Secure, Functional, and Friendly – Cloud-Based PBX Out Preforms On-Premesis PBX
April 17th, 2015
The folks at Software Advice, the free online reviews tool for software buyers, have released the second part of their SIP Trunking Provider and Implementation User Research Report, and we’re pleased to see the results. Software Advice takes complex IT and software issues and distills them for non-technical users to make simplified software decisions. In this two-part research project, they studied the usage, effectiveness, and satisfaction of hundreds of network telephony experts and found conclusive evidence that SIP trunking was a supreme advantage for SMB’s looking for cost-effective ways to maintain a secure, high-quality business phone service. In the second part of their research on the topic, Software Advice Analyst, Daniel Harris unearths more findings in support of a hosted PBX phone service for business.
One very compelling finding of the report is that users of cloud-based PBX systems were nearly 29% more likely to have all of their desired features supported by their phone service than were their on-premesis PBX colleagues. This conclusion is emblematic of one of the most convincing reasons to switch to a hosted telephone service. Features included or added onto an on-site PBX system – from introductory to the most robust – can be prohibitively expensive. However, those same features and more can be included with most any level of cloud-based PBX service.
By being hosted in the cloud, virtual phone systems aren’t hindered by the same limitations of their physical, on-site counterparts. This means that for any added feature or modification to an existing one, neither specially trained technicians nor unique and expensive equipment is required. By simply reconfiguring the cloud-based system from an online management portal, a sophisticated VoIP provider allows users to be masters of their own phone options, without any special training.
Considering the high technical fluency of the audience in the Software Advice report, configuration challenges shouldn’t be something that were often encountered in implementing new PBX systems of any variety. However, even though the lack of special training wasn’t a concern with this sample group, there persisted to be challenges for configuring the on-premises PBX with SIP trunking.
The compatibility of physical devices is one reason the expert IT world struggles with on-site PBX systems. PBX hardware is not unlike mobile phones that require a specific type of charging cable or TVs or monitors that require certain AV connections. These types of incompatibilities are much more challenging to overcome than simply finding a converter, though.
“When it comes to configuration, our respondents have more difficulty configuring on-premise systems than cloud systems, most likely because of the proprietary hardware involved in this setup,” said Daniel Harris of Software Advice. Where physical configuration can eventually be overcome with costly work-arounds, there are still issues with making the on-premise hardware recognize SIP trunking software. Unlike the malleability of codes, hardware can’t be as easily updated to accommodate new third-party applications.
“With on-premise systems, however, the SIP trunking provider has to ensure that its service can support proprietary PBX software and hardware from a third-party vendor,” Harris added.
Secure From Every Angle
More often than not, we are assailed with new reasons to be concerned for our data security. While not typically the first place we expect intruders to try and illegally access information, securing business phone lines is especially important. This is another reason why IT pros were keen to report more robust security on their cloud-based PBX over an on-premise option. One of the more popular ways to secure SIP trunking transmissions is Transport Layer Security (TLS), a method often used to secure payment information online. Idealized for securing the transfer of data packets that VoIP conversations are converted into, TLS encrypts the SIP requests between clients and servers, or in this case, businesses using cloud PBX systems and their SIP trunking providers. The heartiness of this method is ideal not only for the protection of financial information online, but for the prevention of DoS (Denial of Service) attacks like have been perpetrated against banks and the US government.
Past research has already shown that SIP trunking offers meaningful cost savings for small and medium businesses, but this new study suggests those savings go even further. By not tying up the limited bandwidth of a company’s tech team with cumbersome, troublesome, and unsecured telephone connections, an SMB can free itself up to focus on the jobs they want to do to grow. Also, added savings come from the prevention of crippling security failures that might be suffered absent the staunch defenses offered by a strong security configuration to any cloud-based PBX.
For more information on VoIP for business and for any questions you may have on how to configure a cloud-based telephone network that will bring these savings to your company, contact our award-winning business experts today.
