Unifying communications using a cloud-based platform has become an outright necessity in today’s business world. Ensuring team members are able to effectively communicate regardless of location and having everything housed on a single platform provides your business the agility it needs to scale at will. These cloud-based platforms also allow for a greater level of business continuity should disaster strike. Here we take a look at some of the key tools that make up unified communications.
“VoIP is short for Voice over Internet Protocol. It’s the technology that makes the transmission of multimedia content, particularly voice and audio data, over Internet Protocol (IP) networks possible. Through this technology, top VoIP providers are able to replicate telephony functions of traditional telecom companies.” Being able to maintain communications regardless of location is critical for just about every business. Businesses that rely heavily on the telephone for sales outreach and client work are ditching their traditional PBX systems en masse to move to more reliable and flexible VoIP platforms.
“Video conferencing is a type of online meeting where two or more people engage in a live audio-visual call. With a strong internet connection, the participants can see, hear, and talk to each other in real time, no matter where in the world they are. In business, people typically use video conferencing to communicate and collaborate within and outside an organization. You just need to set up the necessary hardware and software to get the most out of the experience.” The need for meeting software has escalated with so many businesses moving to a work from home model during the pandemic. Some have already committed to sticking with this model after the pandemic, making this technology a necessity.
“Instant messaging improves communication in the workplace. It is more efficient than email because it allows messages to appear immediately, saving time. Through instant messaging, workers can remain in constant contact with one another in case problems arise that require assistance.” What was once a simple nice to have feature has become an integral part in both internal and client communications. Instant message tends to be less cumbersome than email and allows for conversations in real time.
“Thanks to CRM integration, your unified communications platform triggers screen pops that identify incoming callers (or messengers) and provides contextual insights into the customer. That way, employees and customers can have personal, engaging conversations they both feel good about.” Integrating your CRM with your unified communications platform helps keep your contact database organized and allows callers to access key business intelligence when prospecting or communicating with clients.
Marketing Automation Platform
Marketing automation platforms provide cloud-based infrastructure that houses all of your marketing assets and the tools needed to create, launch and analyze campaigns. Since they are cloud based, they can be accessed from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. This enables better organization and collaboration between marketing team members.
Fax machines have certainly been phased out over the years, but there are certain industries that still rely on them. UC platforms such as RingCentral integrate with fax machines and allow for easy scanning, sending and receiving, all while keeping a record of everything that comes in or goes out.
“This allows you to route incoming business calls to any or all of your devices, to any department or any location—ringing them sequentially or simultaneously. Use custom answering rules to route calls based on criteria such as day of the week, time of day, or caller ID.” This is an essential feature that allows you to maintain communications with your team and clients even when you’re on the road.
“A well designed IVR software system can help increase customer satisfaction and improve contact center operations and KPIs. Particularly during times of high call volume, an effective interactive voice response system can help avoid hold time by helping customers find answers and perform simple tasks themselves. In cases where a customer needs or requests to speak with a person, ivr technology can help route calls quickly and seamlessly to the best call center agent to address their inquiry.”
Through our strategic partnerships with both RingCentral and Amazon Web Services, Alto9 is able to offer solutions to help you establish both unified communications and business continuity.
Download our free guide: Ascertaining Unified Communications
Artificial intelligence continues to become a more integral part of the business world and is beginning to creep in to nearly every new piece of software. AI plays a role in operations, data management, DevOps and even the customer experience. It is a rapidly evolving technology that will soon be adopted in some way by businesses of all sizes. It’s also being adapted to be used by those without a true tech background. Here we take a look at seven AI trends to keep up with in 2021.
“Human behavior and human perception of opportunities and challenges will all go through a dramatic change in the years to come and companies must put in place a more dynamic operating business model. In a dynamic operating model AI will help spot exceptions sooner for companies to react in a dynamic environment and reduce the cost of decision making, increase quality and speed of decision making.”
“Hyperautomation is the combining of robotic process automation with artificial intelligence technologies. It’s frequently mentioned as a core aspect of the next wave of digital transformation, and it’s one of the coming AI trends of 2021.”
“In the year ahead, enterprises will leverage machine vision and natural language processing (NLP) to facilitate the structuring of unstructured data such as images or emails, says ISG’s Butterfield. The goal? To create data that robotic process automation (RPA) technology can more readily use to automate transactional activity in the enterprise.”
“Rico Burnett, the director of client innovation at legal services provider Exigent, says that Artificial Intelligence will play a significant role in the broad adoption of Cloud Solutions in 2021. Through the deployment of artificial intelligence, it will be possible to monitor and manage cloud resources and the vast amount of available data.”
