Phone Systems For Small Business – 8 Criteria For Evaluating an IP Phone System

Shoretel’s CEO, John Combs, presented a keynote address recently at IT Expo West, providing very relevant advice to IT managers and others buying a voice over IP (VOIP) phone system. He used the MAC iPhone as an analogy, to illustrate how new technology can quickly dominate an industry. In the case of a VOIP business phone system, IP technology is poised to dominate correspondingly over existing analog (TDM) systems.

VOIP telephone systems can greatly increase user adaption rates, leading to improved productivity in an organization. An IP phone system allows the collaborative and reach aspects of unified messaging technology. The VOIP telephone system generally includes features such as teleconferencing, unified messaging (voicemail in email), web collaboration, mobile integration (cell phones), presence (to locate employees quickly), instant messaging, video conferencing and business process integration (customer relationship management, sales, accounting, etc.).

What differentiates one vendor’s small business phone systems from another’s? Mr. Combs suggests a a very structured selection process when choosing office telephone systems with VOIP for business. He proposed 8 evaluation criteria to be used by the evaluation team making the choice of a new VOIP business phone system:

  1. Usability. There must be an onsite demonstration including the exact hardware to be deployed. It is often advisable to have two or more vendors demonstrate side-by-side, or on the other hand to install alternative prototypes at two separate company offices and then exchange systems and locations to find out which one was best.
  2. Reliability. What is the anticipated failure rate, based on actual deployed systems using Bellcore/Telecordia standards? Mr Combs pointed out that academic failure rates are not sufficient for confidence in deploying a new system. You don’t want to the the “guinea pig” for a vendor’s prototype or Beta testing.
  3. Availability. Make certain understand the impact of downtime on the business based on the planned configuration. Count the points of failure are there in the vendor’s configuration?
  4. Scalability. What are the costs should you need to double the planned configuration?
  5. Architecture. What methodology was used to design the system? Was it well thought out or technology patched together from disparate systems and conflicting architectures?
  6. Total Cost of Ownership. Most of the time upfront costs (hardware, network and implementation) amount to only 20% of the complete system expense over the system’s lifecycle. Day-to-day costs (training, move/add/change, system management, network and utilities) can amount to 80% over the system lifetime. What is the case with the systems under consideration?
  7. Vendor Financial Status. Make sure the vendor has a solid balance sheet, or be prepared for support issues should they encounter financial difficulty.
  8. Vendor References. Your team should contact their industry associates for information relevant to the vendors being considered Did they make a wise decision with this vendor? Do they know of other references? How do actual costs compare to vendor estimates? Is it easy for IT staff to support? What about any “raving fans?”

When evaluating to upgrade small business phone systems, the usual choice is a VOIP business phone system. A careful evaluation of each vendor’s offerings and in particular the presence of “raving fans” for any VOIP business phone system are critical in getting all the benefits of VOIP for business.

A Short Introduction to iPhone

IPhone is a Smartphone designed and marketed by Apple Inc. The first generation of iPhone was unveiled on January 9, 2007 by Apple president Steve Jobs, although official sales started on June 29, 2007. The first generation of iPhone was 2G but later it upgraded to 3G from the 2nd and onward versions. All the versions are powered by the iOS, a specialized mobile Operating System made exclusively for iPhone by Apple.

IPhone has a 3.5 inch scratch-proof capacitive touch screen. Majority of user inputs are done by this touch screen and hardware inputs are limited by just 4 buttons. It has proxy sensor to detect the phone position and an accelerometer to detect phone rotation. First generation of iPhone lacks the GPS feature although later A-GPS is added into iPhone.

IPhone provides Bluetooth 2.x + EDR connectivity for wireless headphone and other accessories but it does not allow users to share Multimedia files over Bluetooth. For better music experience iPhone has a standard 3.5 mm audio jack connector.

According to official specifications, first generation of iPhone battery was capable of supporting 250 hours standby, 8 hours of talk time and 24 hours music playing while the latest version of iPhone, iPhone 4 offers 300 hours standby, 24 hours music, 12 hours 2G and 5 hours 3G talk time.

