The Incom Business Systems Blog

Dispel the myths and concerns around Cloud Computing


Cloud Computing is transforming the way businesses communications structures are designed and built. However, number of high-profile security and data breaches, with the potential to damage a company’s reputation, have left customers feeling vulnerable.

The good news is Cloud Computing offers better accessibility for mobile workers, a more streamlined work process and the opportunity to integrate applications, increasing productivity and reducing costs.

Safety in numbers
Since the year 2009, the global uptake of cloud computing has risen exponentially, and shows no sign of slowing down. More and more businesses are migrating to a system that offers reduced costs, increased flexibility, scalability, and, yes - better security!

This means that large companies are making big investments in adopting and developing Cloud storage platforms. The more money invested, the greater the emphasis on protecting data: efforts to improve security even further will continue in line with the rise in demand.

Storing data safely
Whilst hacking is the more publicised risk with data storage, the reality is there should be greater concern over lost data, or data that cannot be accessed. If the system goes down, while the data may be safe in the long term, an inability to gain access could be detrimental to workflow and business continuity.

This is why it is so important to choose the right cloud provider for your business. Established providers will have a system for backing up your data in highly secure data centres and have a robust plan in place for disaster recovery. It is also wise to consider access to data via an alternative platform, such as Google Drive, to keep the business operating if a system outage occurs.

Data can be encrypted before being sent or stored via a cloud computing system. This is done by using complex algorithms to lock and conceal data on the cloud. In order for a would-be hacker to access this data, they would need to crack the encryption key, which is no easy task.

Hacking into encrypted data would take a huge level of processing power, specialised software and a great deal of time. Again, the superior level of layered security, which cloud computing builds into your infrastructure, makes trying to break in a laborious and unattractive proposition for cyber criminals.

Cloud computing is the number one choice of infrastructure for the future. We hope this guide has helped to dispel any doubts about security and highlight ways that both businesses and providers can work to keep data safe and secure.

To find out more about our cloud services and security measures, please call 0161 788 0000.

How safe is your data? Protect your data with Cloud Computing


Cloud computing is revolutionising the way businesses communication infrastructures are being designed and built.

However, many business owners have concerns around Cloud storage and security. Virtual servers allow Cloud IT providers to essentially run your infrastructure for you, and some businesses are uncomfortable with this perceived lack of control. This is even more the case if the business has its own on-premise server, with the ability to manage storage and backups in-house.

A number of high-profile security and data breaches, has further added to concerns, leaving customers and they reputations vulnerable. The good news is Cloud Computing is one of the safest ways to store data, here’s why:

It’s hard to hack the cloud
In comparison to traditional on-premises or data centre servers, it is relatively hard for hackers to break into a cloud-based infrastructure. Cloud-stored data is protected by a much more complex security system than locally stored data: it would require a very high level of technical expertise and a lot of time to break through.

Often, the reality behind reported cases of ‘hacking’ is that the weak link was actually individuals’ passwords, which present the opportunity for cyber criminals to calculate, or even guess, what they are.

Data can be encrypted before being sent or stored via a Cloud Computing system. This is done by using complex algorithms to lock and conceal data on the Cloud. In order for a would-be hacker to access this data, they would need to crack the encryption key, which is no easy task.

Hacking into encrypted data would take a huge level of processing power, specialised software and a great deal of time. Again, the superior level of layered security, which cloud computing builds into your infrastructure, makes trying to break in a laborious and unattractive proposition for cyber criminals.

Cloud Computing is the number one choice of infrastructure for the future. Since the year 2009, the global uptake of cloud computing has risen exponentially, and shows no sign of slowing down.

To find out more about our cloud services and security measures, please call 0161 788 0000.

Want to give your customers the perfect first impression?


Did you know that, on average, 94% of a company’s marketing budget is spent trying to get people to call their business? When they do call, a staggering 70% are transferred or placed on hold, faced with uninteresting recorded messages or worse still – silence or beeps!

Customers are the most important thing to your business; however, a poor on-hold experience can cost even the most professional businesses with the highest quality products and services both financially and in terms of their reputation.

A professionally voiced on hold and auto attendant message will allow you to build a better customer experience using customised scripts and music, which are used when your client is on hold or transferred. These scripts can vary in length and in their content and can be professionally recorded with a specific type of voice. Or, you can feature in the script yourself!

The music you choose alongside these scripts can reflect the nature of your company and industry, whether that is relaxed and calming or upbeat and motivational, the choice is yours.

