Posted on August 26, 2015 by Dan Quick
Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the 6.0 magnitude Napa Earthquake in Northern California. This was the largest and most destructive tremor in the United States since the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake reached 6.9 on the Richter Scale in 1989, famously recorded during the broadcast of the World Series just minutes before the opening pitch of game three. There exists a constant tension between inhabitants all across the Western Seaboard and the unpredictability of the continent’s tectonic plates. Though these seismic concerns are generally contained just in the western half of the United States, they symbolize the same natural volatility that exists in every corner of the globe.
Predicting an earthquake is virtually impossible and even the most advanced early-warning systems currently in development at UC Berkeley provide only seconds of advance warning. This is critically helpful in shutting down gas lines, mass transit, and other factors that help reduce damage in the event of a quake, but it does little to help businesses prepare for the worst. The only certainty, the only thing that can be truly predicted, is that eventually there will be a tremor, or a storm, or simply a truck that hits a power line, and even the most diligent of businesses will be forced to shutter its doors for a period.
Depending on the size of the company, a business can risk the loss of tens of thousands of dollars a day in revenue by simply not being open for business. Furthermore, those lost dollars have a doubly damaging impact because not only do they not find the way into your bottom line, but they also are bolstering the business of your competitors. This is where simple business insurance falls short. Getting reimbursed for the costs of rebuilding after a catastrophe doesn’t make much of a difference if your business is crippled during the downtime.
By including a telephone failover system like PBX Parachute into your company’s Business Continuity Plan, you can ensure that all critical operations can continue under any circumstances and from anywhere in the world. PBX Parachute mirrors the parts of your business you want to keep up and running and allows your key employees to virtually log-into their office lines from anywhere they have an internet connection. It deploys automatically with 99.99% reliability when your phone lines are down or not functioning for any reason, or you can activate it manually if you can anticipate your office becoming inaccessible. This way, should your office become inaccessible for any reason or amount of time, your employees can both stay in the safety of their homes with their families and your business can keep humming along without missing a beat.
You don’t let market factors or competitors dictate your success, why should you let a few bumps in the road do the same? Granted that a 6.0 earthquake is a little bit more than a simple bump, but you get the picture.
Business Continuity Experts today to see how we can help augment your emergency preparations with PBX Parachute. You can rest assure that no matter what is happening under the Earth’s crust, we’ll be here to help you stay in business!
IM & MBA – Instant Messaging for Work
Posted on August 24, 2015 by Dan Quick
Maybe you’ve heard, one of the most blocked for business websites, Facebook, looks to be getting into the business messaging game. This seems to be the norm now with instant messaging (IM) transitioning from the personal communications world and becoming a viable business tool. Communications for companies across all sectors are moving more and more into the cloud. Now that these changes have become more prevalent, though, what are some lessons we can learn from how well they are being received?
Once again, the experts in comparative software analysis and recommendation have shifted their focus on researching the impacts of IM as used for business communication. Research based on topics that are familiar to us (let’s face it, texting and IM are pretty ubiquitous activities these days) often reveals surprises as frequently as it provides data that serves to reinforce and validate existing assumptions, and this most recent report is no exception.
Like anything in the accelerating rate of business in the modern world, process improvement is essential for profitability, if not for survival. Adding new business tools and project management interfaces may initially seem like an appealing way to boost efficiency, but without a meaningful improvement to workflow or with too long of a learning curve that threatens adoption, they can actually have the opposite effect. Fortunately for businesses that adopt an IM platform for their company, the results seem to be categorically positive.
Because messaging applications are simple and most people are familiar with using them in their personal life, their rate of adoption in the course of business is tremendously high. Furthermore, that familiarity also contributes to a relatively seamless learning curve. With quick adoption and easy use, IM for work is allowed to execute on its primary goal, which is to reduce cluttered communications and streamline day-to-day employee interaction. According to the results of the Software Advice report, an overwhelming 98% of respondents were able to identify at least one area where messaging has provided a meaningful benefit to their workday. Though there is no actual data to support this claim, I would assert that the remaining 2% haven’t actually begun using the app yet. Just like how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
Most messaging systems are fairly straightforward; you send a message, receive one back and so on, but slowly there have been small improvements that provide a substantial benefit. Most notably is the advent of chat presence additions to contact menus. Just like they sound, chat presence shows the status of the people in your list of contacts. Most messaging apps native in smart phones don’t have these though it’s rather common in many third-party apps. Building off of standard presence information, the inclusion of more than simply the binary availability/unavailability of a contact is known as Rich Presence, and it is with this that employees are getting even more out of their business IM systems.
Just like IM is designed to reduce unnecessary communication and boost efficiency, Rich Presence integrates even more information directly into the application. From just a quick glance of a contact list, any number of statuses can be immediately visible. Again, this added layer of information prevents unnecessary and unhelpful messaging like pinging a colleague who is in a meeting or on vacation if you need an immediate response.
The story of how messaging applications have been able to enhance the workplace and overall business communications is headline worthy on its own, but it is also simply a function of a much greater movement. Adding messaging to the battery of business communications tools is indicative of the transition to a truly unified communications approach to business. Incorporating all of a company’s communications needs; everything from conferencing to email and telephones, is exactly the direction that VirtualPBX technologies is taking businesses everyday and why we’ve been awarded multiple Unified Communications Awards.
business’ network connection to the amount of time it takes to manage it, VirtualPBX drives system improvement everyday. To learn more about how your company can benefit from a unified communications system from VirtualPBX, contact our Communications Experts who are standing by to help right now.
