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Position Your SMB for Success with the Latest UC Capabilities… Connect Your Employees & Customers

As we look toward the new year, small business owners have a lot to consider…

  • After navigating a global pandemic and high inflation, small business owners know they need to be ready for the next unexpected business disruption.
  • Customer expectations have reached an all-time high, and delivering an optimal customer experience has become more critical than ever.
  • Employee needs have also changed, with many desiring more flexible and fulfilling work options.

These increasing demands present new challenges for SMB owners and IT professionals who now must develop a strategy for connecting a distributed workforce while interacting with customers wherever they happen to be.

The SMBs that will be the most successful are implementing the latest Unified Communication (UC) tools to provide resilience over the long term.

Today’s UC tools are integral in streamlining business processes by combining features like Team messaging, AI-powered chatbots, Video chat, and Third-party app integrations.

  • Delivering an Optimal Customer Experience – UC solutions provide SMBs with the flexibility to connect with customers on their preferred channels – whether it be contact center, SMS, Web chat, email, social media, or even virtual agents. SMBs need UC solutions that easily follow a customer conversation from virtual chat to phone to email.
  • Providing Flexibility to Employees – 98% of employees want to work remotely at least part of the time. As your workforce moves toward a hybrid work model, long-distance collaboration will be essential. A single easy-to-use UC interface simplifies this process for both employees and IT departments bringing together phone, chat or messaging, audio and video conferencing, web collaboration, and more.
  • The Cost Consideration – Lost productivity from poor communications strategies can cost SMBs significant dollars – funds that small business owners can’t afford to lose. They need reliable UC tools that are scalable and can grow and change with their business. Their UC deployment models must adapt to what’s best for business – whether that’s on-premises, in a private or public Cloud, or hybrid arrangement.

Plan Now for a More Prosperous 2024

As many SMBs prepare for the new year, there’s no better time to start implementing UC tools into business practices. Customers will spend money with businesses that are easy to communicate with and can solve any issues that may arise, quickly and efficiently.

Prospective employees looking for a new opportunity will also be attracted to businesses with systems that make their jobs and lives easier.

Let’s talk about your challenges and goals and map out a plan that will move your organization forward. Contact us today: (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.
 


 

Choosing the Right Cloud Infrastructure for Your Organization

By definition, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a unified telecommunications system based in the cloud. But which cloud? Your own, or one you share with people and organizations you don’t know?

Public and private cloud environments are very different regarding security, flexibility, performance, control, and other essential factors. Today, organizations can experience the best of both worlds — with some due diligence.

What is a Public Cloud?

In a public cloud environment, multiple organizations share space on a server or, more likely, a virtual server. This platform offers the benefits of simplicity, scale, and savings.

  • Companies don’t have to worry about maintenance; the public cloud service provider handles updates and upgrades.
  • Organizations can add or decrease seats based on business demands.
  • A public cloud platform eliminates the expense of maintaining communications equipment and servers.

At the same time, a public cloud has limitations. Operating systems and software, for instance, are upgraded when the public cloud service provider — not the client organization — chooses. Users who want customization, such as other applications or additional security for their virtual machines, are generally out of luck.

Think of it as an apartment building filled with tenants. The building owner, not the tenants, decides when to shovel the snow off the steps and repave the parking lot. The tenants can request security cameras or electrical vehicle chargers, but the building owner ultimately decides whether to install them.

What is a Private Cloud?

A private cloud system works like a public cloud, but as the name suggests, the resources are limited to a private network. These systems pair the efficiency of virtualization and a centralized infrastructure with the security of dedicated virtual servers. A private cloud gives organizations great flexibility, maximum control, and security.

  • Like public clouds, private clouds are scalable and cost-effective.
  • Upgrades and updates happen when the company chooses.
  • Organizations determine who and what can access the private cloud, significantly reducing the data breach risk.

However, adding and managing data centers, servers, and phone lines can get expensive and complicated and take engineering staff away from other duties. System maintenance can also require staff that may be difficult to find and expensive. In addition, modern communications requirements can mean significant liability.

Many services, including e911 and the calculation and remittance of regulatory fees and taxes, are required for cloud-based systems. Companies that maintain a private cloud must stay abreast of — and comply with — government regulations, such as STIR/SHAKEN compliance; Kari’s Law, which ensures the ability to dial 911 directly; and RAY BAUM’s Act, which requires that all 911 calls include dispatchable location information.

What is a Managed Private Cloud?

The expense and liability of managing data centers have driven many organizations to migrate their private cloud environments to a managed private cloud service. This third offering combines many of the benefits of a public cloud with the increased control and security of a private cloud.

