Tag Archives: business technology solutions

Four Reasons Why You Need Voice to Text

Four Reasons Why You Need Voice to Text

We’ve added Voice to Text transcription to our Utility VoIP service! Reading messages instead of listening saves time and avoids noisy distraction. With at-a-glance convenience you can efficiently hone in on specific transcribed messages to find exactly the information you need.

What is Voice to Text?

As the name suggests, a Voice to Text solution uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to transcribe spoken words into written text automatically. Utility VoIP’s Voice to Text solution currently allows end users to have voicemails automatically transcribed and sent to them via email, SMS, or the Utility VoIP Mobile App. The solution leverages Google’s AI and machine learning capabilities to ensure maximum accuracy and quality of transcriptions. English language transcription is now available, and Spanish language transcription is coming soon.

Why do you need Voice to Text?

Businesses benefit from a Voice to Text solution because it can substantially boost productivity. Let’s face it; employee productivity is not what it used to be. Employees spend much of their time on phone calls, listening to voicemails, reading emails, and participating in meetings. These combined activities often leave workers little time to do the actual work they were hired to do. However, with Voice to Text, employees can prioritize transcribed messages, addressing less important messages later and skipping unwanted messages altogether.

1. Convenience

Most professionals spend a significant amount of time in meetings where it’s not convenient to answer the phone or listen to voicemail. However, with Voice to Text, users can simply read each transcribed message to determine if the call is urgent and requires immediate attention.

The same principle applies to employees who are out of the office. Most people, whether they are out of the office on business or on vacation, would rather prioritize the calls they tend to in order to best support their schedule. If the call is important enough to leave a voicemail, a transcribed message of that voicemail is automatically sent. Users can review transcribed voice messages at a time and place that’s most convenient, and can quickly hone in on specific messages. Voice to Text is ideal for busy professionals who can’t be accessible at a moment’s notice, are often in meetings, or in an environment where it’s not feasible to listen to messages in sequential order.

2. Save Time

Navigating voicemail menus and listening to voicemails in order is a thing of the past. Busy professionals don’t have time to listen to every voicemail, and with Voice to Text, they can skip the voice messages they’re not interested in reading. Considering the growth in robocall voicemail spam problems, the ability to skip voicemail messages is a crucial phone system feature.

In addition, professionals who receive dozens of voicemails every day should not have to listen to all their voicemails again if they forget which callbacks are the most important. With Voice to Text, users can receive messages via email, SMS, or mobile app, and read the transcribed voicemails to refresh their memory. They don’t have to waste time listening to voicemails again and again.

3. Quickly Find Information & Prioritize Messages

Users can efficiently hone in on specific transcribed messages to find exactly the information they need – from contact information, to payment details, to an address for their next meeting. With Voice to Text, users don’t have to listen to every voicemail to capture specific information.

Voice to Text offers a practical, at-a-glance way to keep up with the messages that need attention. Users can quickly scan transcribed messages and address messages based on importance or time sensitivity. When it comes to personal calls, people often choose to return the call instead of listening to a voicemail first. However, it is important to listen to voicemails for business. Voice to Text allows users to find out what a business call was about without having to call their voicemail. Users can quickly decide if they must take immediate action or can respond at a later time.

4. Easily Accessible

Users can access transcribed voicemails on the go and on various devices via email, SMS, or the Utility VoIP Mobile App (available for iOS and Android). The initial offering of the Utility VoIP Voice to Text solution includes automatic transcription of voicemail. However, in the coming months, additional services will be added to the solution.

New to Utility VoIP? If you’d like to learn more about our award-winning, business class Voice over IP cloud phone system and it’s powerful communications platform contact our Sales team for your free consultation.  How do you seamlessly transfer an old system to a cloud based, fully digital solution? Read more…

Ready to add Voice to Text to your Utility VoIP phone service? For current customers call or email our Client Services Team to get started. The addition of the Voice to Text feature may require a free upgrade to your software and firmware. 

Contact Client Services at 856.210.5800 or clientcare@ancero.com

New Year’s Resolution: Craft a Business Continuity Plan

New Year’s Resolution: Craft a Business Continuity Plan

 

Another year of data collection, natural disasters and cyber attacks has come to a close. Although we can only guess at what mother nature has in store for us in 2018, one thing is guaranteed, security threats won’t abate and could get much worse in the new year. And lets not forget the leading causes of data loss in small businesses: human error and hardware failure. All these equate to one simple conclusion, it’s time to move data protection to the top of the to do list and 2018 is the year to ensure business continuity for your organization.

