“The Role of VoIP in the Evolution of Business Productivity - Business 2 Community” plus 1 more
Posted: 31 Oct 2019 11:10 AM PDT
From the day we came into existence on this planet, we have seen various forms of communication. From sending pigeon messages to dialing numbers on a telephone to pressing keys on smartphones – everything has constantly changed the way we interact with others.
Since the invention of smartphones, the age of quick calls is going on forever. It's fascinating to see phone calls taking charge of personal as well as professional lives of users. Even businesses rely heavily on phone calls to communicate with employees and customers.
But do you think it's a productive way to handle customers and employees?
Tell me, are you able to keep pace with business with constant calls? Are you sure you don't miss a single million-dollar deal on phone call? Do you answer all of your consumers in their moment of need? Do you know how many hours your employees waste because of personal calls?
You may say what choice do you have?
Dear friend, each day new technology is commanding the attention of businesses. Yet, I won't say that the new technology has just arrived to eliminate all your worries. Rather, I am focusing on already existing technology that has the power to change the productivity levels of your business but are overshadowed by phone calls.
Yes, I am talking about a common, yet so underrated, technology called VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
What is VoIP?
VoIP is making calls anytime, anywhere, using internet-connected devices like computers, smartphones, headset, etc. WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook video, and voice calls are all examples of VoIP technology.
Now you may say that you already use social media all the time. Of course, but not in away that makes your business more productive than ever.
How VoIP Synchronize Your Entire Business?
On one side, your employees are trying their best to answer your customers' calls. On the other side, you are trying to contact your employees to get updates on your business. Additionally, some employees may need some business-relevant information and are trying to reach those employees who are on vacation.
Such a mess…
Bits and pieces are lying here and there, and you are unable to make sense of them.
Now imagine one person sitting at the center of your business. He manages calls from multiple side including yours, your employees', and clients'. That person is VoIP.
VoIP replaces your phone system with digital technology. It puts a digital network at the center of the system while increasing the efficiency of your business network and eliminating the need to manage multiple networks.
As per Statista, VoIP global market size is predicted to reach a size of 145 billion U.S. dollars by 2024.
VoIP offers unified communications, connecting everything from customer interface tools to day-to-day operations of company's voice services. With VoIP, employees are never out of reach as it is the internet that keeps them connected. Employees have access to all business information via internet-connected devices. By replacing calls with VoIP, your customers are free to connect with you at anytime and anywhere.
All in all, VoIP empowers your business to run at the pace of today's demands.
3 Productive Benefits of VoIP to Businesses
Say goodbye to mobile towers and phone lines and welcome the infinite power of internet with VoIP.Recommended For You Webcast, November 27th: Why Podcasting is the Ultimate ABM Strategy
Over the last 6 years, VoIP has become more than just a phone service. Its multi-purpose communication system is going beyond video call, SMS, voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding, etc., to aid your business in productivity.
Here are three ways VoIP increases your business productivity:
1. VoIP Saves Employees' Hours of Wastage
How many voicemail accounts does each of your employees handle?
Stop and think. Suppose your employees manage only two voicemail accounts – one for business and one for personal use. That means they have to maintain and sort out messages on both lines. Employees with multiple "titles" play different roles which include managing clients on multiple voicemail accounts. All this results in chaos which affects employee productivity and restrains their growth.
VoIP comes with a single mailbox. It collects messages from multiple locations and then unites them into one voicemail account. It reduces distractions from multiple places and gives employees the freedom to manage everything from a single place. In fact, voicemail turns messages into an email and delivers them directly to users' inboxes. When everything is available at a single location, productivity becomes a piece of cake.
For instance, Utah State saved $120,000/- year on labor expense by automating ticket features via VoIP services. They even reclaimed 80 hours a week of productivity for their IT team.
2. VoIP to Improve Customer Services
Do you really think that customers want to interact with you and that's why they keep dialing your customer care number?
They simply want a solution to their issues as soon as possible. They can't waste time on sending mail and waiting for hours to hear the reply. That's why they always grab a nearby phone to make a quick call and get the solution.
The problem with phone calls is they keep customers waiting till the customer care executive is available to talk. Making customers wait for more than a few minutes or answering them with a busy line leads to a poor customer service experience. As a result, customers go on social media to sing a song of your bad customer service and spread the word about why others shouldn't buy your products or services.
How much business will you lose with such an experience?
VoIP automatically answers most of the customers' queries. For example, VoIP stores data like order tracking, delivery status, etc. If customers have such common queries, they will get the answer without waiting or dialing a number. If they have major queries, VoIP connects customers with employees (no matter where they are) and gets their queries solved in the matter of moments. The better your service, the higher your brand reputation.
3. Anytime Access to Your Entire Business Network
These days, the craze of working from home or working while traveling is increasing at the high speed. And companies allow it to give their employees a big break without cutting their salary. But how do they manage everything while employees are not available in the office?
