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General Telephony Blogs

Articles here dig deep into the concerns of the communications industry. Learn about VoIP or the best conference call service for your small business or enterprise. There’s something for everyone.

KazooCon Wrap Up Day One

VirtualPBX PlatinumFrom far and wide they came. From international organizations with 170,000 employees all the way down to the first pair of visionaries for the powerhouse players of tomorrow, KazooCon’s guest list looks like a veritable who’s-who of the telecom industry. To make sure that not a moment was wasted for the group, KazooCon organizer 2600Hz jumped right in with both feet in getting down to business. Here’s a little recap of what has gone down so far-

Enable, Educate, Empower – 2600Hz’s 3E Platform

2600Mz COO, Patrick Sullivan, was instrumental in setting the tone for the conference in his opening remarks. Sullivan opened by presenting a rundown of the content to follow in the coming days though the lens of the 3E approach to his business. Doing this underscores the fact that the open-source tools 2600Hz provides (and that most of the industry relies on) are successful greatly due to the sustainable business practices with which they bring them to market. If the morning’s first round of presenters are to be any indication, this holistic approach is the blueprint that companies are following to find success.

  • Christos Kolias, a Network Architect for Orange, channeled Dilbert to empathize with the plight of the developer. Specializing in virtualization and the fact that there are often disconnects between expectations of leaders and those who execute software solutions.
  • thinQ was keen to make it clear that working towards an optimal, cost-saving model for the future of telecommunications means that there is no “one-size fits all” for business. They used the concept of no one-carrier solution to highlight their innovative approach to fluid, real-time carrier access.
  • Daniel Constantin Mierla from Kamailio reminded developers that it’s about more than just creating a scalable, flexible open-source SIP server, but that it’s important to focus on protecting it, as well. Also, he was keen to remind us that he was Romanian, not Transylvanian, therefore this was good advice to follow from an engineer, and not bad advice to follow from a vampire. True story.
  • FreeSWITCH had some of the coolest presentations of the day as they unrolled their video conferencing platform – live. Introducing the product with the Empower concept in mind, FreeSWITCH Solutions was very interested in soliciting feedback from the audience to iterate on their already impressive platform.

The day broke from lunch and then the afternoon was spent demoing some of the powerful products and platforms that the 2600Hz family of services utilize. That wasn’t exactly in my wheelhouse, however, so I stuck to what I know and got friendly with the lady who makes cannolis. I mean, hey, this is Little Italy, after all.

There’ll be more to come tomorrow from the conference, of course, but make sure to follow us on Twitter as we keep up the live updates right from the show-room floor. Now, on to the After Party!

KazooCon 2015

KazooConSilicon Valley is no stranger to a wild business get-together. With Genetech renting AT&T Park (yes, the whole thing) each year and Apple regularly picking a new city block to occupy for a few weeks prior to each new product introduction, there’s more than one claim to the title of “Tech Event of the Year.” Like all great Bay Area interests, however, the biggest or most well-promoted options are rarely the ones most coveted and revered by the people who live here. This is an area that values the journey over the destination and recognizes that what you find off or the main road might just be the best thing you never knew about. Yeah, thanks, hipsters.

KazooCon 2015

This year’s sleeper hit is likely to be the brainchild of telecommunications service and technology provider that provides much of the technology and firepower behind the world’s leading telecom brands. 2600Hz powers communications for companies in so many different capacities that their network stretches far and wide. Casting that wide of shadow means that, when everyone they touch congregates in San Francisco in October for KazooCon 2015, the concentration of telecom intelligence will be off the charts.

If an event claims to bring the industry’s best and brightest to the table, however, although the people who actually call the shots around here are too modest to say it, let me go on record that no such list would be complete without representation from VirtualPBX. That said, our very own COO, Lon Baker, is also one of the key presenters this year at the event! Clearly, it seems that these folks mean business.

After the Party is the After-Party

The knowledge-sharing and innovative discussions at KazooCon are likely where the future of communications will be designed, but of course, not all conferences are for education and networking alone. Not one to be missed, this year’s KazooCon After-Party details are intriguingly being held closely to the chest of the event’s organizers. In spite of all of my best efforts, I’m still in the dark as to the specifics, but I know that the best way to find out is to be there for yourself!

To register for the event you can still visit the event website and, while it is in no way a replacement for being there, stay connected to our Facebook and Twitter feeds to learn more about it all when it goes down. Just don’t expect to get a door prize through your tweetdeck.

See you in San Francisco October 5-6!