Downtime is a killer

With the importance and reliance on technology in day-to-day business, it is critical that every organization has a complete solution to deal with the threat of data loss and continuity of operations. If access to mission critical applications and data isn’t available within hours following a disaster or human error small to medium businesses can suffer severe repercussions. It’s 2018 – traditional and antiquated backup methods such as tape and disk are insufficient at protecting businesses from the crippling and costly effects of downtime.

A natural disaster, power surge, viruses, hardware failure, or even accidental deletion can wipe out years of data. Businesses cannot afford to lose time attempting to rebuild their lost, vital information. It is critical that the data is recoverable and spun up in a short period of time.

The 4 Business Continuity Planning Essentials eBook is your first bit of homework. This ebook, outlines four distinct but interconnected business continuity planning essentials:

  1. Crafting an employee safety and communication plan
  2. Craft a customer communications plan
  3. Enable IT Uptime
  4. Ensure Continuity of operations and avoid downtime

So what is the difference between Business Continuity and Data Backup?

Although overlapping, these terms represent uniquely different mindsets when it comes to data protection. Data backup answers the questions: is my data safe? Can I get it back in case of a failure? Business continuity, on the other hand, involves thinking about the business at a higher level, and asks: how quickly can I get my business operating again in case of system failure?

Successful backup is the foundation for disaster recovery and business continuity. But in case of failure, you have to get that data back and restore it quickly enough so your business doesn’t suffer. For example, if your server dies, you wouldn’t be able to quickly get back to work if you only had file-level backup. For you to start working again, your server would need to be replaced, all software re-installed, data re-installed and then the whole system would need to be configured with your settings and preferences. This process could take hours or even days—and in the meantime, your users can’t get their jobs done.

It is crucial for businesses to know exactly what to look for in a backup solution. This guide outlines the key criteria for SMBs to keep in mind when seeking out total data protection. And this video examines the key differentiators for various types of backup.

Let’s calculate your RTO & RPO

Many organizations do not have a comprehensive way to determine the actual costs of downtime for their business. Utilizing RTO & RPO are valuable in calculating downtime loss and gives SMBs a better understanding of the risks relating to business failure. Thinking about business in these terms puts your backup solution into perspective.

  • RTO (Recovery Time Objective): The duration of time within which a business must be restored after a disaster or disruption to avoid unacceptable consequences associated with a break in business continuity.
  • RPO (Recovery Point Objective): The maximum tolerable period of time in which data might be lost due to a disaster.

By calculating your desired RTO, you have determined the maximum time that you can be without your data before your business gets into serious trouble. Alternatively, by specifying the RPO, you know how often you need to perform backups, because you know how much data you can afford to lose without damaging your business. You may have an RTO of a day, and an RPO of an hour. Or your RTO might be measured in hours and your RPO in minutes. It’s all up to you and what your business requires.

Once you determine your RPO and RTO, it’s time to calculate how much downtime and lost data will actually cost you.

Answer the following questions:

  1. How many employees would be affected if critical data were unavailable?
  2. What is the average wage of the affected employee (per hour)?
  3. What is the per-hour overhead cost of the affected employees?
  4. How much revenue would be lost per hour as a result of the unavailability of data?

Add up the average per-hour wage, the per-hour overhead, and the per-hour revenue numbers and you have how much a data loss will cost you. Given that funding and budget constraints can be the top challenge (43 percent) for a business to implement a business continuity solution, calculating your RTO will give you the financial validation needed to justify its purchase and maintenance. The Datto Recovery Time Calculator is the tool you need to evaluate your Recovery Time and Recovery Point Objectives.

The final piece – Testing

Testing is a vital piece to making sure your backup is functioning properly, establishing true Business Continuity. It is the only way to reveal gaps in your plan and address them proactively.  It is also a great benefit to your employees.  If your team is well versed in the process and procedures things will run more smoothly.

  • Helps validate plan content and ensure that the identified strategies are capable of providing response and recovery results within the timeframes (or capabilities) approved by management.
  • Highlights weaknesses and areas for improvement, or where capabilities fail to align to business continuity and IT disaster recovery requirements.
  • Provides critical hands-on training to the personnel responsible for the response and recovery activities (which ensures an appropriate level of performance and develops confidence).

