On call: the changing role of telephone systems in post-Covid general practice

While every one of your patients is unique, there is one big concern that they all share – and it affects every member of your team, every day.

It’s the challenge they face when calling for an appointment – and all that goes on behind the scenes to respond to that call.

Of course, as long as phones have been in practices, they have been both a blessing and a burden. But the pandemic has only compounded this, making your phone system less of an item on the long-term technology agenda and more of a critical priority.

Official figures bear this out. For example, one study by the Royal College of General Practitioners found that during the first lockdown of 2020, more than 70 per cent of GP consultations were through phone and video – a complete reversal of life before the crisis, when 70 per cent of GP appointments were face-to-face.

Although this dramatic U-turn demonstrates the importance of telephone systems and internet connectivity in practices, the figures will probably come as no surprise to you. After all, the only constant in healthcare is change – and you were at the front line, supporting patients through the pandemic and seeing these changes with your own eyes.

But the difference with these enormous shifts is how, due to the pandemic, healthcare has arguably reached the point of no return – described by the College as “the potential to change general practice dramatically and permanently”.

Naturally, technology providers to general practice have a role in helping you recover from the pandemic. But, as this blog explores, a telephone system for the GP practice of 2021 – and beyond – is not a case of ‘business as usual’. Instead, it must address the nuances that have surfaced in light of this extraordinary turning point.

For this blog, I’ll be referring to GPs. But I fully appreciate that all staff – both clinical and administrative – have a stake in your practice’s telephone system.

It’s about much more than inbound calls

Chances are you’ve had to pay a lot more attention to your telephone system over the past 18 months – and that’s an understatement. You might have found yourself wrestling with new challenges – such as needing more phone lines to accommodate more calls. You might also have had to turn to features you never needed before 2020. And you might have looked to other providers for help.

If you did, you might have noticed the same thing I have: providers of telephone systems tend to focus on inbound enquiries. And in doing so, they extol the ways their system can help with the tidal wave of calls your reception team handles every day (an issue which I’ll explore later).

This makes a lot of sense. After all, how you manage the calls into your practice doesn’t only affect staff workloads and morale – it can make all the difference in a patient getting the right help, from the right clinician, and in the right way, too.

But the management of inbound calls is only half the story here. A telephone system for the post-Covid practice must also work for outbound calls, since they’re now a huge part of your day. 

To do this, technology providers must consider the dynamics between the GP and the patient. Namely, phone consultations are great in principle but much more nuanced in practice.

For instance, when a patient gets in touch, it isn’t immediately obvious which kind of appointment is most suitable. This is because patients can’t always articulate their complaint on a call – and telephone triage can only go so far to help in this respect.

Consequently, there’s no guarantee a phone call is appropriate – but it may only be through a GP call that the need for face-to-face consultation becomes apparent. This can be frustrating for the patient and the GP – both of you want to get to the bottom of the patient’s concern in as few appointments as possible.

One way we’re helping practices overcome this challenge is with a telephone system that, with the click of a button during the call, can switch from standard voice to video. Through this system, the patient does not need to install any unique phone apps – but can use their phone’s camera so you can visually assess symptoms.

Of course, you do not rely only on sight to evaluate a patient. Touch and even smell are also involved, as is the unique intuition that can only happen by seeing someone in person. So video calls can be of great help – but only if they work for the real world, where not all calls begin as a video – and not all patients are willing to install more apps.

Outbound and inbound, but not office-bound

We all know how the pandemic has changed how and where we work. You may have been calling patients from places other than your usual desk, including your home.

However, not all phone systems are designed from the ground up for such arrangements – and especially for GPs and patients. While some get the basics right – allowing you to be flexible to an extent – I have found that the devil is in the details where general practice is concerned.

Some of the features that our GP clients look for and value include those that allow them to make calls from personal mobiles, without any compromise to confidentiality and security, or risk of incurring network costs.

Similarly, being able to make calls from a computer is just as important – holding a phone to an ear for long periods can cause arm and neck aches. And, to be a stickler for detail, the ability to control the phone number displayed to the patient – though a seemingly minor point – can prevent the patient from ignoring the call, which in turn can generate more work.

The whole picture of the patient

As a consumer, have you ever called a company’s customer services only to repeat your complaint because the telephonist can’t see your past enquiries?

Often, these awkward calls are not a reflection of the staff. Instead, they result from disparate IT systems: telephony does not ‘talk’ to customer record systems and vice versa. So staff answering the call find themselves flitting between applications trying to see the whole picture while you’re put on hold with your patience wearing thin. Staff may also have to manually update your records after the call, which obviously takes time.

This scenario is frustrating for all involved – and it isn’t unique to the private sector. In fact, in general practice, disjointed systems can have a real impact on patient outcomes – because being able to easily see the whole picture at the point of the call can help in several ways. These include making a diagnosis, assessing medicine interactions and sensitivities, and reassuring the patient that they are being treated as individuals with a unique history.

Consequently, telephony that integrates with clinical systems, such as SystmOne and EMIS, can be of great help. So how about telephony that lets you call the patient through a single click on your clinical system, where you’ve been viewing their records? Or a system that automatically and securely saves call details, including an audio recording, directly into the patient’s records once the call is over? There is a telephone system with precisely these features – and we’ll come to it shortly…

Making inbound calls better for all

Through my professional experience with GP practices, the daily rush of inbound calls can be one of the most stressful challenges for staff. My impression is that managing these surges can often feel like a full day’s work in itself, all condensed into a short and intense period.

NHS England’s findings that four in ten people were reluctant about contacting their GP during the pandemic suggest these surges may have lessened during the crisis. However, given the other exceptional demands of the crisis, I’m not convinced that such a reduction would have made any real dent in your workloads.

One thing I can say with more certainty is that with the return of relative normality, it seems a vice-like pressure on GP practices has emerged. Not only is the NHS ordering GPs to return to business as usual, but inflammatory media coverage has also fuelled patient demand for the same.

As a result, a telephone system that offers smarter ways to manage inbound calls could help ease these pressures. For example, features such as providing a callback instead of making the patient wait on the line at busy times can be of great value to patients and staff alike. Likewise, an automated system that allows patients to book appointments by phone without actually speaking to staff can also ease the surge of inbound calls.

