Latest Posts - 23 Mar 2018
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Moving into new premises is an exciting time for any company but there is a lot to consider. How much will it cost? How should you design your new office space? Who needs to know you are moving? Where do you start?!
If you are responsible for organising an office move, it can be a stressful time. Insufficient project management can result in delays, business disruption and unnecessary expense but, with careful planning, it is possible to deliver a seamless relocation.
Download our checklist below and learn how you can avoid costly mistakes and accomplish one of the most important aspects of any business move – retaining communication with your customers.
Checklist Download: Moving Your Business Communications
Planning a move? Bring in the experts
This checklist is a starting point for moving your business communications. With over three decades of experience supplying and installing award-winning solutions for our customers, the Incom-CNS team can guide you through the necessary considerations and help you to deliver a seamless move of premises for your business.
Call our team on 0161 788 0000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
No one expects disaster to strike. Business owners and managers have multiple worries, but how often does fire, theft, flood damage, power failures, catastrophic hardware/software failures and even terrorism, cross our minds?
Most of us worry about cashflow issues. Not closing enough deals. Coping with demand. Looking after customers. Managing staff, and other daily challenges. Next, we worry about long-term objectives and active projects. But whether we are prepared for an unexpected disaster: that worry doesn't often make it onto an actionable to-do list.
Not Enough Companies Have Business Continuity Plans In Place.
And yet, according to industry research, 20% of companies will, at some point, suffer a serious disaster. The majority - 80% - will fail within 13 months and from those that survive, 53% won’t recoup the losses they incurred as a result of the disaster.
Every moment your phones, email and other communication channels are down; you are losing money. Can you afford not to have a continuity plan that covers telecoms?
What A Business Continuity Plan Should Include
Every business continuity plan is unique to each business. Operational considerations for a retailer are different from the needs of an insurance provider, or solicitors. Larger firms need more complex plans, but this also means they should have the resources to setup somewhere else temporarily in the event of an extreme emergency, such as a fire.
However, even with operational differences that vary from company to company, communication is key for continuity planning. Here are a few of the essentials that every plan should include.
#1: Disaster Roles
In most cases, not everyone will be able to do the same work in the event of a disaster. Depending on the severity, plan each staff members role should a disaster strike - with a view to ensuring everyone is either working to manage external communications or focusing on getting the business operational again.
#2: Data Backup
Make sure your data, from customer records to accounts and orders, is secure. Businesses that lose data face a significant risk of failing. Cloud-based backup, with at least one redundancy, is the only sensible precaution to take. On-site data is highly risky since that is where disaster could easily strike.
#3: Review Assets
In the event of a fire, flood, theft or another disaster that causes serious damage to your premises, review the assets you have - that are undamaged - and useable again. Report all damages to your insurance company as soon as you can.
Rescue what you can to reduce the cost of getting set up again, and see what staff can use (if computers are damaged) instead. All of which is easier if files are stored in the cloud and easily accessible.
#4: Re-establish External Communications
Cloud communications ensure this can be done without one day's downtime. Landline numbers can divert to mobile phones or other landlines, and you can use email and social media to alert customers and potential customers of any disruption.
Getting back in contact with your customers is the quickest way to reassure them that everything is getting back to normal - even if it could involve a few days or weeks of disruption - and services are as uninterrupted as possible. It is also reassuring for staff to focus on problems they can fix unless they are involved with helping get the company operational again.
Like email and social media, telecoms are such a normal part of business operations that it can be easy to overlook these essentials. Even if you think a disaster is unlikely, you can’t take the risk of not being prepared. Businesses that are ready to handle a disaster, with a focus on business continuity, have a greater chance of surviving one - especially if your data is backed up and communications can be quickly reestablished with customers, suppliers and sales prospects.
Worksheet: Emergency Communications Plan worksheet
On the whole, technology is a source of enormous gains for organisations across the world. Businesses, public sector and charities are all benefiting from the digital technology revolution we are going through, with productivity increases and cost savings some of the main advantages.
In time, if past revolutions are any indications, organisations will experience gains we can barely imagine. However, there are several downsides to technology.
Security weaknesses are one of the main challenges. As wonderful as it is that we can communicate more easily and quickly than ever before; criminals have readily exploited this same advantage for decades.