How can professionally voiced on hold and auto attendant messages benefit your business?

  • Keeping your customer’s attention – 34% of callers who hang up will never call back. Customers are far more likely to hang up when on hold if there is no message or music to keep them interested
  • Improved efficiency and productivity – Thanks to the auto-attendant feature, callers can be directed to the right department by picking the correct option. This significantly reduces the amount of times your team are having to answer calls that are not related to their department, meaning less interruptions and increased productivity
  • Increases product and service awareness – 20% of callers who hear an on-hold message make a purchasing decision based on the information they have heard. On hold messages provide the perfect opportunity to use your scripts to advertise other areas of your business that may suit specific customers, such as your website
  • Enhancing your brand image and reputation – a professional audio message and music to suit your business will make your company sound more professional, ultimately leading to customers believing you’re a reliable business
  • Nurturing customer relationships – updating your messages to suit special occasions or thanking your customers for their business and patience will build a personal connection between you and your clients – it’s all about caring for your customers
  • Psychologically reduces your hold time – 90% of callers will hang up after 40 seconds if confronted with silence. The use of music and messages will provide a more pleasurable on hold experience, making time fly by!
With over three decades experience delivering multi award-winning communications solutions to our customers, our expert team can help you create a bespoke on hold and auto attendant solution which will help increase sales opportunities, enhance customer service and improve efficiency and productivity.

For more information, speak with our expert solutions team on 0800 054 2576 email

How To Assure Network and Service Quality


People are more connected than ever. We call, text, email, message, tweet and view streams of data across multiple communications channels every day. For telecoms providers, this increases the importance of maintaining robust service quality.

According to research from Teleco Professionals, 75% of telecoms service providers make network quality a key selling point, and yet, “50% of subscribers may churn this year because of it.”

When networks were smaller, maintaining service quality wasn't as challenging. These days, network providers need to work with multiple partners and suppliers, and are supporting the needs of many more customers, most of them using the infrastructure and systems to stream a heavier volume of data. Networks are investing more to ensure consumer and business needs are being met, now and into the future.

Assuring Service Quality Telecoms network providers, partners and suppliers all have a role to play in ensuring network quality is maintained.

1. Forget about fault management
Managing service assurance is far more complex, more strategic than the traditional role played by the teams and partners/suppliers that fixed faults and responded to service issues. Traditionally, that was a reactive role. Now the work involved is proactive, with an emphasis on detecting issues before they become a problem and avoiding downtime at all costs.

2. Managing and sourcing an information flow
Detecting potential faults are more complex. Telecoms providers need to position themselves in the centre of a proactive information flow. Data needs to come in from multiple sources, from partner networks, complex value chains and thousands of other inputs, including monitoring systems for billions of pounds of hardware spread across the UK and worldwide.

3. Service and hardware inventory and repair records
One of the most effective ways to know what/when repairs are needed is to maintain digital records, in real-time, connected to an inventory of network hardware and systems. Integrating repair records with asset management systems gives those responsible for maintenance another way to check when upgrades are needed, which helps to ensure that downtime is kept to a minimum.

4. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) aligned with demand and business objectives
Maintaining network service quality need to align with two core objectives: The telecom provider’s aims and consumer demand patterns. Providing the two are aligned, performance targets and a program of continuous improvements should eliminate or reduce temporary problems that can cause network failures and customer dissatisfaction.

5. Proactive retention strategies
A certain percentage of customers will always churn - leave the network - but your provider shouldn’t be complacent. Every lost customer is lost revenue, and 50% will leave networks as a direct result of call/data quality. Solving problems quickly - ensuring issues are relayed from customers service staff - is one of the most effective ways to keep churn to a minimum. Investing in next generation maintenance and service assurance systems is another way to avoid quality issues costing networks money. Customers need to see that their providers are proactively striving to improve their experience.

What does this mean to your business? Use the points above to benchmark providers when choosing business telephony solutions or if you’re thinking of switching providers. Downtime and poor service costs your business money, potentially negating the savings you may make with a cheaper provider. While cloud telephony will deliver costs savings to your business compared to existing legacy telecoms systems, service quality must override price as be a key factor in your decision.

Communications downtime either through human error or because of cyber-attack or disaster does happen; therefore, you’ll want to work with a business telecoms provider that will support your organisation in getting back to business as soon as possible. Ask about their business continuity plans and how they will support you.