Essentially, good inbound call management is not only about improving patients’ experience but about technology that is just as helpful for staff, too. Not all telephone systems are built this way.

In general practice, technology should augment, not replace

So far, I’ve described how telephone systems must work for life beyond the pandemic. But even though we’re a technology company, we don’t believe that technology has all the answers, especially in healthcare.

I say this because the pandemic has been a painful reminder of the value of the personal touch, underlining some timeless truths of work in general practice.

Firstly, no matter how sophisticated technology becomes, there will always be patients who want to, can only, and should, be seen in person.

Secondly, despite the age of ‘digital transformation’, it is in the interests of everybody’s physical and mental health to ensure people get out and socialise. And that includes routine trips out.

Thirdly, people working in your practice – from the reception team to senior partners – did not choose to work in healthcare only to find themselves spending every working minute stuck on a phone.

And it’s for these reasons that we don’t regard technology as a panacea. Instead, we look to help general practice with systems that will save time, increase efficiency, improve patient experience and boost staff morale. But to do all these in the most simple way possible – for the benefit of people, and not to replace them.

Introducing Surgery Connect, from X-on

With the points in this blog in mind, we have recently joined forces with X-on, the company behind Surgery Connect, a telephone system specially built for GP practices.

When forming such a partnership, we look at vendors with the same fine-tooth comb you use when evaluating technology providers. So as well as the unique benefits of Surgery Connect that I’ve touched on above, it’s worth highlighting a few other reasons why X-on stands out:

・Being cloud-based, Surgery Connect can easily grow to meet changes to your organisation. For example, if you open new practices with traditional telephony, you might find it tricky and more expensive to add extra phone lines. As cloud telephony doesn’t rely on physical technology in the same way as conventional phone systems, it doesn’t pose this problem.

・At the same time, X-on has given extensive consideration to practices’ concern about the security of cloud technology. So Surgery Connect has a raft of security accreditations, including ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ICO data compliance, and NHS data security standards, including HSCN compliance.

Furthermore, the system has a triple level of contingency. The cloud data is encrypted and stored in three UK sites, meaning it runs 24/7. A traditional telephone system, with on-premise technology, cannot make this kind of guarantee.

X-on is also an approved Crown Commercial Service supplier, with partner access to the RM3808 ‘Network Services 2’ framework’.

Surgery Connect has an intentionally simple pricing structure. What you pay for is what you get – with no hidden costs. And all aspects of your plan are bought together in one simple bill – because you need a telephone system with lots of great features, not lots of paperwork.

Support is designed for the modern practice, particularly in light of the extended opening hours you may now be offering. It is available 24/7, and critical issues are resolved within an hour at most.

And what about AdEPT?

As you’ll see from the X-on’s website and the links below, the company specialises in communications technology for general practice. So what about AdEPT?

We’re an independent technology company with a long history of working with the public sector. So as well as helping GP practices like yours, we also work with the NHS and other health and social care organisations.

One example of this is our work in Kent, where we upgraded the internet connectivity for the entire county’s NHS, hospitals and GP practices. We also work with Great Ormond Street Hospital, having migrated all of its legacy network to the new HSCN. And more generally, we help more than 250 GP practices with their individual technology and telecoms needs.

Additionally, like X-on, we are an approved Crown Commercial supplier. We are accredited on eight of the 13 lots of ‘Network Services 2’, RM3808, and on three of the eight lots of ‘Technology Services 3, RM6100.

With all this in mind, the partnership between X-on and AdEPT means you’ll get highly specialised advice, technology and support, but also with a close eye on the bigger picture of public healthcare – a real breadth and depth of knowledge.

I hope you found the information in this blog useful – and if you have any questions, do get in touch. You can find me here on LinkedIn, or can call on 0333 4002490 or email enquiries@adept.co.uk.

Further reading

・Why X-on is different: more about Surgery Connect.

・Words from your peers: other health professionals’ experiences of Surgery Connect.

Answering your questions about Surgery Connect.

・Ensuring your team is confident with Surgery Connect: easy-to-understand training materials.

Written by Tracy Jackson

Divisional Sales Director

Introducing Nimbus Sync

There’s no doubt that there has been a massive rise in the use of digital education platforms in schools, and there are some incredible statistics that illustrate this. Worldwide there are now more than 170 million student and educators using Google Workspace for Education[1] and over 100 million students using Microsoft Teams[2].

This mass-adoption was of course accelerated by the pandemic. A topic we’ve written widely about in several of our other blog posts, particularly in regard to the Department for Education’s (DfE) platform provisioning programme – which interestingly is responsible for a staggering 2.5 million of these accounts.[3]  

It’s clear from the research and school feedback that adopting these platforms have been extremely beneficial for schools, but they of course bring with them a number of challenges. With the new academic year starting, the focus of this post is to talk about one set of these challenges: keeping the data in these platforms up to date.

Though not new solutions for schools, when the pandemic hit many schools did not have the capability to provide remote learning, and so almost overnight, schools had to make massive changes. This is shown by some statistics released by the DfE that show a staggering 86% of primary schools surveyed, introduced, increased or upgraded a learning platform to set and receive pupils’ work in response to Covid.[4] There was no time for planning. Schools had to be reactive to ensure teaching and learning continued.

Now after all this time has passed, and the crazy year schools have had, how many of these platforms have not yet been updated for the new academic year? How many students are without accounts, or arguably worse, how many leavers (including staff) still have access to data on these platforms as their accounts haven’t been disabled? Or perhaps, how many schools have gone to the great effort of manually updating their data in these platforms over the summer? After all, they can be time-consuming and difficult to administer – requiring technical expertise.

What is needed is a simple, cost-effective, secure and time-saving solution to automatically keep school data up to date in these platforms. A solution that removes the inconvenience, or the technical expertise required, to create accounts when new starters join and disable accounts when people leave – whilst also ensuring that things like Classrooms/Teams and group memberships remain current.  

Hence AdEPT Nimbus, our new product family of in-house developed solutions that simplify the sharing and management of school’s data with, and access to, third party applications.  Nimbus Sync, the first product to launch, solves this problem by being the simple and easy way for schools to sync their MIS data into Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.