Testing your plan should also be conducted with an IT solutions company specializing in complete data solutions to maintain the integrity of your system and ensure compliance. The test is scheduled for a time that will avoid an interruption in your business productivity and will have no impact on your network. A virtual test provides the only reliable environment for predicting the impact of change and is an excellent way to test patches or perform upgrades.

Every business has to prepare for the worst. Those that don’t may never fully recover from a disaster. This is one New Year’s resolution you’ll be happy to keep. So grab your disaster recovery checklist and let’s welcome the new year with a rigorous business continuity plan! Ancero certified data protection solution specialists are ready to provide your free, no-obligation business continuity assessment. Ancero is a full service IT company and is proud to be a Datto Blue Partner data service provider. Data Protection could be your best investment in 2018!

Contact Us

Want to learn more? Here are additional resources for you:

13 RansomWare Statistics That Will Make You Rethink Data Protection

CEO? Here’s Why You Care About Business Continuity And Disaster Recovery

HealthCare Company? Cure Your IT Ailments with Business Continuity

Law Firms: Don’t Take A Recess From Business Continuity

 

You’ll catch more phish with honey than vinegar

You’ll catch more phish with honey than vinegar

Businesses know that they have to combat the human error that results in cyberattacks to their network and potential loss of critical data. They value their employees but need to create an atmosphere of awareness. Savvy business owners and managers turn to training and education. But it can be challenging to train employees in best practices without a security background.

Studies prove you’ll get a higher retention rate and better participation when you train employees with “carrots, not sticks”. The Wall Street Journal examined this idea in the recent article ‘A Better Way to Teach Cybersecurity to Workers’: “The problem, security experts say, is that the usual security training is a big turnoff for employees. Most of the time, all it does is try to instill fear of clicking on suspicious links or using weak passwords. But research shows that approach doesn’t work.”

Keep your cyber awareness training from becoming a chore. Make it positive and incentivize employees for participation. Our Managed Security Awareness Training does just that! With its built in reporting features the program is ideal for tracking your employee’s progress and rewarding them for successfully spotting a phishing trap!

What is the most common result of clicking on a link in a phishing email? Ransomware. The cyber epidemic that results in 57% critical data and/or hardware loss and up to 75% downtime for small to medium sized businesses (Datto State of the Channel Report). That’s too much to risk! Social engineering techniques exploit a very basic concept: it’s possible to trick people into doing the dirty work for thieves. Ransomware is the payload of choice for malicious email campaigns and in 2016 U.S. companies experienced the greatest number of ransomware attacks, over 500 million due to the Locky ransomware.

So how do you reduce the 30% phishing email open rate? Education, Engagement and Encouragement.

A training and awareness program that encourages good cyber hygiene can make a big difference between recognizing a phishing email or becoming a victim. When employees fully understand the issue – and the risks – they’re in a position to serve as the barrier of protection, essentially the “human firewall”. The Managed Security Awareness program combines a 3 step approach:

• Training – Employee email security training on a computer based training module

• Evaluation – Periodic testing through the use of simulated phishing that puts their training to the test

• Insight – In depth quarterly reporting reveals campaign statistics, vulnerabilities and employee activity

If organizations aren’t monitoring internal emails, they risk potential downtime, data & financial loss. Combat attacks by utilizing education with cutting-edge training methods to reduce human error. And with the detailed reporting features you can track the employees who successfully detect the phishing emails and reward them with recognition and prizes. Something as simple as an Amazon gift cards goes a long way to fostering good cyber awareness. A positive-reinforcement campaign like Ancero’s Managed Security Awareness will result in greater security, peace of mind and enthused team members!

Where do you start? Take an in depth look at our Managed Security Awareness Program and then give our data protection specialists a call at 856-210-5800 or email at info@ancero.com.

Say YES to remote work!

Say YES to remote work!

The world of work is changing and chances are most businesses have already made adjustments to their workforce because of the proven benefits of remote working: reduced absenteeism, lower turnover, improved employee health and attitude. But it’s not just a matter of creating policies or adapting attitudes to support remote work. The leading driver of a successful remote/mobile work program is technology.

Without the right technology to enable productive remote work, your business won’t reap the benefits. The key is a complete, integrated workspace to enable employees to securely access their apps, desktops and data from anywhere, anytime, on any device. So what technology provides that service?

Cloud hosted Desktop-as-a-Service, or DaaS, is an innovative solution perfect for businesses looking to support remote work employees, mobile employees and BYOD environments. It’s also an ideal solution for small business transitioning applications and support to the cloud.