“Organizations will need to look for new, more sophisticated AutoML platforms that enable true no-code end-to-end automation. Automatically creating and evaluating thousands of features (AI-based feature engineering) and ML operationalization will be critical. The rise of AutoML 2.0 platforms will take no-code to the next level and finally begin to deliver on the promise of one-click no-code development.”
“With the home becoming the new enterprise micro-branch for a growing remote workforce, AIOps can give IT the end-to-end visibility needed to support its employees in the new norm post-Covid-19. This visibility will be crucial in helping IT teams support remote workers efficiently and provide the data needed to prevent similar issues from happening in the future. This should ultimately improve the overall user experience.”
“AI-powered chatbots, also known as Conversational AI, improves reach, responsiveness, and personalization of the customer experience. According to Forrester, AI-based Conversational AI evolves into a better customer service automation. An AI-powered chatbot uses natural language processing (NLP) and Machine Learning to better understand what the human says and needs and provides a more natural, near human-level communication.”
AI has an endless number of applications in the business world and those that are quick to harness its capabilities will have a decided leg up on the competition. From operational efficiency to new product development, AI is here to stay. Is your business ready for it?
Contact Alto9 today for a free consultation!
As restrictions begin to be eased and vaccines become more widely available, the return to office work is right around the corner. While many businesses have chosen to remain with a work-at-home model or some hybrid of the two, the office is not going away any time soon. While it may be a slow migration, the time to prepare is now. Here we take a look at how to prepare for the return to the office.
Create A Flexible Plan
First, you’ll want to establish a team responsible for creating and carrying out your return-to-work strategy. This should consist of upper-level management and human resources. You’ll want to review all government and state guidelines and devise a plan for a safe and comfortable return to work. Your plan should be flexible and allow for any changes that may happen regarding new protocols and regulations handed down by the government. Implement social distancing and mask protocols and ensure you have enough hand sanitizer and wipes to maintain a safe environment.
Phase-In Your Returns
It is probably best not to have everyone return all at once. Start with volunteers and critical staff and work your way from there. You may even consider having multiple locations just in case another spike occurs. Those who don’t need to be in the office and have shown to be productive working from home should be the last to return. For those who still do not feel safe working in the office, consider them for full-time work from home status. If they remain productive, this will actually save your business money. As people begin to return, make sure to hold periodic meetings to go over safety protocols and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Develop Screening Protocol
Some level of testing will likely be administered at the majority of businesses. This could include a simple temperature check or an actual Covid test. Employee safety and the ability to maintain operations will depend heavily on the preventative measures taken by individual businesses. Social distancing procedures should be communicated along with your screening, and protocols for in-person meetings should be established.
Deep Clean Facilities
Scheduling a deep clean prior to employees returning to the office will give your staff a bit of peace of mind and provide a clean and safe environment for them to work. Most cleaning companies are now well-versed in the CDC guidelines on creating a safe and healthy environment. A one-time deep clean is undoubtedly a must, but it is a good idea to schedule them monthly and have your regular cleaning staff handle the upkeep in between.
Business Continuity Plan
The pandemic has completely redefined what a business continuity plan is. There are many components that were simply not on the radar for many businesses. Technology such as cloud computing and storage, VoIP, meeting software, and instant messaging was not necessarily a priority before the pandemic. While we are all hopeful something like this won’t happen again, it is necessary to be prepared for the worst. Alto9 works with your team to determine how to best approach business continuity based on your organization’s needs. Contact us today for a free consultation.
The world of technology certainly lends itself to humorous situations and there are a ton of jokes out there that only those immersed in this world will understand. Tech professionals have been tasked with keeping the modern world up and running during the pandemic, and a few jokes could help to lighten the mood. Here we take a look at our top ten tech jokes for 2021.
1. “Why did the little clouds idolize the big cloud? Because he was the raining champion.”
2. “Claims that cloud storage is the future of smartphone memory issues. Sounds good, but I have no data to back it up.”
3. “Why do Python Devs need glasses? Because they don’t C#.”
4. “How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb? None, that’s a hardware problem.”
5. “Two threads walk into a bar. The barkeeper looks up and yells, “hey, I don’t want any conditions race like the time last!””
6. “There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.”
7. “Why do they call it hyper text? Too much JAVA.”
8. “What do computers eat for a snack? Microchips!”
9. “Never thought I’d see a day where technology is so advanced you can watch a movie at home with the same experience, But here VR”
10. “Funny facts about Google users: 50% of people use Google well as a search engine. 50% of them use it to check if their internet is connected.”