First two versions of iPhone have a 2 MP fixed focus camera. 3GS has a 3.2 MP camera and iPhone 4 has a 5 MP video recording enabled camera. The camera on iPhone 4 has an LED flash, High ISO sensitivity and HD quality video recording capabilities.

IPhone does not support external storage card. It features very large internal storage, it has many variant ranged from 4GB to 32GB storage.

To provide the best possible flexibility, iPhone interface and software are specifically designed for the iPhone OS. IPhone supplies a lot of bundled software like digital compass, Map, Calculator, Web browser, Mail client, Organizer and many more. It also supports 3rd party software. It has direct integration with Apple stores and multimedia sharing and social networking sites.

As a phone iPhone has all the basic features like conference call, caller holding, caller id and other network services. First generation of iPhone only supports 2G but later version includes a faster data transfer speed. IPhone 3G has UMTS and HSDPA 3.6 mbps connectivity but iPhone 3GS supports HSDPA 7.2 mbps connectivity.

The Apple iPhone is a revolutionary phone in mobile phone industry. It has made a drastic change in user interface and mobile phone user performance all over the mobile world.

Using Communication Styles That Entertain, Inform, Convince and Persuade Effectively

Effective communications are essential for building both personal and professional relationships with others. First impressions count so it is important to choose words that others can relate to quickly.

Every industry and function has its jargon. For example, talking to bankers about interest rate sensitivity, to product developers about time-to-market, and to manufacturing enterprises about overhead costs builds rapport. Salespeople prefer words that convey energy and excitement; medical practitioners prefer words that suggest care and well being; accountants and attorneys prefer precise language; and technologists prefer words that convey solutions.

Because people often make decisions on emotion, and then justify them rationally, it is essential to use motivational language. Whereas ultimately that means using persuasive language, the entertaining, informing, and convincing styles are useful for raising emotion.

Successful salespeople claim that it takes multiple interactions with a prospect to make a sale – at least five is not uncommon. Unsuccessful salespeople usually give up before they have reached the threshold required to close. Many interactions are required to build trust, which is based upon communications and the accompanying actions.

Large transactions between enterprises, such as long-term contracts, or mergers and acquisitions may require field trips and site visits over multiple days. These events require discussions and presentations in meetings, and over breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Eventually the parties meet across the table to negotiate the deal. Minimizing the amount of face time with counter parties reduces the risk of something being said that is out of place. So face time should be reserved to those situations where messages can be powerfully transmitted with anticipation and deliberation.

During negotiations, the parties must never be off guard, and all language to entertain, inform, convince, and persuade should be chosen carefully by understanding the needs of the audience and their backgrounds. Therefore, it is necessary to determine what motivates an audience and what it aspires to – their industry and functional backgrounds provide clues.

It is important to understand whether the audience prefers the “analytical” approach (findings followed by conclusions followed by recommendations), or “bottom-line” approach (recommendations based upon conclusions based upon findings). “Process-oriented” people, such as accountants, attorneys, and engineers, usually want to build the case, whereas “people-oriented” people, such as those in entertainment, health care, and sales, usually want to get straight to the point.

The four communications styles can be used to inspire the audience accordingly:

Entertaining style – appropriate as an “ice breaker” at a formal meeting or presentation:

  • Start with an example of a relevant event or situation, made humorous if possible
  • Describe images of the event or situation in vivid words, using poetic license if appropriate
  • Relate to personal experiences with examples
  • Make a transition to the current event or situation
  • Make relevant points of comparison
  • End with a memorable statement related to the most important point

Informative style – appropriate at larger “town hall” style meetings:

  • Start with an example of a relevant event or situation
  • Describe images of the event or situation with vivid words
  • Discuss what the complicated the situation, what the problems were, and how solutions were reached
  • Make a transition to the current event or situation
  • Talk about the presentation – give an overview
  • Discuss complications, problems, and potential or actual solutions
  • Be fact based, using examples where possible based upon observations and experience
  • Summarize key points
  • Talk about the presentation – what it was about
  • End with a memorable statement related to the most important point

Convincing style – appropriate for smaller meetings where the audience needs to be convinced of an idea or condition in order to modify behavior:

