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Don’t get stuck with your old PBX system, start afresh with Cloud Based Platform!

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There are so many things to take care of while shifting to a new office. And usually PBX systems are the last thing on your mind. Faced with the countless headaches around moving into a new space and signing a new lease, office telephony tends to be overlooked. And when the question does arise, most business owners turn toward their existing PBX system – and investigate how to move it into the new space.

Many business owners soon discover, attempting to move an existing PBX system is not only complicated, but also very costly. Firstly, PBX suppliers have little to no interest in assisting clients to move PBX systems. When providing a quote, they will quote high. Why? Because these are product-based businesses, so they would rather push business owners into an upgrade/new finance contract than arrange to move an existing PBX system.

To solve this issue (and avoid getting stuck in the same scenario the next time around) business owners should consider a cloud-based PBX system. Cloud-based PBX providers are inherently service-based businesses, with a solution driven approach. As a result, questions around uptime, handling and diverting call traffic, and of course, making a smooth transition to new premises, can all be answered with ease. Indeed, cloud-based PBX providers have dedicated account managers who have every incentive to ensure that office telephony requirements are met – around the clock, during and after a move. These solutions are designed with mobility in mind, hence removing all the usual headaches associated with moving into new premises.

While there are many attractive reasons and substantial benefits to switching to a cloud PBX, there are a few considerations that businesses must make if they have decided to switch from an on-premise PBX to the cloud

Costs & Budgets

What is a business’ budget and what options will work within that? Cost is one of the big factors to assess when upgrading equipment and technology in an office. It is important to look at the different costs that will be associated with the cloud PBX solution, including setup and support costs. Also, businesses must decide if they are going to be upgrading phones or will need to purchase new compatible devices. While these expenditures must be part of the cost analysis, remember that initial start-up and/or equipment costs generally are a one-time expense.

Where are the cost savings? PBX phone saving studies show that cloud PBX systems can save companies up to 50% (in comparison to other PBX solutions). Cloud-based phone systems are known to have relatively limited upfront costs. Additionally, the need to install, maintain, reconfigure, and upkeep a premise-based PBX, which can lead to unforeseen future costs, is removed from the equation. Cloud solutions also have a tendency to have low set-up costs, call rates, and subscription fees. When completing a cost analysis, do not forget to include the monthly Internet service fee.

Business Needs & Feature Sets

What are the overall business and associate-level needs? It is imperative to assess whether or not the cloud solution comes with all the advanced features (or more) that an on-premise PBX would have. Ask if the solution has all the management capabilities needed, such as import/export of extensions, troubleshooting, and provisioning. Does the business rely on a third-party chat and collaboration program (Slack, Teams, etc.) or does the cloud PBX need to have a chat feature built-in? What security features are a must-have for an organization? It is not safe to merely assume that all cloud PBX offerings are the same, so feature needs should be outlined and then compared with feature sets.

Some of the top key features include:

  • Business Features: Blacklist/Whitelist, Custom prompt, distinctive ringtone, music on hold, one-touch recording
  • Call Features: Attended transfer, blind transfer, call detail records, call forwarding, call monitor, call parking, call routing, caller ID, conference, DND, queue, speed dial, SIP forking, video calls
  • Management: Backup & restore, import/export extensions, multi-level user access, phone provisioning

Multi-Locations & Branch Offices

Does a business need a multi-location solution? If business spans different geographical areas and is not contained in one location, it makes sense to gravitate towards a cloud PBX. Many cloud PBX options can connect employees on the opposite sides of the globe, offering all employees access to the exact same features. Easily utilize these options to transfer calls between different offices. One other consideration is to assess the cost of long distance calling, which may already be rolled into the package price.

Access on Mobile

One cannot ignore the fact that business extends outside of the four walls of the office. A quality cloud PBX solution will possess the capability to fully function on a mobile device. This is perfect for those employees who have home offices, telecommute occasionally, or even travel frequently. To ensure that this is possible, choosing a cloud PBX with a comprehensive mobile client is a must. In addition to calls being properly routed to mobile devices, a mobile client needs to offer full access to all features.

Internet & Networking Requirements

When setting up a cloud PBX system, determine whether the current Internet connection speed is high enough, both up and downstream. Also, check that all basic networking equipment is up-to-date (routers and switches). Ensuring a high level of call quality can be done by having a QoS-enabled Internet connection. Certain equipment, like an Edgewater router, can prioritize your traffic over data.

