SIP Trunks and Their Cost Saving Benefits

What are managed SIP trunks and how will they save me money?

Before we get into that, we need to quickly touch on the different ways data is exchanged once it leaves your business:

PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network

This is the world’s circuit-switched, analog network – telephone lines, fiber optic cables, microwave transmission, cellular networks, communications satellites, undersea telephone carriers – are all interconnected through circuit-switching centers.  When you make a phone call using a traditional carrier or use dial-up to connect to the Internet – you are using PSTN.

ISDN – Integrated Service Digital Network

The start of the digital age of communications.   With ISDN, you have a digital transmission of voice, video and data over the traditional PSTN.

There are 2 basic types:

  • Basic Rate Interface (BRI) – low bandwidth – 2 B-channels that can be used for voice, data and other services and 1 D-channel is used for control and signaling.  BRI is for home and small business use.
  • Primary Rate Interface (PRI) – higher bandwidth – 23 B-channels and 1 D-channel.  PRI is used for larger enterprises.

Now to get back to SIP trunks

SIP stands for session initiation protocol.  Protocol is the set of rules that govern the format of messages that are exchanged between servers.  Session initiation protocol simply means that you are initiating a session to exchange messaging over the Internet.  A managed SIP trunk is a direct connection between your business and your IP (Internet Protocol) telephony service provider.  It allows you the ability to make VoIP calls over the PSTN without the need to purchase an IP-PBX gateway.   An SIP trunk is a single line that can be used to transfer all multimedia:  voice, video and data all at the same time.

Here’s the good part.  Saving money:

  1. Hardware and Service Costs – A managed SIP trunk eliminates the costs associated with the purchase, support and maintenance of hardware gateways.  Also, SIP trunks are less expensive than analog circuits, and SIP’s long distance charges are cheaper than traditional rates.
  2. Scalability – PRI is sold in increments of 23.  If your organization has 24 employees, you will need to pay for 46 channels.  Managed SIP trunks, on the other hand, are sold in increments of 1.  You only pay for the lines you need and you can add additional channels at any time.
  3. Management – Your SIP trunk provider handles the management of, any updates to, and support of your trunks.  Instead of being bogged down managing your communications system, your IT department can focus on initiatives that will grow your business.
  4. Disaster Recovery – If the lines of communication are down to your business, your business loses its ability to make money.  An Internet-based phone system has a higher likelihood of maintaining functionality during a disaster, than a fixed-line, circuit-switched system.  Click here to learn more about the importance of having a disaster recovery plan in place for your business.

SIP trunks are becoming an increasingly popular solution for businesses of all sizes.  For more information please visit our website or contact us.  We’d love to hear from you.

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Eliminate the Paper Cuts in Your Preparation

How often does your largest client call…and whom are they calling?

Even if your CEO has never asked you this question, knowing how often and whom within your company your top client calls IS information they want.  The real question is: If you were asked for this information, could you gather it…quickly? 

You of course have filing cabinets filled with old telephone bills that yoEliminate the Paper Cuts in Your Preparationu can sort through to get the information you need, but what if your CEO asks you for this data in a meeting with your peers?  What if they need the information by tomorrow for a meeting with that client?

For many people the next step will be preparing to endure some severe paper cuts as they dig through old phone bills to pull the requested data.  On top of that, if you’ve been tasked with gathering the most recent data including today’s call logs – you have an additional problem: Your most recent bill only shows calls from two weeks ago, and the new bill won’t arrive for another 3 days.  What are you going to do?

Here are your options.

Answer 1 – You can face the music and admit defeat,

Answer 2 – Or… you can implement hosted recording and analytics into your business that give you the power to pull real-time, up-to-date, statistics on the fly.  You can sort by most frequent callers, most active call handlers, or both – and for those complex clients with multiple locations – calls by location.

Gathering information in preparation for large client meetings is a no-brainer.  Gathering the information that best helps you streamline large client meetings to focus on your customer’s needs is challenging.  Knowing how often your clients are calling, who they’re calling, and what they’re saying is the information you need to address their concerns before the fire alarm sounds.  By going with Answer 2, your CEO has the knowledge to accurately and efficiently address the customer relationship, taking them from satisfied to loyal.

By going with Answer 2 …You have successfully avoided possible death by a thousand paper cuts, and your boss is happily on their way to that important meeting – with accurate information.

