecommuting.

How are video conferencing solutions like video conferencing  those brought to you by Prime Telecommunications through IOCOM Visimeet addressing this prominent trend? Telecommuting professionals get to benefit from it in a number of distinctive ways.

Enhanced Communication

Getting engaged in face-to-face communication with someone can make it easier for a professional to judge the situation, offer adequate solutions and make the most of the interaction.

Body language is a crucial part of business meetings. Hearing the voice of a person or carrying out communication in the form of emails will be insufficient to assess these fine nuances of human behavior and their meaning.

Video conferencing bridges the gap between people that want to do business together, yet lack the opportunity to meet in real life. Taking cues from body language can make the communication much more beneficial for both parties involved and lead to the tailoring of solutions to individual needs and preferences.

Team Spirit and Corporate Efficiency

Many people that choose telecommuting feel somewhat isolated from the team. Video conferencing solutions make it easier for such individuals to feel a part of the whole and to become actively engaged.

In addition, video conferencing enables real-time conversation. This possibility streamlines corporate processes and gives employees opportunities to use their time in the most rational way. There could be significant delays when it comes to email communication or other indirect methods of delivering information. Seeing each other and discussing vital issues at the same time enables all parties involved in the process to gain awareness about their responsibilities and to get started with the most pressing tasks at hand.

Productivity can be boosted across the team if video conferencing technology is used on a daily basis. This virtual meeting gets to replace the traditional staff sessions used to do planning and come up with an agenda. The efficiency will be as high, as the one achieved during an old school face-to-face conversation.

Time Saving

The use of video conferencing technology leads to saving a lot of time in terms of commuting and getting to meet with clients or business partners that work in a distant part of town, another city or another country.

Long-distance travels can lead to a lot of wasted time that can be used for the completion of much more important tasks. In addition, such business trips can be a truly expensive endeavor for startups and small companies. As a result, many professionals are opting for affordable and efficient possibilities like video conferencing . The results of such virtual meetings are the same as getting to meet in person, minus the wasted time and the transportation costs.

Telecommuting employees will boost their productivity by saving time and the entire corporate structure will benefit from the manner in which their business day is organized.

When should We Meet?

Virtual meetings can be scheduled at times that will be convenient for both parties involved. Getting to communicate efficiently may be a challenging task for professionals that live in different time zones. Sending emails will lead to serious communication gaps and delays in task execution.

Video conferencing enables the two parties to communicate to each other at a time that is convenient for both. It could be evening for one professional and early morning for the other but the virtual meeting that takes place in the comfort of one’s home or office will simplify and enhance the communication.

Many self-employed individuals and other employees that rely on telecommuting do work with clients in different countries. A virtual meeting becomes their primary communication tool and the option that helps them get started with the project quickly and that leads to quick clarification of questions or addressing of problematic issues.

Virtual meeting technology like video conferencing brought to you by Prime Telecommunications and IOCOM VIsimeet is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible. As a result, the number of telecommuting professionals that rely on such possibilities to do their job is growing. The examples mentioned above are just some of the ways in which video conferencing enhances telecommuting. There are various other important advantages that deserve to be mentioned and these include easy accessibility of the platform, the ability to get back to work soon after injury or a medical problem, a chance to work in informal settings and flexibility that enables a wide range of professionals to rely on such solutions

 

 

 

 

 

Orginally posted by Julia Writer on http://www.trainingzone.co.uk/blogs-post/ways-which-video-conferencing-enhancing-telecommuting/187760.

Why Not Just Use Skype for Business Video Teleconference? Let me count the ways!

I came across this post from AGT. I thought it would be beneficial to repost it.

“Why not just Skype?”

Being a video conferencing solutions provider, we get this question a lot. And to be frank, why would you not use Skype? It’s easy to use, well-known and for the most part, free. While all those characteristics are ideal, Skype is ripe with limitations when used as a business tool versus a consumer tool. In this post we will dig into a quick comparison of Skype and business video conferencing services.

