VirtualPBX Blog

Leave the Office for Valentine’s Day

leave the office for valentines dayTo be honest, most people don’t need a reason to leave the office because they typically have a few on standby and ready to go. But reasons to leave the office for Valentine’s Day are a little more understandable because most folks also understand the importance of spending the day or evening with a special someone. We spend a lot of time talking about the flexibility of our hosted communication systems because they are just what the situation calls for when you need to be working but also be somewhere outside of the office. What I want to address here, though, is that sometimes you need to leave the laptop at home for a while.

When Working Remotely is a Liability

I was fortunate enough to take a special, pre-Valentine’s Day outing over the weekend to the old growth redwood forests of Northern California. To do this, I had to rely on a combination of working around an absence and trusting I had the right tools to get the job done while I was away from the office. Fortunately, that trust comes easily for me because I rely on the recently updated VirtualPBX Softphone App on my smart phone and Follow Me Calling that forwards calls to me on any device or number I choose for when I’m not right at my desk or laptop. The flexibility that these tools offer me to stay in constant contact when I need to be working are invaluable for when I need to leave the office. Okay so that’s it, right? End of story? Not quite.

Leave the Office, or Leave the Office Behind?

Normally, for folks like us, when there is a need to work remotely that gets met with remote telecommunications tools we consider that a happy ending. While that remains the case, there is something else to consider with this particular instance of being flexible with your work schedule; sometimes it’s necessary to leave the phone behind. We’re just as focused on designing and delivering reliable business phone systems as we are on ensuring that they’re used properly, too. Often times that means leveraging our award-winning VoIP Support Team but also it means reminding remote workers about the dangers of mission creep in an out-of-office environment. When we work outside of the office, we have the tendency to let the clear delineations between working and nonworking hours evaporate. Certainly, this is part of the appeal of working remotely! But there comes a time, and for many folks that time is today, when we need to remember the real important things in life, specifically the people we share it with.

Don’t Catch the Early Train Just to Stay Glued to the Phone

For those of you who are amending your typical work day to accommodate special plans for Valentine’s Day, good for you. I’d urge you, though, to remember that just because you can work from anywhere, perhaps tonight’s special dinner out isn’t the time nor place to practice that. Plus, because you can have voicemails on Dash sent to your email, all of the work you set aside will be patiently waiting for you when you’re done. And for everyone, please remember that Valentine’s Day isn’t solely for couples. Whether you’re on cloud nine or if you’re feeling down in the dumps today, try calling your mom or sibling to wish them a Happy Valentine’s Day. They’ll appreciate hearing from you, and then you can turn off the phone and focus on enjoying all of those fancy chocolates that will be on sale tomorrow.

We Have a Winner! #MobileYear Sweepstakes Winner, James Doyle

MobileYear Sweepstakes WinnerThe #MobileYear sweepstakes ended at the end of January and we’ve connected with our winner, mister James Doyle of the greater Tampa Bay area in Florida, for a brief chat about how he plans to use his winnings. As you recall, we proudly partnered with Remotive and Sneek, two awesome companies for remote professionals, to put together a prize package of distance working assets worth well over $1,000. Together with one free year of Dash Business VoIP Service, James is all set to tackle anything his business gets tossed his way. And as we found out, it turns out this is about the best possible timing imaginable for him, because he’s recently launched a new business.

Serendipity and Swoll

For those that may not be aware, “swoll,” is one of those new terms to describe what the youth in America refer to as being really bulked up from a lot of working out. And while James never actually used that term, it’s definitely related to his new business. James has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and, after honing his customer service skills through a successful career in the hospitality industry, he decided to combine his passion for fitness with his love for, well, dessert. Enter the newest sensation sweeping the fitness nation, FREEZINda! This is James’ patent-pending concept of an easy and enjoyable way for athletes to eat protein powder in a nice, frozen, ice cream-like form. The good timing of becoming the #MobileYear sweepstakes winner coinciding with the launch of a new business can’t possibly be overstated, especially with James’ bi-coastal lifestyle.

With You Wherever You Work(out)

James may call Tampa Bay home, but he has family in San Diego, enjoys vacationing in the summer all the way up in Anchorage, Alaska, and has business partners and franchises popping up all over the country so, clearly, he’s a man on the go. James recognizes the importance of establishing a good amount of momentum as soon as possible after launching a new company and counts the flexibility of his new remote working toolbox among his best assets to accomplishing that. Plus, considering he has employees, franchise opportunities, and supply partners scattered across the globe, he is going to be on the move a lot over the next year.