Our expert team will guide you through the necessary considerations and help you assure network and service quality. Speak with us on 0800 054 2576 or email

Download Our Worksheet: Emergency Communications Plan worksheet

Best Practices for Cloud Communications Migration


Businesses are more mobile and connected than ever. Migrating telephony and other communications to the Cloud are one of the most sensible ways modern companies can adapt to the changing needs and increasing demands of customers and team members.

However, it should be noted that similar to other business transformation activities, migrating to the Cloud should not be done without a clear strategy. Whilst Cloud Communications come with numerous benefits and savings; it can be an expensive process if those driving the project don't communicate a clear plan of action.

Businesses have a range of options, including Public or Private Cloud, and/or hybrid solutions. Some chose to keep some aspects of their system on-site, even if this is only a redundant backup PBX. There is also a range of infrastructure options, such as dedicated, hosted and virtualized.

Whatever systems and hosting solution you choose, there are a series of steps that need to be taken, based on industry best practise and our experience of migrating numerous companies.

Best Practice: Cloud Communications Action Plan

#1: Assemble your migration team
Small businesses should have at least one director responsible for the project. Whereas, in larger organisations, a team should be formed from different departments, e.g. customer services, operations, IT; to ensure the relevant parties are in constant contact during the project. This team should have senior management sponsorship and the right resources and permissions to drive the project forward.

So, this goes smoothly after implementation, ensure you take end-users views and feedback into consideration before commencing the project.

#2: Outline your objectives
Each business will have its own aims, but everyone we work with has one core aim: to ensure the migration is smooth and as seamless as possible. Keeping disruption to a minimum is important. Within these aims, think about the other systems that need integrating with your principle telephony systems and staff mobile contracts. Aiming for a unified system, one that connects multiple communication channels is realistic and achievable for most budgets. It’s better to include these aims at this stage than ask for another integration during the process.

#3: Assess current contracts, hardware and licenses
Over the years, most companies accumulate a mishmash of communication channels and contracts. This can get confusing and expensive. Before going ahead, review where you stand with your contracts so that you know what has ended, what will end soon, and which have already expired. Share this information with the Cloud partner you select to manage your migration, telephony contracts and systems.

#4: Do a systems discovery
Not everything about a legacy communication system is how it appears. Review which channels and hardware rely on third-party solutions, then outline how/whether you can replace these with something more agile. Some of these may come with their own contracts, so check what has already expired or what will expire soon.

#5: Plan the roadmap
Working with your new business communications partner, plan the roadmap you need to get from where you are to your simplified, Unified Cloud-based goal. Thanks to the work you’ve already done and the team you assembled (stage 1), this step should be relatively painless, resulting in a clear roadmap and timeline that you can put into action.

After the systems have been migrated, test them. Make sure end-users and admin/managers can use them without difficulty and provide training as needed. Cloud providers will also help with this stage, as much or as little as you need. Once all of this is done, you can retire your legacy systems and in some cases, sell the PBX (Private Branch Exchange) and other pieces of hardware, potentially recouping some of the initial investment.

Cheat sheet: Migrating from ISDN to SIP – A Roadmap download.

5 Ways Your Telephony Systems Are Costing Your Business


Click to view full-sized picture in a new window.

Fact: Legacy systems are costing you money, and these costs are only going to increase the longer it takes to switch over to more modern, unified and flexible communication systems.

Even when older systems still work, on-site PBX (private branch exchanges) are increasingly at risk from failing. Sourcing spare parts and engineers capable of fixing them will get more difficult, and expensive. Not investing now will cost more in the future.

If you’ve not switched over to high-speed fibre broadband or another up-to-date alternative, you soon won’t have a choice, with networks no longer supporting ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network) after 2025. Customers and staff need to work with companies that support modern, faster communication channels; your businesses depend on this, now more than ever.

If this sounds like scaremongering, it’s not. Below are five ways your legacy telephony systems are costing your business.

Legacy Telephony Systems: Bottom Line and Intangible Costs
#1: Higher running costs Compared with modern solutions, such as SIP - Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) - trunking, an Internet-based service that connects Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) customers to traditional phone networks, PBX systems are expensive. Similar to the cost of keeping servers on-site instead of the cloud, you have all of the hardware and maintenance to include in the budget.

#2: Reduced flexibility Businesses that need to move, expand, or need another office/site, can scale more easily with cloud-based systems. The same is true if your headcount goes up or down. Unified Communications offer the kind of flexibility that is more expensive and time consuming with legacy technology.