Point-to-point vs. Multi-point

A key difference is simply what each solution is designed for. Skype is optimized for point-to-point audio and video calls, which means it is designed to support two computers and two participants. You have probably seen the Skype ads showing a traveling working mom or dad speaking with their child back at home (I have to admit, those ads get me every time.) On the other hand, video conferencing is optimized for multi-point calls, which means multiple parties on multiple devices can participate in a single call. While I do not have a TV spot to reference, imagine your weekly sales meeting where you have a few co-workers in a conference room at the headquarters, a couple of people working from home on their laptops, and an executive calling from his personal Telepresence system – all in a single call.

Interoperability

Fortunately, video interoperability has made tremendous strides over the past two years. Thanks to smaller vendors breaking barriers, there are video conferencing services that can interoperate with standards-based video conferencing systems, in addition to a wide variety of video-enabled devices, such as tablets, smartphones and desktops. Unfortunately for Skype, their users can only connect with other Skype users and cannot connect to your traditional video conferencing equipment.

Bandwidth

Skype requires a significant amount of bandwidth. A five-way Skype video call, which is the maximum number of participants Skype recommends, requires four times the bandwidth of a business video conferencing service. The substantial amount of bandwidth required for Skype calls can reduce or interrupt critical network performance since the Skype video traffic cannot be prioritized through the use of Quality of Service (QoS) settings. This leads to a degraded network and meeting disruptions, such as choppy audio, frozen video and dropped calls. Administrators and end users want to avoid these scenarios at all costs.

Advanced Features and Reporting

Since Skype is designed for consumers, it only offers basic features. Business video conferencing services include advanced features, such as streaming and recording, multiple screen layouts, full conference controls and real-time reporting.

Security and Control

All you have to do is Google “Skype + security” and article after article will show the security vulnerabilities associated with Skype. Business video conferencing services make security and control a top priority. Seamless firewall traversal, video call encryption, conference controls and real-time management of bandwidth are just a few capabilities that businesses should consider when seeking a video solution.

Support

Last but not least, support services are unavailable for Skype users. There is no one to contact when a problem arises. Business video conferencing services offer a wide variety of help desk and onsite services to ensure a high level of customer service.

In conclusion, Skype is an excellent tool for keeping in touch with long distance loved ones. If you are seeking a solution that requires secure video communication, low-bandwidth and interoperability across multiple platforms and participants, I recommend a business video conferencing service.

What about you, what do you use for your business video communications?

Want to know more? 

The VO- Virtual Office- Evangelist

What is keeping you or your clients from setting up a virtual office? Are you searching for the benefits and drawbacks? Here are some thoughts that I have gathered from a variety of sources and from my own experience to frame the conversation:

Work/life balance. Working from a virtual office (VO), combined with a relatively flexible work schedule often gives the employee a healthy work/life balance. Yes, I know that sounds cliché, but you get to wake up with your children, feed them breakfast, get them ready for school, and sometimes do pick-up or drop-off. Then up a flight of stairs and you’re at work. If your kids need something (and your spouse isn’t available for some reason), they know they can knock at your office door and if you’re not on the phone, they can come in for a short interlude of family time.

Why are you still in a cube? So, why aren’t more people working from home? As Dave Michels wrote in a recent CIO Collaboration post, many employees and employers don’t even pause to think if virtual office might be right for their situation. I agree with Dave that many people are missing out on a great opportunity. Many of our clients have done quite well with VO employees and perhaps this is not just because they have an open mind about these things, but because we sell many of the communications solutions that make VO successful, which brings us back to the productivity question.

Engagement. There was an excellent blog by Scott Edinger in the Harvard Business Review last month about how remote workers are as engaged if not more than those who work in the office. You should give it a read as I won’t reiterate his excellent points here, but suffice it to say that when the supervisor and employee are not in close proximity, they consciously work at their communication, resulting in more engagement. I have found regularly scheduled 1:1 meetings are crucial. I meet with all of my direct reports for at least 30 minutes every week. For the rest of my organization, I meet individually with them every other month. Sometimes we talk about work, other times about family or sports. What you talk about matters less than the fact that you are talking. Don’t make this your only opportunity to talk every week, but having time set aside makes sure you really connect.