Stay Tuned for the Next Opportunity

We don’t make a habit of running sweepstakes that often, but we had a record-breaking amount of turnout for the #MobileYear sweepstakes, and really that can’t be ignored. While we can’t guarantee when the next such opportunity will come along, we can definitely tell you it has gotten us thinking about how we’re going to execute on the next one. The best way to keep in the loop for whenever that may be is to be like James and follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Plus, you can always get some insight into what we have coming around the corner by taking a gander at our interactive VirtualPBX Product Roadmap on Trello. You can comment on what we’re doing, make suggestions, and you just might even get some inclination of what else we have brewing in the sweepstakes department, too.

Thanks to everyone who entered and helped to make this #MobileYear Sweepstakes such a huge success and please join me in congratulating James and wishing him luck with FREEZINda!

Partner Blog Series – Do you really need a desktop phone?

For our Partner Blog Series we like to highlight the relationships we have with our peers and business partners from across all areas of the telecommunications industry. We know that when it comes to relationships, the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s why we want to share with you the wisdom, experience, and perspective of the companies we work with.

For the inaugural edition of the Partner Blog Series, we’ve called on Hummingbird Networks, the expert providers of new and refurbished networking equipment. Today they examine some of the most often asked questions that revolve around the increase in hosted telecommunications’ popularity.

do you need a desktop phone

Do You Really Need a Desktop Phone Anymore?

It might seem to some like a ridiculous question to ask, but many businesses are starting to take a hard look at it anyway: Are wired desktop phones actually necessary anymore?
Of course, for many businesses, the answer is “yes” and will be for years to come. However, for others, it’s not so obvious. They may have a workforce that’s heavily invested in bringing/using their own devices. Perhaps their workforce largely telecommutes, and the office itself is minimal. Perhaps cloud solutions are taking the place of traditional phones.
So today, we wanted to take a look at some of the technologies that are disrupting traditional desk-based telecommunications. You might not be in a position of ditching your desk phones today, but by next year or beyond, it may not be too far out of the realm of possibilities.

6 Trends Quickly Rendering Traditional Desk Phones Irrelevant

1 – BYOD

Bring-Your-Own-Device is nothing new, but businesses are still discovering ways of taking advantage of it to cut their own costs. When 100% of your workforce already owns a smartphone, and probably prefers using it for communications, why force them to use desk phones? At the very least, it could end up making them duplicate efforts at maintaining contact lists and such.
After all, there are plenty of hosted communication systems that can take calls placed to a main office and intelligently re-route them to workers’ smartphones already. With the right VoIP provider partner, it’s not that hard for companies to set up their own ad-hoc Unified Communications network without a heavily investment in new hardware.

2 – Telecommuting

There are certainly pros and cons to having a workforce that’s mostly remote. Scheduling meetings is difficult, and there are still those who say remote conferences lack the immediacy of face-to-face meetings and simply aren’t as productive. Then again, there are also still those that say vinyl sounds better than digital.
Either way, having a largely remote workforce certainly does cut down on expenses because your workers will be mostly or entirely using their own home equipment. There’s no point maintaining office phones when no one is in the office to use them.

3 – On-The-Go VoIP and Softphones

So, all your employees use their own smartphones, but you’re concerned about security, centralization and call-tracking when they’re all on different phone models, operating systems, and service providers. That’s really not an issue either. There are plenty of softphone software VoIP solutions that create a unified data-based communications network which is largely or entirely hardware-agnostic.
The best solutions out there are easily integrated into existing Unified Communications (UC) setups as well, which, when implemented properly, create a best-of-both-worlds setup with all the benefits of UC but vastly less investment in infrastructure.