Our smartphones and tablets pose one of the greatest security risks to organisations. Staff and business leaders want to use them for work, but the bring your own device (BYOD) movement comes at a cost: Organisations are at greater risk from security breaches, data breaches and cyber threats.
5 Mobile Risks & How To Counter Them
1. Data breaches and leaks
Without a doubt, mobiles and tablets are the weakest links in any organisations data chain. They don't stay in the office, which means they're outside continuous security networks and vulnerable on home broadband and public Wi-Fi. Other systems and apps, including viruses, could be present, further increasing the risk factor.
It is the organisation's responsibility to provide training, policies - and, if needed - systems that protect personal devices to safeguard the organisation. One important way, to prevent data breaches - even more important after the implementation of the European General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in May 2018 - is to password protect and encrypt sensitive documents, to prevent unexpected data breaches and leaks.
2. Vulnerable to attack
According to a HP study, 97% of employee devices contain privacy issues and 75% don't have any encryption, which means your data is vulnerable.
A smart way to prevent viruses spreading is to place a gatekeeper whenever an employee wants to access a device from home or off-site. Gaining access to company systems, including email, social networks, files, CRMs and other software should require logging in via a secure virtual private network (VPN), or other encrypted gateways.
3. Mixing personal and organisation data on the same device
One of the main BYOD nightmares is the mixing of personal and sensitive information - including passwords - on the same device. Especially when the user is in a senior role or position of trust. Malware, ransomware and other viruses could easily find their way into secure networks through this channel.
There are numerous ways to prevent these issues. Issuing anti-virus software, passcode management software (for organisation accounts on personal devices - including email) and Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) software so you can more effectively monitor and detect risks.
4. Stolen devices
Smartphones are attractive targets for criminals, and so easy to take. Too many people carry them around or place them somewhere easily accessible to criminals. Since criminals are getting smarter - with software able to crack passwords available on the dark web - you might want to invest in remote wiping and control capabilities, to avoid any data breaches as a result of loss or theft.
5. Data compliance
With GDPR coming into force in under one year, now is the time to ensure your network is secure enough for employees to use their own devices without senior managers constantly worrying that one smartphone could cost the organisation 4% of annual revenue - or €20 million - whichever is higher.
Worrying about this won’t solve the problem. Take action now, to ensure your staff can still use their own devices without them putting everything at risk from cyber-attacks and hackers.
Worksheet: Emergency Communications Plan worksheet
Key Benefits Of Migrating Telephony And Communications To The Cloud
Cloud computing, software and storage is the way forward. We believe that businesses wanting to upgrade their communications would benefit from considering migrating to the cloud, instead of clinging to outdated on-premises hardware.
On average, most PBX systems (private branch exchange) only last for 8.5 years, which means companies with on-premises hardware have an opportunity to move away from legacy technology for a fraction of the cost, when their current systems need upgrading.
If you’re responsible for your business telephony systems, this post will provide you with some compelling reasons to migrate to cloud telephony. Read on…
Over the years, most small and medium enterprises will have accumulated a mishmash of communication tools and technology. Landlines, managed from a PBX. Smartphones. Email, sometimes connected to a CRM. SMS. Video and audio conferencing facilities, and new social media channels and cloud-based messaging systems and apps. It can get confusing, not to mention, expensive.
Benefits of Cloud Telephony Migration
#1: Unify & Simplify
Instead of managing multiple systems and phones, you can have one system manage everything - without worrying about the expenses and maintenance of hardware since everything within a contract is managed and maintained by the communication provider. Your IT team won’t need to worry about the PBX anymore.
Financially, instead of managing multiple contracts, everything - as far as possible (some third-party contracts may be outside the scope of a unified plan) - will come out in one monthly payment. Making admin less of a headache.
#2: Modern Features
Legacy PBX systems make it difficult, if not impossible, to access modern communication channels. Not only does this put your business at a disadvantage, often forcing companies to accumulate a mishmash of overlapping systems, but it is harder to work together as a team, collaborate and communicate effectively with customers.
Cloud communications eliminate these issues, without the expense of an upfront capital investment.
#3: Scalable and Flexible
Scaling up or down, according to demand and the ebb and flow of staff in a business, isn’t easy with PBX systems. However, with a hosted communications package, you can easily increase or decrease headcount as needed. Businesses can concentrate on commercial objectives instead of worrying about the technology that keeps everything operational.