  • Start with an example of a relevant event or situation
  • Make a transition to the specific idea or condition
  • Answer the “why?” – initial benefit statement regarding the idea or condition
  • Answer “what is it?” – a summary of the idea or condition
  • Answer “what’s in it for the audience?” – benefits of the idea or condition in detail
  • Describe the rationale of the idea or condition with facts, statistics, and metrics
  • Respond to objections as suggestions
  • Summarize the idea or condition
  • Call to action – describe the behavior modification as a consequence of convincing the audience
  • End with a memorable statement related to the most important point

Persuasive style – appropriate for small meetings where the audience needs to be persuaded to do something based upon an opportunity or threat:

  • Start with an example of a relevant opportunity or threat
  • Make a transition to the specific opportunity or threat
  • Answer the “why?” – initial benefit statement regarding the action required to respond to the opportunity or threat
  • Answer the “status” – what is the current situation, and what complicates it
  • Answer “what is it?” – describe the problem
  • Answer “where does the audience want to go?”- describe the alternative solutions
  • Answer “how does the audience get there from here?” – use either the “analytical” approach or the “bottom-line” approach supported by facts, statistics, and metrics
  • Respond to objections as suggestions
  • Confirm the opportunity or threat with the recommendations and the principal benefit
  • Call to action – describe what the audience must do
  • End with a memorable statement related to the most important recommendation

Every individual operates within their own world from which they perceive events, situations, ideas, conditions, opportunities, and threats. Their personal style determines what they aspire to and what inspires them. It is important to understand the personal style of each individual member of an audience so as to use a communication style that gets results.

Evolution of Telephone – The Journey From the First Telephone to VoIP Phone

Nobody is ignorant of the fact that the first telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in March 1876. That is where the communications field of modern times takes its roots from.

This invention would have not collected much attention, which Bell's weak expectations said, but it was the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, where Brazil's Emperor Dom Pedro de Alcantara took notice of this rather interesting manmade invention. He could not help but be amazed by bell's substantial creativity, which reflected in his creation the telephone.

In the early days, telephone was only seen as a luxury of life rather than a commodity. It only gained more popularity as an essential medium of communication at the time when many corporate and government offices began to use it.

During the 1880's, when metallic circuits were introduced, they took over long distance communications. However, for a decade, its usage remained restricted to a certain class who could afford paying for the heavy calling expenses. Until in the 1890's, with the emergence of party line, it became convenient for people living in rural areas in particular to divide the cost of the line used by many.

Prior to 1891, calls were made by exchange operators, but until until a new system for direct dialing system. Then there was putting telephone to its best use in 1927, when the first transatlantic phone call was made with the help of radio waves. It was the through the time of First and Second World War, when telephone went through a major developmental period, all thanks to the huge expenditures made by the Defense Department for ensuring safer communication across. These series of advances also led to the creation of the first mobile telephone system, which easily connected mobile vehicles to phones using radio waves.

In 60's era, the transatlantic cables were introduced to facilitate for dialing international calls.

Neverheless, the largest shifts seen in the history of telephones was in 1962, when the first telephone satellite TelStar was launched. Telstar was a joint business venture between Bell and NASA for brining in a more advanced form of communication. This paved way for satellites revolving within the geosynchronous orbit to be used for making long distance calls directly without exceeding on the cable lines, not to mention suffering because of the repeated cable damage and repair pain.

Fiber optic cables were first introduced in 1977. By mid 80's, fiber optic cable took precedence over other modes of telephone transmission, because it could facilitate a higher number of calls with less interference, compared to its predecessor methods. It could transmit information more quickly to farther areas and strongly resisted any mishaps particularly lightning strikes. In short, it offered a number of advantages and safer than other modes. Owing to the benefits, these fiber optic cables are also began to be used for computers too.

After the US government relaxed the regulations on telephone service, AT & T met up to face a tough competition from MCI, Sprint and many other local companies. This paved way for fiber optic lines to be used vastly in every industry, even began to be used for natural gas pipelines and railroad tracks.