 

 

Corporate communication in the workplace boosted through Digital Signage

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In busy times there are chances that we go for what is there on the display. For example, choosing your meal from a shiny digital signage menu board hanging above the cash counter in a fast food restaurant. We’re seeing digital signage pop-up in more and more places as the capabilities and efficiency of signage software grow and costs decrease. As an easy, effective way to share a message with an audience, many institutions are leveraging its reach. It’s being used by everyone from elementary schools, to banks, and we’re seeing more and more digital signage in corporate offices

Meeting Room Signage

Corporate offices are constantly caught up in the jumble of organizing meeting rooms. Clients and business partners alike are wasting hours trying to figure out if a meeting room is booked, when it will come free, or if the people who are supposedly occupying it will ever show up. But this chronic wild goose chase is being solved using digital signage.

Using digital signage, you can put up displays in front of every meeting room showing when the room is booked and when it will become free. This way people can easily see when and where they are able to book out a room for their next meeting, and if all goes well, maybe you could end up saving few bucks.

Office Communications

Modernize your office communications using digital signage to notify employees of events, workshops, maintenance in the building and even the most mundane information like the weather and traffic. Sharing information on office gatherings or birthdays not only up’s attendance, but it also boosts morale and in-turn, productivity.

Dashboard Signage

For a business to make the right decisions, they need to be able to back them by real data. They need to be able to track a KPI or key metric at a glance and know exactly how far they are from hitting it. Dashboard software is allowing teams to visually depict their performance through streaming kpi’s, key metrics, and any other relevant data in real time. Knowing how to define your organization’s KPIs, is just as important as sharing them.

The smartest decisions are undeniably the ones we can track and validate with Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and key-metrics. In order to derive meaningful, actionable insights, this data needs to be communicated visually and immediately so that a team learns how to react to a change just as quickly as they see it come in.

Visibility of data all the time is an easy action towards transforming a business into a culture of constant learning and improvement. When a team can watch their progress each day, they can see the effect of changes they make to their strategy. This reinforces good decision making and motivates teams to move a metric through improvement.

Using performance dashboards, teams can customize data to show live charting, key metrics and key performance indicators (KPI’s). They can also set up warning notifications- triggered by a falling target, so if the team is failing in any respect, everyone will know instantly. Sharing information with your team is easy but communicating the meaning and application through visual communication is the next best alternative in busy times!

 

Workplace Collaboration, Video Conferencing, and Unified Communications Are About to Collide

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From a single source on your desktop, you can survey your entire working world. The opening sentence of an email from your team leader fills one corner, a discussion thread from your colleagues scrolls down in real-time on the opposite side. Your own project status sits neatly in the middle, ready to update as you check off another task, and a video call icon is flashing in the bottom right corner, letting you know a teammate wants a quick face-to-face.

That was part of the promise of unified communications pushed by high-end video conferencing and IT providers. It demanded complex infrastructure and dedicated, expensive hardware, but would seamlessly bring together every aspect of a company’s digital communication.

Instead, however, the scenario above was made reality by a single app, Slack, that came out of nowhere several years ago to create a new genre of business tools under the banner of workplace collaboration. The resulting friction between workplace collaboration, unified communications, and video conferencing will shape the modern office. In fact, all three are about to meet in an industry-defining collision.

A Simpler Digital Workplace

Slack isn’t the complete answer that unified communication was meant to be. It isn’t as elegant, nor does it properly stitch together the internal and external business worlds. It might be, however, close enough and user-friendly enough to make the average business stop searching for high-tech perfection.

Its popularity is undeniable. It has 4 million daily active users, and 1.25 million paid subscribers. More indicative of its importance is the rash of copycats it has inspired–and these mimics are some of the biggest names in tech.  Microsoft’s version, Teams, has been sold to 30,000 businesses, and Facebook’s clone, Workplace by Facebook, is being used by 14,000 more.

In fact, Slack operates a lot more like the traditional Facebook than it does any unified communications wizardry. Once you’ve downloaded the app you can integrate all the software and hardware (simple items like webcams, not complex in-room hubs) needed to do everything from create a document to attend a video conference. That simplicity is why industry experts think workplace collaboration will change the very meaning of the term unified communications.

The Future of Workplace Collaboration

What we may be left with is a crude approximation of what unified communications could have been. While Polycom creates state-of-the-art telepresence displays, and Cisco delivers new ways to interact during a video call, employees on the ground in offices are messaging and video calling from their desktops with Slack and its descendants.