Smartphones are an essential feature of modern business communications. Apps and the ability to take calls - on a work phone (so staff don't need to give out personal numbers) - anywhere are integral to how the majority of people work.
Modern professionals and knowledge economy workers need the flexibility a mobile provides, which for the sake of ensuring communications are unified, should be connected with on-site systems, storage and recording facilities.
Hosted unified cloud solutions are available at a range of price points, affordable for smaller businesses and comprehensive enough to manage the needs of large enterprises, including those that rely more than most on communications, such as call centres. Cloud telephony packages can include landline and mobile contracts, hardware, maintenance and software, depending on the needs of your business and budgetary constraints.
#6: Built-in Business Continuity
Disaster can strike at any time. With operational services in the cloud, you are prepared and ready with immediate built-in business continuity. Cloud systems aren’t affected by localised problems, including power cuts and natural disasters - and even if something happens near one data centre, there are redundancies and backup power generators, making your communication systems disaster proof.
Most Unified Communications solutions can integrate with other business communication apps and third-party services, such as customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. This makes it easier to ensure your team provide a personalised service when customers or clients call.
#8: Increase Productivity
With Unified Communications, your team will reap the benefits of better collaboration and a more joined up communications system. This has a positive impact on overall productivity, particularly for businesses that want to enable more remote working. Many studies show that remote working boosts productivity, but only when business communications are optimised to support those employees.
Everything your telephony partner provides should drive continuous improvements and help your team achieve higher levels of productivity, without the expense and headaches that legacy systems cause. Migrating telephony and communications to the cloud makes it easier for managers and staff to focus on their jobs and goals, with the most efficient integrated cloud communication system operating at the touch of a button.
If you would like to find out more, get in touch with our team. Call 0800 054 2576 or contact us here.
Download our Emergency Communications Plan worksheet to align your business continuity planning with your business telecoms.
Worksheet: Emergency Communications Plan worksheet
Migrating mission-critical services to the cloud are an increasingly popular choice amongst UK businesses. According to the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), cloud adoption rates are at 88%, with 67% of companies set to accelerate cloud migration in 2017.
Communications are also slowly shifting into the cloud, with large and small businesses keen to reduce costs, remove barriers and improve productivity with a Unified Communications (UC) strategy.
Businesses are starting to see the value in unified, cloud-based communication. Right now, organisations often have too much choice, leading to confusing, costly and overlapping communication channels: Landline, mobile, email, online messaging, and Voice over Internet Protocol services (VoIP), social media and numerous others. Migrating to the cloud simplifies, unites overlapping services, and generates positive time efficiencies and cost savings.
Undertaking a successful cloud migration means designing and implementing a plan. Here we share seven important steps you need to put in place to ensure a UC strategy launches successfully:
#1: Determine Your Goals
Before you migrate anything to the cloud, you need to decide what you want to achieve. Saving money, time and improving processes are useful general guiding principles, but you need to work towards specific goals to ensure a migration generates positive results.
Designing a UC strategy starts with an assessment of your current communication technologies and platforms, with a focus on why they're inefficient and need improvements.
#2: Assess Current Situation
Conduct an audit on your current communication infrastructure:
There has been a lot of noise in recent years around ‘Unified Communications’. Digital technology is making new ways of working, collaborating and sharing far easier, compared to traditional landlines and legacy systems, and this is naturally being embraced by businesses and organisations.
This technology is not just for the big boys either. Small and medium businesses can reap the benefits of digital transformation, with low entry costs and flexible contracts. If you’re just beginning to explore how to make your business telecoms more agile, responsive and dynamic, read on…
Unified Communications use next generation technology, bringing voice, video, instant messaging, email, even CRM data, together in one solution to improve how team members communicate and manage customer relations. Legacy systems cost companies money, are harder to maintain and restrict collaboration opportunities, which reduces productivity.
Top 5 Productivity Gains From Unified Communications
1. More efficient remote working
Remote working is more popular than ever, with 62% of employees keen to work from home at least once a week, according to Randstad research. With Unified Communication, remote working - and times when staff are off-site (e.g. a client or sales meeting) - is more effective, making it seem as though those team members are still in the building.
2. Higher productivity
With more than one way to reach colleagues, you can stop wasting time chasing people when something is urgent and ensure deadlines are hit without as much stress.