What is DaaS? Desktop as a Service is the provisioning of remote hosted virtual desktops using a remote server to host personal computer desktops simultaneously. With DaaS a major upgrade is integrated quickly, IT staff no longer has to move from computer to computer to perform the same tasks on multiple PCs. The PCs effectively become all the same, all of which are accessing data and applications through the cloud service provider without storing anything locally.

Make your physical workspace more efficient.
A mobile workforce has many faces. There are employees that are mobile within their work environment, moving from terminal to terminal, such as doctors, factory floor workers, and retail associates. For them to remain productive, they need reliable, fast and secure access to corporate apps and data, regardless of location. Desktop-as-a-Service provides employees virtual workstations throughout a facility, where data and applications are accessed via the cloud service on any device. A quick login and they are in their documents, applications and corporate data, securely.

Whether you have virtual workstations throughout your office or virtual desktops for remote employees, there is one stand out benefit – cost savings on hardware! DaaS removes the burden of purchasing, supporting and upgrading local PCs and laptops. Reuse existing hardware and extend the life of your IT investment. The technology itself – the use of a thin client to access DaaS – costs two times less than a traditional PC due to its longer life, absence of a local hard disk, and reduced power consumption.

And security?
If there is no sensitive information stored on any local hard drive, there is nothing to steal or loose. Cloud desktops are locked down, changes are made by an administrator which helps to prevent user initiated problems. And if a cloud desktop gets an infection, an IT professional simply recovers from a golden image and then reloads the user’s profile settings. Recovery is quick and easy.

Your employees are asking for greater flexibility and remote work options. With DaaS you can confidently provide a productive remote work environment, satisfying their requests. Call Ancero to schedule your free evaluation. We’ll discuss your immediate needs, current IT infrastructure and long term goals to ensure your organization is a fit for DaaS.

Your can reach our business technology solutions experts at 856-210.5800 or email them at sales@ancero.com.

 

Moving? A few things to consider……

Moving? A few things to consider……

Technology is at the core of your business. It is essential that your IT move is done right the first time minimizing the disruption to the ongoing operation of your business. Your IT staff or VoIP service provider needs to be an integral part of your relocation team to ensure there is little to no downtime for your business.

Moving to a new office is the perfect time to upgrade your communications systems or refresh old technology. While your new location is being built out or renovated it is the ideal time to install a new technology infrastructure. All the necessary cabling, electrical and wireless foundations can be laid to ensure your technology investment functions at it’s best.

Don’t forget what you’re leaving behind. Planning for a move also requires consideration about the condition you leave your former office, or rightly called ‘office decommissioning’. Without a thoughtful process this could be an unintended major expense. Shawn O’Neil of Argosy Management Group, a leader in office relocation, warns not to overlook your old office space. “Neglecting to properly decommission the old office space leaves you exposed to unnecessary costs. The majority of commercial leases contain very specific requirements as to how the old space needs to be turned back over to the landlord. If not, it’s your deposit that hangs in the balance. The removal of unwanted furniture can be an expensive undertaking.”

So how do you dispose of old office furniture, equipment and technology when you move? Thankfully, finding a good way to dispose of old furniture, phones and computers doesn’t have to be such a headache. In fact, there are some pretty good ways to make disposal easy and sometimes work to the advantage of others.

The first step prior to a commercial move is making a comprehensive inventory of what you’ve got and what you don’t want to take with you. Secondly, assess the condition of the furniture and equipment. Is the furniture is able to be broken down and assembled again without issue? Is the equipment in good working order? If yes, then it could be re-sold. Be sure to notate in your inventory list the condition of the items. The more accurate your inventory, the easier the disposal process will be.

Here are a few suggestions for furniture disposal:
• Offer the option to your employees to buy the furniture
• Re-sell to a used furniture store
• Contact the vendor you purchased from, they might buy it back
• Donate to a charity (Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, Salvation Army, your local church may need furniture for their offices, etc)
• 1-800-Junk is an option but you will have to pay a fee for removal
If you take advantage of moving as an optimal time for a technology upgrade, utilizing modern technologies will give you a competitive edge and empower business growth. So what can you do with the electronic waste left behind?

Every computer dumped into a landfill represents a missed opportunity to provide technology and tools to individuals and organizations across the digital divide. Ancero partners with The Trenton Digital Initiative – a nonprofit program working to help economically challenged Trenton families gain affordable access to the internet. TDI reconditions, repurposes, and then distributes donated computers to these families for free, as well as providing low-cost, high-speed Comcast Internet service. Ancero serves as an equipment drop off location at 1001 Briggs Road, Suite 220, Mount Laurel, NJ between the hours of 9:00am and 4:00pm.