Communication Tools. As Scott wrote in his HBR post, having the right tools are crucial to making that communication happen regularly. While you can get by with a solid audio connection, video is becoming a huge benefit for VO employees. I’m lucky in that at Prime we have a variety of tools to make working remotely successful. Here is a list of what I use (in addition to my standard desktop software):

  • iMeet video conferencing– a great tool for setting up your own personal meeting room for voice and video conferences -which also allows me to see who is on a conference call and who is speaking.
  • Plantronics CS351N headset with enough range to get to the kitchen for lunch
  • S-NET Glo-com software– for our hosted phones- we can chat securely, see who is on the phone and share one to one video.
  • Allworx Call Assistant– gives me virtual control of my office phones – just like a receptionist would have. I can see what anyone and everyone is doing.

Face Time. Another helpful tip that I’ll share is that whenever you stumble upon a colleague’s picture (LinkedInTwitter, internal sites, etc.), attach it to an Outlook Contact (see here). This way, whenever you receive an email from them, you will see their picture, making it feel more like a personal interaction. As an added bonus, when using an Avaya Flare client, those pictures transfer over, so you can see their pictures for phone calls as well.

Not for everyone. Don’t assume that a very productive employee in an office will remain so at home. VO is a great fit for experienced information workers that spend a good deal of time on the phone with others, especially if those others are geographically dispersed. If an employee is new to the role and/or need access to physical equipment or people, this won’t work. A certain discipline is needed in order to stay focused on work when there are increased distractions (family, television, video games, etc.) The individuals’ personality and work-type must match up to ensure the employee can continue to meet or exceed his/her objectives

The Office in Home Office. Yes, I know, you have a laptop, a smartphone, and a Bluetooth headset. That does not make you a one-woman-home-office. A coffee shop or your kitchen table while the kids play in the next room over will not be successful long term. Get yourself a quiet room with a door (ex. guest bedroom). The room doesn’t have to be office-only 24×7, but during work hours, nothing else should be taking place there. Besides, you don’t want to be the person on the conference call with the dog barking, or worse, “Daddy! I’m all done pooping and peeing!!” (Did I mention my Plantronics headset has a very handy mute button on it?)

Don’t forget your agents. While I have focused on my own experience as a knowledge worker using Unified Communications products, working from home is also a great option for Contact Center agents. I work with a telemarketing employee  of ours in Cleveland and I know that we value our home agents. She is more productive, works harder and better- which is the standard result for successfully deployed home agents. Kay Phelps,  has written a number of articles about these Home Agents, so please go give her a read.

In summary, if I were writing an online review of a product, I’d sum up Virtual Office as:

4OutOf5Stars Amazing, but not for everyonePros:

    • Great work/life balance
    • No commute transportation costs (gas, tolls, car, auto insurance/repairs, etc.)
    • Significantly reduced wardrobe expenses
    • No downtime needed between meetings
    • Positive environmental impact

 

Cons:

  • No after-work camaraderie over drinks
  • More self-reliance for IT and office supply needs
  • Discipline needed by the employee and those they live with

I know I’m not the only VO evangelist out there. So, let me know what you think. Living the dream? Did you try VO and it was a fail whale? Desperate to break out of your cube and into your sweatpants? Drop a note in the comments below.

 

Adapt Your Business Technology to Management 2.0 or Risk Becoming Extinct!

In the current issue of Selling Power Magazine (April/May/June 2012), there is an interesting article with management guru Gary Hamel. He is thought to be one of the most influential management thinkers today.

Hamel describes two types of management- Management 1.0 and Management 2.0. Management 1.0 is the management style that we all have been taught for the past 100 years- standardization, specialization, hierarchy, alignment, control and the use of extrinsic controls.

On the other hand, Management 2.0 is based on developing adaptive, innovative and engaging places to work. The allows companies to meet the increase in competitive intensity worldwide. It allows companies to outgrow competitors or the economy by encouraging innovation and making it a systemic capability across a company’s processes.

Hamel makes some predictions:

  • We are moving to a world where everything in configurable by the ultimate consumer.
  • As our economy becomes more of a service economy, value gets created in the interaction between employee and customer.
  • In order to make organizations more innovative we need new practices and new principles.
  • The most efficient companies will be the most democratic.

Okay. So what does this have to do with technology? Basically, everything.