#3: Missing out on savings Telephony systems that aren't compatible with modern technology also have higher operating costs. New phone systems can take advantage of lower voice, video and data costs, which means you can save even more over the year.

#4: Vulnerable systems Out-dated systems, with less sophisticated security, are more vulnerable to hackers and cyber criminals. We saw that with the WannaCrypt - ransomware - an attack that crippled the NHS earlier this year and the more recent Petya attack.

#5: Unable to cope with demand Customers want quick responses, irrespective of the communication channel they use: phone, instant message, social media, email, or web chat. Front-line staff need access to CRM systems so that they can trace the contact history, which is normal in most medium to large companies. But these systems are only effective when the technology connecting staff to customers - and one another - is equally up-to-date; otherwise you end up with unhappy customers and frustrated staff.

Considering these costs, maintaining legacy systems can seem like a costly endeavour. Switching to modern, Unified Communications technology and services is smarter, better for customers and staff, and cheaper.

To find out more and discuss your requirements, contact our team. We would be delighted to talk you through the options and crunch the figures to see what savings your business could actually get.

Cheat sheet: Migrating from ISDN to SIP – A Roadmap download.

5 Key Considerations – Choosing A SIP Trunk Provider


Selecting the right SIP Trunk provider

Only a few years ago, in 2012, organisations were starting to consider moving business telephony and communication online through SIP providers. For many, early caution turned into action, with security one of the top consideration for companies moving telecoms online through SIP providers.

SIP - Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) - trunking is an Internet-based service that connects Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) customers to traditional phone networks. Instead of limiting calls to voice only, SIP trunking makes Unified Communication possible, including video, web conferencing and screen sharing, all through a SIP-based private branch exchange (IP-PBX).

Compared to traditional landlines and legacy PBXs, businesses have more flexibility and none of the capital expenses and headaches. Software Advice conducted a survey into SIP adoption, finding that the majority of IT decision makers are happy with service quality, and more will consolidate Unified Communications in the cloud.

Here are a few things businesses need to consider when selecting a SIP provider.

SIP Providers: Key Considerations

#1: Security
For any company switching over to a SIP provider, or placing any of their business communications in the Cloud, security should always be the top priority. According to a Software Advice survey, 23% of respondents assess a provider's security provisions before other considerations.

When weighing up different vendors, look out for the following phrases:

  • TLS: Transport-Layer Security is a widely used (also referred to as SSL) cryptographic protocol that ensures the connection is private and safeguards message integrity. For extra security, IP-PBXs and SIPs should operate behind firewalls and if necessary, transmit safely from within a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  • STRP: Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol isn’t as commonplace, but this allows for live encryption of audio streams, for added security.
  • Also, it might be worth looking out for providers with ISO certification and shares information about the cloud servers’ security. Companies that make data security a top priority should always work with providers that have the same mindset, which is more important than ever when cyber-threats are on the increase.

#2: Support
Support is comparable to security. Working with a provider that offers first-class support means you won’t be without a phone line for long if anything goes wrong. Knowing that you can be up and running quickly, even when you need disaster recovery support, is essential for peace of mind and business continuity planning.

#3: Communication
SIP providers are in the communication business. They exist to ensure you can call clients and colleagues and they can call you; or you can do a conference call, or do a quick screen share. But it doesn't help anyone if they speak in jargon and acronyms, making everything twice as confusing as necessary. Work with a SIP provider that speaks in plain English.

#4: Price
Implementing SIP trunking isn’t just about saving money and reducing costs. One of the many benefits of Unified Communication should include cost savings - since you shouldn’t need hardware and all of the associated costs - but there are other things to consider, beyond the budget.

Businesses can scale easier with cloud communications, they are better prepared for a disaster, and it’s easier to think strategically when your telecoms are no longer an internal headache. Costs can vary widely, depending on what you need and the value a SIP provider is creating. Always ask for case studies and customer testimonials.

#5: Connectivity
Making a move to a SIP provider is easier when you have a strong, reliable, broadband connection. Have this conversation with a SIP provider early on and see if you need to make any changes to your business broadband. before investigating further.

Moving over to SIP providers is proving a popular, smart, long-term choice for many businesses. Now more than ever security is a key consideration, with cost and support high on the list. When you talk to SIP providers, make sure you are going to work with one that takes the time to understand your business, since that will help ensure the project is delivered successfully.

Contact our team if you would like to talk to an expert about your business telecommunications. We are happy to chat through your requirements and explore the options with you. Speak with our team 0800 054 2576

Whitepaper: The Ultimate Guide For Moving From ISDN To SIP download

Moving Premises? Considered Your Business Communications?