The simpler solution lets employees collaborate in real-time from anywhere, including home, without moving from their desks. If they need to be on the same side of a video call they are preferring to decamp to small, shared huddle rooms that conserve space and don’t require any IT department support to operate.

The new challenge, under Wharton’s vision, will be to continue innovation within these almost DIY conditions. Next generation video and collaboration technologies like augmented and virtual reality will have to be intuitive and non-invasive so as not to disturb the workplace flow–having to don a pair of goggles every time you make a video call isn’t practical. Whatever comes next will also have to include the rising Bring Your Own Device movement. And finally, a bridge needs to be found between the desktop and the external business world. It could be as simple as patching into group video calls, with in-camera green screening to clean up callers’ backgrounds, or as complex as creating an entirely digital meeting place, as some virtual reality specialists.

Ultimately, we’ll get a clearer vision of our workplace future once the dust settles from the impending collision between high-minded unified communications and practical workplace collaboration.

source:www.videoconferencingdaily.com

 

Audio Conferencing vs Video Conferencing. Which one should you go for?

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Sight or sound? Video or audio? A human face or a human voice? If these were the only questions that confronted you before your next planned conference call, the choice would be obvious–a video conference is more personal, more engaging, and more dynamic than an audio call.

Things aren’t that straightforward though. A video call requires cameras and a screen. It makes much higher demands on your internet connection than audio. Connecting a video call means checking that the people on the other end are using the same video conferencing providers–for all their advances VC vendors still refuse to cross-communicate with each other.

So, do you settle for audio only?  Luckily, the video conferencing industry is aware of the extra burden video entails. And they’re trying to make things simpler. If they succeed, then video conferencing vs. audio conferencing will no longer be a debate–because video conferencing is audio conferencing–just upgraded with human faces.

Video Conferencing Vs. Audio Conferencing

In truth, we live in an age of messaging in which the conference call is one of the few areas where the clash between audio and video even matters. The average adult is 2.6 times more likely to send a message than make a call. No one calls from the train to say they’re going to get home a little late–they send a text. No one jumps on Skype to show off their new shoes–they just send a Snap. Even in the office, workplace collaboration apps like Slack and Microsoft’s Teams are replacing calls with message threads.

Messages won’t cut it, however, when it comes time for a big presentation or office-to-office meeting–times when you want a more personal touch and a greater ability to present and discuss information.

Now the decision becomes: Audio or visual?

The Ease of Audio – The hardware side of the debate is where audio has it over video. The reason why is obvious. Audio only requires a conference bridge, so multiple callers can call in over a network or the internet (VoIP) through a central control hub equipped with microphones and speakers. Video, at a minimum, needs all that plus screens and cameras to display and convey images.

The basics required for a video conference–a smart 4K webcam, central hub, and speaker mics. All those necessary peripherals also make setting up a video conference-enabled room much more complicated than its audio-only cousin.

The Complication of Video

There’s only one thing you have to worry about when setting up an audio-only conference call: Can everyone be heard? Generally, this involves placing the main hub in the center of the room and then scattering around some attached microphones, or ensuring the central phone is sensitive enough to be used by the entire group.

Video, on the other hand, requires you to think about how each person appears on camera. Traditionally, this means seating everyone in a horseshoe shape around a central screen and camera. There are some great active-speaker, automated cameras available that will track from person to person around the table as each person speaks, but these are expensive and still require thoughtful seating.

While both audio and visual solutions must combat in-room noise, video has the added bugbear of having to account for lighting. Again, there are solutions around, such as technology built into webcams that can adjust to compensate for a change in light levels, but it’s an added problem audio doesn’t care about.

As we mentioned before, video will also make far more demands on an internet connection than audio ever will. While it’s safe to assume most companies are on unlimited corporate data plans, having to push through a signal that’s many times heavier than audio means many connections can’t handle high-end streaming, especially 4K visuals, at all.

So, why go to all this trouble and expense to host a video conference? It’s nature. We’re visual creatures, and we understand through our eyes just as much as through our ears.

Video Offers a Better Experience

In general, most people prefer the real-time reactions and emotions of a human face when conducting a meeting over a disembodied voice. In addition to better mimicking the human side of a meeting, video conferencing also lets callers exchange media-rich information–you can display videos and photos, share your computer screen, or watch third-party content like YouTube. Also, you can share files and documents instantly without having to consult a BYO computer as you would with audio only.