On Demand for Customers, On the Clock for Providers
April 3rd, 2015
Consumers expect content and services unique to their needs delivered to them on their schedules more today than ever before. It used to be that a pizza delivery was about as close to on demand, customized service that most people could expect. Now, though, mobile technology and ever-increasingly sophisticated information management are combining to create an unprecedented land rush for developers all trying to be first to market with more on-demand applications.
From Palm to Project
Ride sharing applications like Uber and Lyft are becoming more of the norm everyday, but now with services like Handy and TaskRabbit, consumers can get everything from help packing for a move to a wrench for their leaky faucets 24 hours a day. For people who don’t want to limit their at-home dining options to only restaurants that have delivery in their area, there is even Eat24 which has over 20,000 take-out options across the country and on-demand delivery.
As long as there is an opportunity to make an experience more user-centric, consumers will grow continuously disenchanted with services that don’t meet their exact specifications. Though this trend has been the purview of areas like streaming content and on-demand housework, it is likely to affect how utilities and other professional services begin operating soon, too.
Exemplary of the made-to-order economy are hosted telephone service companies. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is likely the best, non-consumable vertical to employ on-demand offerings to customers. The flexibility inherent in any hosted phone system far surpasses that of any physical PBX from traditional phone carriers, but innovative companies are taking that one step further.
With near limitless options in how systems are configured, products like SelectRoute and GeoRoute from VirtualPBX are designed exactly to cater to businesses that don’t want to simply order off of a menu of features, but want to design something to fit their company’s appetite as they see fit. With so many different ways to customize VoIP systems, specifically with routing options dispersed and field-based businesses with dispersed and employees, VirtualPBX is tapping into the pulse of consumers with their custom options. To learn how your business can get exactly what it needs, exactly the way you want it, you can get in touch with the award-winning service professionals at VirtualPBX, today.
Champagne Taste, Beer Budget
March 23rd, 2015
My Dad used to talk about having champagne tastes and a beer budget in the sense that he always knew he wanted something nice but would always have to settle for whatever was a realistic option in his price range. We’ve all been there and, frankly, we’re probably in this situation more often than not. The double-edged sword of our modern society’s preponderance of options is that, while we are typically presented with options for anything from cellular service to airfare that are reasonably affordable, we are also assaulted with images and advertisements of options that are both much more desirable and astronomically expensive. Why can’t we just have both?
No, I’m not talking about the billion dollar Silicon Valley startups. But just as rare and incredible are the findings of intrepid bargain hunters and savvy business people alike when they find a real value in the marketplace. VirtualPBX Anywhere Plan should satisfy that definition, but the fact is that our award-winning business phone solution can no longer fly below the RADAR. All of the fanfare and recent recognition aside, the incredibly flexible and affordable VoIP phone service for businesses with distributed or mobile workforces has got a coach airfare with Gulfstream accommodations.
TrueACD Queues are only available from VirtualPBX and are one of the most highly sought-after features of our most option-rich, powerful enterprise phone solutions for corporations, call centers, and even national political campaigns. What you may not realize, however, is that they are also part of the standard suite of features on every single Anywhere Plan package. TrueACD Queues outperform basic hunt groups that are common in traditional, physical phone systems in many ways, but none more importantly than in how VirtualPBX makes them available.
We monitor and maintain all of the servers and software that power our virtual phone systems we can improve and service it without you ever experiencing a loss of service. Anywhere Plan customers benefit from this because whenever they need to make a change to their phone system, reroute a call, program a queue, or make any one of literally hundreds of changes to their phone system that they want, all it takes is a few clicks of a mouse on their free, online web portal, and we handle the rest.
Infinitely flexible, premium service at pennies to the dollar of what a traditional phone system would cost you may not exactly be Dom Pérignon, but nothing tastes as good as saving tons of money and getting more than you thought possible. Go ahead, take a sip.
