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These days, companies are demanding more from their technology. At the same time, IT budgets are decreasing, widening the gap between what employees want—and need to be more productive—and what IT can offer. The trick is to find technologies that make the most of the budget. Enter cloud communications, which delivers full-featured, enterprise-grade communications to companies of any size. A cloud-based communications solution answers the call of feature-rich functionality at a cost IT budgets can handle. In fact, a cloud communications solution can actually save your company money. Here are three of the biggest reasons cloud communications can help save money and make IT a hero to both employees and the finance department:
  1. No Costly Infrastructure:

    Why spend time and money maintaining an onsite communications system? With cloud communications, your communications system is located offsite in a hosted data center, so you don’t have to worry about upgrades, maintenance or oversight. It’s all done for you.
What’s more, cloud communications can be billed as a monthly subscription service, shifting the cost from a hardware/software-intensive CAPEX model to simple OPEX model. The need for capital outlays to upgrade servers, software and other infrastructure components is greatly reduced, freeing money for other things on your company’s technology wish list. For companies with multiple locations, the savings can be even greater with cloud communications. Instead of having separate hardware or a PBX system for each branch office, an Internet connection is all that’s needed.
  1. Minimal Manpower:

    Rather than paying for a separate telecom person, your IT department can manage a cloud communications system as it would any other cloud service. And they can do it without having to gain additional knowledge.
Your company’s remote workers can set up their own phones and take advantage of online training. IT doesn’t need to be involved in setting up remote locations, saving both the IT staff and the employees’ valuable time.
  1. Reduced Risk of Downtime:

    One of the many advantages of the cloud is redundancy, so downtime is minimal at best. Onsite PBX systems may be vulnerable to power outages, equipment failure or other issues impacting service. Cloud-based services, are protected by multiple layers of hardware and software to keep systems up and running should an outage or equipment failure occur.
Severe weather, distributed denial-of-service attacks or equipment failure all are factors contributing to downtime. But because a cloud solution is hosted in an offsite data center environment, the service automatically is routed to unaffected servers or locations, minimizing any lags in service. Plus, the data center environment is monitored constantly, so should a shutdown occur it can be addressed immediately and service restored. If your company is struggling to bridge the gap between the features employees need to do their jobs better and an ever-shrinking IT budget, cloud communications is one way to satisfy both sides.


An Office Manager’s Guide to Choosing a Business VoIP Phone System

March 31, 2016 – Most office managers are hearing a lot these days about Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), it’s a service that allows telephone users to make and receive calls using the Internet instead of conventional phone lines and analog phone systems. VoIP services provide a number of benefits for businesses, starting with the enhanced modern conveniences and cost savings. Additionally, business VoIP solutions provide attractive features like call management options, video conferencing, instant messaging, reporting, call monitoring as well as enhanced security abilities. After making the decision to move from analog to VoIP services, next comes the task of sifting through the options to figure out the type of phone system that will be the right fit for the business. Here are a few of the most common considerations many managers evaluate before making a phone system decision:

Set-Up Costs Compared to Traditional Systems

Typically, setup fees for registering new phone numbers are minimal. Local and toll-free numbers are purchased online from any area code with instant activation. Service providers can also port or transfer the existing phone numbers without any downtime. VoIP systems are easy to implement and come with very little investment risks. Monthly charges are typically subscription-based utilizing an operational budget. Hosted IP phone systems also remove the need for any expensive in-house servers. The system is either a cloud-based or off-premise solution, which virtually eliminates the need for any costly servers.

Additional Cost Savings

The savings go beyond just monthly charges and equipment. Since the systems are entirely internet-based, the process of adding more users, additional phone lines, and extra features can be handled through a web browser. Using the Internet removes the need for an on-site technician every time an issue comes up. Typically, the most expensive part of a business phone bill are the minutes used. With VoIP, it treats your phone calls simply as data passing through the IP network. Broadband today is relatively cheap and easy to obtain, so it’s appealing to businesses looking for ways to cut costs and use existing resources.

Functionality Considerations

Phone system benefits go well beyond simply the phone calls. Conferencing options enable employees to remain connected clients and coworkers for meetings, exchanging documents, evaluating agendas, and many other business-related matters from virtually anywhere.

VOIP and Customer Satisfaction

VoIP technologies are advanced enough that you should never notice a difference between a call from an analog service and a VoIP call, as they are equally responsive. However, considerations should be made to the business network to ensure there’s enough bandwidth to support the additional data load as well as the quality-of-service (QoS) capabilities for prioritizing call traffic. Learn more about a hosted VoIP system that takes into account all these considerations here.


ShoreTel Connect Cloud: Taking Your UC in the Cloud

February 18, 2016 – It seems for most companies today, everything they utilize is hosted somewhere in a cloud instead of a data center or server.  You may be wondering why changing over to cloud-based services is so popular? Or, perhaps you like the way your business is structured, and you just don’t understand the benefits of having a cloud-based infrastructure. Let’s take a moment to showcase how these communication tools used to function and why so many organizations are making the change to a more virtual and less hardware-intensive communications structure.

The old way of business communication

With more traditional phone systems, telephone service providers would build the required infrastructure in their own data center and would then sell the access of the data center to customers. The carrier would own both the hardware and the software portions and they would be the party responsible for both the maintenance and the support of it. This would give the carrier control of any necessary updates and feature additions to the services.

The new way of business communication

Using the cloud transforms the way businesses deploy their phones and communication tools. Clouds and virtualization take away the need for a big up-front investment for hardware and set-up. Not to mention the need for a data center is eliminated, because the cloud takes its place. UC in the cloud services provide flexibility for organizations that want to scale their deployments up and down depending on their specific business needs as well as the ease of adding new functionality and features whenever necessary.

Why make the change?

Many companies today are moving towards more mobile workforces. They want to create flexibility while not losing out on service level or employee productivity. The cloud partnered with hosted PBX phone systems allow them to create this flexibility relatively easily. There is also a tremendous opportunity to improve the communication occurring between organizations and their current and potential customer base. Tools like hosted VoIP, video conferencing, contact centers, unified messaging and web collaboration are providing the ability to connect quickly and securely with customers to better meet their needs. Additionally, location limitations are reduced because cloud-based tools and resources allow partners and clients to meet together virtually through chat, video or virtual meetings from anywhere. This allows organizations to meet objectives and goals quickly.

If nothing else, focus on the ROI

Companies are not only focused on increased functionality, scalability, and mobility, but also the variety of ways to achieve a return on investment for a cloud-based solution.  It starts with lower operating costs and a better end-user experience.  Overhead and installation costs are minimal because of the reduction of equipment and employees needed to manage and maintain the equipment. Additionally, ROI can occur through a decrease in travel expenses because communicating across the country or the world is easy and cost-effective, so there’s no longer a need for costly face-to-face meetings. Learn more about how the cloud works Check out an ATI recommended cloud phone system