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How to Determine if a Small Business VoIP is Right for You

Gone are the days when you had just a few TV channels to choose from, maybe a couple of types of coffee, and one telephone option. While these new options aim to enhance, it can sometimes make for daunting decisions.

For your business, deciding on the right telephone service is important. A good business phone system can improve communication and efficiency, reduce call-processing time, and enhance customer service and relationship building. There are two options available to you: a traditional phone system or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

VoIP is a phone system that transmits voice communications and multimedia over the Internet. Options to use a VoIP system include self-hosting the system at your business or the easier route of using an off site, hosted service.

1606 isupportu Working

But how do you know if VoIP is a good option for you? Let’s have a look at the aspects, and advantages, VoIP has to offer:

Simplicity: Reduce the Number of Cables and Hardware

Traditional phone services for your business required physical switches and phone lines. Usually in a closet somewhere, the phone hardware has to be maintained and serviced by a technical support person if things go wrong.

With VoIP, the phone system is the actual phone switch and all the cables. Because the voice data is transmitted over the Internet (like web data and email), the VoIP system replaces the majority of physical hardware required in operating the service.

User-friendly Features for Everyone in the Office

Can you transfer a call quickly to ensure you’re responsive to the customer? Do you know your password to access an important voicemail? Is it easy to switch calls to your mobile phone while you’re out of the office? VoIP technology is web and mobile phone based and offers easy-to-use interfaces and websites for quick access to features. No more cutting a caller off when you’re working to connect them with the right person!

While you will want to have an administrator trained to use the more sophisticated options available, most employees will be able to easily – and quickly – utilize VoIP features to enhance customer support effortlessly.

Remote Service in Times of Need

Because VoIP service providers are web based, any troubleshooting needed is quickly accessible and done remotely. This eliminates time when your phone service is down and you need to wait for a repair technician. Also, the setup of a VoIP system for a small business is usually quick and easy, often just plugging in a cable into your VoIP phone.

Knowing Your Budget and Potential Cost Savings

Even without the additional features and increased service provided, most small businesses consider VoIP to save money. Invariably, your business is already set up with Internet service and your team already uses the Internet to run your operation. VoIP can leverage the network, bandwidth, and wireless devices you have already invested in by just plugging into this existing system.

While the advantages for your business to switch to VoIP seem obvious, there are a few additional things to consider.

  • The level of quality offered from VoIP can vary depending on the service provider, your Internet connection, and your hardware.
  • Internet connection can be an issue for an in-house VoIP service if you have a poor Internet provider or broadband connection. If the Internet connection goes down, your phone lines go down as well. For cloud-hosted VoIP systems with backup numbers set to cell phones, the customer will not notice any difference when calling in.
  • Likewise, if the power goes out, your phone will also not work as it relies on your business modem, router, and other hardware, which are all plugged in!
  • Security issues can be a concern, just like security should be a concern for all things online.

If you’re interested in exploring whether VoIP is a good fit for your business, or you are looking for a plan to make the transition, contact us! We can help you get the phone system your business needs while you go out and choose the coffee that’s best for you.

Wired vs Wireless in Business: Why You Should Still Wire Up Your Office for Data

The way we access our information is rapidly changing. Remember dial-up internet? Since then, the web and our methods of staying connected have completely changed. The latest trends in connectivity cut all ties, both literal and figurative, with the wired web of the past. Just because something is new and popular, doesn’t mean it’s implementing best practices and is optimized for network security. So, should you wire your office up for data or transfer your network to wireless? Let’s dive into the pros and cons of wired vs. wireless connectivity in business and why wired wins.

Wireless Connection: Benefits

150801-isupportu-wireless-310568_640The obvious benefits of a wireless network is the lack of physical wires! We all know that familiar feeling of waging war with a tangled mess of wires. A wireless network is easy to use and accommodates changes in a network without cords and cables. Adding new desks and employees? A wireless network is the easiest logistical choice.

Additionally, with the total proliferation of mobile devices in our lives (the workplace included), a wireless network is easier for employees to connect their personal devices to the network. An easily accessible network is paramount when considering the happiness of an iPhone toting workforce.

Wireless Connection: Disadvantages

While keeping employees connected on their mobile devices is an important aspect of establishing an office network, this ease of use can open the entire network up for security problems. Information Technology decision makers (ITDMs) believe wireless networks to be the most vulnerable element of the IT infrastructure, according to a new survey. Nearly half (49%) of respondents ranked wireless networks as most exposed from a security standpoint, in contrast to just 29% for the core network. Of course, if the mobile devices are owned by the company, it would be easier to maintain security standards, but as soon as employees are allowed into the wireless network with their own personal devices, the entire system becomes vulnerable to hacking and viruses.