This is an area we have a lot of experience in. Not only are we Google and Microsoft partners, but we also currently provide Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 syncing services to over 900 schools. Historically we’ve only been able to offer these services to a limited number of schools with specific connections. With Nimbus Sync, we’re able to help any school in the country.

Using our experience, expertise and school feedback, we’ve built upon what we were previously able to offer, to provide a single portal where schools can configure the sync from start to finish – whilst benefiting from a whole host of improvements, enhanced functionality and customisations.

Setting up the sync is easy. School simply set up the import of their MIS data to us (if they are not one of the 3000 schools that do this already) and then configure the export of data to Google and/or Microsoft – which includes the automatic provisioning of accounts, Classrooms/Teams and groups. Changes made in their MIS are then automatically updated in their platform. It’s really as simple as that.

Leading the development of Nimbus Sync is our Head of Software Development Manuel Cristelo. He said: “We’re really proud of the work on this project. Nimbus Sync was designed as something schools can set up and then forget about, so we believe it’s going to help save schools a lot of time and have a great impact. We can’t wait for schools to get their hands on it and are looking forward to developing more enhancements to Nimbus Sync in the future, as well as the other products we have planned for AdEPT Nimbus.”

Nimbus Sync is an affordable, beneficial, scalable, deployable and dependable service specifically for UK schools, and we are very excited to bring it to the market from September 2021. Find out more at nimbus.adept.education or give us a call.  

[1] https://blog.google/outreach-initiatives/education/google-workspace-for-education/

[2] https://www.windowscentral.com/microsoft-teams-reportedly-used-100-million-students

[3] https://dfedigital.blog.gov.uk/2021/02/12/digital-education-platforms/

[4] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/996470/Education_Technology__EdTech__Survey_2020-21__1_.pdf page 39

Written by James Ing

Product Manager

Your organisation invested in IT to adapt to the pandemic. Now what?

How to get more out of your Microsoft products and services

Working in IT, I have always found it interesting to look back at past predictions about technology to see if they’ve come true.

For example, back in 1975, Bloomberg’s Businessweek magazine ran an article that predicted the future of the workplace. It drew on the views of George E Pake, who led research at Xerox, and included his description of the 1995workplace: “I’ll be able to call up documents from my files on the screen, or by pressing a button.”

Mr Pake was clearly on the money. And since that time, with the widespread adoption of computing – and then the internet – the world seems to have become obsessed with making predictions about IT and technology. Perhaps never more so than over the past year, with the number one topic being the enormous changes to workplaces brought about by the pandemic.

But there is a drawback to this kind of discussion. By virtue of being office based, IT experts often fall into the trap of focusing all their thinking on offices, offering recommendations for people sitting at desks, in front of computers.

If the past year has shown us anything, it’s that those who aren’t at desks in front of screens – those working in schools, in healthcare, in public services – that they are all critical to our lives and our economy.

Consequently, while discussion about remote and hybrid working is important – and we ourselves have shared a lot of guidance where this is concerned –  it’s just as important that we in IT keep in mind that not all organisations are able to simply adopt ‘new ways of working’.

And so, we should also help those who have bought new technology as a result of the pandemic to make the most of those investments, irrespective of where their staff may be based. This is especially true with those areas of the public sector mentioned above – or indeed smaller businesses with limited IT resources. If this sounds like your organisation, then read on.

Microsoft Teams: a springboard to much more

One thing we can say with certainty about IT in the age of the pandemic is that there has been widespread adoption of video conferencing, across all industries. For example, between February and June 2020, usage of Microsoft Teams grew by 894 per cent.

I am drawn to this statistic because I am AdEPT’s Microsoft Product Manager– and one of my responsibilities is to ensure we have a comprehensive, up-to-date understanding of Microsoft products and services – and how they might benefit your organisation.

Through this work, I have seen a distinct pattern emerge over the past year and I believe it’s something that will resonate with many organisations, perhaps even your own.

Lots of organisations have either adopted the free version of Microsoft Teams, or have added Teams to their existing Microsoft 365 plan. In either case – and with the more pressing demands of the pandemic – a lot of those organisations are yet to realise the full potential of their new setup.

In other words, many organisations aren’t getting their money’s worth out of their new, or newly-enhanced, Microsoft products and services.

The good news is there are lots of emerging ways you can get more out of Microsoft, or build on what you already have. Here are a few of them.

1. Microsoft Power Platform

Just like Microsoft 365, Power Platform is a collection of applications. Among them are tools for analysing data, building low-code apps and even launching and running your own chatbots. The applications include…

Power Automate and Power Apps

Have you ever wished you could automate a task in your work? Or had a great idea that could improve your organisation but have fallen at the first hurdle because you need a software developer? If the answer’s yes, then you might like Microsoft Power Automate and Power Apps.

As their names imply, these products allow you to automate repetitive tasks – or use low-code tools to build your own app. You can find examples of Power Automate ‘flows’ here, and apps built with Power Apps here.

A good example of this comes from one of our clients, publicly-owned Barnsley Premier Leisure (BPL), which wanted to improve how it handles gym equipment faults and eliminate the paperwork involved in the process.

Working with us, and by using Power Apps, BPL’s IT team built a simple app for staff. With it, an employee scans the barcode on the equipment, which in turn brings up a choice of faults to report, and once submitted, automatically emails a support ticket to the equipment manufacturer. The app has saved BPL a lot of time and paperwork, making the process much easier to track and manage.

Power BI

Once upon a time, data analysis was a dark art. To do anything meaningful with your organisation’s data, you likely had to have specialist skills and spend many hours in Microsoft Excel, Access or similar software. Even then, the spreadsheets and graphs you produced were often only snapshot in time and didn’t integrate easily with other software. Those were the days when the idea of having a live dashboard of business data was just a pipe dream.

(Interestingly, a Google Trends graph suggests the whole world has become more interested in ‘dashboards’ over the last 15 years – and I suspect that has nothing to do with the things in the front of our cars!)

