Monthly Archives: September 2017

Tips Tablets Make SMBs Faster and Lighter

The Apple iPad and its many Android “sincere flatterers” have comprehensively shaken up the market for mobile computing; in fact, the late Steve Jobs coined the phrase “post-PC for just this situation.

The days of the traditional laptop computer may not be totally over, but is a hinged screen-keyboard combo the only tool for serious mobile work? Nope. Here are five reasons why….

1. For content creation, just add keyboard

Tablets are great for content consumption. Hit the button, and you’re immediately scrolling through Web pages, YouTube videos, annoyed avians and the like. This can lead to the impression that tablets are only good for passively consuming; that they’re no use for creating content, such as documents, spreadsheets and other staples of business life, but that’s short-sighted.

Obviously, tablets’ on-screen keyboards aren’t easy or ergonomic typing tools. However, there’s a wide range of Bluetooth options available that can turn an iPad or Android tablet into a lean, mean, writing machine.

But if you’re going to add a keyboard to your tablet, why wouldn’t you just buy a laptop? The next three reasons answer that…

2. ARM = light weight + long battery life

PC and Mac laptops are built around the Intel processor architecture, using chips from either Intel or AMD. Often known as x86, the architecture is great for compatibility with the PCs we’ve used for years, but it’s encumbered with historical baggage that makes x86 machines hot, heavy and hungry for battery juice. Modern laptops have improved but are still a world away from today’s tablets.

Most tablets break from Intel’s historical hegemony by using chips designed by ARM. These so-called system-on-a-chip architectures use much less power than x86 – especially when idle. This and modern battery technology can give tablets a 10-hour life and weeks of standby readiness, which means you can get more work done on the go.

Intel is fighting back, though the jury’s still out on whether it can compete. Intel tablets will at least be able to run the full version of Windows 8, as opposed to the cut-down, ARM-only Windows RT.

3. Cellular data: a first-class citizen

Today’s tablets often include access to 3G and 4G/LTE networks. The data networking technology is seamlessly integrated, so that you can switch between it and Wi-Fi with no noticeable interruption.

That’s much cleaner than the typical Windows or Mac laptop with an add-on 3G dongle; the difference being that cellular data was designed into tablets from the get-go. So there’ll be fewer excuses to not get the presentation finished on time.

4. Seriously cool sci-fi toys today

Who can forget countless Star Trek episodes where an impractically uniformed ensign brought a portable device to Capt. Kirk for him to sign off on some Starfleet paperwork? These sort of science-fiction visions drive gadget designers to invent the future… and who doesn’t want to live in the future?

Don’t deny tablets’ “cool factor.” Your users want to use them, they want to be seen using them, and they’ll thank you for letting them use tablets in business. (However, make sure you stay safe by protecting against Romulan malware and the Klingon drive-by.)

5. The phablet trend

There’s also a place in some users’ hearts for a tablet that’s also a phone. In today’s Brangelina world, some refer to these hybrid phone-tablets as phablets: big phones that are also small tablets. Why carry two devices, when you can have one?

We first saw this trend emerge in 2010, with the 5-inch Dell Streak. More recently, Samsung made a splash with its 5.3-inch Galaxy Note. They’re not for everyone, but they do have a growing niche and could translate into greater productivity.

Top Business Phone Systems

To help you find the right business phone system, we researched and analyzed dozens of options in 2017. Here is a roundup of the business phone systems we think are best and an explanation of how we chose them.

Want to take a step back and learn more about business phone systems? See what experts advise in our guide to choosing a business phone system, and then come back here to see our best picks again.

8×8 offers everything a small business would want in a phone system. The service is a cloud-based voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) system that doesn’t require expensive PBX hardware or a trained IT staff to set up and maintain. All that’s needed is high-speed Internet access and IP phones. The service was among the most reliable we found and comes a complete host of features and tools. Additionally, the level of customer support was among the best we found.

Editor’s note: Looking for information on business phone systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

How many employees will need a phone?
Just me

Ooma Office is designed specifically for very small businesses. The system, which works for businesses with up to 20 employees, can be set up in minutes and requires no special wiring or phones. The system includes a variety of features that allow small offices to present themselves in a professional manner, such as an autoreceptionist, ring groups and a voicemail-to-email feature. In addition, the system is available as a virtual-only phone system for businesses that only want to use mobile phones. [Go here for a full review of the Ooma Office business phone system.]

RingCentral Professional is specifically designed for businesses with on-the-go employees. The service connects business phone lines to remote workers on their mobile and home phones. While other providers also offer this service, few do so with such a wide range of features — including a mobile app and the use of a “softphone” on the employee’s computer — for such a low cost. [Go here for a full review of RingCentral’s Professional service.]