Moving into new premises is an exciting time for any company but there is a lot to consider. How much will it cost? How should you design your new office space? Who needs to know you are moving? Where do you start?!

If you are responsible for organising an office move, it can be a stressful time. Insufficient project management can result in delays, business disruption and unnecessary expense but, with careful planning, it is possible to deliver a seamless relocation.

Download our checklist below and learn how you can avoid costly mistakes and accomplish one of the most important aspects of any business move – retaining communication with your customers.
Checklist Download: Moving Your Business Communications

Planning a move? Bring in the experts
This checklist is a starting point for moving your business communications. With over three decades of experience supplying and installing award-winning solutions for our customers, the Incom-CNS team can guide you through the necessary considerations and help you to deliver a seamless move of premises for your business.

Call our team on 0161 788 0000 or email for more information.

Do Your Business Continuity Plans Cover Telecoms?


No one expects disaster to strike. Business owners and managers have multiple worries, but how often does fire, theft, flood damage, power failures, catastrophic hardware/software failures and even terrorism, cross our minds?

Most of us worry about cashflow issues. Not closing enough deals. Coping with demand. Looking after customers. Managing staff, and other daily challenges. Next, we worry about long-term objectives and active projects. But whether we are prepared for an unexpected disaster: that worry doesn't often make it onto an actionable to-do list.

Not Enough Companies Have Business Continuity Plans In Place.
And yet, according to industry research, 20% of companies will, at some point, suffer a serious disaster. The majority - 80% - will fail within 13 months and from those that survive, 53% won’t recoup the losses they incurred as a result of the disaster.

Every moment your phones, email and other communication channels are down; you are losing money. Can you afford not to have a continuity plan that covers telecoms?

What A Business Continuity Plan Should Include
Every business continuity plan is unique to each business. Operational considerations for a retailer are different from the needs of an insurance provider, or solicitors. Larger firms need more complex plans, but this also means they should have the resources to setup somewhere else temporarily in the event of an extreme emergency, such as a fire.

However, even with operational differences that vary from company to company, communication is key for continuity planning. Here are a few of the essentials that every plan should include.

#1: Disaster Roles
In most cases, not everyone will be able to do the same work in the event of a disaster. Depending on the severity, plan each staff members role should a disaster strike - with a view to ensuring everyone is either working to manage external communications or focusing on getting the business operational again.

#2: Data Backup
Make sure your data, from customer records to accounts and orders, is secure. Businesses that lose data face a significant risk of failing. Cloud-based backup, with at least one redundancy, is the only sensible precaution to take. On-site data is highly risky since that is where disaster could easily strike.

#3: Review Assets
In the event of a fire, flood, theft or another disaster that causes serious damage to your premises, review the assets you have - that are undamaged - and useable again. Report all damages to your insurance company as soon as you can.

Rescue what you can to reduce the cost of getting set up again, and see what staff can use (if computers are damaged) instead. All of which is easier if files are stored in the cloud and easily accessible.

#4: Re-establish External Communications
Cloud communications ensure this can be done without one day's downtime. Landline numbers can divert to mobile phones or other landlines, and you can use email and social media to alert customers and potential customers of any disruption.

Getting back in contact with your customers is the quickest way to reassure them that everything is getting back to normal - even if it could involve a few days or weeks of disruption - and services are as uninterrupted as possible. It is also reassuring for staff to focus on problems they can fix unless they are involved with helping get the company operational again.

Like email and social media, telecoms are such a normal part of business operations that it can be easy to overlook these essentials. Even if you think a disaster is unlikely, you can’t take the risk of not being prepared. Businesses that are ready to handle a disaster, with a focus on business continuity, have a greater chance of surviving one - especially if your data is backed up and communications can be quickly reestablished with customers, suppliers and sales prospects.

Worksheet: Emergency Communications Plan worksheet

5 Mobile Device Risks & How To Protect Your Organisation


On the whole, technology is a source of enormous gains for organisations across the world. Businesses, public sector and charities are all benefiting from the digital technology revolution we are going through, with productivity increases and cost savings some of the main advantages.

In time, if past revolutions are any indications, organisations will experience gains we can barely imagine. However, there are several downsides to technology.

Security weaknesses are one of the main challenges. As wonderful as it is that we can communicate more easily and quickly than ever before; criminals have readily exploited this same advantage for decades.