Avoiding the Next Tech Bubble
March 20th, 2015
Yeah, we live in Silicon Valley, home of the 20-somethings with million dollar homes and genius code junkies who are more likely to afford a new Porsche than they are to have graduated from college. It can get a little weird, a little intimidating, and a lot more volatile. Especially because memories of the dotcom bubble bursting in 2000 are often short, even nonexistent for many Ivy League or Stanford MBA wunderkinds who were in elementary school at the time. But these young, brilliant minds are where thousands of angel investors are betting millions of dollars on in the hopes of getting equity in the next Google. These groups are also, according to billionaire investors Mark Cuban and Bill Gurley, exactly who will be responsible for the next, and in their mind inevitable, big tech crash.
A Penny Spent Is A Penny Burned
“Burn rates, the amount of cash companies are losing every month to operate, are higher than they have ever been,” according to Gurley who says that spending by VC-backed startups is basically out of control. The type of financial outlay that Gurley suggests these early startups of committing is unsustainable in that they are spending in excess of their revenues in attempts to drive growth. This strategy exposes the company to burning out before it has established a solid, foundational business model simply by establishing risky business habits that are, according to Gurley, shortsighted.
But to all rules, of course, there are exceptions. The business software maker, Slack, is breaking even the wildest of molds in every single way. Not only has the company, originally founded as a failed gaming application, reached a billion dollar valuation in an unprecedented eight months, it is doing so while producing admirable revenue with strict adherence to sound financial operations. Purported to only be burning $100,000 a month, the company is rising at a meteoric rate of 7% growth, each week. Yes, it’s true that this type of growth is unsustainable, but having had this growth for most of a year combined with fiscal discipline and a $1 billion bankroll is a reliable recipe for long-term stability.
FOMO Struggles are Real
FOMO, or fear of missing out, as the kids are calling it, is another contributor to what the mega-investors are saying will lead to a possible bubble burst. Mark Cuban made his fortune with getting out near the top of the 2000 dotcom bust with Broadcast.com and has remained a cunning investor ever since, even launching his reality show, Shark Tank, which allows him and other angel investors to capitalize on trends and innovation in any market. Cuban is claiming that, unlike the public companies that failed in 2000 where investors could still sell (though often at a massive or total loss) their stake in failed companies, the current private equity that fuels Silicon Valley is a risk greater than that of merely sitting on the sideline.
With investors lining up to throw money at the newest startups to try and get into the ground floor, there has been an increase in the number of actual accredited investors to over 225,000 such capitalists. Because most people can’t achieve actual VC status, though, there are new opportunities to invest in the burgeoning tech scene in today’s Silicon Valley and beyond. Operations like Angel List are new investment aggregators where for $25,000, anyone can get in the game. The problem, Cuban contends, is that there is no liquidity nor escape hatch for these amateur investors to kick the plug with should their investment go south. With private equity, there’s no public market for their stake in a company so, should their darling startup falter. This unprecedented marriage of middle-American wealth with volatile venture capital is exactly why Cuban believes the effects of a tech correction could be massive.
Hedge Early, Hedge Often
For companies of any size or description, simple steps can be taken to ensure long-term financial stability in the face of market volatility. In this case, the best offense is definitely a good defense. Companies like Slack that are disciplined in their expenses have the best chance of combatting any threats to their business, of course the billion dollars doesn’t hurt, either. For companies that don’t have those coffers to rely on, though, simple steps, like vetting utility providers, can prove invaluable. Flexible payment plans, modifiable options and features, and pooled resources are all characteristics of a solid service partner. Not coincidentally, those are just some of the benefits of VirtualPBX’s award-winning Anywhere Plans.
A commitment to reliability and service is what has seen VirtualPBX through recessions, depressions, and corrections. The unprecedented value of services like the Anywhere Plan is what has helped our customers do the same.
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said that, “It’s difficult to call a top, but it’s pretty obvious we’re far from the bottom.” This is couldn’t possibly be more true. However, though we don’t know if we’re actually staring down the next tech bubble or not, we remain committed to staying true to our core values and to providing industry-leading innovation at prices that are right for every budget. No matter what the future holds, you can count on that.