3. Reduced overheads
Productivity always benefits when costs go down. Money can go into other things, such as training, marketing, customer service and sales. When companies invest in Unified Communications, they don't need to spend capital funds on hardware or worry about maintenance and other associated IT costs. Everything is managed by your business communications partner for a single monthly fee.
4. Faster customer response time
Multiple channels make it easier for customers to get quicker responses without getting passed between teams and departments. Unified Communications that link to a CRM (customer relationship management) system gives everyone the same view of message and contact history, making this an ideal solution for contact centres and those in customer-facing roles.
5. Improved collaboration opportunities
Staff can communicate more naturally - similar to how they communicate outside of work. Numerous studies have found that ad-hoc, unexpected meetings and conversations are responsible for innovation. Customers benefit from this, since new solutions are discovered, resulting in new products and services that improve customer relations and satisfaction.
Everyone benefits when communications are quicker, more efficient and instinctive. Costs go down. Productivity increases. Customers are happier with response times and staff having the relevant knowledge to answer their queries, no matter who answers the phone, message or email.
If you would like to find out more, get in touch with our team. Call 0800 054 2576 or contact us here. Cheat sheet: Migrating from ISDN to SIP – A Roadmap download.
As invaluable as we find email, there is nothing as simple as picking up the phone and calling a client or supplier.
Customers feel better too, knowing they can call and place an order, or get an update on a project. Despite dozens of new ways to connect and contact one another, phones are still an essential part of doing business. AlI-powered Facebook Messenger bots will never replace telephony-based customer service.
However, there are aspects of business communications that are going through a much-needed overhaul. Legacy telephony infrastructure can't keep up with modern needs and evolving working patterns and trends. Gartner estimates that "Cloud telephony spending is expected to surpass on-premise telephony during 2017 [and they are] . . . projected to rise to $13.25 billion in 2019."
Benefits of Cloud Telephony
On-site PBX (private branch exchange) are increasingly at risk of failing. Downtime costs money. Businesses can't afford for phones to go down, especially when potential customers want to pick up the phone and place an order or resolve an issue. It damages reputations and impacts the bottom line.
PBX systems aren't easy to repair, especially when spare parts are in short supply. They can't always meet the needs of remote workers who still need a direction connection to the office telephony network. Adding and removing users isn't always easy either, especially when your business needs multiple PBX units hosted across several sites, all connected to the same primary landline number.
In comparison, cloud telephony doesn't involve further capital expenses for the business. Hosting, updates, management and security are all in the hands of the cloud telephony provider. Support is provided 24/7; with data centres keen to ensure up time is as close to 100% as possible. Security is paramount, with numerous physical and cyber measures in place to prevent hacking and cyber-attacks threatening your business and consumer data.
Compared to on-premises telephony, you can scale up and down as needed - depending on your permanent and flexible headcount - with telephony partners easily able to add new users. Costs scale up and down as needed too, so you don't need to worry about paying for more than you need. Disaster recovery is built into the systems cloud providers design so that your business is prepared and able to move quickly if the unexpected should happen.
Cloud-based telephony systems come with numerous other benefits, from professional hold music to call recording and performance analytics. These are some of the many reasons cloud solutions are proving so popular across multiple sectors. Businesses everywhere are more effective when they move systems to the cloud, increasing efficiencies and reducing fixed overheads and the burdens of operating legacy technology.
Moreover, and a key reason that many businesses have already migrated to cloud solutions, is call costs. Typically, these are lower than legacy systems both for national calls and international calls, and calls to mobiles.
There are also many benefits for businesses with remote workers or staff that spend time offsite. Their mobiles can integrate into the office phone systems, ensuring they secure access to company systems and data.
If you would like to find out more, get in touch with our team. Call 0800 054 2576 or contact us here.
Cheat sheet: Migrating from ISDN to SIP – A Roadmap download.
'Digital Transformation' is a phrase that has been knocking about for several years now. Dressed up and surrounded by high-priced consultants, 'digital transformation' can appear confusing and inaccessible to many small and medium businesses.
But in reality, the majority of smaller companies are already going through a digital transformation. Shifting phone lines from analogue to digital (cloud telephony) is part of that, which is what SIP trunking is all about.
What Does SIP Trunking Actually Mean?
