www.COMMWORLD-KC.com (816) 763-1100 Volume 5, Issue 3

In This Issue...

Win a Toshiba Phone System

Win a $2500 Phone System, $450 Flat Screen TV or $399 Tablet Computer!

Win a $2500 Phone System,
$450 Flat Screen TV or
$399 Tablet Computer!

Contest extended until
March 15th!

(note correction from May 15th)

Create a video (3 minutes or less) to tell why you need a new business phone system. Use your digital camera, cell phone or other video device and don't worry about making it look professional. Just make it entertaining, original and creative!

  • 1st Prize - Toshiba IPedge VoIP system or Strata CIX phone system worth $2500 or more. Or apply $2500 toward a larger system or an upgrade of an existing Toshiba phone system.
  • 2nd Prize - Toshiba 32" LCD Flat Screen TV valued at $450.
  • 3rd Prize - Toshiba Thrive Tablet Computer valued at $399.

It's easy to enter:

  1. Visit the Toshiba Phone Systems Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/ToshibaPhoneSystems).
  2. "Like" Toshiba Phone Systems on Facebook.
  3. Click on the "Phone-A-Saurus Contest" tab on the left.
  4. Click on the "Enter Here" tab to submit your video.
  5. Fill in COMMWORLD of Kansas City as the referring Toshiba dealer!

COMMWORLD of Kansas City and Toshiba are partnering to bring you the Phone-A-Saurus contest…the most incredible offer since the Jurassic period. Call Linda at 816-763-1100 for any questions.

Good Luck and Have Fun! We would love to see YOU win!!!

Spring Forward & Spring Clean Up...

Spring Forward & Spring Clean Up...

We'll all be getting up in the dark for a while as we get used to Daylight Saving Time beginning Sunday, March 11th at 2:00 AM. The time on newer telecommunications equipment will automatically change, but older systems must be changed manually. This is also a great opportunity to do a little house cleaning on your phone and voice mail systems.

Check Voice Mail Holiday Greetings
Make sure voice mail holiday greetings will play at the correct time and day. Since some holidays are observed on different days from year to year, the schedule must be altered for the current year. Failure to make the necessary changes could result in a "We're closed for the holiday." message playing on a day when you're really open and a "We're open for business." message playing while your business is closed for the holiday.

Clean Up Programming and Phone Labels
Has it been a while since your phone and voice mail systems were programmed? There may be simple changes which would increase efficiency. If your needs have changed, speed dial numbers are out-dated, employee names are wrong or your system just isn't doing everything you want it to, programming changes and new labels for phones could help.

User Training
Make sure your staff knows how to best use your telecommunications equipment to get the maximum benefits. Newer employees may never have been trained and the ones who have been there "forever" could probably use a refresher.

Be Prepared for Severe Weather & Other Disasters…

Be Prepared for Severe Weather & Other Disasters…

Did you know that Kansas has experienced eight F-5 tornadoes – more than any other state? And Joplin, Missouri's 2011 tornado is the single deadliest tornado on record. The severe spring weather has already started with high winds apparently responsible for knocking glass out of the Sprint Center and tornadoes that struck in February.

Severe Weather Awareness week in Kansas and Missouri is March 12 – 16. A Tornado Drill for both states is scheduled on Tuesday, March 13th at 1:30 pm.

Every year families and businesses suffer damage caused by the whim of Mother Nature. You know the spring storms are coming. Can your business afford to be unprepared?

Here are 7 tips to protect your communications equipment and your business.

  1. Current Programming Backup
    If your telecom equipment sustains significant damage and must be replaced, this backup information will make the transition to new equipment much faster. Without a backup, all programming will have to be recreated which can mean hours of programming.
  2. Remote Change of Greeting
    The ability to remotely change the main greeting on your company voice mail system will let you tell customers what is happening even if you can't get to your office.
  3. Remote Re-route of Calls
    For most businesses, if your phones are down, you're out-of-business. Plan ahead for emergencies with the ability to reroute calls from your office to a different location without having to go to the office to activate the re-route.
  4. Emergency Mailbox
    Keep employees informed with the latest status and instructions with an Emergency Mailbox on your voice mail system.
  5. Battery Backup or a UPS (uninterruptible power supply)
    We've said it before…Battery backup or UPS units will keep your systems up during a power outage. Be sure to change the batteries at least every three years.
  6. Have a Plan
    Think through different scenarios and how you would need to respond. Key employees should have contact information for staff and vendors. Don't rely on one type of communication like cellular or text because they can get over-loaded in an emergency situation. Document the plans and be sure you have access from multiple locations.
  7. Partner Protection Plan
    It is important to have an established relationship with a trusted telecom equipment and service provider instead of calling a vendor for the first time in an emergency. (We hope that's COMMWORLD of KC!) Partner Protection Plan Members enjoy a list of benefits including priority service and guaranteed service response time with no expedite fees. Call us at 816-763-1100 or email info@commworld-kc.com for details on the benefits and discounts included in the Plan.

Replace Batteries to Protect Equipment…

Replace Batteries to Protect Equipment…

Power fluctuations are hard on electronics and can shorten the life of phone systems, voice mail, computers, etc. The batteries in battery backup and UPS units should be replaced at least every 3 years.

