Archive for the ‘Business Technology’ Category

5 Tips for Small Businesses to Lower Technology Costs

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Few of us can afford the latest upgrades to our every device. But not only can small businesses lower their tech costs, they can even use technological advances to save money overall. Daren Boozer, CEO and President of NCC Data, tells how.

1. Educate Your Employees Online

Lack the budget to send employees out of town to a conference or training? Avail yourself and your employees of the endless online courses available for a fraction of the cost.

2. Let Employees Work from Home

Save on overhead by letting employees work from their home offices. They may be so grateful they work twice as hard. Skeptical? You can use technology to monitor their actions and productivity from afar.

3. Teleconference

Assemble the gang via teleconference. It’s cheap, easy and requires no special equipment.

4. Adopt VoIP

Make free calls with the internet using Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. Depending on the system you adopt, you’ll have to at least pay an initial start-up cost, but VOIP will quickly pay off in the long run. Our sister company, NCC Technologies handles VoIP implementations.

5. Re-Negotiate Vendor Contracts

Very few contracts are ever set in stone. Many technology vendors rely on a competitive sales force that are weighted more towards getting the sale than losing out on commissions. There is always a time to re-negotiate technology vendor relationships: downsizing, upsizing, worker layoffs, employee growth and more. Meet with your vendors and cut technology expenses to save money in the long term.

5 Ways to Save IT Budget Across Multiple Offices

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The benefits of multiple offices: better access to customers, better access to talent or lower cost to manufacture can quickly be squashed by escalating technology costs. So how do you minimize spending too much on an IT budget? These five strategies will prevent excess costs all while connecting and enabling your workforce.

1. Adopt VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, allows for shared voice and internet data plans, phone lines and equipment. Instead of paying for long-distance, VoIP allows for free calls between offices over the internet.

Due to shared phone and data plans, VoIP becomes a lower long term cost compared to unbundled data and voice plans. VoIP is also easier to install, cheaper and more flexible than a traditional PBX or private branch exchange.

VoIP systems on site, are similar to a PBX, yet rely on a server to establish an internet connection. The servers are less expensive than a PBX, although a telecommunications consultant is recommended.

Hosted VoIP is another option and it doesn’t require any equipment for implementation. Although monthly payment for the service will soon surpass the cost of installing VoIP on site at multiple offices.

VoIP is cheaper for multi-location businesses both in setup and in monthly recurring data plans. Many businesses who adopt VoIP still consider keeping phone lines to connect to customers outside of an office network. Businesses who adopt SIP trunking can move to a full voice over internet connection and cut the phone bill for good, with even greater savings. NCC Data’s sister company NCC Technologies handles VoIP and standard phone systems.

2. Bundle Services

You probably get tons of junk mail at home about deals on bundling services. When you’re trying to save money across multiple offices, look for full service contractors and providers that are experts in multiple areas. For example, look for a single company offering HVAC, electrical and plumbing vs. three separate companies. Or a telecommunications consulting, computer repair and IT managed services company. Often the savings can be significant and you can negotiate lower rates.

First figure out your offices’ needs, then compare plans. Bundle voice and data with one provider serving all offices vs. keeping them separate. Bundling networks and hosting of technology applications can lead to even more cost reduction. Keep costs minimal by centralizing information technology, serving all locations.

3. Adopt Freeware vs. Paid Licensing Software

Licensing fees can quickly add up, especially when you hire more employees and open satellite offices. Most software today has competitive free options. Either it’s a freemium model startup, or a bigger competitor with a stripped down free version of software. Businesses with less than 30 employees and expanding offices, will find free software for task management, time sheets, sales follow-up, social collaboration, and presentations more than suitable.

Ask around the office first, and gauge how many employees need the advanced functionality paid software delivers. Even if you fail to adopt a free replacement, you may be able to reduce the paid licenses for several individuals, just based on usage.

Next, research the market, it takes some deep searching to find startup solutions and free software. Integrate it slowly in the office alongside paid versions. The goal is to gradually allow employees to test the software and its performance. If it’s successful, they should over time stop using the paid software and you can reduce or completely cancel ongoing payments.

4. Use the Cloud

Cloud computing was made for businesses with multiple offices. Cloud computing boosts employee productivity, improves collaboration and innovation. For a business with multiple offices, cloud computing narrows the distance and walls separating unique locations. Access becomes universal through any device, with security and controls still available to manage the network.

Public Clouds are managed by large scale cloud service providers. Although equipment and maintenance isn’t required, service plans can be more costly than other options, depending on the size and usage of your business.