ShoreTel’s phone system has all of the tools and features a business needs to run a professional call center. The system is available as an on-premise or cloud-based solution. The call center services, which are tacked on to ShoreTel’s regular business phone system, include a variety of call queue options, integrations with numerous CRM solutions and call recording. It also offers several valuable supervisor tools, including the ability to listen in on agent calls.

To determine the best business phone systems, we started by listing all of the vendors that have good reputations online (i.e., services that other websites favorably and consistently reviewed). Then, we interviewed small business owners to discover new systems to add to our list.

We ultimately settled on the following 19 phone systems to consider as best picks: 8×8, AT&T, Avaya, Booth, Cisco, Dialpad, ESI, Fonality, FreedomVoice, Grasshopper, Jive, Mitel, Nextiva, Ooma Office,, RingCentral, ShoreTel, Toshiba and Vonage. (See full list of business phone systems and their websites below.)

Next, we researched each provider by investigating its services, watching tutorials and how-to videos, and reading user comments. We also contacted each company’s customer service department and posed as business owners to gauge the type of support each provider offered its users. Finally, we considered the pricing that was available on these services’ websites or what was quoted to us during customer service calls.

Our process involves putting ourselves in the mindset of a small business owner and gathering the data that would be readily available to such an individual. We perform all of our research by visiting company websites, making calls to customer service departments and interviewing real users.

We analyzed each system based on the following factors:

  • Deployment options
  • Level of service
  • Reliability
  • Customer service
  • Calling features
  • Collaboration tools
  • Mobility options
  • Cost

Here is a full list of business phone-system providers and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This alphabetical list also includes our picks for best services.

1-VoIp – This VoIP service provider offers different plans based on the number of users a business has. The smallest plan accommodates up to five employees, while the largest one supports up to 100 users. Plans include digital call forwarding, cellphone redirecting, extension monitoring, call parking, intercom service, call waiting, autoattendants, digital queues, custom on-hold music, voicemail, call recording and other features. 1-VoIP also offers SIP trunking services.

3CX – 3CX is the developer of a software-based and open-standards IP PBX, which replaces proprietary PBXs. With integrated WebRTC web conferencing, softphones for Mac and Windows, and smartphone clients for Android, iOS and Windows phones, 3CX offers companies a complete unified communications package.

*8×8 – 8×8 is a hosted VoIP-based phone system that includes personalized voicemail, three-way calling, caller ID, call waiting, transfers, call forwarding and chat. The system offers an online dashboard to manage communications, with call history, voicemail notification and calling from a PC. 8×8 also provides autoattendants, corporate directories, on-hold music, conference bridges and ring groups. In addition, the service’s mobile app allows staff members to manage their business communications from anywhere. Besides its traditional business phone systems, 8×8 also provides contact center services. 8× Read our full review here.

All Call Technologies – All Call Technologies is a virtual phone system. There is no equipment installed in your office and no changing of your current phone carrier. All Call Technologies’ virtual receptionist answers your calls with a professional greeting and gives callers the options they want. Outgoing greetings are professionally recorded and programmed to your specifications. The Backup Attendant service takes calls only when your office lines are busy or not answered, while the Auto Attendant service plays a menu greeting immediately when someone calls. In addition, an Entrepreneur and Partner plan provides one, central phone number with extensions to reach you, your partners and staff via cellphones.

Allworx – Allworx provides a complete portfolio of VoIP systems, IP phones, network switches and advanced software options. Allworx is available to small and medium-size businesses through a network of more than 1,000 independent resellers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. The company also offers Windstream IP Simple, a managed monthly subscription service that combines Allworx with VoIP and data services from Windstream.

AT&T – AT&T Business in a Box is a VoIP solution for small businesses and satellite locations that provide the benefits of advanced voice and data technology, without the complexity of having to manage it. This solution enables voice and data services to work over a single network connection and device. The company also offers AT&T Unified Communications Voice, a cloud-based IP telephony solution that offers a range of voice features, as well as contact-center solutions.

Avaya – Avaya’s contact center and unified communications technologies and services are available in a variety of flexible on-premise and cloud-hosted options. Avaya’s Communicator lets employees access instant-messaging tools, voicemail, conferencing and video. The Avaya systems, which support up to 250,000 users, also offer mobile options that allow employees to access voice and video communications from mobile devices.

Axvoice – Axvoice is a cloud-based system for independent entrepreneurs, and single-office and home-office professionals. The service has more than 30 inbound and outbound calling features, including caller ID, caller ID blocking, music on hold, simultaneous ringing, do-not-disturb options, call filtering and anonymous call rejection. In addition, the system allows employees to manage their voicemails via the web.