Video conferencing vendors are trying to make things easier for their users to capitalize on this natural superiority. Microsoft recently unveiled a new range of Skype Room Systems, which act as central touchscreen hubs to make starting a video call simple. Larger room systems are being expanded to provide control over everything from the webcams to the air conditioning and the blinds. VC is also going portable with all-in-one webcams that can be deployed quickly and that cater for small huddle room groups.

Comparing the experience of an audio conference with that of a video conference is not like comparing a Honda Civic with a BMW 4 Series. It’s like comparing a bicycle with a car. Yes, bikes are a lot cheaper and they’ll get the job done, but come on…for most things, a car is just a more convenient and complete solution, even if it’s a little more complicated to operate.

source: www.videoconferencingdaily.com

 

Collaboration made easy with IP enabled Video Phones

 

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A VoIP phone is a hardware- or software-based telephone designed to use voice over IP (VoIP) technology to send and receive phone calls over an IP network. The phone converts analog telephony audio into a digital format that can be transmitted over the internet and converts incoming digital phone signals from the internet to standard telephone audio.

VoIP phones, also known as IP phones, include features and capabilities not found in traditional analog phones. They also have additional performance requirements because phone calls are placed over the internet instead of the legacy public switched telephone network (PSTN).

How does a VoIP phone work?

Some VoIP phones require A/C adapters for power, while others use Power over Ethernet (PoE). PoE uses an Ethernet cable instead of an A/C adapter and removes the need for separate power and data cables.

Several networking components are required to make VoIP phones work. Phones are assigned IP addresses through the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), which automatically configures the network and the VoIP parameters. A domain name system (DNS) tracks the IP addresses to enable devices, such as IP phones, to connect to each other.

VoIP phones require a number of protocols to facilitate the delivery of voice communications over the internet. H.323 is the most commonly used VoIP protocol that supports audio, video and data communications across IP networks. It provides several VoIP functions, including bandwidth management and call control.

Session initiation protocol (SIP) is a signaling protocol that sets up VoIP connections and is used as an alternative to H.323. Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) is used to send and receive multimedia information between two devices. VoIP services use RTP and SIP or H.323 to stream multimedia content. The Simple Traversal of UDP through NAT(STUN) protocol is used on some SIP-based VoIP phones to enable communications behind network firewalls, which can sometimes block SIP and RTP packets.

Some providers use their own proprietary protocols for VoIP phones. For example, the Skinny Client Control Protocol (SCCP) is a proprietary Cisco standard for communicating with H.323 VoIP systems.

Types of VoIP phones

The two main types of IP phones are hardware-based and software-based phones.

Physically, a hardware-based VoIP phone resembles a traditional hard-wired or cordless telephone. These phones include physical features such as a speakerphone or microphone, a touchpad, and display hardware to show user input and caller ID. VoIP phones also feature call transfer, multiparty calling and support for multiple VoIP accounts. Some VoIP phones can transmit and receive image data during calls, so they are considered video telephones.

Software-based IP phones, also known as softphones, are software clients installed on a user’s computer or mobile device. The softphone user interface often resembles a phone handset, with a touchpad and caller ID display. A headset with a microphone that connects to the computer or mobile device is encouraged, or sometimes required, to make calls. Users can also make calls using their device if it includes a built-in microphone

Softphone clients offer similar capabilities to hardware-based IP phones, such as voicemail, call conferencing and call transfer. Some clients may offer additional capabilities, such as video conferencing and instant messaging, however.

Traditional analog phones may also be converted into IP phones by connecting to an analog telephone adapter (ATA). Analog phones can be converted by plugging the Ethernet network jack into the ATA, which then connects to the phone. The analog phone will connect to the internet rather than the PSTN, and it will appear to the phone system as a VoIP phone.