It was in 1973 when Dr. Martin Cooper belonging to Motorola Corporation created the first cellular telephone call using a portable handset, namely the Dyna-Tac. After it completed a successful test run, it was introduced in New York Public. It was in 1977 when the cell phone became popular among the people. Initially introduced models appeared slightly larger and commonly used by those who were used to stay in touch by two-way radio communication mode. At that time, one could not imagine that it was going to be used by everyone. Cellular phones functioned with small "cells" for service range, to increase the facility of handling more calls. Cell phones made it possible to attend an increased number of calls at a time in one area.

However, initially, the primary cellular services rather used analog system of technology, which functioned at 800 Megahertz incessantly. As the time went on, the industry increased the standard to 1850 MHz with PCS. In 1988, a committee, formerly Cellular Technology Industry Association, was formed to formulate guidelines and put on regulations for the cellular service providers and functioned for development and growth of the cell phone industry. Today, we have approximately 60 million cellular telephone customers, an overwhelming huge number for a service that only started working commercially merely thirty years back.

Today, we use digital cell / mobile phones, in place of analogue phones. The digital technology transfers data in form of "pulses". The benefit of digital signals is that they are rather more securely transmitted compared to its analog contenders, and it gives more efficient bandwidth and a higher quality of sound. You can even share videos and photos while surfing the internet. All at the same time integrated within your phones.

However, in digital technology there is a slight problem with coverage. For example, owing to three different technologies a cellular phone uses, in case you are using a TDMA (time-division multiple access) system but you move in an area, which caters to CDMA (code-division multiple access) digital coverage, then You may have to face technology problems.

There is a perfect solution for it and the united analog-digital technology that the cell phone providers are shifting to. This way you can get excellent great coverage for all types of communication, with high speed and uncompromising quality.

To talk about the first "audio conferencing" to be ever used could be the time when part lines had been introduced for the first time back in telephone's early days. Although, at that time, the only benefit people could seek from the part lines was the economic factor but there was a problem that a number of people in disimilar locations could pick up and talk on the same simultaneously, leading to an eavesdropping situation and zero Privacy element.

The idea of ​​calling a number of people, which was initially derived from part lines, was revived again but this time in a better and more private package. It had time limits and only to be accessed in times of need.

Following this notification, companies all over the world began to offer services, which coordinated a facility for conference calling for companies, giving them fixed rates, monthly fees or based on the number of calls made. This served fruitful as it saved traveling expenses and other calling expenditures. They provided a trained operator to enable connections between every participant on a dedicated line. This way, a group of people could easily communicate with one another at one time. The service providers offered affordable rates to their customers.

Sooner, many telephone-manufacturing companies sometimes Polycom, AT & T and Panasonic developed office telephone systems that allowed office users to invite a client, put them on hold and then dial up another party. This helped in building a multiple-connection set up for callers to communicate easily with more than two people at a time to discuss significant business deals.

Along came internet, which happens to be the best communication medium ever created through the history of mankind. The Internet paced up competition between phone service providers, particularly challenging the audio conferencing facility and the long distance calling cost. Neverheless, they have lowered their calling costs to a greater extent, yet the unbeatable broadband phone or internet phone is becoming everyone's favorite, beating its contender – the traditional telephone, because it is much cheaper and affordable.

Voip, which stands for "Voice Over Internet Protocol" is now the most popular mean of communication because it charges only for call, no regulatory taxes or hidden charges, like the charges put up by traditional phone companies. Voip phones or broadband phone use high-speed internet to function and let you enjoy the same quality of service offered by traditional phones. You can not only make calls with your voip phone but also the high-speed internet phone lets you enjoy services of high-speed data transfer services like data sharing, audio conferencing and video conferencing. With voip, you are guaranteed to save a lot on your calling and communication needs.

VoIP offers you audio conferencing facility to network with multiple groups or parties no matter what their geographical locations are. This enables the customers to connect with their clients spread worldwide and arrange for a virtual meeting online. Today, Voip calling solutions are being provided by Axvoice, Vonage, 8×8, Voxwire, Packet 8, TTCGlobalTalk and VoiceCafe among many others, giving an excellent quality of service.

What Are the Advantages of an Underground Drainage System?

When constructing your home or making improvements in your property or garden, one important area that must be considered is that of an efficient drainage system. This can prevent a number of undesirable problems occurring as well as even protecting your health.