4 Rules for Making Smart Technology Decisions

By Mark Swanson

This is Part 3 of 3 in a series about Betting Your Business on the Cloud, How to make a make-or-break decision for your business, and 4 Rules for Making Smart Technology Decisions

So how exactly did I know to bet my career and force that company onto that new Microsoft Exchange/Outlook technology?  Over the last two decades, I have developed four basic rules that I follow when I look at make-or-break technology decisions.  Stick to these rules and you will know when to move.

Rule #1: Does it solve a real problem?

It sounds simple, but a lot of business professionals miss this one. They get enthralled with cool technologies and not ones that solve real problems or have an actual business impact.   I see many technology managers discover a new piece of technology and then look for a problem that it solves.  As an example: we once spent $25,000 on tablet computers just so our sales staff could get “electronic signatures”.  No one used it.  Most customers actually insisted on paper, the technology was cumbersome and it actually hindered sales as the team found it simpler to get ink on paper to close deals.  The tablet computers just became expensive notebook computers, and the initiative was a big failure.

Rule #2: Is it intuitive that the new technology saves time or money (or both)?

Technologies that are “make or break” are obvious in analysis; take the Personal Computer as an example.  I remember the first time I tried a PC: I used a word processing program.  No more Whiteout.  The world’s worst speller became the world’s best.  I could save multiple copies.  No more note cards.  I never used a typewriter again.  It was intuitively obvious.  If you are not as old as I am, do you remember the first time you used Google?  I do, and up until that point I had been a Yahoo! user.  The first time I tried searching on Google, it was immediately apparent to me that it was different and faster.  It saved me time.

Rule #3: Is it a technology that allows me to focus on more important things? 

Does this new technology allow you to spend significantly less time on the “chores” in your business and more time on what is “core”, making your company more valuable?  This is not as simple as going through a checklist of items and marking them as “core” or “chore” – it takes a deeper analysis.  Some things at face value look like chores, when they could very easily fall under the “core” category.  A great example of this is when, during Telovations’ inception in 2006, we launched our hosted business phone system.  Most competitors offered the service over the Public Internet, and deemed “network” as not being very core.  However, we decided that we were going to build our own network and make it part of our offering.  Because quality and privacy were core to our business model, we chose technologies that provide the control we need to guarantee high levels of quality and reliability.  Many of our peers in the telecom industry initially thought of this as a chore, almost as if we were unnecessarily re-inventing the wheel, but we saw it differently, and it has turned out to be big differentiators for success.

Rule #4: Is it the right time?

Timing is everything.    In my experience, getting out in front of trends and finding your niche is really the only way to effectively succeed as a startup. You’re competing against all kinds of big, well-known brands, and identifying trends early enough before the big guys, yet late enough for them to be implementable is key to making that decision.  A good example is the hand held computer.  Apple actually created a hand held computer in 1993 called the Newton.  It was a spectacular failure.  The problem was that it was not useable – it was too big, too pricey, and its much-touted handwriting recognition did not work.   Yet a mere three years later, technology had advanced enough and the smaller, thinner, and much better functioning Palm PDA was a runaway success starting the mobile revolution.  Why?

In 1991, Geoffrey Moore wrote an excellent book titled “Crossing the Chasm.” He talked about the technology adoption life cycle and pointed out that those innovative technologies still in their infancy are not technologies businesses should deploy. He stressed that only when those technologies have matured enough to “cross the chasm” into the early adopter phase—where enough folks have shaken out the bugs—should you take a closer jump. Asking yourself whether this technology has proven to work at some scale is key to making this decision.

I believe adopting cloud technologies for all but your core systems is an imperative for most businesses.  They solve the problem of the endless technology lifecycle upgrade problem, and makes your business – to me – much more agile. The cloud saves time, capital, and allows your staff to focus on the core tasks that need to be done instead of worrying about things like email or communications.  Lastly, it is the right time.  The early adopters have shaken out the bugs and cloud technologies have been deployed in hundreds of thousands of organizations of all sizes.  Now is the time to bet your business on the latest technology wave!

Cloud computing stats you didn’t know

As I learn more about our industry and how things we use everyday integrate seamlessly in the Cloud, I’m finding more and more interesting statistics relating to exactly what we do with data over here.  The old days have been replaced with data mining, data storage, data exchanging, data…everything.

