Stop Buying Technology…The Wrong Way!

There are a few things in life that will remain constant till the end of time.  They include death, taxes, and the ever-changing world of technology.  As soon as we make a technological purchase today it unfortunately becomes outdated tomorrow.  Ignoring your company for a moment just think about the last time you bought a car.  The moment it was driven off the lot the value dropped instantly by a few thousand dollars.  This same scenario occurs in every technological purchase made by a company.  As a result, more and more owners and chief financial officers are being slapped in the face with a basic business 101 concept – why buy a depreciating asset.

The method of buying technology on a lease agreement is not new or even earth shattering.  Historically, both business communications providers and equipment manufacturers have offered leasing options.  However, within the last year or so, subtle changes by a select group of providers across the country have made leasing versus buying the right decision for any business.  These changes have eliminated technology’s two greatest risks – obsolescence and price (also known as outright ownership).

Voice and data communications is the heart and life-blood of every company and having the latest technology has a major impact on an organization’s efficiency, profitability, and competitiveness.  As a result, Prime Telecommunications launched the Prime Simple IP – Current Technology Assurance Plan (C-TAP) with the assistance of Technology Assurance Group (TAG), an organization of independently owned North American business communications providers with combined revenue of over $400 million in voice and data products and applications.

C-TAP ensures that the communications environments are refreshed with the latest advancements and value added solutions, thereby eliminating technology’s obsolescence.  For instance, updates (also known as refresh) to a company’s voice and data system can occur anytime after 24 months with no change in their monthly payment.  Additionally, both labor charges and software upgrades are waived.  If a product was purchased the old fashioned way from say Cisco or Avaya the business owner would get hit with thousands of dollars in software upgrade expenses.  A program like C-TAP prevents this type of situation.

Here’s a simple example that illustrates how C-TAP works. Companies are losing significant amounts of money on a daily basis because they don’t have sufficient technology to effectively manage their organizations.  For example, many businesses do not have data back up, message on hold, or unified messaging while others are utilizing antiquated desktop PCs.  Under C-TAP, companies that could not afford this technology before can now simply add it with no change in their monthly commitment.

Furthermore, C-TAP focuses on the cost of technology rather than its price, thus eliminating the second risk.  This is a mind set change for owners and many business communications providers not engaged in a program of this sort.  Because of C-TAP, companies are able to transfer technology costs from a capital expense to a fixed monthly expense absorbed by an organization’s operating budget.  This enhances the financial health from both tax and budgeting standpoints.

Programs like C-TAP have changed the way technology is purchased now and forever.  It has successfully eliminated the traditional risks associated with technology –  obsolescence and price.  By taking control of the purchase process in this manner, the owner is finally experiencing a true win for their business because they now have the means that will increase profitability, while giving them a competitive advantage in their marketplace.

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The Right Tools Make Switching to VoIP Easy!

You’re the IT Manager. It’s a big job. Servers, routers, and firewalls, budget cuts and smaller staff.  And then the CEO tells you they have just purchased a new IP phone system and you find yourself switching to VoIP. The sales manager is excited about the unified communications YOU will provide her team. Or maybe the CIO heard about Microsoft Lync and is thinking about using it for IM and presence.

Where do you begin? Can your network handle the additional traffic? Is that traffic any different from the email, web and other application traffic that exists now?

When it comes to switching to VoIP, there are some questions you’ll need to answer. Questions like:

  • How many calls does your organization make a day? A Week? A month?
  • Do you have a busy time of year?
  • What is the highest call volume you have in a 30-day period? When is that usually?

Don’t have the answers to these questions? Then it’s going to be a slow and bumpy ride.

Is it Really Any Different?

The answer to the question asked earlier is, Yes. The VoIP call traffic is different from the email, web and application traffic you already deal with. It’s persnickety and more sensitive to network interruptions.

Luckily, there are tools out there that can make the life of an IT Manager a LOT easier when switching to VoIP. Looks for tools to assess your current phone utilization, test your networks ability to provide quality VoIP calls, and allow you to monitor changes to network performance as the new system is deployed.switching to VoIP

Answering that first question of what does your network look like now can be tough. Where do you start? Do you have a call accounting system that can pull numbers for you, like number of inbound, outbound and internal calls per day? Could you ask your VAR or carrier for a traffic study? They’ll usually do it over a week and let you see things like total calls, trunk utilization and so on. Then, based on the codec you’ll be using with the new system, you’ll be able to calculate how much bandwidth you’ll need based on your current traffic patterns.

Once you are ready to choose a system, you’ll want to decide who runs it? Do you and your team answer alerts? Does your VAR? Or is it a combination based on severity, type of alarm, etc?

Find a vendor with a support system you are comfortable with. Ask questions like how much training is available? What type of training is it? Is there a charge?

System optimization is made possible with performance monitoring reports that help ensure that you continue to deliver quality of service and system performance.

The more work you do upfront to get things under control the easier life will be. You’ll look good. The CEO looks good. Win win.

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