  • Service providers handle maintenance and upgrades at the customer’s convenience.
  • Companies have dedicated virtual servers for each unique application.
  • Regulatory compliance responsibilities (e.g., 911-related services, calculation/collection/remittance of regulatory fees and taxes) lie with the service provider.
  • Billing services lie with the service provider.
  • Geo-redundant data centers offer enhanced security and reliability.
  • Service providers include all inbound/outbound calling services within the 48 contiguous US.

Choosing the Right Service Provider

For more than 40 years, we’ve served as a trusted partner to innovative DC region organizations that need intelligent communications solutions to engage with their clients and accelerate operations.

Let’s explore which cloud infrastructure approach and customized UCaaS can help grow your business. Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.
 




Schools, Non-Profits, Gov’t… Are You Exploiting Sourcewell’s Discounts for Telecom Solutions?

Sourcewell is a municipal contracting government agency serving the public sector.

Who qualifies for Sourcewell membership?

  • Educational institutions – both public and private, including K to 12, special education districts, charter schools, and higher education/universities
  • Non-profits – including hospitals and nursing homes, rural power cooperatives, housing authorities, member associations, and groups
  • State and local government agencies – including cities, counties, water districts, and tribal nations

How does Sourcewell work?

First, Sourcewell goes out to competitive bid nationally on a wide range of products and services that would benefit their members. They then award the contract to the selected vendor. Sourcewell sets up the legal authority between vendor and member.

The member organizations then have access to the vendor’s services at Sourcewell, resulting in accolades like this from a school district:

“Sourcewell contracts have streamlined our purchasing process, saving our district thousands of dollars.”

Significant Discounts

Working with TCI as your local technology partner, Sourcewell members can purchase Mitel telecom solutions without issuing an RFP, including:

  • Public Cloud
  • Private Cloud and On-site Systems
  • Contact Center
  • Team Collaboration
  • Mass Notification
  • Business Phones
  • Devices and Accessories

Mitel is the exclusive Sourcewell telecommunications equipment vendor based on its record of innovation, product quality, customer service, pricing, and overall market leadership.

Simplified procurement and savings … More reasons to go with TCI and Mitel. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Flexible Funding & Delivery Models… Why Migrating to the Cloud is More Affordable than You Think

Most businesses recognize that modernizing their communications technologies will help them increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and sharpen their competitive edge. But many are sticking with the technologies they have today because they don’t believe they can afford to do anything else.

The good news is funding and delivery models for communications technologies have become far more flexible in recent years. This flexibility opens the door for almost every business to start on the path to modernization.

CapEx Funding Strategies May Be Holding You Back

Traditionally, CFOs have preferred to buy IT infrastructure outright as a capital expenditure (CapEx) because they could use the associated amortization and depreciation costs as tax deductions. While these financial benefits are helpful to businesses, a CapEx purchase strategy for communications systems also comes with downsides.

  • A significant cash outlay is required to initiate the purchase.
  • Hardware is particularly notorious for becoming obsolete in shorter-than-expected timeframes.
  • There’s a significant risk that purchased resources will remain idle or underused over the lifetime of the system.
  • Purchased on-site hardware and software systems consume space, and they must be maintained, powered, and cooled.

An OpEx Strategy Increases Flexibility On Every Front

With an OpEx strategy, businesses don’t purchase the communications system hardware or software. Instead, they pay a monthly, quarterly, or yearly fee to access communications capabilities that are offered in a subscription model. All hardware and software are owned, operated, and maintained by another company, and communications costs become day-to-day business costs. When technology is an operating expense, businesses can:

  • Pay only for the capacity they currently need, so capital is never tied up in under-used hardware and software
  • Write off the entire subscription cost each year rather than just a percentage of the total CapEx purchase price
  • Free up large amounts of capital that can be invested across the company
  • Avoid the need to borrow money or divert money from other projects to pay for large, upfront technology costs
  • Reduce the costs of system operation, management, and maintenance
  • Streamline cash flows by eliminating large, sporadic cash outlays
  • Simplify and accelerate budgeting exercises because short-term spending requirements are lower

Cloud Communications Solutions Leverage the Benefits of OpEx Funding

The limitations of CapEx strategies, combined with the availability of subscription-based, cloud-hosted communications solutions, are leading many CFOs and CIOs to choose OpEx funding models for business communications systems.

With this approach, businesses can immediately start migrating to the cloud at a pace that makes the most sense for their communications requirements, business goals, and budgets. For many businesses, a hybrid approach that combines existing on-premises solutions with cloud-based applications could be the right way to start the journey to the cloud.

TCI Is Ready To Help

Your local TCI experts are ready to discuss the benefits of an OpEx funding strategy for your communications system as well as the pros and cons of different cloud migration strategies.