Birch – Birch’s TotalCloud PBX is a cloud-hosted phone system that supports your entire workforce. With this system, you can transfer callers, put them on hold with music, set up conference calls or have the phone answered by an automated attendant who can direct callers to different departments. TotalCloud PBX allows you to route callers around the way you do business.

Booth – Booth is a virtual phone system that allows you to run your business through your cell phone. Booth works by creating call rules that allow you to route calls based around time of day, who’s calling, or through an integrations platform. Through the integrations platform, you can connect with software that you already use, such as Google Calendar, and have calls sent to a voicemail, or a colleague, when you are in a meeting, or to your cell phone when you’re available. Booth’s other features include autoattendants and business hour rules, among others.

BroadConnect – BroadConnect is a business VoIP service provider that has many advanced features, such as video and audio conferencing, mobility, custom IVRs, voice broadcasting and call analytics. The company offers a variety of types of phone systems for businesses of all sizes, including hosted PBX, SIP trunking and call center solutions.

Broadview Networks – Broadview Networks’ OfficeSuite platform is a hosted phone system that unifies all communications in the cloud and requires no out-of-pocket expense for new equipment. It includes unlimited calling, common and advanced features, online fax service, HD video, audio and web conferencing, toll-free phone numbers and service, as well as Internet access and multisite data-networking options. It also offers call center services and call-recording software.

Cebod Telecom – Cebod Telecom provides cloud-based telephony solutions for businesses of all sizes. The company offers a pay-per-line phone service model that allows businesses to pay per line, as opposed to per user. Cebod Telecom provides a wide variety of basic and premium IP PBX and dial-tone features, including autoattendants, call tracking, call logs, music on hold, call forwarding, voicemail, call queues, conference bridges, online faxing and SMS.

Cisco – Cisco offers a variety of phone systems, including the Business Edition 6000. This purpose-built, all-in-one solution is designed for companies with 25 to 1,000 users. The service also provides a variety of computer-integrated programs to help businesses collaborate with customers and employees. In addition to the Business Edition 6000, Cisco offers many other unified communication and contact center solutions.

Cloud Phone Answering – Cloud Phone Answering is a live telephone answering service that provides your business with a friendly, professional receptionist who will answer your phone and handle your calls just as you wish. With the receptionist service, you choose a local phone number. Clients and customers can either call that number directly, or you can divert any other number, such as your mobile phone number, to your new number. The receptionist then answers any calls that you are unable to get to and sends you your messages via email or text.

Comcast – Comcast’s business phone plans include a versatile service that can fit the needs of most businesses. The company offers basic lines, full-featured lines and voice mobility, which lets you take business calls wherever you work. Full-featured lines include unlimited local and long-distance calling, more than 20 features and web-based management. The Voice Mobility line allows you to automatically answer calls on all mobile devices and landlines and transfer calls between your mobile and office phones.

Dialpad– Dialpad is a cloud-based, business-grade phone system. Available on any device, anywhere, Dialpad includes voice, video, group messaging, SMS, MMS, conferencing, screen sharing and document sharing, and is integrated with Microsoft Office 365 and G Suite. Features include a virtual receptionist, call forwarding, call recording and visual voicemail.

Digium – Digium’s Switchvox offers both cloud-based and on-premise IP phone systems. Switchvox Cloud offers business owners the same feature set as the company’s on-premise phone system, but takes away the worry of handling daily maintenance, or making large up-front capital investments. Switchvox’s premises-based IP PBX provides an end-to-end unified communications solution with enterprise-class features.

ESI – ESI offers a wide range of cloud-based and on-premise phone systems for businesses of all sizes. Key features of its systems include web-based administration, a mobile app, easy phone programming, presence management, visual voicemail, secure chat, a click-to-call feature and automated help.

eVoice – eVoice is a full-service business phone system that’s managed entirely in the cloud. You select a toll-free or local business number and record a custom greeting with a menu of extensions. Then you decide where calls get routed and when. Your callers will see only your business number, no matter where you have the calls routed. Features include autoattendants, call logs, call queuing, call notification, call waiting, voicemail-to-email and voicemail transcription.

Evolve IP – Evolve IP’s phone systems free businesses from managing carriers, hardware and vendors, by providing a hosted PBX with unified communication features to any user, in any location. The phone system features group directories, three-way calling, call forwarding, overhead paging, unified messaging, hoteling and simultaneous rings. Evolve IP also offers hosted call-center services.

FacetCorp – FacetCorp’s FacetPhone is a full-featured VoIP business phone system with unified communications and full mobile access. FacetPhone has all the features that are needed in a business phone system, such as voicemail, autoattendants and conference bridges. FacetPhone is an on-premise system that runs on either a Mac mini or a Linux server.