Alto9 was created by a group of IT professionals, project managers, and professional marketers after realizing that most cloud consultants and staff augmentation firms were lacking in:
- Staff augmentation follow-up and follow-through
- Ongoing relationship management
- Reporting and trend analysis for continued cost efficiency
Alto9 solves these challenges with a hands-on management approach. We can work to reinforce your existing management or augment your staff with a project manager to handle your cloud project. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today!
Cloud computing is essential to DevOps as it accelerates IT transformation with advanced tools and automation. In many ways, the cloud and DevOps have a symbiotic relationship. While DevOps at its core is more of a set of processes and a way of thinking, the full potential cannot be realized without the cloud. There are many different ways the two sides influence each other, providing a host of benefits to developers and organizations as a whole. Here we take a closer look at how DevOps and the cloud work together.
“The centralized nature of cloud computing provides DevOps automation with a standard and centralized platform for testing, deployment, and production. In the past, the distributed nature of some enterprise systems didn’t fit well with centralized software deployment. Using a cloud platform solves many issues with distributed complexity.”
“Advanced applications need complex technology stacks that require a great effort to develop and configure. Cloud computing has delivered developers seamless access to development platforms in minutes, instead of months needed earlier. It instantiates a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP), and complicated application ecosystems like SAP in a single click and development teams can work instantaneously.”
“Secure cloud gateways provide users with the ability to access enterprise resources from any location and any device without compromising the security of the network itself. Providing constant access allows for unparalleled collaboration as well as the ability to utilize professional contract workers from across the globe to infuse your teams with some much-needed expertise.”
“Cloud computing also enables users to create self-service methods for provisioning infrastructure through AWS Service Catalog. Developers are able to quickly try new things, fail fast and just easily succeed in getting new products to market faster, without having to wait for IT operations to provision services for them.”
Monitoring And Observability
“Various cloud service providers offer monitoring and observability services, specially built for DevOps engineers, developers, and IT managers. These services provide actionable insights to monitor applications, optimize resource allocation, respond to performance changes, and offer a unified dashboard to keep a track of overall health of application.”
“A lot of businesses facilitate their DevOps teams to have an on-premise environment or a mix of cloud-based and on-premise. But, migrating to cloud solutions is still a need. To enhance employee productivity, no matter if your employees work side-by-side or remotely, that is why you should move all the DevOps to the cloud or use cloud-native tools.”
“Expanding DevOps to DevSecOps enables the integration of security into new cloud environments on day one. It can also ensure RCA cloud security playbooks are developed and followed, and help introduce and manage security solutions designed to protect critical digital resources without introducing unreasonable risks.”
The cloud and DevOps working cohesively can result in a reduction of costs and bring with it an increase in flexibility, speed and reliability. Partnering with Alto9 for DevOps consulting brings best in class managed staff augmentation. Think of it as ‘plug and play’ DevOps. Contact us today to learn more.
The advantages of business agility have come into greater focus over the last year. Agile businesses have the flexibility to adapt to any external environment and evolve to meet the demands of customers quickly and efficiently. Businesses that employ an agile business strategy are more customer centric and are able to maintain a high standard of service regardless of external factors. This provides a clear advantage, especially in the uncertain times we’ve been experiencing over the last year. Here we take a look at a few of the key factors needed to create an agile business.
While every business needs people with specialized skillsets, an agile business model requires flexibility. Those who are versatile and able to learn a variety of key functions are invaluable in this type of model. Adaptability is everything when it comes to business agility, and that starts with the people. Employing people with the ability to take on multiple roles and be cross-trained on a variety of skills allows you flexibility should you become shorthanded in a particular area for any reason. It also helps you to scale more quickly as you’ll already have additional resources with the required skills to increase capacity.
Businesses that want to be agile will need a plan to be able to adapt to any changes necessary, whether it be portfolio management, product development, or any other critical business process. Being able to adapt your product development to changing markets and demands of customers will allow you to better serve their needs and remain competitive. Additionally, in order to remain on the cutting edge of innovation, employees need to be continuously learning new skills to keep up with changes in technology and market trends. Communication across an organization may very well be the most important factor in creating an agile business model. Taking steps to improve communications and encourage collaboration is a must to achieve agility and maintain business continuity.