The most obvious and detrimental disadvantage to a wireless network is the fact that sensitive and private data is saturating the airwaves. Sending confidential information through a wireless network can be safe, but it can’t ever be as safe as a wired network. If your company deals with confidential and personal information, a wireless network would be a liability.

Wireless technology has improved over the years, but is still not as fast as a wired connection on a local network. This may not be an issue for things like internet traffic, but when connecting to resources on your local network such as file shares, this could be noticed from a performance perspective.

Wired Connection: Benefits

150801-isupportu-splitter-311142_640A wired network obviously incorporates physical network into the data connection. The wires enable increased security, control, reliability, and speed. Using physical connections might not seem as advances as the wireless alternative, but it is the superior choice when your data is precious and confidential. If your business values security over hip trends in tech, a wireless network is the obvious choice.

Wired connects are always going to be faster and more consistent than wireless connections. If you are connecting to a local database such as Quickbooks, an unstable wireless connection could greatly affect the performance of the software.

Keeping your network wired also insures that the network won’t get bogged down with non-essential traffic. Unauthorized users can’t jump on your network, obviously increasing security. Additionally, those iPhones and tablets might make for a happier workforce, but is that because they are being more productive, benefiting from the increased accessibility of a wireless network, or it is because they are browsing Amazon or Facebook while on the clock?

Wired Connection: Disadvantages

The only real shortcoming a wired office has is the physical wires. If the sight of a wire makes you cringe, go for the wireless alternative. The fact that those wires offer superior connection/security/control/speed is an important thing to weigh against visible wires. But, if you are a savvy business owner, those wires might start to look like little life-lines, ensuring your office remains safe and secure, better able to conduct business with that hard-wired peace of mind.

iPhone 6

“One More Thing” – A Recap of Apple’s Live Reveal

If you didn’t have a chance to keep up with the tweets and live streaming earlier this week of Tim Cook’s iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus Apple Pay and Apple Watch reveal, we’ve compiled a few key points worth noting. Here are the highlights of the next big things in tech right now:

iPhone 6

4.7” screen // 16 GB iPhone 6: $199: (on sale 9/19)iphone 6 and iphone 6 plus

  • 8 MP rear camera and an updated 2.1 MP front camera – that’s up to 240 frames per second.
  • Available in gold, white and “space gray”

iPhone 6 Plus

5.5” screen // 64 GB iPhone 6 Plus: $299 & 128 GB iPhone 6 Plus: $399 (on sale 9/19)

  • Apple’s new A8 processor
  • Retina HD screen with a 1920 x 1080p resolution
  • 8 MP rear camera and an updated 2.1 MP front camera – that’s up to 240 frames per second.
  • Available in gold, white and “space gray”

Apple Pay

Available in October

  • Apple PayiPhone 6 and 6 Plus users will be able to scan their credit cards using the Passbook App by creating a unique code stored in your device
  • Compatible with Visa, Mastercard or AMEX
  • Can be used at 200,000 + supported merchants – basically all you have to do is take our your phone and place it within the merchant sensors reach (the same way your scan your groceries at self checkout.)
  • Security + Privacy- no personal information on your purchases or billing info is collected by Apple or merchants

Apple Watch aka “One More Thing” aka NOT the iWatch

$349, Available in 2015

  • Navigation – touch screen and a “digital crown” wheel on the side of the watch – allowing for simple, precise adjustments and movements throughout the device
  • Hardware – Flexible and durable touch screen to allow for “hard press”
  • WatchKit – platform dedicated to the development of Apple Watch compatible apps
  • Customizable – 6 stylish interchangeable bands
  • The full collection details:
    • Apple Watch: stainless steel and space black stainless steel cases, sapphire crystal display collection,band choices include leather bands, a link bracelet, a Milanese loop, and a band made from high-performance fluoroelastomer
    • Apple Watch Sport: a light-weight aluminum case, durable display with ION X glass and fluoroelastomer band in 5 bright colors.
    • Apple Watch Edition: Six different 18-karat gold cases, display protected with highly polished sapphire crystal and a uniquely designed band for the fashion forward techie.

Now that you have the lowdown on the latest gadgets, you are fully equipped to talk tech with your friends without skipping a beat. And if you want to get a quick feel for the live event, check out this video from Mashable for a 90 second recap that basically repeats what we said above but in much cooler “Apple” style.

Crew Close-Up: Wyatt Russell

wyattAs our front of the house Mac of All Trades Wyatt works on non-business client relations. Seeing a happy, satisfied client is his motivation to passionately work with technology. But there’s more to Wyatt than dissecting Apple products all day. Movies, Indian Food and Lana Del Ray are among a few of his interests outside of the office. 

iSU and Career Thus Far

Describe your responsibilities here at iSU? I manage the front Consumer IT Department and I specialize in Apple computer repairs and support, as well as residential on site support. I started in June 2012. You could sum it up as management of non-business client relations.