All too often many homeowners never think about issues such as flooding or water contamination until they happen, by which time they can be faced with costly repair bills on top of the now evident need to install an effective drainage system. So what are underground drainage systems, and what are their advantages?

An underground drainage system is a solution for collecting excess water and transporting it via underground pipes to a suitable waste water disposal area. Typical water collection sites include guttering and grates in several strategic points around a property, yard or garden, and this group of systems supplies the underground drainage pipes with excess water.

The first obvious advantage of the such systems is that it is out of sight. Other drainage systems that do not use underground pipes can be quite unsightly leaving homeowners searching for a solution that is more pleasant in appearance. Underground drainage systems are out of sight and out of mind whilst they do their job serving your property. The other most significant benefit of the underground drainage system is that it prevents the obvious accumulation of water that comes with not having an efficient system in place. As one can imagine, a complete system can stop rainwater pooling in spaces at the exterior of the property, including in yards and gardens.

Water logging in these kinds of areas can kill the plants of enthusiastic gardeners and provide a serious safety hazard for anyone who has to walk through a flooded area. In addition to this, water that has pooled in a specific area can cause damage to property, machinery or other objects it is in contact with.

Underground drainage also supplies keen gardeners with another major advantages; their plot of land will not be destroyed by soil erosion caused by inefficient draining of excess water. Water which becomes stagnant in the ground can turn soil into a muddy mass, meaning that plants will not only die, but soil can be eroded away, potentially ruining a garden. There is another key advantage to installing an underground drainage system in a property, which affects the health and safety of its occupiers.

In times when your region experiences periods of extremely heavy weather, you may be a victim of flash floods. Flash floods can unfortunately bring contaminants into a garden or property, meaning that potentially dangerous elements can enter into the home and therefore come into contact with the residents. An underground drainage system supplies the occupiers with a sense of security that their property is at reduced risk of being affected in this way. With such systems in place, excess water from flooding and the potentially harmful materials it contains is transported away from the premises so no one living in the property is negatively affected.

A disadvantage; however, to underground drainage systems, is that they can be expensive to install and maintain. That said, it is a factor worth considering when an excess of water threatens the livelihood of a garden, home and its occupiers. Drainage supplies are available from a number of reputable stockists that can enable a competent DIYer to install a simple system of their owner. Similarly, trained professionals can obtain high quality supplies in order to put an effective system in place for you. Either way, an underground drainage system brings many benefits to a home and its residents, and is an option to seriously consider when constructing new house or simply making improvements to an existing one.

Utility of Modern Cell Phones

One can make a huge amount of savings by purchasing wholesale cell phones in the market. The purpose of buying these phones can vary. However, the ultimate aim is to get quality and affordable phones. In recent times, you are exposed to a great range of phones in the market. Hence it creates confusion while buying the phone models as every model is very elegant and exquisite. The cell phones are available in two models that include smart phones and the single-function phones.

A lot of people are resorting to the purchase of smart phones that have a lot of additional features. However, there are certain people who want to have the phones of old style. These phones were manufactured earlier and have less numbers of functionalities. The simplest function is that a person can make an outgoing call and receive an incoming call. You can also get the options of the internet browsing, text messaging and online music by the utilization of smart phones. These smart phones have got the functionalities of a reminder, notifications, daily planner and many other activities. Smart phone comes in the form of a pocket computer and helps you to increase your efficiency even at the time of being away from office.

It is possible for you to carry out your assignments sitting in any part of the world with most of the features available in the latest cell phones. Mobile phones also assist you during emergencies and one can also let the others know about the alterations and frequent updates made by him. It is important to check for the quality of the wholesale cell phones and the carrier interoperability. The technology can be either GSM or CDMA. An important factor is that, these cell phones must have the facilities to support the 3G system. It is a smart idea to buy quad-band cellular phones for the purpose of interoperability on the international level.

Effective Communication Systems That Make Our Lives Easier

In today’s fast paced society you continue to see the advancement of technology giving us more and more great things to make our lives easier. You can’t deny the simple fact that these advancements have really increased our ability to communicate around the globe.

