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Unified Communications helps advance business

It is a somewhat overused cliché that business moves at the speed of light.   Technological advancements in the areas of communication (phone systems, dial tone carriers as well as mobility) have enabled companies to not only communicate faster, but with greater flexibility than ever before. This advancement has been identified with a new term, Unified Communications.

Unified Communications is a term that looks at your entire organization’s communication system as one entity.  From individuals working at their desk, to fax management and mobile users in the field, Unified Communications ties your entire organization together so communication is faster, less costly, more efficient and allows greater flexibility by deploying some very smart technology.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

An acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol, VoIP is your phone system working over your Local Area Network and ultimately Wide Area Networks. Since your phone system is now using the LAN or WAN, there is a wider range of information and data that can be passed though the system, often at much lower cost than traditional analog systems. The total cost of ownership, initial cost savings and flexibility makes VoIP the standard for most business today.

PRI

This is a service offered by communication companies that resides on a company’s T1 line. It allows an organization the ability to have 23 voice and 1 data channel, that can be assigned as needed to maximize communications. It is a long-term savings over individual analog lines.

Mobility

Today’s workforce is more mobile than ever before. Unified Communications embraces that mobility with applications that allow a workforce in the field to have the same flexibility and features as they would in their office.  It allows a mobile user to communicate with customers just like they were sitting at their desk, with additional cost savings functions (using WiFi to make calls, thus limiting cell phone charges) and features such as voice mail routing and DID (Direct Inward Dialing).

Direct Inward Dialing (DID)

Unified Communications is not an aspect that is limited to just your location, but in fact takes multiple locations into account.  By deploying the right connections between your offices, your internal users can dial an extension from their desk in Phoenix to an extension in New Jersey, by just dialing the extension number. No long distance charges apply if it goes over the WAN and while it might seem small, the time it takes to dial four numbers as opposed to 10, times all the people in your office, the time savings is almost immediate.

Fax Management

Fax machines are still a vital part of our business world, but the cost to run those machines is at times, just not worth the price of having them. Fax paper, a dedicated fax line and toner all add up to overhead that companies are trying to cut, in order to save money. With Unified Communications, this is addressed by having faxes come through VoIP system, not paying for a dedicated fax line and routing those faxes to a software package that resides on any computer. From there, that computer can email faxes to the intended recipient where it can be stored or printed if needed.

Voice Documentation

Many of us have spoken to organizations that state “this call could be recorded for training purposes”, and that is Voice Documentation.  For organizations that need a reference point for conversations (legal issues, billable hours, technical conversations, etc.) Voice Documentation is an excellent application that is part of Unified Communications.  Deploying this facet of Unified Communications allows and organization to train employees, capture critical conversations to reduce error or confirm billable hours for a law firm or a service industry.

If you have not investigated the advantages of a Unified Communications platform, it really is worth investigating. The flexibility, cost and time savings have been proven over many years and it truly is an option as an upgrade to standard phone systems of yesterday.

 

Rob Wengrzyn is sales manager for Copper State Communications. Copper State Communications provides products that satisfy the most complicated needs, with personalized voice and data solutions that simplify your business and communication needs.

Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking.

Tech Q&A: Year-end budgeting

This is the first of what will be a continuing series of technology questions answered by Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking in Tempe.

Question: What technology or telecommunications products should we purchase before year-end?

Answer: December is an excellent time to evaluate your IT needs for the coming year and with Section 179 Deductions changing, small businesses should take advantage of purchasing new equipment before it’s too late.

According to the IRS, Section 179 of the IRS code allows small businesses to deduct the cost of machinery, vehicles, equipment, furniture and other property. This was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. At that time, the maximum amount that a business could deduct was $250,000. In 2011, the maximum deduction that a small business could make was $500,000, but in 2012, the amount drops to $139,000.

Marcus Networking recommends replacing old laptops, wireless access points, battery back-ups, MS Office, VoIP phone systems, and servers before Dec. 31, 2012.  All of these products and services can improve workplace efficient and save money in the long run.

We’re also available to provide a free consultation and discuss your business needs.  Does some of your staff work remotely? Will you be adding or reducing staff in the coming year? Are you building a new office? Would you like to cut travel costs and have the ability to do presentations remotely? All of these factors determine what products and services we’ll recommend for your business.  And remember, you’ll always want to talk to your accountant before making any large capital purchases to ensure you follow the Section 179 code and take advantage to its fullest.

 

Eric Marcus is CEO of Tempe-based Marcus Networking, which specializes in telecommunications centered on phone systems, cabling, and the network infrastructure also known as the “backbone.” Read more about Eric Marcus in the January issue of Az Business magazine.