FairPoint Communications – FairPoint Communications’ hosted PBX solution is a feature-rich phone system with mobile- and cloud-based services for businesses of any size. With FairPoint, all customer calls are routed over a secure Ethernet network for clear voice quality and reliable service. FairPoint service is only available in 17 states.

Fonality – Fonality’s business VoIP service and phone systems come bundled with the provider’s unified communications software. The company offers a hosted PBX and hybrid PBX system. Fonality provides advanced features for office phones, like multiple autoattendants and call recording, as well as contact-center functionality like barge, whisper and monitor. The systems also include instant messaging, screen sharing, presence and video collaboration.

FortiVoice – FortiVoice has options for businesses that are looking for traditional analog systems or VoIP systems. Both options offer a variety of features, including autoattendants, dial-by-name directories, music on hold, voicemail, voicemail to email, call logging and remote management. FortiVoice systems also allow for conference calls, call bridges, call waiting, call forwarding, call screening and caller ID routing.

FreedomVoice – FreedomVoice provides cloud-based communications systems for small to midsize businesses. The company offers three different systems: CloudNumber, CloudPhone and CloudPBX. CloudNumber is a virtual service that routes calls to you immediately or provides you with the ability to use a custom professional greeting to answer and route your calls for you. CloudPhone includes unlimited domestic local and long-distance calling. CloudPBX is a scalable, cloud-based business phone system that doesn’t require any big-ticket hardware. Each phone is professionally installed, configured and supported by a certified local partner.

Frontier – Frontier offers VoIP-based phone systems with unlimited local and long-distance calling. Frontier’s OneVoice system, designed for small businesses, features voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, call hunting, and selective call acceptance and rejection.

Globalgig – Globalgig is a provider of VoIP phone, SIP trunking, hosted call center and hosted Skype for Business services. The company’s VoIP system features an auto-attendant, hunt groups, voicemail to email and call recording. The call center services include an automatic call distributor, an IVR and music on hold.

Grasshopper – Grasshopper is a virtual phone system that lets you run your business via mobile phones. Grasshopper works with your existing mobile and home phones, so you never have to purchase, install or maintain expensive phone hardware. The system works by allowing you to create and customize extensions that forward calls to your home or mobile phones. For both a local and national presence, you can have toll-free and local numbers for your business. Other features include an autoreceptionist, music on hold, conference calling, call forwarding, call screening, voicemail and fax to email.

Handility – Handility is a full-featured cloud-based phone system. There is no equipment to purchase, maintain or upgrade. Handility offers both unlimited-usage plans as well as pay-as-you-go plans. Phone systems can be configured via a web interface, with drag-and-drop objects that are logically connected together to define the operation of your phone system. Features include the ability to forward calls to any phone number or VoIP destination, play back custom recorded messages to callers, send calls to a voicemail box, host conference calls and implement time and caller-routing scenarios.

ICS – ICS offers VoIP and hybrid business phone systems for companies of all sizes. ICS has multiple products that can be designed as a pure IP solution, a pure digital solution or as a hybrid mix.

Jive – Jive’s small business phone systems are VoIP-based and offer high-end features. The phone system includes more than 100 features, such as autoattendants, call monitoring, conferencing, corporate directories, custom greetings, on-hold music, dial-by-name and dial-by-extension options, call forwarding, call waiting and caller ID. The service also offers unlimited extensions, conference bridges, speed dialing, message-waiting indicators, individual call logs, voicemail-to-email and virtual faxing.

Loop Communications – Loop Communications provides hosted business phone systems to small and mid-sized businesses in North Carolina and South Carolina. The system features unlimited local and long distance calling within the United States, an automated attendant, call forwarding, call recording, cell phone extensions, three-way calling, music on hold, and voicemail to email. Loop Communications requires no long-term contracts.

MegaPath – MegaPath offers nationwide voice solutions for single-site and multisite businesses, including hosted voice over IP with unified communications, SIP trunking, PRI trunking and analog lines. MegaPath’s voice and unified communications services include advanced features like find me/follow me and visual voicemail, as well as SMS texting, instant messaging/presence, video calling and screen sharing. The company also offers call center services.

MightyCall – MightyCall is a cloud-based, virtual phone system that’s designed to simplify and improve customer access to support. With its mobile app, MightyCall consolidates client contact channels and captures every customer call, email and social media interaction, ensuring that every issue is handled in a timely fashion. Key features include SMS contact, a direct website-dialing widget, smart call forwarding, customized voicemails and call recording.

Mitel – Mitel business phone systems cover a range of digital and IP phones, consoles, conference phones and peripherals that are suited for businesses of all sizes and industries. The company’s MiVoice unified communications platform offers a complete range of flexible communications platforms. Mitel also offers several contact-center solutions.