Our smartphones and tablets pose one of the greatest security risks to organisations. Staff and business leaders want to use them for work, but the bring your own device (BYOD) movement comes at a cost: Organisations are at greater risk from security breaches, data breaches and cyber threats.

5 Mobile Risks & How To Counter Them

1. Data breaches and leaks
Without a doubt, mobiles and tablets are the weakest links in any organisations data chain. They don't stay in the office, which means they're outside continuous security networks and vulnerable on home broadband and public Wi-Fi. Other systems and apps, including viruses, could be present, further increasing the risk factor.

It is the organisation's responsibility to provide training, policies - and, if needed - systems that protect personal devices to safeguard the organisation. One important way, to prevent data breaches - even more important after the implementation of the European General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in May 2018 - is to password protect and encrypt sensitive documents, to prevent unexpected data breaches and leaks.

2. Vulnerable to attack
According to a HP study, 97% of employee devices contain privacy issues and 75% don't have any encryption, which means your data is vulnerable.

A smart way to prevent viruses spreading is to place a gatekeeper whenever an employee wants to access a device from home or off-site. Gaining access to company systems, including email, social networks, files, CRMs and other software should require logging in via a secure virtual private network (VPN), or other encrypted gateways.

3. Mixing personal and organisation data on the same device
One of the main BYOD nightmares is the mixing of personal and sensitive information - including passwords - on the same device. Especially when the user is in a senior role or position of trust. Malware, ransomware and other viruses could easily find their way into secure networks through this channel.

There are numerous ways to prevent these issues. Issuing anti-virus software, passcode management software (for organisation accounts on personal devices - including email) and Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) software so you can more effectively monitor and detect risks.

4. Stolen devices
Smartphones are attractive targets for criminals, and so easy to take. Too many people carry them around or place them somewhere easily accessible to criminals. Since criminals are getting smarter - with software able to crack passwords available on the dark web - you might want to invest in remote wiping and control capabilities, to avoid any data breaches as a result of loss or theft.

5. Data compliance
With GDPR coming into force in under one year, now is the time to ensure your network is secure enough for employees to use their own devices without senior managers constantly worrying that one smartphone could cost the organisation 4% of annual revenue - or €20 million - whichever is higher.

Worrying about this won’t solve the problem. Take action now, to ensure your staff can still use their own devices without them putting everything at risk from cyber-attacks and hackers.

Worksheet: Emergency Communications Plan worksheet

8 Key Benefits Of Migrating To Cloud Telephony


Key Benefits Of Migrating Telephony And Communications To The Cloud

Cloud computing, software and storage is the way forward. We believe that businesses wanting to upgrade their communications would benefit from considering migrating to the cloud, instead of clinging to outdated on-premises hardware.

On average, most PBX systems (private branch exchange) only last for 8.5 years, which means companies with on-premises hardware have an opportunity to move away from legacy technology for a fraction of the cost, when their current systems need upgrading.

If you’re responsible for your business telephony systems, this post will provide you with some compelling reasons to migrate to cloud telephony. Read on…

Over the years, most small and medium enterprises will have accumulated a mishmash of communication tools and technology. Landlines, managed from a PBX. Smartphones. Email, sometimes connected to a CRM. SMS. Video and audio conferencing facilities, and new social media channels and cloud-based messaging systems and apps. It can get confusing, not to mention, expensive.

Benefits of Cloud Telephony Migration

#1: Unify & Simplify
Instead of managing multiple systems and phones, you can have one system manage everything - without worrying about the expenses and maintenance of hardware since everything within a contract is managed and maintained by the communication provider. Your IT team won’t need to worry about the PBX anymore.

Financially, instead of managing multiple contracts, everything - as far as possible (some third-party contracts may be outside the scope of a unified plan) - will come out in one monthly payment. Making admin less of a headache.

#2: Modern Features
Legacy PBX systems make it difficult, if not impossible, to access modern communication channels. Not only does this put your business at a disadvantage, often forcing companies to accumulate a mishmash of overlapping systems, but it is harder to work together as a team, collaborate and communicate effectively with customers.

Cloud communications eliminate these issues, without the expense of an upfront capital investment.

#3: Scalable and Flexible
Scaling up or down, according to demand and the ebb and flow of staff in a business, isn’t easy with PBX systems. However, with a hosted communications package, you can easily increase or decrease headcount as needed. Businesses can concentrate on commercial objectives instead of worrying about the technology that keeps everything operational.