The extent of the tools you’ll need to become agile will vary depending on your business model, the products and services you offer, and the structure of your organization. There are some basic areas that every organization will need to address. Communications, task management, storage, machinery and any software that is needed to maintain production and operations should be focal points of your initiative. A VoIP platform such as RingCentral provides the ability to seamlessly communicate across your organization as well as with clients from anywhere in the world. Meeting software allows teams to collaborate even when people are not in the office. Messaging software such as Glip allow for real time communication and task management. Marketing automation platforms such as HubSpot let your marketing team remain completely operational without any loss of data or functionality. Most importantly cloud storage and computing allow you to operate from anywhere in the world and provides the ability to scale rapidly without exorbitant costs.
A move to an agile business model will take an investment of time, money and resources to come to fruition. Additionally, there needs to be a companywide buy in to the idea. Alto9 not only offers the expertise to guide your company through this process, we are able to provide the technology necessary to make it seamless. Click below to contact us today for a free consultation.
As businesses continue to realize the overwhelming need for digital transformation, the idea of unified communications has taken center stage. UC allows you to link all of your communication devices and platforms into one comprehensive system and works through the cloud. This creates reliable and efficient communication across your organization and has become essential to business continuity. “Perhaps the biggest trend driving the adoption of UC is digital transformation (DX) and the rise of the digital workforce. At its core, the digital workforce thrives on the idea that people should be able to access the tools they need to perform, wherever they are, and whatever device they use. Combine that with the ever-emerging move to cloud communications and agile methodologies, and you’ve got an environment primed for UC.”
What Is Unified Communications?
Gartner defines UC as “Unified communications (UC) products — equipment, software and services — provide and combine multiple enterprise communications channels, such as voice, video, personal and team messaging, voicemail, and content sharing. This can include control, management, and integration of these channels.”
What Are The Key Benefits?
The benefits you receive from unifying your communications are numerous and will depend on how your business operates. However, several key benefits will smooth operations regardless of your business model. Having all of your communications connected allows for greater agility and more efficient and cost-friendly scalability. Deploying a remote workforce is made easy since the systems are cloud-based. You can continue operations as usual from anywhere with an internet connection. UC can provide significant cost savings as softphones and cloud servers take the place of traditional phones and PBX systems at a much lower price.
One other key benefit is the improved collaboration you will see throughout your organization. Features like meeting software and online chat allow your team and customers to communicate in their preferred method.
What Technology Is Involved?
Unified communications will have a variety of different components depending on the needs of your organization. Sometimes it’s as simple as switching to a VoIP system, but it can involve several other aspects, including:
- Meeting Software
- Instant Messaging
- Marketing Automation
- Call Forwarding
- Cloud Computing/Storage
Achieving unified communications should be your organization’s primary goal for everyday operations and your business continuity plan. Contact Alto9 today to schedule a free consultation to discuss and address your business continuity needs.
The cloud has found its way into nearly everything and that trend is sure to grow as the flexibility and security of the cloud becomes more prevalent. What your business uses the cloud for will depend heavily on the needs of your organization. Some businesses use the cloud simply to store data, while others are leveraging it to develop and house powerful software and applications. Here we take a look at five primary functions of cloud technology.
The mobility that the cloud provides has come into greater focus over the past year with droves of employees being sent to work from home. Being able to access software and data from any location has never been more important. Those who have housed their essential tools and data on the cloud have had a much easier transition to the work from home model and have been able to sustain a greater level of business continuity.
Data Storage And Backup
Being able to store all of your data in one place without having to continuously purchase pricey servers and other complementary equipment is a major benefit of the cloud. Not only does this save money, it can save a great deal of space in your server room. This also ensures that your most valuable data will not be lost in the event of a malfunction or security breach. In most cases you only need to pay for the storage you use, which is another way the cloud saves you money.
Development And Testing
Being able to develop and test your applications on the cloud gives you a great deal of flexibility and with most providers offering a pay as you go model, this is yet again another way the cloud saves you money. It reduces the amount of stress these types of processes can cause on your system and gives developers the option of taking their work home with them. With environments available that can be tailored to your needs, it is a time saver as well.
Big Data Analytics
The cloud allows you to analyze large quantities of data and extract business intelligence that can help you to develop products, position your brand and ultimately make more sales. This can give you valuable insights into consumers buying habits and help you to better identify your target audience. This is all without having to add additional infrastructure or weighing down your current system.
IaaS, PaaS and SaaS
This is another area where the cloud’s pay as you go model can greatly benefit your organization. If you’ve housed these services in the cloud, the majority of your costs will occur when yourself or a customer has signed on with you and is using your service. This means you’re mostly only paying for your storage and infrastructure when your business is making money.
The uses of the cloud are innumerable, with new functionality and concepts being developed every day. Download the Alto9 Cloud Consulting Solution Brief to get more information about how we can help transform your business.