Then in 2011, Microsoft launched Power BI – the ‘BI’ standing for ‘Business Intelligence’. It’s an application that allows you to take your business data and turn it into graphs and charts, including your own live dashboards. Notably, it’s designed to be extremely easy to use – and not restricted to data specialists. One fantastic example of it in action is these live Transport for London graphs, which represent the demand for public transport in the city.

Another example comes again from our client, BPL. With our help, it now has an extensive set of live dashboards which it regularly uses to make decisions based on various data sets, like staff levels and customer demand. For example, staff noticed a rise in bookings for yoga classes, but with a finite amount of yoga instructors in the area, they were able to quickly ‘switch on’ more classes in pilates – a similar activity – rather than turn customers away and, in turn, miss out on revenue.

Other Power Platform applications

I mentioned that there are other applications within Power Platform – some of these represent differences in deployments, such as being based in the cloud or on your desktop. But one other that might be of interest is Power Virtual Agents, which is an application for building your own chatbots. Many organisations are looking to support their customer service teams with such bots – but as a big topic in its own right, that’s one for another blog!

2. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

If you’re already using Microsoft 365 in any capacity,it might interest you to know that Microsoft offers a suite of applications for various business functions, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM).

This collection is called ‘Dynamics 365’ and, as the name suggests, it has the same foundation as Microsoft 365 software, such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint. At my last count, there were 22 applications within Microsoft Dynamics 365, spanning everything from customer records to supply chain, finance to project management.

So, what do our customers make of it?

Interestingly, we’ve found that some of them have been under the impression that Dynamics 365 is only suitable for large businesses. Although it now uses it, BPL was one of those customers – in fact, when we mentioned it to the IT manager, he joked that he’d only heard of it being used by Formula 1 teams with lots of money.

If your organisation is in a similar place – you can see the appeal of Dynamics 365 but have concerns about costs – then you might be interested in one of its variants, Business Central Cloud.

Built with smaller organisations in mind, Business Central Cloud offers key Dynamics 365 applications with an emphasis on finance – covering accounting, sales and supply chain. Crucially, it’s cloud-based, meaning it can be used on any device with an internet connection, which is obviously good for flexible working.

Many organisations start with Business Central Cloud with the view to using it for accounting purposes, but it offers much more than this – and as it integrates with Microsoft 365, many choose the platform to avoid the time and hassle of learning entirely new systems.

We’ve recently joined forces with Bam Boom Cloud, a Business Central Cloud specialist. One of the many reasons we’ve decided to do this is because organisations are often, understandably, intimidated by the prospect of adopting major new systems – they can see the benefits, but worry about being without crucial systems during the transition, how staff will take to the new system and that the process could negatively affect their customers.

Bam Boom Cloud has a solution for this – its fast-track process promises to help your organisation make the switch in as little as seven days, including staff training. Bam Boom Cloud also only focuses on the products and services that you want – and will not pressure you into unnecessary and expensive extras. We take the same view with our own customers.

A good example of how this works is with Bam Boom Cloud client, ilke Homes. A modular housing developer, ilke Homes was relying on paper and spreadsheet records, but was quickly outgrowing this setup. It needed a new system, but couldn’t afford lengthy downtime, and wanted something that would work across multiple sites, growing with ilke Homes’ own continued growth.

Choosing Bam Boom Cloud’s KickStart offering, ilke Homes quickly started realising the benefits of the switch to Business Central Cloud. It found cashflow was improved, processes worked more efficiently, and the business was liberated from a system that was holding it back.

What a case study like this doesn’t necessarily show is the people behind the work. We’re as choosy about our partners as you are about your own IT partners – we vet our partners just as you would. Similarly, Bam Boom Cloud has gone through extensive assessment by Microsoft, winning Microsoft 2021 Partner of the Year for Dynamics 365 for Business Central, having been a finalist in 2020, and the winner of the 2019 awards.

Beyond these examples

The examples above give just a small taster of how you could make more of Microsoft products and services, especially in the wake of the pandemic when organisations are looking for ways to move forward with minimum disruption.

You may be wondering why I’ve not mentioned prices – often the most pressing question. The reason I haven’t is it really depends on certain criteria – for example, some of the tools I’ve mentioned may be already available to you through your organisation’s Microsoft plan. Your organisation size, or the number of users, may also be factors – as could being in the private or public sector.

There are fixed costs involved, however, so it’s relatively straightforward to determine an approach and a price that is tailored to your requirements. So the next step is to assess your own organisation and answer any questions you may have through a no-obligation chat. You can get in touch via the contact details below. But before that, here are a few more articles that may be of interest, with my interpretations.

Microsoft’s findings in relation to hybrid working, based on its 2021 Work Trend survey:

• 73 per cent of workers want flexible working to continue – but note that 67 per cent are craving more in-person time with their teams. As I alluded to above, the debate about home versus office working needs to be more nuanced than fixating on those two extremes.

• Through the same survey, it found time spent in Microsoft Teams has more than doubled – no surprises there – but this likely explains why we’re now craving face-to-face contact with colleagues.

Independent consultancy Forrester found the switch to Microsoft 365 for Business brings 163 per cent return on investment for small businesses:

• Looking at how the pandemic affected SMEs, Forrester found that Microsoft 365 for business was especially beneficial when organisations needed to shift to remote work, highlighting security features and the ease-of-use for IT managers to set up.

Cloud infrastructure spending continued to grow in 2021, found market intelligence firm IDC:

• Spending on cloud systems increased 11.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, suggesting that more and more organisations and industries are starting to realise the benefits of cloud.

Forbes: the use of low-code is on the rise, suggesting it’s becoming increasingly popular:

• Gartner predicts that in the next three years, more than 65 per cent of all applications will be built on low-code.

Microsoft’s Get On 2021 campaign is set to help people build careers in technology:

• This five-year campaign aims to help 1.5 million people build tech careers, including people who want to upskill their existing work, as well as IT leaders who want to improve their career prospects.

Education: Microsoft survey of CIOs and heads of IT in the UK education sector found that they did not want to accrue ‘technology debt’:

• Surveyed in October and November 2020, these professionals said that while they had prioritised short-term solutions to address immediate needs, they now recognise that further digitalisation must be driven strategically.