What would happen to your business in a total power outage? Will customers and prospects call back or will they question the reliability of your business if you fail to answer their calls? Many business owners tell us, "Without our phones, we're out of business." Battery backup and UPS units protect and extend the life of your equipment and keep your business running when the power fails.

The Daylight Saving Time switch is a reminder to change batteries in smoke detectors so they're ready to protect lives and property in case of fire. Remember to change the batteries in UPS's (uninterruptible power supplies) and battery backup units too so they'll protect the life of your equipment and your business in case of power fluctuations and outages.

What's in store for 2012?

February 21, 2012 By toshibatelecom

Brian Metherell

Brian Metherell, vice president and general manager of Toshiba Telecom, presents six top trends for SMB business communications.

The start of a new year is time to take stock, look ahead and plan for what the coming months will hold for business communications systems. Maybe we're glass-half-full types, but we see a lot of good news ahead – and we're working hard to create some of that good news. Here are the top six trends that should interest our small to mid-sized business (SMB) customers.

  1. This is the year for unified communications.

    When most people hear the term "unified communications," they often just think of voice, email and fax. That's what we call unified messaging. Unified communications is much more. It's about converging desktop phones, cell phones, voice mail, email, video conferencing, Web-based collaboration, presence, chat and more. It's about extending this capability to everybody, not just to call center agents and power users.

    In 2012, SMBs will realize that unified communications are truly within reach – and are simple to deploy, simple to use and affordable

  2. Small business will think big.

    According to U.S. census data, 99.9 percent of the 27.5 million U.S. companies have fewer than 500 employees. Fewer than 20,000 companies have more than 500 employees. SMB remains a very big market!

    Representing such a huge force in commerce, small to mid-sized businesses won't compromise in their business communications in 2012. They won't accept stripped-down versions of enterprise phone systems.

    In 2012, we'll see more SMBs – even those with only 10 or 20 lines – adopting phone systems that give them all the features, power and control of enterprise-class systems, scaled and priced for small business.

  3. The forecast for cloud services will be mostly sunny.

    Large enterprises and the federal government have long been taking advantage of cloud computing, in which business data and applications are hosted on remote servers and securely accessed via IP networks. Cloud computing makes high-end applications – such as telephony – affordable, easy to deploy, easy to manage and flexible enough to adapt to changing business demands.

    In 2012, the concept of applications as a service will gain favor with more SMBs as well. A March 2011 Microsoft survey indicates that 39 percent of SMBs (2–250 employees) will be using one or more cloud services within three years, an increase of 34 percent.

  4. Mobility will seize the day.

    According to Nielsen, 77 percent of Americans have a mobile phone of some sort, and 43 percent of them have smart phones. Those percentages are even higher for the ages 25–34 crowd, your up-and-coming employees. So it is no surprise that mobile phones will become commonplace as the lifeline to the communications system back at the office.

    Mobility gives you one phone number with all associated privileges, preferences and features and can follow you anywhere within reach of an IP connection, wired or wireless, intranet or Internet. You can empower your smart phone to function as an office extension via the office wireless LAN while in the office and via a cellular network when out of the office. You can also have incoming calls ring at your desk phone and cell phone simultaneously.

    In 2012, the growing use of these features will boost productivity and make business users' physical locations quite seamless to colleagues and customers.

  5. IP and TDM will continue to coexist.

    IP telephony is king for many companies, but digital is not a dinosaur yet. Even today, many small to mid-sized businesses are still buying digital phones, especially for systems with fewer than 100 lines. Digital might be all those businesses need for now, such as for static users who don't need IP's new features and for traditional businesses such as retail outlets.

    The market in 2012 and beyond demands both IP and digital platforms – and that both work together.

  6. Regulatory compliance will be a growing consideration.

    From healthcare organizations that must comply with HIPAA privacy protections to life sciences companies reporting to the FDA to financial institutions accountable to federal regulators, more and more organizations are held to regulatory scrutiny. Does anybody see this regulatory ecosystem becoming simpler and more lax in 2012? We certainly don't. Even in industries that are not as heavily regulated, companies still must behave as good citizens in protecting customer data, privacy and care.

    As a result, 2012 will bring greater adoption of communications systems that support business integrity and regulatory compliance. That can mean call recording systems that support supervisory oversight, quality control and an audit trail of verbal exchanges.

    These six trends are not big leaps of faith. The stages have been set over the past few years, and the technologies are here already. The elements are in place for 2012 to be the year when more SMBs claim their rights to perform on par with the big players and have communications without compromise. At Toshiba, we work to ensure that our customers are able to take advantage of these technologies, helping them continue to grow and improve their businesses.

Source: http://blog.telecom.toshiba.com

As seen in "Thinking Bigger Business Media" online magazine…

As seen in 'Thinking Bigger Business Media' online magazine…

Unifying Business Communications

Integrated communications channels provide for clear messaging on multiple levels.