#4: Mobility
Smartphones are an essential feature of modern business communications. Apps and the ability to take calls - on a work phone (so staff don't need to give out personal numbers) - anywhere are integral to how the majority of people work.

Modern professionals and knowledge economy workers need the flexibility a mobile provides, which for the sake of ensuring communications are unified, should be connected with on-site systems, storage and recording facilities.

#5: Affordable
Hosted unified cloud solutions are available at a range of price points, affordable for smaller businesses and comprehensive enough to manage the needs of large enterprises, including those that rely more than most on communications, such as call centres. Cloud telephony packages can include landline and mobile contracts, hardware, maintenance and software, depending on the needs of your business and budgetary constraints.

#6: Built-in Business Continuity
Disaster can strike at any time. With operational services in the cloud, you are prepared and ready with immediate built-in business continuity. Cloud systems aren’t affected by localised problems, including power cuts and natural disasters - and even if something happens near one data centre, there are redundancies and backup power generators, making your communication systems disaster proof.

#7: Integration
Most Unified Communications solutions can integrate with other business communication apps and third-party services, such as customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. This makes it easier to ensure your team provide a personalised service when customers or clients call.

#8: Increase Productivity
With Unified Communications, your team will reap the benefits of better collaboration and a more joined up communications system. This has a positive impact on overall productivity, particularly for businesses that want to enable more remote working. Many studies show that remote working boosts productivity, but only when business communications are optimised to support those employees.

Everything your telephony partner provides should drive continuous improvements and help your team achieve higher levels of productivity, without the expense and headaches that legacy systems cause. Migrating telephony and communications to the cloud makes it easier for managers and staff to focus on their jobs and goals, with the most efficient integrated cloud communication system operating at the touch of a button.

If you would like to find out more, get in touch with our team. Call 0800 054 2576 or contact us here.

Download our Emergency Communications Plan worksheet to align your business continuity planning with your business telecoms.

Worksheet: Emergency Communications Plan worksheet

7 Steps To Ensure A Successful Migration To Cloud Communications


Migrating mission-critical services to the cloud are an increasingly popular choice amongst UK businesses. According to the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), cloud adoption rates are at 88%, with 67% of companies set to accelerate cloud migration in 2017.

Communications are also slowly shifting into the cloud, with large and small businesses keen to reduce costs, remove barriers and improve productivity with a Unified Communications (UC) strategy.

Businesses are starting to see the value in unified, cloud-based communication. Right now, organisations often have too much choice, leading to confusing, costly and overlapping communication channels: Landline, mobile, email, online messaging, and Voice over Internet Protocol services (VoIP), social media and numerous others. Migrating to the cloud simplifies, unites overlapping services, and generates positive time efficiencies and cost savings.

Undertaking a successful cloud migration means designing and implementing a plan. Here we share seven important steps you need to put in place to ensure a UC strategy launches successfully:

#1: Determine Your Goals
Before you migrate anything to the cloud, you need to decide what you want to achieve. Saving money, time and improving processes are useful general guiding principles, but you need to work towards specific goals to ensure a migration generates positive results.

Designing a UC strategy starts with an assessment of your current communication technologies and platforms, with a focus on why they're inefficient and need improvements.

#2: Assess Current Situation
Conduct an audit on your current communication infrastructure:

  • Make a list of the number of platforms and technologies used for internal and external communications.
  • Determine if they are self-hosted or already in the cloud.
  • Assess volume of communication through each channel.
  • Assess the cost impact over the year, including any downtime and support contract costs.
  • What are the costs of continuing to run your own physical servers, including property, security and backup support.
  • Evaluate current security systems and costs, and whether they are adequate to protect your communication infrastructure from modern threats.
#3: Design Objectives & Aims
Now you have an idea what your communication infrastructure currently looks like; you can create an outline of what you want to achieve.

Do you want to simplify channels? Improve security? Reduce the risk of downtime and get more value for money from your support provider? Design SMART objectives, working with the relevant internal stakeholders. Have a game plan before engaging any external provider, or shortlist of potential providers.

#4: Select the Right Partner
Moving voice, collaboration and communication channels to the cloud is not easy, especially when you have overlapping technologies and platforms. You need to the right partner to plan, migrate and provide on-going support.

Telecommunications partners with a strong reputation, known for delivering migration projects for small, medium and enterprise clients are ideal. Especially when they have extensive experience delivering best-of-breed solutions across a wide variety of complex environments, including when communications are hybrid - mixing on-premises, public and private.