Advantages and disadvantages of VoIP phones

  • Organizations can reduce calling costs by switching to VoIP services. While traditional analog phones can have lower upfront costs, they are more costly to support, upgrade and integrate with communications applications. IP phones also offer cheaper long-distance and international calls, as VoIP phone calls are charged at the local rate of the call’s destination.
  • VoIP phones offer greater mobility and scalability than traditional handsets. If an organization moves to a new location, it doesn’t need to acquire new phone lines, which it would with a traditional phone system. Adding new phones to a VoIP system is only limited by the available bandwidth on the organization’s network. Softphones also provide increased mobility, as the clients are not tied to physical locations like they would be with hard-wired phones.
  • VoIP phones can also integrate with other communications applications. For example, organizations can integrate their customer relationship management (CRM) software with VoIP phones to enhance caller ID and keep records of call information.
  • VoIP phones, however, do have disadvantages. For example, VoIP phones require a reliable internet connection and are susceptible to bandwidth constraints. With insufficient bandwidth, phone calls may experience latency, which can result in delays and dropped calls. Additionally, if an organization has a power or internet outage, users cannot make calls from their VoIP phones.

Source: www.techtarget.com

 

Telemedicine – A life Saver!

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What is Telemedicine? Telemedicine uses video conferencing and other telecommunication tools to deliver healthcare at a distance. It promises patients greater convenience and time saved. For medical clinics and hospitals, it delivers time, money, and resource savings. In rural areas with fewer medical facilities, telemedicine promises better healthcare for residents.

Telemedicine provides access to healthcare information and records, enables access to specialists, improves communication between doctors and patients, and helps professionals gather and share important health data.

Technology supports telemedicine

A number of technologies make telemedicine a practical reality. Video conferencing plays a key role, together with secure, low-cost mobile communications that support real-time collaboration through tablets and smartphones.

Video conferencing is available on mobile devices with a high-speed Internet connection and softphone, a software application. Because video conferencing reach any location with Internet access, a mobile collaboration between doctors and colleagues or doctors and patients can occur inside hospitals, medical centers, and anywhere in the country, even remote rural areas.

Healthcare professionals transmit data such as electronic records and other documentation securely. In addition to real-time video collaboration, doctors use recorded video content to support patient education, aftercare, and wellness programs in the community

Improving collaboration within hospitals

In hospitals, doctors and nurses frequently move between wards, visiting patients. To seek advice or collaborate with specialists, they connect and share patient information via the hospital’s internal wireless networks using smartphones or tablets.

Increasing access to specialists

To see and assess a patient over live video within minutes of arrival at the hospital. The faster a patient receives stroke treatment, the better chances they will recover without permanent disability. Video collaboration is accelerating ‘door to needle’ treatment by minutes, sometimes even hours, time-saving that could change a person’s life forever.

Changing the pattern of patient visits

As an alternative to a home visit, doctors may video or Web conference with patients with less mobile or medically unable to visit a health center. Doctors discuss the patient’s condition and recommend medication or treatment.

Remote monitoring systems grant access to critical patient data, like those with heart conditions or diabetes. This reduces home visits for routine assessments and provides timely alerts of changes in patients’ conditions that may require urgent attention.

Reducing hospital readmissions

Many hospitals find that readmissions put further pressure on their already limited resources. Although patients receive aftercare instructions before being discharged, when problems occur, patients are readmitted for further treatment or support. There are five areas that frequently lead to hospital readmissions:

  • Hospitals creation and implementation of effective discharge plans.
  • Patient non-compliance with medication and care instructions.
  • Compromised follow-up care due to poor collaboration.
  • Family caregivers not connected or informed to assist with care.
  • Patient condition deteriorates and necessary care not accessed.

Video collaboration and content management solutions help hospitals to deal with these challenges.

To improve patient discharge plans, hospitals can offer live, collaborative video at the time of discharge. A live conversation ensures patients, caregivers, and family members participate in the creation of a discharge plan and fully understand what action to take as the patient returns home.

Hospitals may also create a video recording explaining the discharge plan for the patient and family. The information explains what to expect in a normal recovery, compared to symptoms that represent a risk to the patient.

If patients forget the care instructions or have difficulty with their medication, the hospital sends reminders via real-time video collaboration or a pre-recorded video library. This makes reviewing patient care easy.

As part of the recovery process, patients and caregivers benefit from the support of their assigned healthcare providers. They can have virtual access to their primary care physician, case manager, or other professionals via live video. These video follow-ups help long-term patients benefit from feeling connected to their continued care.

Video collaboration assists the patients’ family who may live outside the area but want to participate in the care process. Family members can participate in video calls to create home care plans, learn to recognize risks, and assist with communication.

If a long-term patient’s condition changes or deteriorates, video collaboration enables access to their care team without resorting to readmission. Real-time video interaction helps case managers, nutritionists, physical therapists, primary care physicians, and others adapt treatment plans as changes occur in health and behavior.