Want to see how you could get much more out your Microsoft setup? Get in touch today

I hope you’ve found this blog useful and interesting. If you’d like to find out more, you can connect with me on LinkedIn, or call me and my colleagues on 0333 400 2490, or email enquiries@adept.co.uk.

Written by Jess Woods

Microsoft Product Manager

The PSTN Switch Off: What It Means For Business

Are you aware of the UK’s commitment to switch off the public switch telephone network (PSTN) by 2025?

Surveys show as much as a third of small businesses are completely unaware of this impending change following the PSTN switch off.

The PSTN and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) are scheduled to be switched off in 2025.

This will greatly impact individuals and businesses as these telephony networks are the very framework that provides phone services. As well as alarms, EPOS machines, CCTV, and even door entry systems among other things.

The Terms You Need To Know

PSTN: The public switch telephone network is the system that enables landline connectivity. This system works due to an extensive network of copper wires which connects users across the country. But the technology was first implemented in the latter half of the 1800s.

While the technology has adapted and developed over time, this system has become increasingly outdated in recent years by introducing fibre-optic broadband and the various features that can function through the internet.

ISDN: The integrated service digital network was the foundational system that brought high-speed internet connectivity across the country and into homes in the 90s.

It effectively revolutionised how people connected to the internet.

VoIP: Voice over internet protocol essentially moves away from the physical, copper wired network and converts the whole process to digital by utilising the internet.

In practice, it is not much different to PSTN or ISDN, but it brings with it a range of advantages and benefits over outdated phone lines.

What is the PSTN Switch Off?

British Telecom, or BT, is shutting down the Openreach services of PSTN and ISDN by 2025 and switching everyone over to using digital services instead. 

This change comes in order to save on the massive expenses which go towards maintaining and repairing the legacy systems, while allowing for more time and investment to be put into the IP services instead.

This change actually began in 2020 when BT stopped selling new services on the old networks in order to gradually phase out the systems which will be obsolete in just a few short years.

This will impact everyone to some degree as services are updated and changes are made. Yet, the biggest impact is expected to hit businesses that rely heavily on telephony services and those that use fax machines. 

And What About The Benefits?

A significant 40% of the UK market already recognise a number of key benefits the switch will provide.

While changing over will be a unique challenge for everyone depending on their needs, there are several benefits that will likely impact any growing business.

The costs of these services will be lower. As a result of the system being more easily monitored and controlled and no reliance on massive trans-oceanic cables to be in top working order, VoIP will pave the way for a cheaper alternative to PSTN or ISDN.

VoIP also creates an easier way to analyse and track statistics of usage and other important data. Giving businesses a clear idea of who they are communicating with and how to deliver their services via voice communications best.

Upgrading and changing the systems used by a business also becomes much simpler to upgrade additional features. Rather than needing to set up physical networks for individual businesses that allow internal calling and re-routing calls or diverting calls, these features can be easily added or removed without the need for a physical network.

And finally, it will offer improved scalability and mobility for businesses. As they grow, their virtual networks can grow and move with them.

When and What Should I Do to Be Ready?

The PSTN switch-off date may appear far off now, but it is less than 4 years until the network is entirely shut down. The old adage, ‘Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail” springs to mind.

You don’t want to be caught out when the time arrives for the switch and your business suffer because the proper systems are not in place.

BT offers a short guide on some of the things you can do to prepare, but largely, it comes down to three things.

1. Make sure you have sufficient internet connectivity. 

Now more than ever, having a sturdy and robust internet connection with the highest speed available is vital. There are very few businesses that operate without the internet. And as this technology advances, it will only become more integral.

2. Find out what in your business is using PSTN or ISDN.

It is not just for phone calls, these systems are responsible for a range of other functions from the till systems to the door alarms. 

Making sure that these systems have a way to operate is vital. Check how they are currently functioning and how you will adapt or replace them to work with IP.

3. Make a plan and continue to review it.

2025 is set in stone, so a plan for how you will approach it needs to be outlined now. But that does not mean that your plans can’t change and you cant improve the way you operate as more information becomes available. 

Adept provides a range of services and expertise that will help you navigate the upcoming changes, so it may be best to see what services you need. 

Start Now

The changes are coming quickly and every new business that pops up is getting a head start. If you need help with how your business will work towards the PSTN switch off, get in touch and we would love to explore the best options for you.

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

What Is a SMART Board and What Is It Used For?

Imagine being able to navigate on a board like you would on a computer. This time, instead of writing, the board can search and save things for you. 

We know evolution has been a topic of debate regarding humans, but evolution for boards in schools has been prominent over the years.

And speaking of boards, let us introduce you to a modern way of teaching: interactive whiteboards, or SMART Boards. Interactive boards originated in 1991, but they’re becoming resourceful in today’s society. 

And if you keep reading, we’ll show you how SMART Boards work.

What Is a SMART Board? 

A SMART Board is an interactive whiteboard that is receptive to touch, which allows you to write and move things around.

SMART Boards work by connecting to a PC via an HDMI cable. The SMART Board displays what’s on the computer and allows you to see what’s on the board.  

SMART Boards grant you the ability to tap things with a finger, and they also come with special-coloured pens to write with. This can save teachers time from buying EXPO markers when it comes to writing on a whiteboard. 

Advanced versions of smart boards now allow students to work on a problem on the board at the same time. Before, only one person could touch the board since smart boards wouldn’t respond to multiple touches. 

What Is a SMART Board Used for? 

A SMART Board is designed for browsing websites and working on projects. Think of using a giant computer.

You can use it with your finger or a mouse. It’s convenient for teachers since boards can pull up information and save data.

SMART Boards can also open PowerPoints and Microsoft Word, which saves teachers from having to write crucial key points on a regular board.

Presentations are a lot easier and run smoother. When teachers want to show clips, they can as easily pull one up by searching on YouTube or download it.

This gives SMART Boards a huge advantage and may also upgrade students’ knowledge on the topic. Teachers can also connect from all over the world.

If you ever need assistance, feel free to head over to our managed IT services  to learn more about what we can do. We answer any IT questions you may have starting with your own interactive whiteboard software. 