If you take the time to think about it for a little while you can really see how big of a change has come in a very short space of time. One of the best inventions we have at our disposal is the telephone. Many of us still write letters once in a while, but just think how our world would be if we didn’t have telephones and all we used was mail and telegrams. With the phone you can just as easily call someone on the other side of the planet as you can your next door neighbor or a friend in another town.

There is no doubt that telephone communications have drastically improved how we do things and to think that without telephone we would not have the internet like we do now. The longer we are around the more we will see things increase in speed as well as become easier. Even now you can send a text to someone on the other side of the planet and receive an answer back almost immediately.

Not only does this help us with business, but also in other areas such as vacation planning. You now can log online get some information on any part of the world, book your tickets, rooms and even meals while you sit at home. And to think without our sophisticated communication network we would be unable to control air traffic to make this all possible.

As you look at what we have you can’t help, but appreciate the advanced systems that had to put into place to make our lives easier as well as make the world seem like a smaller place. Without our advanced communication it would be impossible to effectively have relations with other countries in a matter like we now do. Can you imagine trying to negotiate a deal with another country using snail mail? It wouldn’t work. It would be quite conceivable to think that without fast communication our lives would be a lot less filled with what is happening around the world. Some might argue that it would be a better place, but you can’t disagree that it would not be as much fun.

I know that every time I use the telephone to talk to a loved one overseas I’m sure happy for the communication system we have in place to allow us to do just that.

Integrated Marketing Communications – 5 Primary Communication Tools

Communication is always one of the most important and vital strategic areas of an organization's success. You can have the best or most innovative products or services, but if your internal and external communications are weak, then the demand for your products or services raises a personal flag of concern. When communicating the value of your products or services, you want to focus on how they will benefit your clients.

When planning your strategy for Integrated Marketing Communication or IMC, you want to have dialogue with your customers by inviting interaction through the coordinated efforts of content, timing and delivery of your products or services. By including direction, clarity, consistency, timing and appearance of your messages, conveyed to your targeted audience, these factors will help avoid any confusion about the benefits of your brand, through the connection of instant product recognition.

When looking at your marketing mix, you're examining price, distribution, advertising and promotion, along with customer service. Integrated marketing communication is part of that marketing mix included in your marketing plan. IMC strategies define your target audience, establishes objectives and budgets, analyzes any social, competitive, cultural or technological issues, and conducts research to evaluate the effectiveness of your promotional strategies.

If companies are technically planning, communicating, and following industry guidelines, they will most likely earn the trust of their customers and target audience. There are five basic tools of integrated marketing communication:

1. Advertising:
This tool can get your messages to large audiences efficiently through such avenues as radio, TV, Magazines, Newspapers (ROP), Internet, Billboards and other mobile technology communication devices. This method can efficiently reach a large number of consumers, although the costs may be somewhat expensive.

2. Sales Promotion:
This tool is used through coupons, contests, samples, promotions, demonstrations, displays or incentives. It is used to accelerate short-term sales, by building brand awareness and encouraging repeat buying.

3. Public Relations:
This integrated marketing communications tool is initiated through public appearances, news / press releases or event sponsorships, to build trust and goodwill by introducing the product, company or person in a positive light.

4. Direct Marketing:
This tool will utilize email, mail, catalogs, encourage direct responses to radio and TV, in order to reach targeted audiences to increase sales and test new products and alternate marketing tactics.

5. Personal Selling:
Setting sales appointments and meetings, home parties, making presentations and any type of one-to-one communication, to reach your customers and strengthen your relationship with your clients, initiate this IMC tool.

Decisions linking the overall objectives and strategies during the marketing planning phases help to evaluate and fine-tune the specific activities of integrated marketing communication. Before selecting an IMC tool, marketing, product and brand managers must look at social, competitive, legal, regulatory, ethics, cultural and technological considerations. One thing you want to avoid when activating the tools of integrated marketing communication is reaching inappropriate audiences and causing controversies. That could be damaging when trying to build brand awareness and encourage consumer spending with your company. When marketing managers examine the beliefs, emotions and behavior of their targeted audience towards their brand, they can influence their beliefs to achieve product awareness, by attracting attention to their promotional campaigns.