SIP - Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) - trunking is an Internet-based service that connects Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) customers to traditional phone networks. SIP trunking makes Unified Communication possible, including video, web conferencing and screen sharing, all through a SIP-based private branch exchange (IP-PBX). So instead of landline calls going to and from an internal PBX, calls travel through the Internet.
But there’s more to it than just making phone calls. With SIP trunks, you can do a lot more - voice, video, conferencing - and don't need to worry about the expense of hardware, maintenance and the limitations of analogue systems.
Can SIP Trunks Save Us Money?
Absolutely. Calls through SIP trunks (across the Internet) are cheaper than calls made through traditional landlines (ISDN). Not only are UK landline calls cheaper, but often so are mobile and international calls.
However, you do have to factor in call quality, the user experience - for staff and customers/clients - since you don't want cheap calls that sound like customers are connecting to an ancient modem. Calls should sound the same, if not better, than through traditional landlines. At the same time, you need to expect high levels of customer service and support, so that you can have phones up and running again quickly if anything goes wrong.
Installing a SIP private branch exchange (IP-PBX) is far more cost effective than traditional PBXs. No hardware. No maintenance to worry about. Instead, these cost savings can go into a system that can scale up and down as needed, with the service provider managing the software, updates and maintenance.
Another advantage of any digital transformation project is the cost savings compared to analogue and legacy systems.
Companies that have moved over to SIP providers are happy with the decision, according to Software Advice research, with 73% of IT decision makers surveyed saying they were "'very' or 'extremely satisfied' with the audio quality of calls connected by their SIP providers."
Furthermore, with no PBX platform to power and cool in your server room there are environmental benefits too. Using cloud telephony can reduce your carbon emissions by up to 45%, helping your business to achieve its sustainability targets.
High call quality, lower costs, energy savings and no need to worry about maintenance and hardware. Can you think of a good reason not to switch over to a SIP provider?
Whitepaper: The Ultimate Guide For Moving From ISDN To SIP download
In a word, yes!
Without ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network), the Internet revolution would not have happened as quickly. ISDN replaced slower, dial-up broadband solutions, setting the standard for data and voice communications in the 1990s. At the time, ISDN was revolutionary. But everything has its day.
Technology has taken leaps forward since ISDN was created, with the largest British communications company, BT, set to phase ISDN out by 2025. In 2016, when the competition and markets authority (CMA) cleared the takeover of EE, BT Group had 31% of the broadband market (consumers and businesses), 37.6% of the home phone market and 33.8% of the mobile market. Even after Ofcom forced BT Openreach - the network division - to split from the Group, BT will continue to exert a large influence on the communications market and the services consumers and companies can access in the UK.
Telecoms is a competitive market. Each provider - whether they offer landlines, mobiles, VoIP or unified cloud-based communications - is investing heavily in speed and security to gain market share. Hence the move, in 2015, to phase out ISDN across the BT network within ten years.
In 2020, companies won't be able to buy new ISDN circuits and services, and then, five years later, this legacy network will shut down completely. If other networks haven't followed suit, they soon will. And those that run off BT networks (or former BT wires - after the switch to Openreach) will have no choice.
Either way, ISDN is a legacy technology that can no longer keep up with modern demand.
So, what are the new options?
High-speed fibre optic broadband and cloud-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the future, one that many businesses are already embracing. Instead of legacy private branch exchanges (PBXs) taking up space in your office, companies are moving everything to the cloud; with Unified Communications, the way forward.
Telephony and communications are fast becoming digital.
SIP trunking - Session Initiation Protocol - is another cloud-based solution that businesses are embracing, replacing the need for hardware PBX systems. Instead, VoIP services connect phones to networks, improving voice quality, whilst making it easier for companies to communicate through video, web conferencing and screen sharing.
ISDN can’t handle modern communication needs. Internet-based communications are already overtaking analogue solutions. Now's the time to make sure your business is equipped for a digital future.
br> To get started download our guide to migrating from ISDN to SIP – just click on the link below.
Whitepaper: The Ultimate Guide For Moving From ISDN To SIP download
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"We were impressed with how Incom looked to help us save money, improve our flexibility to manage seasonal demands and increase our efficiencies. "
"The staff at Incom have all been professional and supportive during the transition and made the switchover as seamless as possible from a user perspective."