We Think We Understand Drought
Posted on August 19, 2015 by Dan Quick
But the reality is, we don’t. Here in California (plus much of the western half of the United States) we’re in the middle of a four-year drought cycle that is decimating local agriculture, turning America’s Salad Bowl into dust bowls, and even threatening to kill the mighty Giant Sequoia. But we still all have working faucets, and not everyone is that fortunate.
I know, that’s pretty heavy-handed but access to clean water is very much a life and death issue. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are as many as 780 million people without access to an improved water source. When nearly one billion people are without clean water, the results can be staggering.
- Over 800,000 children under the age of 5 perish each year due to diarrheal diseases attributed to unclean water
- 20% of young girls are not going to school in these areas during puberty as a result of no clean access hygienic sanitation (versus 15% of boys in the same areas/ages)
- The worst affected place in the world for unclean water is sub-Saharan Africa with 69% of inhabitants without access to clean water
But there is hope, and by carefully choosing our business partners, we’re doing our part.
Everybody needs water, our bodies are no exception. After reviewing our options, and through the lens of local and global water supply challenges, we’ve decided to invest in water dispensers from AquaAid. By purchasing our AquaAid Water Cooler for our office in San Jose, an automatic donation has been made to The Africa Trust. The Africa Trust is dedicated to building sustainable, accessible clean water pumps based off of traditional rope-pulley systems. By building these simple, clean, and effective wells all over the African continent, The Africa Trust is ensuring that Africans will always have a clean and manageable access to life-bringing water. So far, AquaAid has donated over $15 million to charity and have helped to build over 5,000 of these critical wells.
We’ve been notified that a well is being built right now with funds from our partnership with AquaAid and that, when completed, the VirtualPBX name will be displayed on a dedication panel. Obviously, Clear Channel doesn’t sell a lot of advertising space in the area. We don’t even care if anyone outside of the villagers who use it ever see our name on that well. What is important to us, though, is that we make every effort that we can to give back to our communities; locally, commercially, and globally.
here. Of course, we’re always available to go over any of your business needs, as well, even if they are more about your office’s faucet than your office phone.
Infographic: VirtualPBX Concierge
Posted on August 17, 2015 by Dan Quick
They say that good things come to those that wait. We say that you’ve got a lot going on, we wouldn’t want to make you wait for anything. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also have good things, either. Introducing VirtualPBX Concierge, your dedicated unified communications expert. When you are busy doing what you need to keep your company moving, your concierge expert is hard at work keeping your lines open and your information flowing. Also, instead of waiting to encounter challenges before changes are made, concierge service includes a constant analysis of your network to course-correct for obstacles well before they arise. Take a peek at this infographic and see how VirtualPBX Concierge is like putting a new member on the team without with the flip of a switch.
Storm on the Horizon: El Niño & PBX Parachute
Posted on August 13, 2015 by Dan Quick
Boston had record-setting snowfall last winter and it did so in less time than the previous record year 20 years ago. In fact, it wasn’t even until mid-July until the snow drifts from the winter had finally melted. The entire country was so severely beaten down by Mother Nature that there were rolling blackouts and road closures from coast to coast. Everything from Rainpocalypse, which, though laughable, actually did shutdown the typically bustling San Francisco Bay Area to extreme winter weather all the way far south as Dallas, 2014-2015 was uniquely disruptive to businesses across the country. What would you do if you knew that was just the beginning?
No, this isn’t some revolutionary political activist or a sole student protestor halting a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square, this is El Niño. El Niño is a weather anomaly during which an irregularly warm flow of water in the Pacific Ocean presses up against the shores of North and South America, creating months of unusually extreme weather, including massive amounts of precipitation. Unless you haven’t heard, by the way, there appears to be one of the largest El Niño effects ever recorded brewing right now, too. Yeah, so it’s never too early to begin preparing for another intense winter weather season.
Wayne Gretsky said that he doesn’t skate to where the puck is, but to where it’s going to be. With the El Niño effect that we are likely to face in the next several months, perhaps an ice-skating quote is more appropriate than we think, too.
How many times have you wished you had recognized the signs of what was happening in your business while it was still on the horizon? Today you can do just that. By preparing yourself now for the literal storm that is brewing off in the distance, you can hedge your business against any weather situation along with all of the other, unforeseen circumstances that could shut down your operations. By building a phone continuity strategy for your business that includes failovers for your office communications systems, you can stay operational through anything that would normally disrupt your business.
VirtualPBX hosted phone systems are already backed by the reliability and flexibility it takes to keep a business up and running whether its employees are at the office or not. We build multiple redundancies into our system so that our customers never have to worry about their office location being inaccessible due to extreme weather. Some companies, however, have their own on-site phone systems that work better for their business needs, but that expose them to the risk of inactivity during any similar type of crisis situation. PBX Parachute is built for them.
By signing-up for PBX Parachute, a company is safeguarding themselves by mirroring their existing telephone system and keeping it on constant stand-by. With this system in place, administrators can either deploy PBX Parachute on command if they have ample time to anticipate a disruption, or they can program a variety of triggering events to automatically enable the redundant system to activate. Furthermore, like all of the VirtualPBX communications solutions, PBX Parachute is fully customizable, so any combination of departments or extensions can be assigned to deploy in-line with your specific business objectives. If you want only sales and support to keep firing from home, you can do that, if you want only administrative lines for internal messaging, you can do that, too. Anything your company needs to focus on the safety and security of your employees and customers is available with PBX Parachute.
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. As a business owner, you never have the luxury of waiting until things are convenient to act, so why should ensuring the safety of your business and employees be any different? Get in touch with our Business Continuity Experts today to see how PBX Parachute can help you rest easy knowing your company will see its way through any storm.