Did you know?

Are you prepared? #BusinessContinuity #DisasterRecovery

And finally – didn’t you ever wonder what happens in the tech world every 60 seconds?

So, what is the Cloud anyway?

Greetings and Salutations!  As the new Social Media and Product Marketing Manager at Telovations, I am honored to kick-off our Monthly Company Blog Series.  Each month, I will post a 12-blog series on various industry topics, chock-full of statistics, how business is changing, and most importantly – how this all affects you.

Our first series is about “The Cloud.”  If you are like any other professional outside the IT and technology industries, this definition of the Cloud from Wikipedia probably confuses you as much as it confused me when I first started learning about Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a metered service over a network (typically the Internet).

And I admit that when I first read that, my reaction was something along the lines of,  “…What?”  So I began research to develop my own definition, and this is what I found….

According to Polycom, with the Cloud I can…

…Create a seamless UC environment that drives adoption through ease-of-use within normal business workflows and ensure interoperation with hundreds of unified communications and business applications….”

While BroadSoft’s cloud product is a “hosted infrastructure that serves as the foundation for…growing cloud-based communications.”

But my favorite definition comes from Cisco Systems, Inc.  They describe the cloud as a “powerful combination of cloud computing, networking, storage, management solutions, and business applications….”

We are moving to an interconnected “world of many clouds,” where people will have access to cloud services anytime, on any device, anywhere in the world.

…And then I brought up my research in our weekly marketing meeting.  I asked the team to give me their definition of the Cloud:

Sean, SVP of Sales & Marketing:

It’s a movement away from having a bunch of stuff in your office; we no longer have to buy all these different things.  The days of CDs are gone…I buy everything on the Cloud. It’s a change in the way you do business

Then he sent me this picture:

It gets rid of this!

Katie, Marketing & Sales Operations Manager:

It’s having the ability to have any software at any time, and any service any place without having to drive to the store, wait in line, buy the CD, install it on my computer, and update and maintain it myself.  That’s huge.

Marc, Director – Product Development

It’s the new platform of choice.  It’s a movement, a collection of services, a collection of apps.  It’s on-demand and device-independent…it’s no longer products on a shelf.  It’s the end of obsolescence.

Now that’s cool!  I think I’m starting to get the hang of this….  The Cloud lets my office phone, my cell phone, my tablet, and my computer talk to each other so I can get my messages where I want them and when I want them.

What’s your definition of the Cloud?

Hosted Voice: Part II

By Marc Tribbe

Hosted Voice, beyond just a single business presence to a user, also brings additional inherent capabilities to the business:

  • Seamless location integration to tie your branch offices and users together
    • Everyone in the company cannot only see one another across locations, but can simply extension-dial each other as one company.
  • Having an Automatic Disaster Recovery plan
    • Since all calls are going through the ‘Cloud’ or ‘Hosted Service’ now vs. a premises-based phone system in a back closet, the ‘Hosted Voice’ system knows if your location (or even phone) is there or not.  If not, these calls can be configured to redirect to another number.
  • Mobility – Anywhere, Any time, on Any device
    • You have a business phone on your desk, a mobile phone in your pocket, and a new tablet in your briefcase, a laptop, and a desktop computer.  Let’s face it, this is a lot of hardware and there is a good chance they probably don’t talk or sync to one another.  They should, and they can.
  • Application and Integration availability
    • In my previous post, I described a real scenario, which shows the power of integrating not only your devices together, but also how a ‘hosted business presence’ can trigger such events, seamlessly.

This is what others are saying about Hosted Voice / Hosted VoIP (Voice over IP):

Wikipedia:

“Voice over IP (VoIP) is a family of technologies, methodologies, communication protocols, and transmission techniques for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet.”

PCmag.com:

“Calls can be made and received using regular phones with adapters, IP phones or computers.  A hosted VoIP service provides a “virtual IP PBX” for an organization without requiring a physical PBX.”

Cisco’s Blog:

“A hosted voice service…is the great equalizer.  All employees, no matter where they’re working, have access to the same calling and messaging features through the hosted voice service, including extension dialing and conferencing.”

I Google as much as the next guy, and while I don’t disagree with these definitions, I would like to apply their definitions to my business.