You will need to set up processes that are extremely customizable and that involves a lot of flexibility. Let me give you an example- as the population ages, more and more of your employees may have a parent or spouse to care for. You will need to adapt your infrastructure and work practices to accommodate employees who, for obvious family issues, will have to work from home. Your communications infrastructure will have to adapt to this, your connectivity will have to adapt- your space and energy requirements will change – and so too will your corporate policies on security.

As interactions between customers (a.k.a clients, patients, guests,patrons etc…) become more important, you will have to adapt and perfect the art of customer interaction. You will need tools to measure performance, evaluate employee interaction, and standardize the customer experience to ensure that it creates value.

With a more distributed workforce, you will need to ensure internal communication to make sure that there is a cohesive esprit de corps. Mobile workers, tele-workers, remote offices need to be part of the total corporate body- not far flung fiefdoms or domestic exile. Remember, discipline from goofing off is a Management 1.0 principle. Management 2.0 companies rely on peers as motivators. The logic is simple- if what you do is transparent to your peers, they can see whether or not you are adding value.

The whole area of the technology cloud is an enabler for transforming your company from a Management 1.0 to a Management 2.0 company. Hosted PBX allows your remote employees to communicate freely, easily and cohesively. Hosted Call Center gives you the tools to enhance customer employee interactions and monitor performance. Managed wide area networks and managed cloud security give you the ability to connect your remote locations securely.

See how some of our clients are adapting their business to Management 2.0 with our technologies!

Marque Medicos

Video Meetings That Kill the Ordinary Conference Call

In this progressively more global or geographically dispersed workplace, companies are forced to encourage their employees to communicate in real time with peers, administration, and customers worldwide to stay ahead of competition and be more productive. Video conferencing is one of the most powerful and effective communication and collaboration tools in business.  Perfect for corporate environment, video conferencing solutions are used worldwide to make the workplace more connected and productive for knowledge workers. Making communication faster and easier, a number of video conferencing equipment is available to benefit organizations with efficient communication and collaboration opportunities.

However, the price tag of owning your own solution is steep. So are the other soft costs – that translate into hard dollars- training, financing and maintaining the solution can quickly turn into a vast drain of resources. Additionally, the whole Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon makes the whole process a lot more mobile and diverse. Ad hoc collaboration means that people need to connect and collaborate via whatever devices they are using- smartphones, tablets, PC’s, Mac’s…and some that we don’t even know about yet. The most obvious solution is as simple as it is low cost. A robust cloud conferencing service that enables all of your people, your devices, your clients, your client’s devices- to communicate all together and share screens, images, documents and contacts.

One of the best providers we have found is iMeet. The interface is simple and powerful. You can work on whatever device you need to be on- landline telephone, PC, Mac, tablet, iPad, smartphone …and collaborate. If your device has video, you have video. If your device is a simple connection (voice only) you can still collaborate- whether you’re in the car, in the airport or just not ready for a full on video conference. If you have a phone and a computer- you can share screens. Adding people in- ad hoc and on the fly is easy. Seeing who’s talking eliminates those embarrassing talk over moments. You can chat with all of the participants at once– or privately. Above all, it’s intuitive and doesn’t require additional hardware.

Today’s web is all about Social Media. Linked IN, Facebook, Twitter…they’re all integrated into the application. You can add clients and participants easily through your existing accounts. You can also find out more information about them- rounding out the whole experience. It’s more than just a video conference or an audio conference.

I was so impressed with iMeet that I felt it important to try. I want you to try it to- and I can give you two options. The first is easy. Try it for 30 days. Free. No cost to you. Just send me an email to imeet@primetelecommunications.com.

Second, if you’re really interested, let me buy you a cup of coffee ($10 worth of Starbucks courtesy of the good folks at PGI who have developed iMeet) and let’s have an online demo. Click here for that demo!

What have you go to lose?

The Diverse Workforce: Are You Ready

Two trends will reshape the American workforce in the coming years: the ongoing exit of the Baby Boomers and their replacement by a workforce that is dramatically more diverse in nearly every way possible including race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and marital status.

While these trends may be inevitable, how any one company manages them may be a key factor in separating winners from losers. “A diverse and engaged workforce is fundamental to sustained business,” argues MDB Group, a consulting firm specializing in business growth through diversity, inclusion, and intercultural expertise. ”It is the platform for the productivity, innovation, and creativity essential in today’s marketplace.”