Ensure you are working with a company that can provide examples of migrating communications from something resembling your current situation to one reflecting your goals.

#5: Select the Cloud Environment - Public, Private or Hybrid
We could write a lot about 'public', 'private' and 'hybrid' cloud environments, but we want to keep things simple.

Public clouds are where your services/channels - telephony, collaboration, customer services - are operating in public data centres, with thousands of other companies. Amazon, Google and Microsoft are some of the biggest names in this space, alongside dozens of others.

Private clouds are servers you own and control. This involves extensive and costly hardware investments, which is why more companies are moving away from self-owned systems.

Hybrid - a mix of public and private servers - is proving the most popular option, with 71% of companies preferring a hybrid solution, to reduce costs, whilst retaining some control over the most sensitive aspects of their communication channels, according to RightScale's State of the Cloud report.

#6: Plan the Migration
Once you have a clear idea what is being migrated, where it is going and what technology is being deployed, you can plan the migration, working with your telecoms partner.

Most companies start with a test migration. Keeping it small and simple. Internal communications and collaboration tools are a good starting point. Have a plan for this aspect of the migration, and then using this test data, design a more detailed plan that should include the following:
  • Migration order of priorities.
  • What a successful migration looks like, including milestones, timescales and metrics.
  • Who is responsible for what (internal teams, managers, external providers, etc.).
  • What training and new processes should come into play before, during, and after the migration.
  • Backup everything - before and after the migration. Ensure part of this migration includes an active emergency backup plan and facilities.
#7: Migrate, Tweak and Monitor
Migrating everything to the cloud could take weeks or months, depending on the complexity of your communication needs and channels, and how easily your organisation can untangle legacy systems. Backup everything before starting the migration. Staff may also need to get used to new technology and processes, so have training plans in place.

Once everything is successfully migrated to the new environment(s), keep testing and tweaking until your communication channels are operating smoothly. Test and monitor carefully for a while after, before you officially sign-off on a successful migration.

Whitepaper: The Ultimate Guide For Moving From ISDN To SIP download

Driving Productivity And Innovation With Unified Communications


There has been a lot of noise in recent years around ‘Unified Communications’. Digital technology is making new ways of working, collaborating and sharing far easier, compared to traditional landlines and legacy systems, and this is naturally being embraced by businesses and organisations.

This technology is not just for the big boys either. Small and medium businesses can reap the benefits of digital transformation, with low entry costs and flexible contracts. If you’re just beginning to explore how to make your business telecoms more agile, responsive and dynamic, read on…

Unified Communications use next generation technology, bringing voice, video, instant messaging, email, even CRM data, together in one solution to improve how team members communicate and manage customer relations. Legacy systems cost companies money, are harder to maintain and restrict collaboration opportunities, which reduces productivity.

Top 5 Productivity Gains From Unified Communications

1. More efficient remote working
Remote working is more popular than ever, with 62% of employees keen to work from home at least once a week, according to Randstad research. With Unified Communication, remote working - and times when staff are off-site (e.g. a client or sales meeting) - is more effective, making it seem as though those team members are still in the building.

2. Higher productivity
With more than one way to reach colleagues, you can stop wasting time chasing people when something is urgent and ensure deadlines are hit without as much stress.

3. Reduced overheads
Productivity always benefits when costs go down. Money can go into other things, such as training, marketing, customer service and sales. When companies invest in Unified Communications, they don't need to spend capital funds on hardware or worry about maintenance and other associated IT costs. Everything is managed by your business communications partner for a single monthly fee.

4. Faster customer response time
Multiple channels make it easier for customers to get quicker responses without getting passed between teams and departments. Unified Communications that link to a CRM (customer relationship management) system gives everyone the same view of message and contact history, making this an ideal solution for contact centres and those in customer-facing roles.

5. Improved collaboration opportunities
Staff can communicate more naturally - similar to how they communicate outside of work. Numerous studies have found that ad-hoc, unexpected meetings and conversations are responsible for innovation. Customers benefit from this, since new solutions are discovered, resulting in new products and services that improve customer relations and satisfaction.

Everyone benefits when communications are quicker, more efficient and instinctive. Costs go down. Productivity increases. Customers are happier with response times and staff having the relevant knowledge to answer their queries, no matter who answers the phone, message or email.

If you would like to find out more, get in touch with our team. Call 0800 054 2576 or contact us here. Cheat sheet: Migrating from ISDN to SIP – A Roadmap download.

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