By Bob Bennett "When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain."
~William Shakespeare

To paraphrase Shakespeare's quote, "When communication is efficient, it's more effective." Perhaps if he had used unified communication his literary affect on the world might have been even greater than what it was. The increased efficiency and effectiveness provided by unified communication (UC) tools could have increased his volume, improved his quality and expanded his reputation to levels even more impressive.

What is Unified Communications?
Unified messaging was the precursor to unified communications. Unified messaging, which came on the scene in the 90's, is the combining of e-mail, voice mail and fax into one centralized desktop location, such as Outlook, Lotus Notes, etc. Unified messaging allows users increased access to information, as well as time savings in processing and organizing messages.

Voice mails and faxes are managed in the same manner as e-mail. Employees listen to voice mails and read or listen to e-mails and view faxes in the order they choose. All may then be forwarded, copied, saved to folders, deleted, annotated, etc. By using one central message location, unified messaging is a step to increasing productivity and efficiency, thereby saving money and increasing profits.

Unified communications is an expansion of unified messaging brought about by the convergence of technology and increased demand for efficiency and cost control.

There have been greater requirements for connectivity and instant communication during the past decade due to increased mobility and productivity tools such as CRM applications, sales management applications, PDAs, mobile computers, VoIP soft phones, Wi-Fi, internal and external wireless communicators, etc. This has created a need for new technologies and expanded capabilities of more mature technology systems. Phenomena such as social media expanding into business media also have increased the demand for more avenues of instant communications.

Components used in various combinations of unified communications include: office phone system, voice mail, cell phones, SIP and VoIP technologies, e-mail, video conferencing, PDAs, real-time text messaging or instant messaging, Web conferencing, audio conferencing, calendaring, presence management, desktop computing, mobile computing, collaboration and managed services.

Why Use Unified Communications?
We spend 70 percent of our waking hours communicating, so it makes sense to develop the best systems and methods for information exchange. New unified communication tools allow companies to accomplish more with fewer people and realize more productivity from mobile or remote personnel. For example, the process of providing mobile workers and telecommuters faster, easier and greater access to customer and prospect information can improve morale, reduce space costs, increase productivity and add to the bottom line.

People communicate, learn, perceive and retain information differently, so having multiple effective ways to convey information can provide tremendous business benefits.

The most powerful communication appeals to as many of the five senses (i.e., sight, sound, touch, taste and smell) as possible. In business communications, it is usually only special marketing messages that involve taste and smell; however, by involving the other three senses, recipients are more likely to fully perceive the intended meaning of the correspondence.

Communication Modes People have preferences for learning or communicating based on one or more of the following styles, known as the VAK model: visual (V), auditory (A) and kinesthetic (K). Unified Communication has become effective and efficient because it plays to the strengths of the VAK model and provides channels for all three senses through the use of IM, video, e-mail, Web and video conferencing, voice calls, etc.

A person's ability to learn and assimilate information is usually dominated by one sense. So, even with using multiple modes of communication, the acceptance and retention of information is dependent on appealing to the individual's dominant sense.

Unified communication is effective and efficient because it allows communicators to use preferred (and multiple) channels of an integrated system to deliver messages. Businesses that take advantage of UC will provide a higher level customer experience while they increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their internal and external staff.

Unified communication, using multiple delivery modes, is about efficiency, effectiveness, processes and cost controls and is not just a simple "give me a phone for my desk."

There are four cornerstones to consider when researching communication technology: company, equipment, implementation and the financial aspects of the purchase. If any of these cornerstones are not thoroughly investigated, the final decision may be jeopardized. There are tools available to help businesses assess the costs and return on investment for unified communications projects.

Important goals for any business are to provide greater value, increase revenue, reduce costs and increase profits. By combining present and future technologies, unified communications can help attain those goals. Businesses that employ unified communications will provide a higher level customer experience while increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of their employees. It is all about improving a company's communications.

If Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet had had access to unified communications, their tragic final "miscommunication" could have been avoided, and they might have lived happily ever after. Bob Bennett is an MBA graduate of the UMKC School of Business and is a co-owner of COMMWORLD of Kansas City. COMMWORLD has provided telecommunications equipment and services in the Kansas City region for 29 years. (816) 763-1100// reb@commworld-kc.com

Fun Phone Facts...

Valentines Day

March 10, 1876 marks an important date in the history of the telephone. Three days after the United States Patent Office issued patent number 174,465 to Alexander Graham Bell, he and Mr. Watson were trying to make the new invention work. (A working prototype was not a requirement for the patent.)

Bell was working in one room and Mr. Watson was in the next. Bell accidentally spilled the battery acid which they were using as a transmitting liquid. The story goes that Bell shouted, "Mr. Watson, come here. I want you!" When Watson heard the sentence through the wire, he rushed to the next room. He found Bell so excited that he was almost oblivious of the battery acid on his suit.

However, in Bell's notebook which is stored with the Library of Congress, he writes, "I then shouted into M [the mouthpiece] the following sentence: 'Mr. Watson--come here--I want to see you.' To my delight he came and declared that he had heard and understood what I said."

Whatever the actual words were, it was the first sentence to be transmitted over that earliest version of the telephone.

Source: www.loc.gov ; www.pbs.org