But getting the benefits of a diverse workplace isn’t always a smooth process. Long-time employees may be resistant to change. At the same time, employees who are both new to the workplace and to the culture (e.g., recent immigrants) may find it difficult to manage the transition.

Dr. Linda Manning, a Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa and a consultant on inclusive talent management practices, likens the change to the entry of women into the workforce. “Women’s entry into the labor force led to adaptations in many work places, including flex-time.  The organization’s goals had to take priority and a means for adapting to the needs of women in the workplace emerged.  The adaptation benefited everyone.”

Surveys, training, onboarding programs, an attitude of openness, etc., are all critical to managing the new workplace. But the transition is a profound one and will require an effort just as profound.

Start by keeping in mind that everyone brings a cultural outlook that drives perceptions, expectations, and behaviors. An otherwise hard-working employee who seems to “lack initiative” may be acting from a culturally ingrained sense of hierarchy and respect. Explain what “initiative” means to you and provide feedback in private. Explain workplace norms—the ‘unwritten rules’ that everyone ‘knows’ but we don’t know we know.

Don’t forget to take into account the role that communications technology plays in managing the new workplace. Explain expectations about the use of communications including responsiveness, availability, using the system for personal matters, etc. Taking the time to do it early on can eliminate misunderstandings down the road.

According to the MDB Group, retention is frequently the “hidden gold” of efforts that improve workforce diversity. It’s easy to lose an otherwise skilled employee because of an unsupportive work environment. A concerted effort around diversity issues can improve retention considerably.

If Found a Really Good Article in Channel Partners regarding Savings with Hosted PBX

This article appeared in www.channelpartnersonline.com. I was totally impressed – because of the sample size of the survey and the findings!

By Hyoun ParkHosted VoIP has provided strong business value for years, but traditionally the benefit has been associated purely with cost savings. But is this the full value proposition of cloud communications?

Companies that have placed high value on the uptime and reliability of communications systems traditionally have considered the on-premises PBX to be a safer bet because the equipment is locally available and can be accessed more easily in the case of a business continuity threat. However, Aberdeen Group’s most recent research for the July 2011 report, “Conquering the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt of Managing Integrated Communications” found this assumption is no longer accurate.

When Aberdeen polled more than 100 organizations in their use of telecom, it found that the top 20 percent of telecom end-users in terms of performance, which Aberdeen defines as “Best-in-Class” companies, had 5 percent of the downtime and one-fourth of the SLA-defined issues faced by typical respondents. These top-achieving companies were more than twice as likely to use a hosted communications solutions solution compared to all other organizations, demonstrating that the real-world usage of hosted VoIP is now strongly associated with improved uptime and reduced service impairment.

Given the cost savings associated with a hosted voice solution, the support advantages associated with managed voice and now the service benefits in this maturing market, the value proposition for hosted VoIP has become much easier to articulate.

However, to fully take advantage of these trends, channel partners must be aware of the markets that are most ready and willing to move towards the cloud. To better understand this market, the channel must answer:

  • What kinds of companies currently identify cloud-based or hosted communications as a priority?
  • How can the channel better support these customers to successfully transition from on-premise to hosted services?

To answer these questions, Aberdeen broke out its respondent base into three different categories for further profiling:

  • small organizations of 50 employees or less
  • medium organizations of between 51 and 2,500 employees
  • large enterprises with more than 2,500 employees

Small organizations were most excited by hosted VoIP, with 32 percent of Aberdeen’s survey audience stating that they had already adopted this technology and another 35 percent planning to do so within the next 24 months. These companies were driven first and foremost by budget and were simply seeking the cheapest solution. However, secondary concerns that these companies faced included a lack of vendor support and the need to improve external communications with partners and customers. The ability to provide improved service while reducing the company’s need for IT overhead should be attractive because these firms tend to be disproportionately dependent on their communications system to support a partner and customer ecosystem because it is more cost effective than event-driven or travel-based face-to-face meetings. By moving to a hosted VoIP environment, these smaller organizations are more likely to achieve the “five 9s” (99.999 percent uptime) support that they may have assumed was only possible for enterprise-level accounts.