Well, , VoIP is the obvious answer. VoIP's key job is to connect everything including the managers, employees, and customers in one place. If customers can remain connected with your brand via VoIP, why not employees?
As VoIP stores company's data in one place, employees can have access to it at anytime, from anywhere. They can answer customers with the help of data, and they can enjoy their life too. Your business will float on the clouds with employee productivity at its peak.
Is it Costly?
Many companies want to adopt VoIP services for the sake of their employees and customers, but they are afraid that they will have to pay more. That's a myth. VoIP systems allow companies to purchase their private exchange services without additional telecommunication equipment. This saves a lot of cost for companies who pay unnecessary bills for national and international calls.
So, you got the answers to all your VoIP queries. Start integrating VoIP services into your business and ditch those phone bills now.
Posted: 31 Oct 2019 01:30 PM PDT
The easy calls have been made in dealing with California's wildfire crisis. We're clearing brush, spending on firefighters, hastening insurance claims. We've tied the pay of utility executives to their companies' safety records. To save lives — and liability costs — during red flag conditions, we've cut power to great swaths of the state.
We've spent billions: Rare is the press release from Gov. Gavin Newsom that does not include a litany of wildfire actions.But it hasn't been enough, and as Californians now face the realities of climate change by the terrified millions, the only choices left are hard vs. hard: Black out even more people. Ban wildland homebuilding. Bury power lines. Build microgrids. Break up the state's largest utility — the bankrupt one supplying half of the state — and give its aging, spark-spewing equipment to taxpayers or customers or hedge funds or Warren Buffett. Burn nature before it burns you.
So what are our options at this point, assuming we get through this season? Here are a few — with pros, cons and political odds.
WHY DON'T WE BAN HOMEBUILDING IN AREAS OF HIGH RISK?
The idea:One in three homes in California is in an area at risk for wildfire. Those residences, poised on the edge of, and sometimes in the midst of rugged, flammable wildlands, are increasingly in peril. And too often, only the rich can afford the kind of insurance that's necessary to rebuild.
The pros:This is a zoning issue. If people can be prohibited from building in a flood plain, or warned about living on a fault line — why not write ordinances that either say no to building in dangerous places or require homeowners and businesses to sign a waiver absolving authorities from the need to provide fire protection to them?
The cons:Property rights are big in American jurisprudence. People want to build where they choose and get irritated when the state steps on local control.Sometimes financial necessity forces people to homes in rural places. And build-at-your-own-risk isn't the mantra of a society that believes public safety is part of a government's role.
The odds:Imagine a local elected official telling a property developer — who may or may not donate to political campaigns — that we will no longer make room on forested hills for new luxury subdivisions, with their alluring property tax potential. Not gonna happen.
In any case, Gov. Gavin Newsom has rejected such a building ban, telling the Associated Press in April, "There's something that is truly Californian about the wilderness and the wild and pioneering spirit." Odds are zip.
WHY DON'T WE BURY ALL THE POWERLINES?
The idea: Some of the most catastrophic wildfires in recent years have been sparked by electrical equipment. PG&E, in particular, has been bankrupted by liability for apocalyptic fires caused by aging wires and towers.
Its solution? Apocalyptic blackouts. So why not put the fire hazard underground?
[Note: Southern California Edison power lines helped cause the 2017 Thomas Fire. The utility also has said its power lines were likely associated with the destructive Woolsey Fire that burned 97,000 acres Santa Monica Mountains and communities including Malibu, Calabasas and Agoura Hills in late 2018. In crecent days, SoCal Edison has put tens of thousands on notice in recent days that public safety power shutoffs were possible.]
The pros: It would be safer. And it's not unheard of. Since 2009, Australia has required undergrounding of new lines.
The cons:It's incredibly slow. PG&E alone has some 81,000 miles of overhead lines. Undergrounding makes damaged lines hard to access, and leaves them vulnerable to floods and earthquakes. They're just one source of risk among many. And it's reallllly expensive. PG&E puts the price at about $2.3 million a mile on average compared with $800,000 per mile for building new overhead lines.
The odds:On a scale of 1-10? Maybe a 3, though the cost-benefit improves with every utility-sparked wildfire. But utility poles have a constituency, too, as California rolls out the 5-G digital infrastructure needed for high-speed internet and self-driving cars.
WHY DON'T WE MAKE UTILITIES REPAY US FOR BLACKOUTS?
The idea: Sensing no political downside, Newsom is demanding PG&E offer rebates — $100 to residential customers and $250 to small businesses — to compensate people for the recent public safety power shutdowns.
The pros: Other businesses offer your money back if customers don't get service. Californians use less electricity than customers in other states, on average, but their rates are relatively high. And there's no harm for politicians in demanding refunds from, say, a company like PG&E, which is both unpopular and bankrupt.