Moneypenny – Moneypenny is a personal answering service. When someone calls your business number, if you’re unavailable or simply don’t want to answer the call yourself, the call is passed on to a Moneypenny receptionist. The receptionist can then transfer the call either to you or a colleague. If no one is available to take the call, the receptionist sends you a text or email, alerting you that you have a message waiting. Features of the service include toll-free numbers, local numbers, a bypass list and an online portal.

NewVoiceMedia – NewVoiceMedia offers a computer-telephone integration (CTI) platform, ContactWorld, that works within the Salesforce CRM (customer relationship management) software to provide integrated phone tools such as IVR, virtual queue, voicemail drop, screen pop, click-to-dial service, auto dialing, call recording and call routing. As a cloud-based CTI contact center solution, everything is delivered through a secure Internet connection, with no hardware or software to install and run. ContactWorld is able to route calls based on data in any field of your CRM, and because of its deep integration, it can run advanced analytics that bridge call information with all other CRM data. Inbound and outbound calls can be recorded and tracked, and analyzed and evaluated on everything from call duration to caller status. The system can be tailored to fit companies of all sizes.

Nextiva – The Nextiva cloud-based VoIP phone system is an all-inclusive unified communication solution that’s designed for businesses of all sizes. Nextiva’s phone systems offer unlimited calling, conference calling, free local and toll-free numbers, voicemail, on-hold messaging, silent monitoring capabilities and other features. The system also provides a mobile app that gives a business’s employees the option of using the system’s voice, video and instant-messaging capabilities straight from their mobile devices. In addition to its traditional business phone systems, Nextiva offers virtual phone systems and contact-center solutions. The call center plan includes call-queue visibility, free autoattendant recording and one-click transfers.

OnSIP – With OnSIP, a hosted business phone system, there’s no equipment to manage, and it’s easy to set up. OnSIP offers more than 50 phone-system features, hundreds of configuration options and the freedom to use any standard SIP phones. The company offers three pricing plans. Under the pay-as-you-go plan, businesses only pay for the features they need and the calls they make, while the unlimited plan allows users to make and receive as many calls as they want. The Per Seat Metered plan gives each employee his or her own voicemail box, autoattendant, ACD queue and ring group. There is also a free plan.

*Ooma Office – Ooma Office provides small businesses with VoIP phone systems that don’t require the purchase of special IP phones. Ooma’s system can accommodate up to 20 users. The service includes unlimited calling in the United States and Canada, caller ID, a virtual receptionist, extension dialing, voicemail, call transfers and a call log. Ooma also offers modes for after hours, ring groups, music on hold, conference bridges, voicemail forwarding and call forwarding. In addition, Ooma now offers a virtual-only system. Read our full review here.

PanTerra – PanTerra CloudUC is a comprehensive, business-class cloud unified communications solution. The system integrates advanced PBX services, real-time team collaboration tools, unified messaging, contact management, file sync and share and business analytics into a single solution that’s accessible from desktops to mobile devices. – is a cloud-based phone system. Service plans include online account management, unlimited extensions, advanced call routing, conference calling, custom greetings, caller analytics, and voicemail and online management. also offers iOS and Android mobile apps that allow employees to place and receive calls, get text notifications, listen to voicemails and forward calls while out of the office. Upgraded options include call recording, on-hold music and voicemail transcription.

Phonebooth – Phonebooth is a division of, a nationwide supplier of voice and data-communication services to small and medium-size businesses. Phonebooth OnDemand is a full-featured business phone system. Pay for as many users as needed and add users as you grow. Businesses get unlimited local and long-distance calling, with a range of business features, including autoattendants, voice-to-email transcriptions, conference calling and call forwarding.

PhonePower – PhonePower provides small businesses with VoIP-based phone systems. The service provides three-way calling, call forwarding, anonymous call rejection, call logs, call waiting, caller ID and caller ID block, virtual faxing and the ability to keep existing numbers. Additional highlights of PhonePower’s business phone systems are its online call-management system, online dashboard, block lists, voicemail-to-email options, and iPhone and Android mobile apps.

*RingCentral – With a RingCentral cloud phone system, you plug IP desk phones and PCs into your Internet connection and install the RingCentral Mobile App on your employees’ smartphones. These endpoints communicate with the RingCentral cloud platform for secure voice, fax, text, audio conferencing and HD video meetings. Service plans come with unlimited calling and online faxing in the United States and Canada. RingCentral offers small businesses conference calling, call forwarding, call screening, paging, call logs, missed-call notifications, music on hold, an autoreceptionist and more. In addition, the online account-management system lets businesses control extensions, mobile devices, call logs and voicemail. Besides its office plans, RingCentral also provides contact center solutions and virtual phone systems for employers with mobile workforces. Read our full review here.