Very old or broken hardware should go to end-of-life recycling, meaning responsible destruction that’s safe for the environment. A computer recycler is a business or organization that salvages useful computer parts before breaking down what’s left, safely removing hazardous materials in the process. Always remember to wipe any sensitive information from any hardware before you turn it over for recycling.

For listings of recycle drop off locations in your area visit these resources:
Earth911
NJ State eWaste recycle centers
PA State Electronics Collection programs

Of course, if you donate furniture or technology you’re eligible for a tax write-off so you can still end up with some financial gain in the end along with the knowledge that you are helpings others!

Don’t pay to move an aging phone system or outdated technology when Ancero has helped hundreds of clients to cost effectively modernize their business phone systems and IT infrastructure with options that don’t require an initial capital outlay for the hardware! Moving is complicated and stressful. Entrusting Ancero, a full service IT company, with your IT infrastructure and communication needs gives you one less thing to worry about. Getting you back to business faster, with minimal downtime.

 

VoIP is not immune to security threats

VoIP is not immune to security threats

The many benefits of switching to a VoIP system from traditional telephony are why it has become widely adopted by businesses everywhere. But since most businesses view the switch to VoIP as just an upgrade to their phone system, the importance of VoIP security rarely crosses their mind. VoIP’s technology has inherent vulnerabilities that can pose a risk, but with the right security measures set in place, VoIP can be secured to prevent attacks or misuse of services. Security specifically for VoIP communications can be examined in three important parts:

What do you need to protect?

  • Keep your VoIP service running continuously, without disruptions or downtime
  • Protect sensitive customer information and business data, including call transcripts and transaction records
  • Prevent unauthorized users from making calls, and gaining access to your network
  • A secure VoIP system will help your business maintain compliancy standards

Who are you protecting against? Understanding where threats may come from and the motivations behind the attacks is critical. The main threats generally come in three forms:

Toll Fraud: A person or organization that wants access to VoIP services can piggyback on your system to gain free international or long-distance calls and data transmissions.

DoS attacks: Denial of Service attacks, organized assaults on a VoIP system are initiated to gain access to confidential information, along with telephone numbers, IP addresses, etc. This sensitive data can then be sold to competitors, or used to redirect calls for other purposes. DoS attacks are not always financially motivated. Sometimes the intent is simply to disrupt or shut down a network and may have been initiated by a disgruntled ex-employee or a sneaky competitor.

SIPVicious attacks: SIPVicious in its benign form is a developer tool used to audit the state of your SIP network. But the tool can be corrupted for bad intentions and used to gain access to a network or shut down systems, crippling your business.
What security measures are needed? VoIP security measures are not that different from data network security and layered steps work best.

Encryption – Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) are the standards for data encryption. These measures encrypt or scramble information so that it cannot be easily deciphered if the data transmission is intercepted.

VLAN – A VLAN segregates broadcast domains between networks. Because it separates voice and data, you can apply different security measures to your voice and data packets while improving the performance of your VoIP system. A VLAN is a good security measure for remote phones that connect to the business network.

Network security – It is just as important that your business network infrastructure is secured with firewalls, antivirus, gateway protection, end point security measures. Software patches and updates should be run regularly to keep systems up to date and eliminate vulnerabilities. To prevent outages and downtime, a redundant power supply, backup servers and regular data backups should be built into your VoIP network.

User Security – Educating the user is vital to preventing human error. Employees must use strong voicemail passwords, be educated about threats and how their actions can either help or hurt security. Employers must set and enforce security policies. For instance, applying a pin code for international calling is a common security measure to prevent unauthorized international calling. If a business is lax with precautions, they may not even know when a breach has occurred until after the damage has been done.

Businesses shouldn’t shy away from a VoIP phone system due to security concerns. The benefits far outweigh the risks! Just as with any technology, when you take the necessary steps to ensure that your system remains secure, risk becomes greatly minimized. Many of the VoIP systems available today include robust security protocols as part of their offerings. Be sure to inquire with a VoIP service provider about built in security options if you are planning a move to VoIP.

Take a look at Ancero’s Utility VoIP cloud based phone system. Our award winning Managed Communications services can help you plan a communications strategy perfect for your business needs.