The cons: PG&E blackouts for October alone have hit more some two million households, and, as noted, that utility is bankrupt. In any case, any rebate would be a mere gesture compared to what Californians are about to pay for electricity. So far, the average PG&E customer stands to pay an extra $30 a month even before all the details of bankruptcy are worked out.
The odds: Eight in 10 of some policy going forward. Newsom has already scored one clawback. On Tuesday, acknowledging blunders, PG&E announced a one-time credit to those impacted by its Oct. 9 blackout, which cut power to more than 700,000 customers.
WHY DON'T WE MOVE TO MICROGRIDS?
The idea: If the big utilities are causing the fires, and creating the untenable public safety blackouts that are impacting millions of Californians, why not pull the plug on for-profit power companies?
The pros:A microgrid is a power system that operates independently from the electrical grid. The systems produce, store and distribute power on a small scale and offer precisely what's needed in times of chaos: resiliency. A tiny grid can provide power to operate critical infrastructure during emergencies, such as hospitals and fire stations.
The cons:As the technology stands right now, microgrids, as the name implies, are not applicable for large scale deployment, although the desert community of Borrego Springs hums along using one. There are still some technological barriers to be overcome.
The odds: Moving en masse to a system of microgrids is a dream for some, but still a distant one. The state is studying the issue. And legislators are not ones to let a crisis go to waste. Expect even more attention to this in Sacramento. Odds are 6 out of 10.
WHY DON'T WE STAGE MORE CONTROLLED BURNS?
The idea:Fighting fire with fire has been going on in California since before European settlement. If carefully planned and monitored, these small purpose-set fires can quickly remove dangerous fuels and dead trees.
The pros: Forest thinning is a critical component of California's approach to fire mitigation. It's an inexpensive alternative to tree cutting: Sending crews in to physically remove trees can cost as much as $1,400 an acre. Controlled burns are a relative bargain, coming in at about $150 an acre. Small, low-intensity burns are ultimately healthy for forests. And it's more efficient than that raking-the-forest-like-Finland idea ...
The cons: Even closely monitored burns discharge polluting and unhealthful smoke. It's not uncommon for a prescribed burn that took two years to plan to be scrubbed because residents in a nearby town complained. Also the flames can be dangerous and it's a bit jarring to see firefighters set fires.
The odds:Very good, an 8. The state is accelerating thinning projects. Everyone likes the idea of controlled burns, in theory. But we may all just have to get used to them as a norm.
WHY DON'T WE THROW MORE PEOPLE AND EQUIPMENT AT FIRES?
The idea: We are Americans. More is better. Why can't we have everything?
The pros:Fire folks like to talk about "tools in the toolbox." Who doesn't want the biggest toolbox with the latest tools to tackle a dangerous and unpredictable job? Why use puny WWII-era prop planes when you can call up a retrofitted 747 jumbo jet patrolling the sky like a pterodactyl, dousing flames with nearly 19,000 gallons of retardant? Even when machines are grounded by wind, it's reassuring to have them near.
The cons: Some wildfires are predictable, inviting crews to swarm over them, all-but stamping them out with their boots. Those polite fires don't tend to be California fires. The infernos menacing Northern and Southern California are driven by powerful winds, typical for this time of year. Putting resources in front of those flames is dangerous and not always effective: Aircraft and machines and people in uniform may not stop a wind-driven fire until winds die down or rain falls. And paying for fleets of tankers, helicopters, bulldozers and crews to sit around waiting for the weather to change is breathtakingly expensive.
The odds: Pretty good. Maybe 7 out of 10. As noted, fire folks like a well-stocked toolbox and usually, Cal Fire gets what Cal Fire wants.
WHY DON'T WE MAKE ALL UTILITIES PUBLIC?
The idea: California is home to a mix of public and investor-owned utilities, but the investor-owned ones (think PG&E) have a fiduciary duty to shareholders that complicates spending on public safety. So let the government run the grid.
The pros: The public, not shareholders or investors, would set rates through a governing body or a board and there would be clear accountability to improve safety and maintain equipment. Public utilities operate their own generation facilities or purchase power through contracts. And they would have access to public financing. No more worrying about shareholder returns.
The cons: Turning private corporations into government-run providers would be difficult, pricey — and a gamble. The public would have to pony up billions just to acquire all private providers, including the biggest three: Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison. Then the public is left holding the bag if there are problems, such as deadly wildfires. And publicly owned utilities aren't necessarily without controversy. Consider the history of corruption at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which serves 3.9 million customers — and whose power lines appear to have helped spark the Getty Fire.
The odds: Like, 1 in 10. Gov. Gavin Newsom could talk up a state takeover of PG&E, if the political will were there for it, but he's talked up Warren Buffett and other potential white knights instead.