*ShoreTel – With ShoreTel, small businesses have the option of using a cloud-based, on-premise system that runs via the company’s IP network, or a hybrid of both. ShoreTel Connect Cloud offers an autoattendant, full conferencing capabilities, instant messaging, video chat, call blocking, caller ID, call transfers and other features. In addition, the cloud-based system provides monitoring tools so that managers can listen in on their employees’ calls if needed. ShoreTel also offers contact-center phone systems. Read our full review here.

TDS – TDS offers a variety of business VoIP and phone solutions, including hosted VoIP service and SIP and PRI trunking services. Among the features included in TDS’s hosted VoIP service are instant messaging, virtual collaboration rooms, voicemail to email, Outlook integration, call logs, call notifications and call forwarding.

Telzio – Telzio provides cloud-based phone systems with voice, mobile, SMS, fax and conferencing solutions for small and medium-size businesses. The phone system works with a standard Internet connection and any SIP-compatible IP phone or softphone. Telzio’s various plans include call forwarding, custom call flows, interactive voice response, opening-hours filters, conference calls and on-hold music. The plans also offer local and toll-free numbers, call screening, voicemail, caller ID, call logs and the ability to keep your current phone number.

Time Warner – Time Warner’s business phone systems include more than 25 advanced calling features and a variety of calling plans. The mobility package allows you to create a virtual office that helps you stay connected to customers and associates from virtually any device or location. Features include three-way calling, call transfer, call forwarding, an autoattendant and custom rings.

Toshiba – Toshiba offers on-premise and cloud-based VoIP phone systems for small businesses. The systems vary based on the number of users each business has; the largest plan is able to manage up to 1,000 users. The system offers basic calling features, including caller ID, extension numbers, call transfers, customized voicemail and customized call-hold messages. Some plans provide text-to-speech service, an autoattendant, voice response options and other advanced features. Toshiba also offers mobility and contact-center solutions.

Verizon – Verizon offers VoIP phone systems, unified communications systems and contact-center services. Its VoIP portfolio includes IP Trunking, IP Integrated Access, Virtual Communications Express and Business Connection services. The company can help integrate your voice and data traffic and provide a platform for layering networking products to support unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions.

Virtual PBX – Virtual PBX’s product offerings include hosted VoIP, disaster recovery and phone/fax/email integration. The company’s office plans are based on the number of lines needed. This service offers unlimited minutes and extensions, local and toll-free numbers, virtual receptionists, dial-by-name directories, virtual faxing, music on hold, information on hold, day and night modes, and a web-based management system. It also offers small businesses call blocking, supervised call transfers and multistage dialing.

VoIPstudio – VoIPstudio is a cloud-based business phone system.  The system offers a host of features, including unlimited calling, number portability, virtual numbers, music on hold, conference calling, follow me, extension dialing, voicemail, ring groups, call queues and call barging. VoIPstudio also integrates with Salesforce, Oracle Sales Cloud and Microsoft Dynamics CRM software.

VoIPX – VoIPX is a cloud-based phone system and service provider that provides service to customers across the United States. The system includes more than 50 standard features, including autoattendants, follow me, call recording, call blocking, successive or simultaneous ringing, voicemail to email and customized on-hold music. In addition, each customer receives a free phone when he or she signs a contract with VoIPX. The company has a 24/7 U.S.-based customer support team.

Vonage – Vonage offers cloud-based phone systems that are designed specifically for businesses with less than 50 employees. Among some of the system’s more popular features are a virtual receptionist, paperless fax, visual voicemail and online administration portal. Other features include music on hold, conference calling, click to dial and a mobile app for iOS and Android devices.

Windstream – Windstream Hosted Communication is an IP business phone system that includes collaboration, mobility and continuity, allowing small businesses to be reached at all times. The system features seamless integration between PCs, landlines, tablets and mobile phones, and the ability to use one number across all devices.

Xblue – Xblue digital and VoIP phone systems are install-ready. Features like hold, call transfer, conferencing and intercom are already set up and ready to use when you first turn on your new system. Even voicemail is ready to receive messages on every phone as soon as the phone is connected to the system. Xblue’s systems are hybrids, because they support both standard telephone company lines and Internet-based VoIP lines. The two types of lines can be used at the same time. The company also offers cloud VoIP line service with no contracted period and no early termination fee.

Zultys – Zultys is an all-in-one IP business phone system that integrates voice, video, data and mobility. The company offers both cloud-based on on-premise phone systems. Zultys MXvirtual is a fully integrated, unified communication solution and IP phone system that integrates voice, video, data and mobility, to optimize collaboration and communications for businesses of all sizes. The MX250 IP phone system is a feature-rich, enterprise-class business IP telephony system that supports high-quality VoIP and unified communications services for up to 250 users, while the MX-SE is an IP phone system that enables VoIP and unified communications services for up to 50 users in a smaller office or branch-location environment.