Improving access to rural healthcare

In remote areas with limited medical resources, telemedicine provides local doctors a higher standard of care for their patients. Besides the opportunity for virtual home visits, telemedicine gives local professionals access to specialists anywhere in the country.

Local doctors gain insight into cases and procedures beyond their own experience or skills. It assists the diagnosis of complex cases, even allowing surgeons to conduct complex procedures with live video under the direction of a remote expert.

Supporting preventative care in the community

Telemedicine is playing an important role in preventative medicine. As part of the National Prevention Strategy, video conferencing enables hospitals, clinics, health departments, community health centers, community colleges, and facilities like rehab centers and skilled nursing facilities to collaborate and provide community-based services that contribute to the health and wellness of the public.

In smoking cessation programs or alcohol and drug abuse prevention, community teams utilize pre-recorded educational content or hold live interactive video sessions. They hear from experts in the field and discuss issues with doctors and nurses as well as peers in the community who struggle with similar problems.

Changing attitudes

Despite the promise and recent accomplishments of telemedicine, barriers to its wider adoption remain. A study by The Economist Intelligence Unit found 49 percent of respondents believe patients would be concerned about the risk of data breaches.

Although video collaboration is capable of providing benefits throughout the healthcare industry, professionals must be aware of privacy issues. Any organization providing doctors, nurses, and other workers with remote access to patient data must ensure the security of data transmitted by video or other communication channels.

Some insurers refuse to support telemedicine due to increased costs for fewer perceived health benefits. And, State medical boards impose differing telemedicine laws and restrictions on doctors. Procedures for telemedical treatment are not standardized across State lines.

Looking to the future, telemedicine has the potential to transform the way doctors deliver care, promising improved treatment, and saving more than time and money

source:voipreport.com

 

Digital Signage for effective retail marketing

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Digital signage solutions are being exploited by most business owners today to give them an edge over their competitors. There are many different benefits digital signage will have on your business, which can help you become more successful within your industry. Digital Signage is made up of a variety of technologies used to replace traditional print and other media in the retail environment in a visually dynamic form..

The importance of creating customer experiences in the retail environment is well-documented and has been proven to influence consumer decision-making at the point of sale, as well as helping to enforce branding and enriching the overall shopping experience. Today, more and more retailers are beginning to recognise and reap the benefits of using digital displays and bespoke in-store music as part of their branding and customer shopping experience. It allows shoppers to visually interact with the brand’s products or promotions whilst still in the store environment, where actual purchasing decisions can be made.

Here are 4 ways in which digital signage can be used in-store for effective retail marketing:

  1. In-Store Digital Advertising

Advertiser driven digital signage networks allows advertisers to buy airtime in order to inform customers about their products and services and in turn drive more sales at the point of decision. The placement, size of commercial screen, type of content and other circumstances in store can vary quite a bit, but the most successful networks are always treated as any other in-store medium. That is to say, digital signage is like any other form of point-of-purchase advertising that can be bought by marketers and used to the reach customers on the sales floor.

  1. In-Store Digital Signage and Music

Retailers can utilise effective retail digital signage to promote their products, brands and services to their customers and also attract potential customers with strategically placed screens in storefront windows. In-store music has also added to the customers’ shopping experience and when these powerful channels are integrated, a retailer can efficiently deliver their marketing message visually and audibly to the customer right at point of purchase. The X2O Media Platform, now available in South Africa, enables users to communicate key messages in real time to target consumers via a range of digital devices– all from one solution.

  1. Employee Training and Skills Management

Digital Signage has been successfully used to display employee training videos, health & safety and other corporate messages before and after trading hours. Employee training can be further enhanced to include Training on Demand (TOD), which allows training videos to be played at times set by the individual store management and it allows for the videos to be paused, rewound, forwarded and stopped. TOD is a revolutionary bolt-on product that allows enables effective training of staff whilst having a huge cost savings for any distributed company.

  1. Touch Screen Kiosks

Self-service touch screen kiosks have been around for a long time, but as newer applications are being adopted by retailers, there has been a new resurgence of the technology. The new cutting-edge technology includes additional functionality, such as: self-service credit applications in-store, interactive product information and guided selling, wayfinding systems, product locators and price checking units, loyalty programmes and customer satisfaction.