WHY DON'T WE FORCE UTILITIES TO BETTER TARGET BLACKOUTS?
The idea: Public safety power shut-offs, or de-energization, have been used in California since 2013, mainly by San Diego Gas and Electric during high fire danger to reduce the risk of electrical fires.
The pros: SDG&E hardened its system after a 2007 wildfire destroyed more than 1,000 homes and killed two people. It now operates a "networked" grid of major transmission lines, smaller distribution lines and circuits that allows distribution from different paths. The company also has invested in "reclosers," which are pole-mounted circuit breakers that allow authorities to more surgically pinpoint trouble on a line and shut off power to smaller areas. The utility's blackouts have affected as many as 23,000 households, and as few as one or two customers.
The cons: PG&E can't be so precise. It serves 70,000 square miles of California, and runs a "radial" system, meaning power lines stretch over long distances. PG&E serves 16 million customers compared to 3.6 million for SDG&E over 4,100 square miles.
The odds:Eight in 10, but it'll be a work in progress. According to PG&E's wildfire mitigation plan, it pledged to work on finding ways to reduce the impact of blackouts ahead of this year's wildfire season. So far, the utility has cut power to millions of people in dozens of counties several times in October.
WHY DON'T WE BEEF UP CALIFORNIA'S ALERT SYSTEM?
The idea:Alerting the public can be the difference between life and death. But too often, emergency notifications come too late. During last year's Camp Fire, a large number of residents didn't receive an alert or warning. At the time, the most effective system came from neighbors knocking on doors and word of mouth. California has to do better. With 85 lives lost, that blaze is now the state's deadliest.
The pros:For the first time, the state has issued basic guidelines for when and how to issue public alerts, suggestions for what information to include in a message, and where to distribute those warnings. The 83-page report released in March by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services recommends alerting communities through as many platforms as possible, from wireless emergency alerts, traditional landlines and TV and radio to door-to-door notification, loudspeakers and sirens. Cal Fire also has an alert app that lets users receive customized texts and push notifications about wildfires reported within a chosen ZIP code or 30 miles of a phone's location. State officials now say "all of the above" is probably the best way to keep the public informed.
The cons: "All of the above" is still pretty tech heavy, and recent fires and blackouts have shown that cell phones can be rendered useless in a worst-case scenario. Tech access isn't equal in all parts of California. While most of the 58 counties have access to a new federal Wireless Emergency Alert system, 16 counties are not signed up. And despite those warning guidelines from CalOES, the state is still working on uniform terms so various state and local government agencies understand each other in an emergency.
The odds: Six in 10, at least in the short term. Progress is being made but emergency communications still need work.
WHY DON'T WE BRING BACK LANDLINES?
The idea: Cell phones aren't reliable during emergencies and PG&E blackouts have already resulted in a loss of cell phone service, so let's go analog. California should bring back landlines.
The pros: Landlines are time-tested, typically underground and can be operated with minimal power.
The cons: They aren't what they used to be. Modern landlines frequently operate on Voice over Internet Protocol, which sends calls over the internet, not a traditional phone line. If the power's out, then a house phone might not work. Nor are companies required to offer backup power for VOIP lines. This is already becoming an issue as blackouts affect the state. Another problem? Folks with landlines often use cordless phones, which require electricity.
The odds: Two out of 10. In 2017, more than half of U.S. households relied on cell phones alone. As phone companies increasingly lean on the internet to provide service, landlines figure less and less into California's emergency back-up plan.
WHY DON'T WE DEAL WITH THIS CRISIS AT ITS SOURCE?
The idea: These are not your father's wildfires. California was built to burn, but that natural propensity has been amplified by climate change to a perilous degree. Costly though it may be, we should do whatever it takes to curb the greenhouse gas pollution behind global warming — now, if it isn't already too late.
Pros: "California's burning while the (climate) deniers make a joke out of the standards that protect us all," former Gov. Jerry Brown recently told a House Oversight Committee. "The blood is on your soul here and I hope you wake up. Because this is not politics, this is life, this is morality. ... This is real."
Cons: Bringing greenhouse gas pollution down from the world's current, existentially threatening levels, is a far bigger job than California alone can afford to bankroll. And Americans, even those who don't deny the threat, aren't in political agreement about the change, sacrifice and massive expense required by the solutions.
The odds: Climate change may not be the tip-top priority it was in the Brown administration, but Brown's Democratic party is highly unlikely to depart from the policies that made California a climate leader. So 9 in 10 odds that the status quo here will continue, though it's another story in the Trump administration's Washington. And let's be real: The ability of one state to solve global climate change is limited. Even California doesn't have that much climate control. Or hubris.
Elizabeth Castillo and Laurel Rosenhall contributed to this explainer.
This article was originally published on by CalMatters on Oct. 30.
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