Why did you choose to work at iSU? I chose iSU because of the people that work here and the environment. The cool people, smart people and nice work environment right on Pearl Street.

shaun & wyattHow would you describe the culture of iSU? The culture I would describe as one where I get to work with really talented folks and a lot of great clients. It’s a nice work environment, laid back – but we still get it done.

What has surprised you most about working with iSU? What surprises me is how much room there is for me to be able to create my own workflow without being directed – which is also a bit of a challenge. I gotta be a go-getter.

Tell me about your career prior to coming to iSU? I did my own Apple Computer consulting for a couple years before iSupportU.  Before that, I worked for Apple for a year, and before that, in the service industry for a long time – for about 10 plus years. I also did forestry for 3 years.

Beyond the Office

What is the best thing about Boulder? The best thing about Boulder, I suppose, is its a small town. You can pretty much do anything you want to do without having to drive. You don’t have to commute. There is a lot great of great stuff crammed into a small place.

When you are not at work, where can we find you? Out-and-about on the town socializing or on the couch.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work? I like to eat good food, enjoy the outdoors, watch great movies, and cook.

How would your fellow coworkers describe working with you? Fun and funny.

What three things do you always have in your refrigerator? Almond butter, yogurt, and KeVita

Describe your perfect meal. Indian food, Thai food, and Japanese food altogether at the same time.

What is the most recent concert you’ve been to? Steven Wilson at the Boulder Theater

Any embarrassing bad habits you’d like to share? Occasionally I listen to pop music…like Lana Del Ray. It’s a little guilty pleasure.

In A Nutshell

What is the most challenging aspect of your job? Its most challenging when I hit a wall and it takes more time than I would like it to, or if I am unable to solve a challenge for one reason or another.

What is the most fun aspect of your job? Learning new things about technology and people. The most rewarding part would be when a customer or client has a problem and I am able to resolve that problem and see how happy it makes them.

Sum up working at iSU in 3 words. Challenging, changing, technology.

Google is the king of productivity: Making the most of your apps.

Long gone are the days that Google was thought of as just a search engine. Nowadays, as an established member of the ‘big four’, Google is responsible a huge number of online tools and apps. The continuing integration of this suite of productivity related magic is also helping new users get to grips with the Cloud. We’ve taken a look through two of Google’s most well known tools, and highlighted some simple but little known tricks to get the most out of their magic.

Gmail: If your company isn’t using Gmail, there has to be a really good reason. No other free service allows such a level of control over your communication. It’s automatic access to apps such as Drive (explained below) and the Calendar means it becomes the one stop shop for organising your information.

Our Gmail tip of the day: manage your traffic with the ‘plus’ trick

This is not the plus you are thinking of though! Completely separate from questionable social networks, the plus feature of gmail addresses means you can customize the traffic entering your inbox and manage it how you want to. If your email is setup like mine, you will have something similar to “firstname.lastname”@gmail.com. Adding the ‘+’ symbol and a keyword to the left hand side of your email address can be useful when giving your email address out to large groups or when signing up for newsletters.

For example “firstname.lastname+membership”@gmail.com could be used for your affiliation to a particluar club. Using the amazing filter feature of Gmail, you can tag these emails as soon as they get into your inbox, making organisation that little bit simpler! Other examples are +newsletters for sorting out email lists from personal communications, or +banking for logging into your online accounts.

Give it a try for yourself and see how it can make your life easier!

Drive: Drive is the google answer to Microsoft Office, and a very good one too. Drive gives you the full range of office style tools to allow content creation and editing from the cloud. Access your documents wherever you are. The autosave features are also excellent. Alongside the ease of Cloud access, the ability to share documents with colleagues brings about a whole new era of collaboration. Comments and edits can be made by anyone with access, and ownership is attributed to the correct author, making traceability simple.

Our Drive tip of the day: Set up offline access for your google drive

If you like to work on the go, it’s not realistic to assume you will always have a steady internet connection. Although the synchronization between mobile devices and laptops is excellent, we still cant see many people writing their budget reports on their iphones. We hear from a lot of people who are scared of switching to the cloud in case they cannot use the tools on the road, but this trick solves that problem. Here is where the Google Chrome offline mode comes in handy. Setting up offline mode will allow you to view and edit files, create and rearrange folders, and generally stay productive on the move. When you find a connection again, all these changes will automatically take place!

We’ll be checking in more often over the next few weeks with hints and tips for other useful google tools!