The effect of the visually appealing display gives retailers the opportunity to improve their customers’ shopping experience, make each employee more productive, reduce the load on customer service staff and, if possible, offer a supplementary form of income

 

Why huddle rooms should be part of your collaboration strategy?

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Huddle room video conferencing is more than setting up a webcam and speakerphone in a small room. Why huddle rooms should be part of your collaboration strategy?

For decades, collaboration technology has been limited to larger, integrated, and expensive meeting rooms. But next generation workers, and the need for companies to complete on a global basis, will drive demand for collaboration solutions throughout the organization. Workforce is embracing a new way of working where connectivity, rich media and access to content across devices and locations are a given. Modular and flexible solutions allow teams to transform their works paces.  Over the next few years, advanced audio-visual and collaboration products and services will make their way into the millions of existing smaller meeting rooms (huddle rooms).

Video has only recently become a mainstream option for businesses. If your organization does not have a forward-looking video strategy, then you’re probably entrenched in legacy-based and hardware-based systems for dedicated use in a boardroom. Additionally, you’re probably thinking of video as a stand-alone application, rather than integrating it into a broader collaboration vision.

When considering today’s collaboration needs, video is far more pervasive and practical than conference room scenarios. While conference rooms are still important, huddle rooms have emerged as equally important for collaboration. Huddle rooms are typically smaller meeting spaces that suit different use cases and need to be part of your strategy, whether for video or your overall collaboration planning.

As workforce become more distributed, the need for collaboration becomes more important. Informal and ad hoc meetings are becoming more common, especially among small teams. Huddle rooms are ideal for this mode of working. To support that workflow with business-grade tools, you need to consider purpose-built video services. Video vendors are tuned into this shift in the market and now offer right-sized services for huddle room video conferencing.

There’s a big gap between costly telepresence systems for large groups and consumer-grade applications that anyone can grab from the web. Huddle rooms need to support serious collaboration — and that means having reliable connectivity, high-quality audio and video, full integration with other applications, a consistent user experience and, of course, ease of use. You can’t get that with a patchwork approach using somebody’s webcam and a noisy speakerphone, especially if two or more people are on the call.

Huddle rooms are ideal for those in-between video collaboration needs. If you’re adding huddle rooms as purpose-built collaboration spaces, you need to think strategically about the tools. Organizations have a wide range of video services to choose from based on cost and quality. You need to plan your video choices in tandem with planning for your huddle rooms. This strategic approach provides employees with a holistic service for small-scale collaboration. Once deployed, the benefits should be evident immediately.

Source:http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/answer/How-do-huddle-rooms-fit-in-video-conferencing-strategies

 

Growing emergence of Digital Signage in Education!

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The emergence of a digital and social media culture has effectively forced educational institutions to embrace digital signage- To keep-in-touch with students who are becoming dependent on next generation digital science!

As a result of this need, digital signage use across the education sector is becoming increasingly popular and currently is one of the fastest growing markets implementing digital signage networks. The digital generation is constantly barraged with digital information. Therefore, without digital signage your educational institution risks getting left behind, unable to compete in the communication stakes. In the end, you face the prospect of losing touch with an evolving audience.

Your educational institution has to embrace digital signage in order to become a modern, stimulating environment in which to learn, work and reach out to the wider community. Literally, digital signage will change the way in which your educational institution is perceived.

It’s an unfortunate fact, but the education sector is now more competitive than ever. Take a high school for example, whether openly or subconsciously, from the moment a parent, potential student, inspector or visitor enters that school’s reception area it’s under scrutiny.

The absence of digital signage means the school could struggle to meet the informational needs of this varying audience, and gives the impression that creating a stimulating environment is not high on the agenda. In contrast, a high school with digital signage enhances the image of that school. Paving way for interactive white boards, digital signage marks the dawn of a new era for the education sector.

Digital signage cuts cutting costs

The installation of digital signage immediately cuts costs. How? By reducing paper & printer use.  Over the lifespan of a digital signage unit, your educational institution stands to save thousands of pounds on paper and printer toner.

Additionally, you would no longer have to rely on third-party advertising methods to reach your audience. Eliminate the need to advertise events in local newspapers and reduce your advertising spend.

Digital signage enhances the learning experience

Children and students are familiar with technological interaction, and introducing digital signage to your facility will serve to enthuse them in a classroom or lecture theater setting. Visual stimulation appeals much more than a lesson, or lecture, confined to a text book.