Looking Out For Each Other – Ecom & Online Reviews

We’ve been privy to some predictive, informative, and sometimes even entertaining insights from the analysis of Software Advice’s research department. However, a study from the folks at the internet’s most-trusted software review platform takes a look into the topic of online reviews, and the results are possibly the most revealing to date.

More Educated Buyers

E-Commerce and Online ReviewsConsumers have access to a more immediate and comprehensive library of reviews of product and services today than ever before. Now, with Amazon becoming the largest retailer in the world, the popularity of online shopping has conditioned buyers to even expect reviews to be included in the actual purchasing experience. This should mean that when Software Advice’s research shows that 3 out of 4 purchasers consulted online reviews prior to making a decision, no one should be surprised. What wasn’t immediately clear, though, was how the mix of positive and negative reviews impacted the buying process.

If it Seems Too Good to be True…

There isn’t any company or product that is perfect for all people and under all circumstances. As much as we might want to pretend otherwise, there’s something that seems a little fishy about 100% of reviews being 5 stars. The net result, it turns out, is that having a realistic mix of positive and negative reviews actually improves the authenticity of a company. Sure, positive reviews are what people want more than anything else to steer their decision (43%), but there was a minimal decrease in weight for those with a mix of positive and negative reviews (34%). This underscores the fact that the most important thing in a product review is believability, and that’s something that only comes with a believable distribution of positive and negative reviews.

Negative Outlier Reviews & Their ImpactTrolls Need Not Apply

Speaking of a believable mix of review positivity, the e-thuggery of a disgruntled employee or soured business contact has actually less impact on the online review footprint of a company that you may expect. When polled about the impact of negative reviews that were part of a trend versus an isolated rant, respondents were 4-5 times less likely to let the isolated negative review affect their decision. What this means is that statistically significant outliers are less impactful because they don’t fit into the overall narrative that the entirety of reviews are telling.

It Takes A Village

Motivation For Writing Reviews

The most revealing outcome from this most recent research, however, came from an analysis of the motivations most people had for writing reviews in the first place. To set the scene for that, first it’s useful to note that an overwhelming 98% of respondents reported that online reviews were at least moderately valuable or above, and zero respondents cited them as being not helpful at all. With this in mind, it was reassuring to learn that the majority of respondents (59%) wrote a review with the specific intention of helping others facing the same purchasing choices they had. This reciprocal relationship between consumers in the middle of a purchasing decision and those who have recently exited a similar choice suggests that online reviews will only continue to grow in use and, therefore, also in value.

So, How Are We Doing?

It seems only logical to add that we’re pretty active in the review game, ourselves. You can read our reviews on our site, the reviews that are made directly on SoftwareAdvice.com, or you can find us listed on Yelp. We’re proud to make service the cornerstone of our business and, I for one feel pretty confident that our customers agree.

Protect ya Neck – My, What Large Blueteeth You Have!

In this series of blogs we examine all topics under the information security umbrella. From corporate blunders to rogue state attacks to the occasional celebrity hack, we believe there is something for businesses and individuals to learn from any cyber security event. We also believe that, while experience is the best teacher, it’s even better to let other people make the mistakes for you.

Little Red Riding HoodYou may have seen on our Twitter feed the article from WIRED about the latest update to iOS and how it is going to protect you by correcting a vulnerability through your device’s Bluetooth connections. What? You don’t follow us on Twitter? You should probably correct that first, and then proceed to the body of this post. The long and the short of it is that hackers can access your devices and be inside them via Bluetooth connection even without accepting the “pairing” to an unknown device. Seeing a foreign device or network on your phone that can threaten your security absent any interaction with it is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Hackers Upgrade, Too

It’s not terribly unheard of to note that PC users are less likely to run the most current operating systems on their machines than their Apple product counterparts. There are some conclusions that can be drawn from that information but mostly it’s due to Apple’s cessation of support (and therefore, their app developers as well) for earlier software once new versions are available. Either way, updating your OS is far more than a ticket to a new default screensaver. Proper update practices can be the difference between becoming the victim of a cyber security breach and never being targeted in the first place. This is because, just like you want to have the slickest, fastest, sharpest-looking version of your favorite programs, hackers want to have the most effective means to penetrate your defenses too.

The relationship between developers and hackers is entirely akin to a cat and mouse game set to the theme song of The Bennie Hill Show. There is a race going on each day to outsmart defenses and anticipate attacks, and if you’re not using the latest versions of your device’s operating system then you are behind the pack, and if you’ve ever watched a nature documentary, you know that being on the edge of the pack is never a good thing.