SMART Boards in Classrooms

SMART Boards can engage students with the lesson. This can encourage students to take notes and participate, and it can facilitate active learning.

SMART Boards enhance cooperation and collaboration, making the class interesting and fun—all the more reason why smart boards should be installed in every classroom. 

Students will brainstorm more in group activities, resulting in effective problem-solving. Check out how teachers can engage with students using this technology.

1. SMART Boards Serve as a Right Hand Man 

Since students learn best from in-person interaction, an interactive whiteboard can serve as additional content of learning. While teachers lecture, they can use a board to navigate around effortlessly.

Teachers can prepare before class much quicker, such as incorporating PowerPoints into their lessons. Also, smart boards are low maintenance, as they don’t require spray cleaning like regular boards.

Teachers can plug into any device, such as video cameras, digital cameras, microscopes, and other devices. 

2. Effective Key Points

As a teacher gives a lecture using PowerPoints or a video, they can highlight any text to help students understand the important points of a topic.

This can also prepare students to study for exams and know what to expect. Bonus points for students as they can get creative with how they take notes. 

Also, colours can play an important role when it comes to memorising. Teachers and students can remember which information belongs to which based on the colours. 

3. Better Engagement in Groups

The focus of the class should be on problem-solving. A teacher can present a problem to the class, then hand over the interactive whiteboard to the students to solve.

Students can better collaborate in the classroom when the board is at the heart of the lesson. They can also better connect to the lessons by the technologies they use every day. 

4. Respond to Student Inquiries 

A teacher or student can write a question on the board and have students answer. Make sure to look up information with the SMART Board and have it saved beforehand.

Then the class can answer the question. Once that’s over, pull up the saved data with the answer and reference via email to any students later. 

5. Environment Friendly

Teachers can save paper by uploading the syllabus on the board. Students can also open a syllabus by going to their class’s website. Most information can be uploaded on the board.

6. Flip the Switch 

SMART Boards allow teachers to save their data so they can help a student who needs homework help or missed classes. 

Students can watch videos at home and solve a problem with a teacher. While it’s not common for classrooms to do this, it’s interesting to see what a smartboard can do.  

What if Some Teachers Don’t Want to Use a SMART board? 

While teachers don’t have to use an interactive board if they’re confident they can teach without it, a SMART Board provides many advantages.

SMART Boards can be used in a professional setting. It’s worth showing teachers the new way of teaching and the benefits that come with using a smart board. 

It won’t be long before those teachers will apply modern technology to their teaching, especially when SMART Boards enhance learning.

They may even come to love it sooner or later. No more using regular boards.

If you have any questions about your smart devices, feel free to check us out here. Let us help you today. 

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

What Is Microsoft 365 for Business? All You Need to Know

Microsoft 365, formerly Microsoft Office, is a collection of apps designed to help businesses improve their productivity and is being used by more and more companies. In fact, 70% of fortune 500 companies have purchased Microsoft 365 for their company in the past year. However, many companies do not know how Microsoft 365 can impact their company and help them improve. 

Do you want to learn more about Microsoft 365 business standard and how Office 365 can help your company? Keep reading this guide to Microsoft 365. 

What to Know About Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 for business are cloud-based services that offer productivity solutions for any company. Originally, it was known as Office 365. When you purchase Microsoft 365, you get subscription access to all Office apps. 

Not only does this help improve productivity, but it can also protect your company from cybersecurity threats. It provides a higher level of security and allows businesses to protect their data. 

Microsoft 365 is perfect for small to medium businesses and can help you improve communication with your employees, increase productivity, and more. 

As was mentioned before, Microsoft 365 is the new and improved version of Office 365. One main difference is the subscription aspect. It is something that you purchase for your company each month or year, rather than buying it once. 

Second, Office 365 included apps on your computer. However, Microsoft 365 allows you to access each of these services online. Whether you need your email, cloud storage, or other communication tools, you can access your work wherever you are. 

Plans and Pricing

There are many subscriptions and plans available through Microsoft 365. Depending on the needs and budget of your business, you can choose whichever plan works best for you. Here are the Microsoft 365 pricing and plans and what they include. 

Business Basic

The Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan is best for businesses who want online versions of the Office Apps. It is great for those who want remote solutions as it includes Microsoft Teams, cloud storage, and more. 

Business Standard

The Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan is a little bit more expensive than the basic plan but is best for companies with full remote work. It provides more tools for collaboration and allows you to access premium office applications across each of your devices. 

The main difference between the business basic and the business standard plan is the access to the apps. While the basic plan only allows you to access the Microsoft apps online, the business standard plan allows you to use the desktop apps on your local computer. 

Business Premium

Finally, the Microsoft 365 Business Premium Plan is the plan that includes everything in the business standard plan and more. If you are looking for an option with a higher level of security and protection from cyber threats, the business premium plan is the best option for you. 

The main difference between standard vs premium plans is the options for device management and improved security for your business. 

Apps Included in Microsoft 365

There are many apps included in the Microsoft 365 subscriptions. First and foremost, it includes productivity tools. These are the most commonly used Microsoft tools, like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and more. 

However, there are other helpful apps in Microsoft as well! For example, there are online services that allow you to access your work from anywhere. These include Teams, an online communication platform, and OneDrive. OneDrive gives you 1TB of data storage for free and is a great way to keep your data and projects secure. 

Depending on the subscription option you choose, you can have more features. This means that as a company, you can choose the plans that fit your unique needs. You don’t have to pay for tools that you don’t need to use!

How Is Microsoft 365 Useful for Businesses

There are many ways that any of these Microsoft 365 plans are useful for businesses. As was mentioned before, it is great for communication. You can hold conference calls, communicate online, and more through the Microsoft apps. Microsoft Teams makes it much easier to reach out to your employees, get updates throughout the day, and more. 

Especially as many businesses have transitioned to remote work options, this is an easy and efficient way to stay connected with your team. 

It is also useful for businesses because it provides you with each of the productivity apps you need at a predictable cost. Because the pricing for Microsoft 365 subscriptions is based on how many users you have, it is easier to budget for your IT spending. You will not have any additional or hidden costs when you use Microsoft 365. 