Infographic- Anywhere Plans At A Glance
March 19th, 2015
VirtualPBX Anywhere Plans are the small business person’s best ally in the the struggle to keep an edge on their competition. Whether it’s with allowing your nimble team to maintain a professional office appearance without sacrificing any of their agility or by keeping a healthy balance sheet with low, flexible pricing plans for every budget, Anywhere Plans deliver for all types of small businesses.
Work From Anywhere
March 6th, 2015
Dispersed and telecommuting workforces are becoming more and more frequent in the modern workplace. This is not the biggest headline. What is more important now, however, is how the job market has begun to shift as a result of this added freedom in work routines. The populist movement back into the home for working hours has meant that companies now have to totally reconsider the conventional wisdom of hiring and benefits packages that have been mainstays for decades.
It’s Not Just Those Dang Kids
Millennials get a bad wrap from some of the old guard for their perceived lack of loyalty, high need for positive reinforcement, and, more relevantly, their desire for “chill” and flexible work environments. The fact is that a lot of those myths are simply that, myths, but younger workers are often credited with impacting the changing landscape of the modern workplace. The reality is, however, that there are many popular movements calling for change in time at the office expectations, not just millennials.
LeanIn.Org, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women achieve their goals in the American workplace, sees flexible work schedules as more than just a nicety to offer applicants. By improving maternity/paternity leave benefits and family-friendly flexible work schedules, businesses can count on greater investment and loyalty from their workers who have been historically penalized for adopting a family-first approach to work/life balance.
Change is in the Air
The typically straight-forward listing of the 100 best companies to work for has seen a complete recalibration when tailored for those seeking better work/life balance and the flexible schedule that working from home provides. In the spirit of competition, both for the best talent and for the sake of being number one, a greater number of companies are making strides to offer more than at-work lunches and a gym stipend. By ensuring a more accommodating and less punitive approach to work place flexibility, employers and employees alike are reporting higher job satisfaction than ever before.
Work From Home, The Simple Solution
Establishing a realistic work from home policy at your workplace is more than just typing up a document from Human Resources. Having the guidelines that work for your organization in place is only one half of the solution, though. The other half of executing on your WFH strategy is having the right tools to empower your newly remote workforce.
Possibly the simplest way to make your turn-key transition into a mobile-friendly, dispersed workforce is with the VirtualPBX Anywhere Plan. With it, companies can offer a variety of compelling features to their employees, including-
- Let your employees use their existing mobile devices
- Keep private numbers private by using just a single office number with Softphones
- Offer conference lines, accessible both inside and outside of the office
- Manage phone system activity, usage, and access wherever you have an internet connection
- Expand and change your system with ease to meet your current and evolving needs
VirtualPBX’s award-winning Anywhere Plans are packed with features and customization options that are ideal for smaller organizations who want to offer their teams industry-leading telecommuting options that let them work from anywhere. For any questions about the Anywhere Plan, inquiries about solutions for larger organizations, or any other VoIP issues, please contact the VirtualPBX Support Team today.
Success is a Fresh Roll – Franchise Phone Systems
February 20th, 2015
There’s turmoil at the top of the McDonald’s flow chart and the world’s largest restaurant chain’s stock is reeling. Not all of the global fast food company’s heartache can be attributed to executive leadership, though, so it provides an opportunity to compare it to another fast food giant.
The Eat Fresh Franchise
Having just opened up its 30,000th location, Subway Restaurants is the largest collection of franchise business owners in the world. While the franchise model is in no way solely attributable to the relative health of the company compared to their Golden Arches rival, examining what makes a successful franchise is worthwhile nonetheless.
Granted that there are definitely franchisees who own more than one location, but having 30,000 separate entrepreneurs and all of their thousands more employees is an enormous impact on the economy. That many jobs means that maintaining a strong, viable brand is crucial for the success of the restaurant chain. For many franchises smaller than the multi-billion dollar hoagie colossus, there are certain tools that can be employed to help accomplish just that.