Stay Ahead of the Crowd

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again- your password strength matters. A lot. It’s unfortunate to realize how many people see the most important attribute for a password to be that be easy to remember. False. Categorically false. To be sure, though, here’s a little checklist for you to consider when examining your current security protocol-

  • Use your password like it was meant to be used and create a first line of defense against malicious attempts to access your information.
  • The next thing you should consider is not ignoring the various updates in your digital world until the point where your software is rendered inoperably obsolete.
  • And finally, remember that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections are a hacker’s easiest way into your information. Not sure if a network is safe? The Public part of Public Wi-Fi Network should tip you off.

That’s about it from us for this time around, but as sure as the sun will set in the west, we’ll invariably have more security blunders, breaches, or ballyhoos to talk about again before you know it.

Stay safe out there and remember to Protect ya Neck!

IM & MBA – Instant Messaging for Work

Business MessagingMaybe you’ve heard, one of the most blocked for business websites, Facebook, looks to be getting into the business messaging game. This seems to be the norm now with instant messaging (IM) transitioning from the personal communications world and becoming a viable business tool. Communications for companies across all sectors are moving more and more into the cloud. Now that these changes have become more prevalent, though, what are some lessons we can learn from how well they are being received?

Software Advice has the Answers

Once again, the experts in comparative software analysis and recommendation have shifted their focus on researching the impacts of IM as used for business communication. Research based on topics that are familiar to us (let’s face it, texting and IM are pretty ubiquitous activities these days) often reveals surprises as frequently as it provides data that serves to reinforce and validate existing assumptions, and this most recent report is no exception.

Efficiency is Key

IM Productivity Benefits

Like anything in the accelerating rate of business in the modern world, process improvement is essential for profitability, if not for survival. Adding new business tools and project management interfaces may initially seem like an appealing way to boost efficiency, but without a meaningful improvement to workflow or with too long of a learning curve that threatens adoption, they can actually have the opposite effect. Fortunately for businesses that adopt an IM platform for their company, the results seem to be categorically positive.

Because messaging applications are simple and most people are familiar with using them in their personal life, their rate of adoption in the course of business is tremendously high. Furthermore, that familiarity also contributes to a relatively seamless learning curve. With quick adoption and easy use, IM for work is allowed to execute on its primary goal, which is to reduce cluttered communications and streamline day-to-day employee interaction. According to the results of the Software Advice report, an overwhelming 98% of respondents were able to identify at least one area where messaging has provided a meaningful benefit to their workday. Though there is no actual data to support this claim, I would assert that the remaining 2% haven’t actually begun using the app yet. Just like how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.

Innovation Driving Technology

Rich PresenceMost messaging systems are fairly straightforward; you send a message, receive one back and so on, but slowly there have been small improvements that provide a substantial benefit. Most notably is the advent of chat presence additions to contact menus. Just like they sound, chat presence shows the status of the people in your list of contacts. Most messaging apps native in smart phones don’t have these though it’s rather common in many third-party apps. Building off of standard presence information, the inclusion of more than simply the binary availability/unavailability of a contact is known as Rich Presence, and it is with this that employees are getting even more out of their business IM systems.

Just like IM is designed to reduce unnecessary communication and boost efficiency, Rich Presence integrates even more information directly into the application. From just a quick glance of a contact list, any number of statuses can be immediately visible. Again, this added layer of information prevents unnecessary and unhelpful messaging like pinging a colleague who is in a meeting or on vacation if you need an immediate response.

Operation: Integration

The story of how messaging applications have been able to enhance the workplace and overall business communications is headline worthy on its own, but it is also simply a function of a much greater movement. Adding messaging to the battery of business communications tools is indicative of the transition to a truly unified communications approach to business. Incorporating all of a company’s communications needs; everything from conferencing to email and telephones, is exactly the direction that VirtualPBX technologies is taking businesses everyday and why we’ve been awarded multiple Unified Communications Awards.

The totality of connectivity, be it voice, fax, video, messaging, or anything between, is getting more centralized everyday. Being able to access all of these functions and leverage them for effective business operations will be crucial for success. As long as there has been an open market, speed has been a critical factor in deciding winners from losers. By boosting the efficiency of everything from a business’ network connection to the amount of time it takes to manage it, VirtualPBX drives system improvement everyday. To learn more about how your company can benefit from a unified communications system from VirtualPBX, contact our Communications Experts who are standing by to help right now.