Don’t let financial roadblocks be an obstacle to cloud migration. For flexible financing arrangements, contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 


Never ‘One Size Fits All’… Connect Your Multi-Site Business with Cloud Voice

Businesses can rarely perform at their best with ‘one size fits all’ technology solutions… Among the best aspects of TCI’s offerings are the innovative ways we support the needs of different industries and business models.

We support Public, Private, and Hybrid deployments and we will always recommend and deploy the best-fit solution for your business.

Why Cloud services appeal to businesses of every size…

  • No need to configure and manage your system, servers, and storage.
  • Maintenance and support are the responsibility of your service provider and routine upgrades are automatic.
  • Whether your business is growing or needs to scale down, a cloud service can easily adapt.
  • Need customized features, integration with other applications, or advanced call center capabilities? The right cloud solution can cover those unique arrangements too.

Hybrid brings it all together

Many multi-site businesses are looking for a hybrid approach. Some want a Private Cloud arrangement serving their headquarters and Public Cloud services connecting their branch locations – all integrated together and centrally managed.

Whether you want to simplify your technology or take control of your communications infrastructure, our cloud experts are ready to connect your business. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 


Hybrid, Public or Private Cloud Deployments… 5 Questions that Lead to the Right Choice

The cloud is a proven platform for deploying and managing all-in-one Voice, UC and collaboration capabilities across every location in your enterprise. Of course, every business has its own needs. As you consider which cloud environment makes sense for your company – public, private or hybrid – asking the following questions can help you choose the best path for you…

1. What level of privacy and security do you need?

If you’re in a highly regulated industry, like financial services, government or healthcare, consider which data should be kept on-site versus a private cloud. A hybrid solution enables you to keep control of some parts of your communications infrastructure while still reaping cloud benefits like scalability, resiliency and cost management. If privacy and control are essential to your business, this route may provide the flexibility you need.

2. How important is reliability?

If your workforce needs immediate and reliable access to complex data like large multimedia files, consider either a private cloud or storing the data on site. If you operate a contact center, consider a hybrid solution: a private cloud combined with on-site back-up. Such redundancy protects you from costly downtime; if you lose your on-site system, the cloud is there. Likewise, if a network failure hits your cloud provider, your in-house infrastructure becomes your safety net.

3. Will the communications system grow and flex with you?

For organizations with fewer than 500 users, the public cloud environment is the most cost-effective. For one thing, your business can pay on a user-per-month basis. In addition, even though you still use a public Internet connection, it can be combined with private network solutions. A hybrid solution using the public cloud via a secure private network gives you room to scale up when necessary and allows you to maintain reliability and control.

4. How can you connect to the cloud?

  • SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking) uses one or multiple network connections to prioritize applications, using a mixture of Internet and/or Internet with MPLS services to review and evaluate all network traffic. To ensure data and call quality are optimized, it can switch circuits quickly.
  • MPLS (Multiprotocol label switching) uses high‐speed networks to efficiently transport packets over virtual links. It also provides high call quality and a secure connection.
  • Public Internet Access Services like business-grade broadband connections are used for voice and video services. This is an economical choice for small and growing organizations.

5. What goes in the cloud? What stays?

Start by identifying the applications that really matter and checking for redundant functionality across applications; then focus on the key business and technical reasons for moving to the cloud. Use those decisions to shape the specific criteria for determining which applications should move to the cloud. Start with an overall digital strategy and work backwards, evaluating each offering against your value proposition.

TCI can help you refine your cloud deployment strategy and implement a solution tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

The “Cloud” Defined – What it Means for Your Small or Mid-Sized Business

Imagine being able to access company data, applications, services, and resources Anytime, Anywhere. That’s the idea behind the “Cloud” – an efficient, flexible and cost-saving IT platform – that small and mid-sized businesses are rapidly adopting to save money and improve day-to-day operations.

The Cloud makes it much easier for small and large enterprises to quickly and easily access Voice, Computing, Storage, Software, Development, and Network resources on demand.

Cloud Services offer consolidation and automation of administrative tasks. This allows you to focus on your business instead of managing technology.

There are several types of Clouds to consider…

Public − Operated as a utility by a third party with services delivered over the Web, this multi-tenant arrangement is typically billed on a consumption basis.

Private − Virtual Machines or Apps reside on a company’s own dedicated hosts and storage servers; providing high levels of flexibility, scalability, availability, and security.

Hybrid − A mix of public and private clouds that enables a company to leverage the scalability and economy of a public cloud without losing control or risking mission-critical applications and data to potential third-party vulnerabilities.

Virtualization − Allows a company to run several operating systems and applications, including voice, on a single machine. With this arrangement, shared pools of resources can be created to optimize the infrastructure for better performance, reliability and availability.

Let’s sit down at your planning table to discuss how the Cloud can help your organization get ahead… Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.