Business Standards Are Brand Standards
Just as every strong brand has guidelines to represent itself and its likeness in a particular, effective way, there are operational guides that should be established as well. This is no more important for any organization as it is for a franchise network.
Franchisers rely on a wide variety of partners who are afforded the opportunity to represent the brand, but are also charged with upholding its integrity. When you can’t expect to manage your team in a traditional, non-dispersed fashion, you have to ensure as much uniformity is integrated into the franchisee’s business model as possible. A great deal of that begins where most business does, on the phone.
Franchise Phone Systems
Franchise Phone Systems from VirtualPBX are the effective way to keep the public access of your franchise partners in tight, locked step. By initiating a Franchise Phone System you can execute a variety of functions that would otherwise be expensive, or require additional staff to accomplish.
- Reduce cost with consolidated phone expenses and unlimited lines
- Present one, toll-free national number for all of your franchise locations
- GeoRoute all incoming calls to the most appropriate local or regional office
- Create uniform and custom greetings and recordings for all of your locations
- Grow and expand your network of locations without any additional tech staff
- Plus manage this and much more all from anywhere you have an internet connection
For details on how to benefit your franchise from the use of a Franchise Phone System, contact one of our franchise experts today. They will be able to help you launch a total redesign of your regional or national franchise, but they won’t be able to help you make a Monster Mac. Enjoy.
How do SIP Trunking and VoIP Equal a Small Business Advantage?
January 27th, 2015
The Answer is in the Cloud
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking is one of the essential technologies required to make Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), virtual reproductions of the physical switches and routers of the telephone service from yesteryear, possible. The technology isn’t new, but lately it has been experiencing a dramatic increase in adoption.
Virtually all of the big, original telephone companies have been doing everything from changing their pricing models to beginning to invest in their own VoIP infrastructure as more of their customers are cutting the cables to switch to an online telephone option. When there is that much at stake for telecom companies who are scrambling to catch up, though, there is bound to be a lot of noise.
Thankfully, the folks over at Software Advice, the online software research and recommendation engine, took it upon themselves to conduct a little research on the topic but with the people who have the most to lose by falling victim to marketing smoke and mirrors; specifically the IT professionals who have to install and maintain these systems.
SMB’s Lead the Way
In Software Advice’s most recent study of over 200 companies on SIP trunking and VoIP, they noted that, among other key findings, small and medium businesses are outpacing their larger counterparts in adopting cloud-based telephone service. This is partly due to the relative affordability of virtual phone systems for enterprise, but also because more often than not, smaller companies tend to have less interference between IT and management, and often times they are one and the same.
“Organizations with knowledgeable IT decision-makers who guide purchasing decisions have adopted SIP trunking at a much higher rate than most enterprises.” Said Daniel Harris, Market Research Analyst at Software Advice and author of the study.
One thing to note with this in mind is that taking a look at the performance, simplicity, and affordability of a telephone system with direct input from the IT professionals who will service it, should be paramount.
Sound quality remains important, but security has taken the top spot
Security On the Rise
Or rather, people’s concern over security is on the rise. Likely in part to many of the high-profile corporate security failures in the news lately, the security of information transmitted across virtual phone networks is of increasing importance to users. In fact, for the first time, security was cited at the number one contributing reason why an IT provider selected their service claiming the primary response for 23% of those surveyed.
Not surprisingly, though, Quality/Clarity of Service and Favorable Pricing continue to round out the top three responses. Predictably, though, pricing is actually on the decline in importance here, which could indicate a more common expectation that any VoIP option should be more affordable than a traditional, physical phone system.
Satisfaction abounds with modern SIP Trunking
Don’t Believe the Hype
One of the most misplaced concerns in the conversation of whether a company should switch to VoIP or not is over the quality of the sound sent and received thereon. As indicated above, it is still very much a concern, however, even though the staggering majority of users report little to no problems.
“When VoIP technology was emerging, audio quality issues were quite frequent. Moreover, users of “free” VoIP solutions such as Skype still experience audio quality issues at a significant rate,” continued Harris.