Finally, as a business owner, you can be confident that you are using the best apps available. Microsoft 365 provides automatic upgrades to ensure that your apps are consistently performing as they should. You will not have to buy new software.

Instead, your apps will automatically update to the newest version!

Learn More About Microsoft 365 for Business Today

Using Microsoft 365 for your business is a great way to improve productivity and more. If you want to improve collaboration, communication, storage, and more, you should consider getting Microsoft 365 for your business. However, you want to make sure you buy it from a reliable source!

If you are looking for a professional company to help you find cloud services for your business, AdEPT can help! Contact our team today to learn more about Microsoft 365 pricing, plans, and more. 

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

What Is Microsoft Azure Used For?

Are you looking for a cloud computing solution with a trusted brand?

Cloud computing is the newest undertaking and computing solution for businesses. In 2020, 93% of businesses already had a multi-cloud strategy in place. Like Google Cloud, Azure is another top cloud computing platform businesses use today. 

If you want a cloud computing service designed for businesses, Microsoft Azure is the solution you’re looking for. Below is a guide on its services. Keep reading to find out how it works, how much it costs, and more.

What Is Microsoft Azure? 

Azure is Microsoft’s public cloud computing platform. As a cloud platform, you could build, deploy, and manage services and apps anywhere. As the industry’s leading solution, you can use it as:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)

These options open up services like analytics, virtual computing, networking, storage, and more.

Its flexibility lets you use Azure’s partial or full cloud-based system for your needs. As a Microsoft product, Azure ensures security, organisation, and many excellent features. These are the reasons behind Azure’s growth rate of 120,000 subscriptions per month in 2017. 

How Does Azure Work?

Microsoft Azure stores data on remote servers and allows you to access them online. Once you place your data on the Microsoft cloud, you can access it anytime, regardless of your location. Such data includes files, applications, and more.

Use this Microsoft infrastructure to store your data to ensure they’re safe. Only you and any allowed parties can access the data and files uploaded on the cloud. In short, it works like a cloud-computing platform. 

Services Provided by Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure lets you create virtual machines from marketplace templates or custom machine images. These virtual machines or VMs can host your apps and services. The difference is they’re cloud-based, allowing you to reap the benefits of using a cloud.

Speaking of apps, Azure allows you to create and deploy applications for your business. Use them to save time and money while watching over the progress and flow of your business. You won’t have to worry about compatibility with web platforms or scalability.

Another unique service to Microsoft Azure is the Visual Studio. Visual Studio team services offer application lifecycle management (ALM) in the cloud. Other than allowing you to find smarter, more secure networks, it opens many actions to developers. 

Benefits of Using Microsoft Azure for Your Business

One of the top advantages of Microsoft Azure is it’s cost-effective. When you use the service, you only pay for what you use. It’s a great solution if your business only needs specific cloud services or apps.

Remember, Azure is also flexible and scalable. It’s another factor offering considerable benefits to its users. You won’t have to worry about using a complex one-size-fits-all solution.

Because most processes occur online, many businesses are now open to cyberattacks. However, with Microsoft Azure’s Active Directory, you get security and safety. Azure improves identity and access capabilities with multi-factor authentication. 

If not from cyberattacks, you may also suffer setbacks and data loss from other causes. For example, extreme weather events or fire accidents can hit your data centres. If you didn’t create backups on a cloud, you’d lose all the data for good.

However, if you have data backups on Azure, you won’t have to start from zero again. It has offsite replication, onsite maintenance, and up to 99 years of data retention. The best part is you don’t need to worry about any capital investments or extra operational costs.

Another Azure-specific advantage is you can use the platform to host, manage, and develop apps. It’s all thanks to its patch management, AutoScale, and integration services. It also allows you to link your apps and access resources inside your firewall.

Practical Microsoft Azure Tips to Keep in Mind

Don’t expect your DevOps or deployment team to learn about the new platform right away. Give them time to learn the ropes and master the basics. With that said, always give them extra time to familiarize themselves with the new platform.

Don’t hang onto processes or services that you don’t need. Remember, Azure is all about efficiency and practicality. Don’t be afraid to “un-deploy” certain processes and services.

Finding the right cloud service provider can make or break your business. Before you commit to Microsoft Azure, ensure it’s the best choice for your company. Check whether its services, availability, and cost fit your goals and budget.

Improve Your Business Development With Microsoft Azure

We hope this guide to Microsoft Azure gave you a better and broader understanding of its nuances. After reading our content, you now have a better idea of how to use it, especially how it works for your business processes.

However, learning the platform is only a facet. You need professional help to make the transition easier. 

Are you looking for an IT provider and management team for your business? Get in touch with us and learn more about our services today. Feel free to shoot us any inquiries through our contact page here.

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

IP Telephony Benefits for Your Business

Why will 90% of business leaders stop purchasing traditional communications tools this year in favour of IP telephony?

VoIP telephony solutions now play a significant role in most businesses with an industry CAGR of 21.5%. Millions of companies recognise the benefits of IP telephony. But why are they moving from traditional PBX boxes to adopt this new technology?

This article highlights why VoIP and IP services and phone systems are so popular.

Learn the top IP telephony benefits like reduced overheads and reduced initial capital spend. Discover how the system works and how it can scale to match your business growth.

Read on to see why you should implement IP telephony and how AdEPT can help manage that transition.

What is IP Telephony?

IP or Internet Protocol telephony uses the Internet to exchange voice, fax, and other types of communications.

Traditional PSTNs used dedicated circuit-switched connections to send voice calls. IP telephony simplifies this by sending data in packets across the Internet or through a local area network (LAN).

In essence, it’s a revolution in how we communicate.

VoIP Communications

Voice over IP or VoIP is a term used to describe sending and receiving voice calls.

The technology is a subset of IP telephony where a person’s voice gets converted into a digital signal. That data then gets compressed and sent to the receiver, where it’s converted back and played through their speaker.

Providers like AdEPT now offer businesses of all sizes the opportunity to use a dedicated IP service of their own.

Yet why make the jump from a traditional phone service? What are the benefits of IP telephony?

IP Telephony Benefits

Below are 5 major benefits that an IP telephony solution can offer your business.