4 – Customers Preferring Non-Voice Communications

Here’s a little factoid about millennials a lot of people might not know about: On the whole, they prefer text-based communications to voice by a pretty large margin. A survey last year showed that:

  • 76% describe text/email as “more convenient”
  • 75% would rather lose voice communications than text
  • 63% believe phone calls are more disruptive than text

One-fifth even said they never bother to check their voicemail!
So a company whose target market is largely those under 40 may find their telephone systems going unused, simply because their buyers don’t like making phone calls. And given that the influence of millennials on marketplaces is only going to grow for the next 20-30 years, this could signal a major change in how business/buyer communications happen in the decades to come.
Speaking of alternatives…

5 – Video Calls and Video Conferencing

Let’s not forget the other side of the “voice alternative” coin. Video-based communications are growing rapidly and are being driven by some of the largest players in technology. It’s now increasingly common for even everyday “phone calls” to be video calls instead, generally using VoIP-based platforms. The technology is right on the cusp of becoming truly mainstream, although it’s still being held back slightly by problems maintaining frame rates in lower-bandwidth environments. But because bandwidth is expanding consistently, this is an issue that will lessen greatly in years to come.
Given that desktop videophones are extremely expensive and fairly limited in their functionality, it seems fair to assume the move to video communications will largely happen on portable devices.

6 – Cisco Collaboration (and similar ventures)

The final factor to consider is that even the largest of communications companies are starting to push away from desk-bound solutions. Last year, Cisco turned a lot of heads by announcing a
major collaboration with Apple with direct integration of Cisco/Meraki systems into the iOS 10 operating system for iPhones and iPads.
Basically, a company with an existing Cisco or Meraki network and an install base of iPhones can already enjoy all the benefits of a fully on-the-go mobile UC system with virtually no additional expenditures or setup. That sort of plug-and-play functionality would be attractive to companies interested in the tech discussed in this article, but hesitant to embrace ad-hoc solutions.
Plus, if Cisco Collaboration gains popularity, it’s virtually inevitable that other similar deals will follow suit. This is more speculative, but it’s entirely possible that within a few years, all the major smartphone brands will carry software allowing them to directly integrate into cloud-based UC setups.

Towards A Phoneless Future…?

Overall, the trends point to communications simultaneously becoming more robust and more mobile, with less emphasis on voice-specific communications. The general millennial distaste for telephone calls will undoubtedly be a major driving factor here, particularly if they pass on that distaste to their own children.

What do you think? Are deskbound telephones officially in front of the technological firing squad, or is Hummingbird Networks jumping the gun? Let us know by joining the conversation on Twitter and Facebook, and make sure to stay tuned for more from the Partner Blog Series.

What the Patriots Can Teach You About VoIP Clear Fix Service

Patriots Tom Brady VoIP Clear FixThe ticker tape has been falling on the New England Patriots for what seems like an eternity. Or, at least for a diehard Steelers fan such as myself, it can certainly feel like it will never end, but that’s not the point. The point here is that, for those of you who watched the playing of Super Bowl LI in Houston this past Sunday, it was a very good lesson in the fact that it’s never over until it’s actually over. The stick-to-itiveness of the Patriots is the focus of an analogy for our VoIP Clear Fix Service in that even if all other options appear to have been exhausted, there is always a way to get the job done if you just keep trying.

This is no Motivational Poster

Look, I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you of the power of a positive mental attitude and give you a locker-room pep talk. What I am going to do is relate the countless stories we’ve heard over the past two decades from customers who have switched to VirtualPBX because they’ve had it with a seemingly uncorrectable quality issue on their VoIP service. To be completely honest, many of these businesses didn’t want to leave their VoIP provider because they had otherwise positive experiences but had simply reached the end of their ropes insofar as call quality, specifically relating to network issues, was concerned. The real risk here is that many of the companies with an experience like this could be forced to revert back to a costly on-site PBX with doubts that a hosted system will be able to meet their standards. This is where the analogy about hanging in there is relevant.

Exhaust Your Options, Not Yourself

Again, I hate that I have to mention the poise and focus of the Patriots, but the stats suggested that they really should have just phoned-in the last quarter of the game. Until this past Sunday, in NFL postseason history, teams trailing by 19 points or more through 3 quarters had a 0-93 record. That’s how many points the Patriots trailed by, and yet they still hung in there to force the first overtime in Super Bowl history and win on their opening drive therein. To continue the corollary into business VoIP, some businesses that have network bandwidth issues can have mediocre corrections presented to them. Typically, this involves throttling all other non-voice related traffic across their network. This is an unattractive option for many companies who (gasp) rely on the internet for far more than just their telephones. VoIP Clear Fix Solutions address this head-on by tunneling an alternate, protected, and reinforced channel exclusively for the travel of voice traffic to and from your network. This simultaneously leaves the bulk of other network activity to be unaffected, so Johnson in the cube next to you can stream the victory parade in Boston totally unaffected. Gag.