 

At the midsized level, companies are much less likely to have adopted hosted VoIP. Only 11 percent of our respondents between 51 and 2,500 employees actually had implemented this technology although another 30 percent planned to do so. Part of the problem here is that 61 percent of these companies already had invested in an on-premises PBX and felt obligated to continue using that equipment until it was fully depreciated. However, this frugal instinct and familiarity with existing equipment did not lead to improved uptime: the average organization in this category had 14.8 hours of communications outage to one or more locations in the course of a year and may simply be taking these outages for granted as the cost of business. At the same time, these midsized companies were more likely to focus on creating a more standardized communications environment, including compliance and security issues. These concerns must be met by channel partners seeking to support mid-market hosted VoIP solutions.

Large enterprises also had low levels of adoption for hosted VoIP, and none of the large organizations that Aberdeen spoke to were considering hosted VoIP in the next 12 months. Although they could realize significant cost savings from this technology, these organizations are more focused on improving the ease-of-use for existing communications deployments and developing a road map for implementing new communications technologies. As a result, these companies seek to continue using the PBX and maintain their current unified communications investments. However, 25 percent of these larger organizations wanted to implement virtualized PBXs in their organizations in the next 12 to 24 months, which provides an alternate mode of support that can be provided to these companies. As these companies seek to move the PBX into the data center and into a virtualized rack-mount or blade server environment, the channel may see increased opportunities to support larger organizations as well.

Based on Aberdeen’s current research, hosted VoIP currently is seen as most valuable for solving the needs of small and medium organizations. However, small organizations and medium organizations have different needs, concerns and goals associated with hosted VoIP, so the value proposition must be articulated appropriately. As the channel reaches out to end-user organizations, it is vital to keep these concerns in mind to make sure that end-users are appropriately educated on the full value that hosted VoIP can provide to their communications environment.

Hyoun Park is lead analyst in collaboration and integrated communications forAberdeen Group. Over the past four years, Park has surveyed the best practices of more than 2,500 organizations seeking to optimize their collaborative environments. Prior to Aberdeen, Park managed telecom environments at Bose Corp. and Teradyne and was responsible for billing and training operations at multiple CLEC organizations.

Hiring and Keeping Great Employees: The Mobility Factor

In recent years, the global economy has seen sustained levels of high unemployment. So that means it’s easier than ever to find and hold on to great employees, right? Wrong!

Finding and retaining the really effective employee remains a major challenge, particularly because today’s work force is so diverse.  That’s why “one-size-fits-all” strategies for keeping good people simply don’t work any longer. And because turnover among valued employees is costly, disruptive, and negatively impacts customer satisfaction, it remains a major challenge. That’s why more and more companies are taking advantage of their communications systems to support teleworking options.

An insurance company of approximately 40 people headquartered in the Washington, DC metropolitan area did a comprehensive study on their telework program and found that 64% of employees said they would turn down a 20% salary increase to continue teleworking. In addition, 57% of teleworking employees reported improved job satisfaction/morale. For more information, see Unleashing the Hidden Productivity of Your Small Business by Chuck Wilsker, President & CEO, The Telework Coalition at:http://bit.ly/qiom1T.

Teleworking is not for every employee. But by implementing a teleworking plan, employers get more options for addressing the needs of employees they simply don’t want to give up:

  • The valued employee who wants to stay, but whose spouse or significant other needs to relocate.
  • The employee who needs a better work life balance—to be more available to children, an aging parent, etc.
  • Members of Generations X (born after 1961) and Y (born after 1981) who have grown up on technology and expect to make it part of their everyday lives.

With gasoline and public transportation costs rising, the five-day-a-week commute is becoming an expensive approach to workplace management. The Telework Coalition (TelCoa) estimates that a full-time teleworker receives an $8,400 indirect pay raise, regardless of his or her salary rate, due to the reduced expenses in gas consumption, wear and tear on the vehicle, insurance, parking, etc.

With two-earner households commonplace, there is a greater push to find ways to put personal and family obligations ahead of corporate needs—without making it an either or tradeoff. Teleworking provides that option and its one that more and more businesses are going to have to look at. http://bit.ly/k2scnJ