Fortunately, all of that seems to have changed for good. Over 90% of respondents were satisfied with their voice clarity with SIP trunking and VoIP. Furthermore, only one person reported even a, “minimal dissatisfaction,” with their call clarity.
As more and more small businesses are getting stellar call quality that is secure and financially well within their means, larger firms are going to have to begin considering the same changes. It isn’t uncommon for the scrappy underdogs of the business world to be the leaders of change, and disruptive technologies like virtual telephone service are threats to both the larger telecom companies who charge more for physical wiring and switches and to larger enterprises that can afford to buy them.
By adopting technologies like VoIP that are nimble, reactive, and that positively impact the bottom line by easing operating margins, companies of any size can benefit handsomely. Have you given VoIP a try yet? If not, here are some resources for you to help determine if it is right for you:
How To Set Up Voicemail
January 7th, 2015
Please leave a message, if I can figure out how to set up voicemail, that is.
By the completion of 2014, it was estimated that there were 1.75 billion smartphones in use around the world, and that number is estimated to continue rising quickly. Yes, that’s billion with a, “b.” What I am curious to learn, though, is how many of those people actually use their phones to the maximum extent of their capabilities. Because I do not. Not remotely.
This is a somewhat common malady in these times of ever-increasing technological advancement. It seems like the moment a particular device is mastered (or rather IF it is mastered), there is a new update, expansion, or replacement already hitting the shelves. There are some basic, fundamental features of any communications device, however, that are routinely used and very helpful to know your way around.
Here is a pair of guides of VirtualPBX Voicemail features that fit that category-
- Guide to automating Voicemail Day/Night functions. This feature is ideal when a caller selects a particular queue after normal business hours and no representatives are in the queue. When activated, a caller is returned to a customizable message that can read standard business hours or redirect them to other extensions before giving the option to leave a voicemail.
- Guide to activating Voicemail Text Notifications. This feature is important for employees on the move. Voicemail notifications can be programmed to your email, or users can elect to have that notification sent via SMS text message to their mobile phones.
We have a variety of how-to and tutorial services available for all of our hosted business phone services. We are one of the last companies to provide our award-winning, US-based support free of charge, and are always standing by to see how we can help you maximize your benefit from VoIP. Give us a call and find out, today!
From the Desk of the CEO: The Year in Review
December 30th, 2014
Well this is it, the last few days of 2014 are at hand and we here at VirtualPBX are thrilled with how the year has passed. Not only have our customers contributed to a stellar year of growth for us as a business, we have grown our team to a new height to accommodate all of our new functions, as well. We’ve been happy to welcome in so many new faces from across the world to across the hallway, and before we look forward to what’s next, I think it’s good to remember how we got here today.
Your Feedback, Your Features
We pride ourselves on service and part of that is listening to what many of you have mentioned would be helpful to you in your daily work. In response to your desire for even more control over your business communications universe from the ease of your vConsoles, we introduced one-click Dropbox integration for all of your recorded call storage needs.
Peace of Mind
Also, we’ve been proud to help many new companies protect themselves from the uncertain with our award-winning PBX Parachute, a service that mirrors on-site phone systems and deploys virtual reproductions of them in the event of a system failure.
Because VoIP is the foundation of all of our products, though, improving the quality of service for all hosted telecom users is of paramount importance to us. With the battery of thorough analysis that comes with our weeklong ProSIP Network Health Check, we are sure to be able to continue offering the most complete business telephone solutions possible.
However, our current state is only as good as our commitment to the future. Therefore, insofar as progress and growth are concerned, our greatest advances may not be immediately evident to you, our valued customers. We have been hard at work developing some really exciting and disruptive technology that we’re thrilled to begin rolling out in the coming year.
We are excited with where we are going and proud of where we have been. I hope during this time of year you too can all look back with similar pride and enthusiasm for what is coming next at your company, knowing that we’ve got your communications needs covered no matter what direction you’re heading.
Thank you for another great year and I hope you all enjoy a safe and wonderful New Year’s celebration.