The digital signage system that you implement doesn’t have to be complex. All you need is a screen, media player and protection for your display, then you’re pretty much all set.

It improves information dissemination

A particular benefit for larger institutions, you can distribute targeted information quickly. Having a network of digital signage displays positioned strategically enables you to display multiple messages, simultaneously targeting the right audience in the right location.

In one all-encompassing campaign you reach staff, students and visitors, minus the hassle of assembling an army of leaflet distributors to hand out information. Everything from canteen menus to promoting university proms can be displayed using digital signage.

It improves your image

Imagine, a parent enters your institution’s reception area and they’re greeted by an eye-catching, LCD digital signage display showcasing the work of students and proudly displaying your achievements.

Digital signage makes you memorable when first impressions count, a deciding factor if trying to persuade a parent to send a pupil to your school, or convincing a student to enrol at your college or university.

A strong image also motivates your current crop of students, boosting morale and self-esteem. Students feel a sense of recognition; after all, what student doesn’t want their achievements taking centre stage?

It improves safety

For speed of information distribution to all areas of an educational facility, digital signage can save lives. In the event of a fire, for example, digital signage can serve as an exit guidance system.

It makes you money

Installation of a digital signage network gives you the opportunity to rent out a display to selected product and service providers. For example, if you’re a university campus, there are businesses that would pay a handsome sum to access your student demographic with a targeted advertising campaign. The great advantage of making your digital signage available for rent is that you can quickly make a return on investment. Beyond that, revenue generated will boost your institution’s coffers.

Source: digitalsignagetoday.com

 

Innovative features of IP telephony that could benefit your business

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We have often heard about the VOIP phone system. To be more specific it is a technology that has been around for some time, as mass market VoIP services were first launched in 2004. It allows users to make and receive free voice calls over the Internet. More recently, providers have found increasingly innovative uses for VoIP technology that are helping businesses large and small to be more efficient, streamlining workflows and saving money simultaneously. Here are a few innovative uses for VoIP that your business might be interested in:


1. Interactive voice recognition

Ever called a company and been greeted by a pre-recorded voice asking you to select the reason for your calling? “Please press 1 for…” and so on. This is an interactive menu based on a VoIP system. What’s more, as voice recognition software has developed, interactive VoIP menus have integrated this software to provide a more intuitive means for users to choose options. In the near future, software will develop to the extent that a customer will be able to explain their query as if they were talking to a human, and the VoIP-based interactive voice recognition system will work out who is the most appropriate employee to take the customer’s call.


2. Office integration

Most usefully, VoIP allows an office manager to create a linked-up network of phones that can communicate with each other and send each other information. For instance, VoIP would allow a system that shows via an online portal when any particular employee is currently on the phone. This helps their colleagues know whether a particular employee is preoccupied. More broadly, VoIP facilitates the integration of the phone system into other physical areas of the office. Need to be able to answer the door buzzer and unlock the door from your desk? A VoIP system makes it possible to talk to your visitor and let them in, all through your desktop phone handset.


3. In-call employee coaching

The fact that a VoIP phone system is entirely integrated gives rise to some especially useful features. One feature, known as ‘barge,’ allows one employee to listen in on the phone call of another employee with or without their knowledge. This is invaluable for managers looking to monitor their team and give valuable feedback based on their call performance. An equally useful feature is ‘whisper,’ which gives one employee the ability to talk to another employee during a call without the user at the other end of the line being aware. Again, this could come in handy for managers hoping to coach their team members during calls as well as before and after.


4. Call routing and forwarding

The routing and forwarding capabilities of VoIP are almost endless. A customer who calls can be directed to an interactive menu (as mentioned above), a group of phones or even a certain employee’s phone in a different office in a different state. VoIP routing and forwarding systems today are incredibly advanced, offering any degree of complexity that you require. For employees on the go, one particularly useful feature is the ability to forward a call from their desktop phone to their mobile or even their laptop.


5. Conference calls

A traditional phone line will typically only allow calls to be made between two users using two phones. VoIP technology opens up many possibilities when it comes to conference calling. At the more innovative end of the spectrum, VoIP allows video conference calling between many different users. There are even a number of VoIP services that will host these conference calls for free.Above are only five of the many things that VoIP can do. Implement VoIP in your business to find out how you can benefit from it.

Source:http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/voip-news/5-innovative-voip-features-that-could-benefit-your-business-78392

 

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