Info Leverage the Cloud for Superior Customer Service

Along with enduring root canals and eliminating malware, dealing with customer service call centers probably ranks near the top of the “most painful experiences in life” list for many people.

Causes for the discomfort include: complex telephone trees that require a preposterous number of key presses to get anywhere; interminable hold times; agents who lack all but the most child-like expertise; and, most maddening: when a customer finally connects with someone who might actually help — they are frequently disconnected.

There has to be a better way. And, there is… in the cloud.

Cloud-based services and applications are making headway into reducing this customer service mess, allowing small business owners to affordably improve the customer experience with cool features that people love, including social media and mobile device interfaces.

The importance of customer service management (CSM)

According to a ClickFox survey

  • More than 50 percent of disgruntled customers will spread negative information to others in their social circles.
  • More than one-third of unhappy customers will completely stop doing business with a company that has wronged them.
  • Even worse, 60 percent of those people exposed to these negative comments in social media are influenced by them, meaning most people will avoid you if their friends say you stink.

Not only does this represent lost revenue from these particular customers, but it can wreak havoc on SMB marketing efforts (and budgets) that now have to overcome not just their competitors’ advertising messages but also the negative perceptions and bad word-of-mouth caused by these unpleasant customer service experiences.

Cloud solutions

Placing your customer service in the cloud better meets the expectations of customers who are increasingly connected to the web via mobile devices and, therefore, expect instant answers. Rather than deal with a call center, many even prefer self-service answers for their support issues, searching online to bypass traditional help desks altogether.

Businesses can enable this migration of customer service functions with an ever-increasing list of services, including Zendesk, Service Cloud,, Parature, and Zoho. Most provide not only traditional phone, email and chat functions, but also integrate with social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to offer robust self-service options.

Mobile-specific CSM apps include Gripe, available for both iPhone and Android, which enables consumers to vote positively for a company with a “cheer” or complain with a “gripe,” both of which get posted to their Twitter and Facebook accounts while also messaging the company’s customer service department for quick resolution.

Tangible benefits

According to a Frost & Sullivan report, one 500-seat cloud-based implementation provides up to twice the cost savings of a 100-seat dedicated center over a five-year period. Imagine the impact on your business and customer retention to have five times the customer service agents at half the cost!

There are other advantages of cloud CSM, such as:

  • Eliminating server equipment and maintenance costs
  • Improving agent productivity and first contact resolution rates (Solutions are moved from spreadsheets and other arcane local systems to easily searchable online databases.)
  • Achieving scalability by adjusting agent numbers as required (Some solutions offer instant additional part-time agent rentals for as little as $1 per hour.)
  • Reducing call volume, thanks to social media and self-service elements

While the benefits of the cloud are clear, there is one caveat: The increase in unprotected mobile endpoints increasingly used to access these remote systems leaves local signature-based antivirus protection schemes inadequate to safeguard against the torrent of malware. Fortunately, real-time cloud-based antivirus protection safeguards users without the need to download and update massive signature files.

For easy scalability, lower costs and a better customer experience, small businesses should look to the cloud for their CSM solutions.

Tips to Find Efficient Power Plant Electrical Contractors

Choosing a good contractor experienced in working with myriad OEM machines and equipment is always a smart decision. Although it might be really simple to find an

electrical contractor to do electrical repair work in your residence, choosing the right one can make a big difference. There are a few considerations you need to keep

in mind prior to choosing an electrical contractor.

1. Check the license: Never hire an unlicensed contractor or electrician in any capacity. It may look like a good deal, but it may end up costing you more than extra

money in the end. Unlicensed contractors are not bonded and have not taken any kind of exam to be assured they have the knowledge to perform the type of work you may

need to be done.

It is important to choose an electrical contracting specialist who is completely certified to take the job. It would be much preferred if the contractor is a person in

a most respected establishment as it will provide better results in the conclusion of the job. The recommendation of relatives and buddies may also be looked for prior

to hiring electrical engineer to conduct the service. The certification of every contractor must be verified. Clients must be given professional guidance with regards

to their electrical needs.

2. Go for full service contractors: It will be beneficial for clients to hire the full-service contractors as it provides a range of electrical services in a cheaper

price range. These businesses normally abide by all government restrictions and are fully qualified. The electrical contractors working in these organizations are

fully equipped to set up, sustain, design as well as fix commercial, non-commercial plus industrial electrical jobs and electrical systems.

3. Provides Materials & Electrical Components: These companies provide all of the materials and electrical components needed for these jobs. Isolated Phase Bus Duct

installation, surge safety and lightning protection are a couple of the other electrical options provided by a complete service electrical contractor organization.