Private Clouds are on site and managed within your walls by an Internal IT department. It offers greater flexibility and control over access, yet it also requires an onsite data center which can increase costs.

Hybrid Clouds combine the benefits of both private and public cloud networks. Secure data can be kept on location, while less sensitive data and applications can be outsourced to a cloud service provider.

5. Consultants and Outsourcing

Offloading IT duties to a qualified consultant can save time and money. For businesses where technology isn’t a primary driver, outsourcing IT can lower turnover, hiring costs and increase efficiency. Hire a professional IT company to monitor network security, optimize your infrastructure, serve as your help desk and/or make sure you’re up on current IT-related regulations in your industry. Freeing up employees to focus on core work.

The Potential for Wi-Fi in Dallas Businesses

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Wi-Fi is at a cusp of innovative potential. Five or so years ago, many small and medium sized businesses were just switching from wired local area networks (LAN) to wireless LAN or Wi-Fi out of convenience. Today, it has become a necessity for many industries. The default method of consumer internet in the home also has many benefits in the workplace over a standard wired Ethernet connection.

While quick adoption in the retail market including hotels, universities and schools is a $1 billion market and growing at double digits, adoption in traditional enterprise settings has been slower. This is mainly attributed to the perception that Wi-Fi is inferior to wired Ethernet connections.

In an all wireless environment, connection of mobile devices to the internet and cable less setup of individual workplaces are primary benefits over wired connections. Security has also greatly improved, so much so that a properly designed Wi-Fi network can be more secure than a wired LAN connection. Yet the last hurdle to discuss is speed/performance and with 802.11ac wireless, Wi-Fi is surpassing wired connections in all areas.

Wi-Fi’s Last Hurdle: Speed

Wi-Fi will soon become the default for businesses, overtaking wired connections as the most popular form of internet access.

wifi traffic higher than wired internet graph

Wi-Fi will soon become the default for businesses, overtaking wired connections as the most popular form of internet access.

Cisco’s forecast and other sources place Wi-Fi as the top source of internet access over wired internet by 2016. Currently hovering near 36%, Wi-Fi will begin to experience a transformation as the incentive to produce faster speeds and flexible connections spur providers to innovation.

The World’s Fastest Wi-Fi Connection

It was confirmed late last month that the world’s fastest Wi-Fi made its debut in Germany. And while the 40Gbps network which is 40 times faster than Google Fiber will never reach the United States or Dallas for that matter any time soon, it still serves as a great benchmark.

The Fastest Wi-Fi Connection in Texas

Austin is truly the city with the best internet connection speeds in Texas and when compared to other major cities in the US, Austin is comparable as a major Wi-Fi hotspot. Why? One word, Google. The internet giant’s Google Fiber was announced to join the music capital of the world in late 2014 and as a result; other internet providers have increased connection speeds with AT&T and Grande Communications offering the same speed promised by Fiber, with 1Gbps Wi-Fi packages where available.

Dallas Business Wi-Fi Connections

AT&T

Current: 45 Mbps

Expected: 1Gbps

Considering Dallas is the world headquarters for AT&T, it’s disappointing to find that AT&T offers a slower Wi-Fi connection than other providers and in other cities. However, it’s expected to offer the same fiber optic package currently in Austin which delivers from 300 Mbps up to 1 Gbps. Expect the new offering sometime in Dallas in late summer. The move is primarily due to Google Fiber announcing its plan to offer service in Austin.

Source and Dallas News Article on the Faster Service move to Dallas

Grande Communications

Current: 110 Mbps

Expected: 1 Gbps in Austin, possibly expanded to Dallas

This independent Texas based broadband company delivers a 110 Mbps Wi-Fi package. However, service areas are very sporadic throughout the city. Many suburbs and surrounding cities of Dallas won’t be able to benefit from this current holder of the fastest broadband Wi-Fi internet connection.

Source and confirmation through email

Time Warner Cable

Current: 75 Mbps

Expected: 300 Mbps in Austin, possibly expanded to Dallas

Dallas businesses and residents can receive 75Mbps which is only available in Dallas and Hawaii and only slightly behind Time Warner Cable’s fastest internet package, 100Mbps which is only available in four cities in the United States. Even with Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable, this shouldn’t affect Dallas’ most popular internet provider.

Source and through confirmation by phone

Author

Daren Boozer is the President & CEO at NCC Data. NCC Data specializes in IT outsourcing and managed services consulting. It is one of the top independently owned IT services and communications companies in the Dallas-Fort-Worth Metroplex.