The last 12 months have more than highlighted the need for organization to seriously invest in business continuity. Understanding potential vulnerabilities and implementing a plan to ensure you stay operational in the case of emergency is essential to the reputation and growth of your business.
1. Find A Partner That Understands Your Needs
Contracting with a company this is committed to understanding your needs and has access to the resources and knowledge to create an effective business continuity plan tailored to your business is an important first step.
2. Run A Risk Assessment And Identify Vulnerabilities
Putting your systems, technology and processes to the test will help you to identify any vulnerabilities or short comings you may need to address in your plan. Your assessment should consider anything that could potentially disrupt operations.
3. Run A Business Impact Analysis
Running a business impact analysis will help you to identify and prioritize the most important aspects of your business and ensure continuity for those items ahead of the things that are simply nice to have.
4. Adopt New Technology
Technology plays a major role in business continuity and figuring out what will fit your organizational needs is essential. VoIP platforms, cloud computing, marketing automation and meeting software are a good place to start.
5. Create Policies, Procedures And Requirements
A business continuity plan is not a one-time thing. Ensuring your team is committed to following through on your strategy and regularly auditing your business continuity plan to ensure everything is up to date will ensure you are prepared for the worst.
6. Develop Several Contingency Plans
While it may not be possible to think of every possible scenario, it is important to have a litany of contingency plans to give your business flexibility. Every disaster is different, and the way you respond may need to change depending on the issue.
7. Test And Implement Your Strategy
It is important to know whether or not your business continuity plan is going to work when the time comes. Running extensive tests to ensure your operations will not be hindered in an emergency will help to shake out any bugs and identify areas you may have missed.
Alto9 works with organizations to get business continuity right. Our strategic partnerships and extensive expertise allow us to understand your needs and deliver a solution that fits your business. Contact us to learn how Alto9 helped Winn Technology Group remain fully operational throughout the pandemic.
When AWS launched 15 years ago, very few expected it to have the kind of impact on the world that it has. “According to Right Scale’s annual State of the Cloud Report for 2019, 91% of businesses used public cloud and 72% used a private one. Most enterprises actually utilize both options – with 69% of them opting for a hybrid cloud solution.” With these types of adoption rates, it is clear that the cloud plays a major role in effectively running a business, which is saying something for a technology that didn’t exist two decades ago. In celebration of AWS’s 15-year anniversary, here we take a look at a brief history of AWS and what to expect from this year’s Pi week.
A Brief History Of AWS
In 2000, “Amazon.com, the parent company of the as yet nonexistent AWS, begins work on merchant.com, an e-commerce platform intended for use by other large retailers such as Target Corporation. In the process, Amazon’s team realizes that they need to decouple their code better, with cleaner interfaces and access APIs. Around the same time, the company also realizes the need to build infrastructure-as-a-service internally, to improve the speed of development and not have it bottlenecked by infrastructure availability. All these changes help pave the way for AWS.”
In 2003, “Benjamin Black and Chris Pinkham write a short paper describing a vision for Amazon infrastructure that, in Black’s words, “was completely standardized, completely automated, and relied extensively on web services for things like storage.””
“Amazon S3 was launched 15 years ago on Pi Day, March 14, 2006, and created the first generally available AWS service. Over that time, data storage and usage has exploded, and the world has never been the same.”
In 2006, “AWS releases its first product in the categories of storage (Amazon S3), compute (Amazon EC2), database (Amazon SimpleDB), and data flow (Amazon Simple Queue Service). The service remains in beta, in only one region, without the concept of availability zones.”
“AWS was first to market with a modern cloud infrastructure service when it launched Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud in August, 2006. Surprisingly, it took several years before a competitor responded. As such, they control a vast amount of market share, at least for now. Rest assured, some very well-heeled competitors like Microsoft, Google, IBM and others are gunning for them.”
AWS Pi Week 4-day Live, Virtual Event From March 15-18, 2021
The event is ideal for anyone who is eager to learn more about:
- How S3 and other AWS services are architected for availability and durability inside AWS Regions and Availability Zones
- How S3’s strong consistency model works to support many different workloads
- The history of and best practices for S3 data security
- How AWS architects evolvable services that provide new features and greater scalability with no disruption to customers
- Detailed ways to move data into and out of the AWS Cloud
Alto9 helps companies create great web applications, adopt DevOps processes, and maximize cost savings in the cloud. With practiced cost saving techniques and dedicated expert management, we help businesses scale effectively and control costs on any cloud platform.