Another option that is widely unknown to VoIP subscribers across all providers is that when an issue arises in the actual ISP that connects their business to the internet, there are rarely any solutions to be had. VoIP Clear Fix Service is actually something that can help all businesses in diagnosing and correcting these types of challenges, regardless of who their provider is. Thanks to our engineers’ vast array of experience with VoIP remediation, they can accurately pinpoint where in a network any issues exists. Plus, if it happens to be in an ISP, they can even negotiate alternative connections for a company, often at huge monthly savings, too! The most incredible facet of the VoIP Clear Fix Service is that these examples and dozens of other possible solutions can all be conducted for any VoIP customer of any VoIP provider.

More Than One Way to Win

There’s one more bewildering, though undeniably impressive, statistic from the last game of the 2016 NFL season that is pertinent here. The Patriots led the football game for exactly zero seconds, and yet they still managed to win by scoring a touchdown in sudden death overtime. If nothing else, that proves that there are definitely more ways to win than we might initially think, and so too does VoIP Clear Fix prove that there are more options than may initially be made available. The above are just a sample of how VoIP Clear Fix Service has helped companies of all descriptions and sizes correct their call quality issues, regardless of who their VoIP provider is. And when a business is locked-in to a contract that would be too costly to break, especially just to return to an inadequate landline PBX, there can seem to be nowhere else to turn. That’s why, even if it comes with the dubious distinction of leveraging the historic win by the New England Patriots to do it, sharing the value of a VoIP Clear Fix Service solution from VirtualPBX is worth the effort.

In need of your own unbelievable win over poor voice quality? No problem. We have an opening just for your business to discuss your problems, explore your options, and deliver a game-winning solution right now. Contact our network-engineering experts today to get started. And remember, there’s always next year.

The Year of Excellence – Dash is Awarded VoIP Combo

VoIP ComboI know it seems unlikely, but the results are in and the past nearly 12 months have been a whirlwind for Dash, the business VoIP option that’s taking the industry by storm. And in keeping with the hit-the-ground-running-take-no-prisoners attitude that Dash had from the moment it landed, it’s ending its first year with a bang. In unprecedented fashion, Dash has just been awarded a pair of the most prestigious awards available for products in the hosted communications space. The VoIP combo to end all VoIP combos, Dash has just won the 2017 Internet Telephony Product of the Year and the 2016 Unified Communications Excellence Award!

VoIP Combo wins VoIP Combo?

It’s a bit of a mouthful, but these two big wins for Dash are similar to the one-two punch combo of beauty and brawn that has made Dash so successful thus far. In almost exactly one year, Dash has proven that the industry that was previously dominated by engineering-heavy and clunky, cumbersome VoIP products is ready, and eager, for something new. Dash has the backing of the full feature set of an enterprise-grade telephone network but with the sleek styling and intuitive interface of the latest consumer applications. This VoIP combo makes Dash ideal for addressing the complex unified communications needs of a modern business without requiring businesses to source highly specialized technical talent to do it. Anyone on any tea can log into the Dash user portal and begin using it. Or, and likely another reason why Dash has caught on so quickly, because of Dash’s nearly universal device compatibility, new users can often just access Dash for the first time right off of their smartphones.

2016 Excellence AwardInternet Telephony Product of the Year Award

It’s Tough to Start on a High Note

This is a fine problem to have, but winning these two awards so early in the 2017 calendar year makes it a bit daunting to consider where we’ll go from here. The fact is, though, that as proud as we are about how well our customers and peers have received Dash over the past twelve months, we haven’t really had the time to stop and enjoy it. That’s because we’ve been hard at work building out our VirtualPBX Product Roadmap and filling it with the projects of today, tomorrow, and beyond in the interest of never getting comfortable and taking successes like Dash for granted. We understand that with every new accolade that Dash receives, there is more motivation for our very talented and capable peers in the VoIP industry to eventually build something that will knock is down a few pegs. Until that time, however, we’ll be hard at, too. Because our customers depend on us to keep them connected while growing into their own great recognitions, we’ll never get tired of innovating new ways to help take them there.

No matter when the next milestone for us is released, you can make a point to see what all of the fuss has been about and check out Dash for yourself. You can even get a full two weeks of free Dash demo time on the platform for you and your team by signing up here. Either way please make sure to let us know on Twitter and Facebookwhat you think and how we can help your business telephone problems a thing of the past.

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