With regards to electrical services performed by inside electrical contractors, all electrical jobs both outside and inside are handled by them within the limitations

of their business, residential or commercial field.

4. Ask what kind of work the electrician has done in the past. It is usually a pretty good indication of what you should expect in the future.

5. Know the electrician’s real concern as you speak with them about your project: Make sure you clear out concerns like – Are they concerned about what you are trying

to accomplish on your project? Are they upfront and confident about pricing? Do they care about your needs and the needs of your property?

By Following the above-mentioned steps, you can find the best, affordable and efficient power plant electrical contractors in Charleston.

The Endpoint Management

The variety of ways workers are now connecting together and to the web to work more effectively continues to grow.

As the connections expand, so do the steps that need to be taken to ensure those connections communicate with the network in a secure fashion.

Because employees increasingly are using mobile devices to connect to the corporate network, this puts pressure on IT to provide endpoint security and device management solutions that make sense for both the mobile worker and the enterprise.

Research firm IDC predicts that the number of mobile workers will increase to 1.19 billion by the year 2013. The variety of devices that these workers use to connect to the network will also continue to grow.

According to the iPass 2011 Mobile Enterprise Report, 73 percent of enterprises allow non-IT managed devices to access corporate resources. This is a figure that is likely to get larger as 83 percent of firms said they expect to support Apple’s iOS, while 77 percent anticipate supporting Android-enabled devices.

Each mobile device provides its own set of security vulnerabilities. Additionally, mobile equipment has less evolved security applications – most have no anti-virus or anti-spyware protection on the devices themselves. So endpoint devices are among hacker’s preferred targets.

According to the Juniper Networks Malicious Mobile Threats Report 2010/2011, there was a 400 percent increase in Android malware between June 2010 and January 2011.

To take advantage of the productivity offered by web-enabled endpoint devices, including laptops, smartphones and tablets, it is essential that firms adopt policies and procedures that protect enterprise data while enabling staff to use the mobile devices that best fit their needs.

Use Best Practices for Endpoint Security Solutions
There are a number of established best practices for endpoint security management- among these observances are:

  • Require the staff to sign policies and usage statements for all endpoint devices, including those owned by the business and employee-owned equipment. Policies and usage statements should clearly state the security and support that IT will provide, so it is responsible only for those apps and services that IT delivers and approves.
  • Use the cloud layer to route all network requests such as email and server access to block security threats before they can do any damage.
  • Place security solutions in the cloud. This method enables the enterprise to provide central endpoint device management and security rather than going to each device to install security applications.
  • Use the cloud layer to provide authorization capabilities, allowing workers to access different areas of the network, depending on their needs. For example, an auditor might need access to sensitive corporate financial information, while a customer service representative would need to access customer transactions.
  • Delete corporate information from endpoint devices in the event that they are lost or stolen or if the employee’s relationship with the company ends. The Juniper malware study reports that 1 in 20 mobile devices were lost or stolen.
  • Provide centralized access to applications to ensure that they have the latest security protections.
  • Educate staff about the latest threats and the need for security to be everyone’s responsibility and not just that of IT. Staff should be alerted to the latest social engineering techniques as they pertain to popular social media and financial institution sites, search term poisoning, etc. to lure users to innocuous looking websites that can redirect devices and trick users into revealing confidential corporate and personal information.

By following these best practices, the enterprise can help ensure that its sensitive data and endpoints are protected while enabling workers to leverage the power and flexibility of these mobile devices

Backing Retail In Business

Mark Cummins, the man behind Pointy, spoke on The Capital B this week. Not his first foray into the world of tech (he previously sold a company to Google), Pointy aims to help get local stores online as well as help consumers find the products they need fast.

So what exactly does it do? Pointy is a device that attaches to the barcode scanner in each shop and automatically lists the products to a website, Mark explained where the concept came from;

“It really simplifies making a website for a local shop, quite a lot of local retailers have websites but they’re not getting anything out of it. Consumers are looking for products and that product information is not available online so all the local shops are invisible. When people are doing these searches on Google they’re getting redirected, so local stores are not picking up the business that by rights they should be”

“It’s like a location service, most of the time people just want to go in and pick up the product in person, you’d be absolutely amazed by what people search for.”

Pointy also has some big name investors behind it, international rugby star Jamie Heaslip is involved, who Mark says has a huge interest in tech.

“He’s actually very tech savvy, it’s an interest of his, he likes that we have a local Irish angle”.

Also on The Capital B this week, we’re chatting to the Commercial Director of Lidl Ireland, the founder of Popertee delivers a lesson on how to find the perfect retail space for your store and Freshii’s Dave O’Donoghue on why talk is big but execution is everything.