From reduced costs to instant access from any device, read on to see why you should adopt this modern platform.

1. Lower Costs

Would you like to save 30-50% on your monthly phone bills?

IP telephony can lower costs by offering cheaper call rates and removing unnecessary hardware.

Cloud-hosted solutions can manage all of your calls without the need to purchase expensive equipment. There’s no longer the need for major capital expenditure as you can lease cloud hardware instead.

Larger companies that require a more dedicated approach can also benefit from IP technologies.

Cloud hosting can come as a hybrid service and there are leased line options available through SIP. For example, our Nebula SIP Connectivity service works with leading carriers like BT for multi-site venues.

Prices are lower than traditional ISDN lines which are now almost obsolete thanks to IP telephony.

2. Worldwide Remote Access

As the need for a remote workforce continues, IP communications help to unify your staff, customers, and suppliers no matter where they are.

Because the technology uses the Internet, calls get routed to any online device. That includes mobile phones, VoIP phones, computers, tablets, or even fax machines.

Voice calls are now truly mobile so your employees no longer need to be under one roof. That could have a financial knock-on effect as you move your staff away from physical premises and into a digital workspace.

3. Additional Features

IP telephony offers much more than simple voice calls. Other features include:

  • Instant messaging and screen sharing
  • Call logging and queuing
  • Digital receptionist (IVR)
  • Voicemail to email
  • Integration with CRM software, Microsoft 365, Google, etc.

The system is also simple to set up and configure.

You can temporarily route incoming calls for a particular number to a different mobile. Or you can activate a digital auto attendant to give callers several options to choose from.

Get in contact to learn all about our full list of IP features.

4. Reliable and Encrypted HD Calls

IP telephony boasts high-definition calls. Voices remain clear and distinct, and with the right provider, your calls won’t drop out.

If you’re concerned about the privacy of making calls over the Internet then there’s good news.

Data is automatically encrypted from sender to receiver. That means that even if someone intercepts a call those packets remain useless.

The technology uses the same tried-and-tested encryption methods used by secure online services. Combined with HD calls and a reliable connection, that’s a major reason to embrace IP.

5. Scalable Integrated Solutions

Does your current communications provider let you add new numbers easily? Can you manage this yourself? How much does it cost and does that expense concern you as your business grows?

IP telephony is becoming more popular because it can scale with ease.

It only takes a few days to install and configure and from there you have full control over your own network. That includes managing your phone numbers and services through an online web portal.

Adding phone numbers no longer requires expensive maintenance work. As everything’s digital, the process occurs online within seconds.

An IP system means you’re not tied to an expensive provider that dictates how you operate. Take charge of your communications and know that they will develop alongside your business’s growth.

IP Telephony Solutions for Business

Communication is the lifeblood of every company.

At AdEPT, we understand this and that’s why we offer several IP telephony solutions for businesses:

  • Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
  • Voice over IP (VoIP)
  • Least Cost Routing (LCR)

We can assist in the planning, design, and installation of your communications. And we’re there to train and support you moving forward.

IP Telephony for Businesses With AdEPT

IP telephony uses your company’s existing Internet connection to send and receive calls.

Yet the technology offers so much more like video conferencing and virtual menus. Not only does it connect your remote workplace but you’ll see huge savings from day one.

However, the quality of the service and the total costs depends on the provider you choose.

Thankfully, AdEPT offers a range of IP telephony services that will cater to all of your requirements.

Our unified communications service can reduce your monthly bills and boost your productivity. We combine voice, video, conference calls, IM, and visual voicemail for a full telephony experience.

Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of IP telephony.

As a certified Avaya Diamond, Microsoft Gold and Gamma Platinum partner, we are telephony and communications experts. And we want to share that expertise with you.

I agree, especially as it isnt the most famous one now [SM1]


Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

Calculating the ROI of Unified Communications for Your Business

In a post-pandemic world, unified communications will become an essential part of successful business strategies. They provide a simple solution to improving productivity. All the while reducing costs and enhancing business efficiency. 

Yet, when implementing unified communications as a service (UCaaS), you have to be sure you’ll generate unified communications ROI.

Many headlines are devoted to why COVID-19 has intensified the global need for unified communications. Namely, reliance on software like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, VoIP calls, and so on, has never been greater.  At the time of writing, it’s no wonder the size of the global unified communications market is predicted to reach $74,244 million by 2023. That’s a huge leap compared to its value of $32,879 in 2016.

Despite that, it can still be challenging for business executives to make their case for a unified communications system. This is why calculating unified communications ROI is imperative.

After all, with this info to hand, you’re better positioned to explain the perks of this strategy to your superiors.

Let’s take a look:

What is Unified Communication?

Some of the most popular unified communications methods include:

  • Voice services: This covers VoIP, MS Teams, Contact Centre solutions, mobiles 
  • Cloud services: This includes cloud solutions and public cloud access
  • Data networking: This covers managed WiFi and Wide Area Network
  • Managed IT services: This includes managed support and hosting
  • Cybersecurity: This pertains to virus protection, managed firewall and email filtering

The simplest way to calculate the ROI of UCaaS such as those above is to look at your:

  • Upfront costs
  • Hard ROI 
  • Soft ROI
  • Customer service costs

Let’s take a look at each of these in more depth:

Upfront Costs

Your upfront costs depend on the existing capabilities of your current systems. It may be that a large part of your upfront costs go on installation expenses if your current systems support new software solutions. 

The simplest way to calculate your upfront costs is to calculate the total cost of UCaaS for one year. This cost should include:

  • Software License costs
  • Handset costs
  • Fibre-optic Internet installation
  • Monthly bill estimates 

Now, let’s take a look at hard ROI:

Hard ROI

These are the direct benefits to your business from implementing a unified communications system.

These are easier to calculate by looking at how much money your organisation would save in upfront, monthly, annual and lifetime communication tool costs.

You can also see how much less your transaction-based costs will be, such as costs per international calling minutes. 

As an example, look at the calls your organisation currently makes internally and externally. See how much the total cost of each type of call is (mobile, international, national, local).

Compare that to the price of a unified communications approach via VoIP calls, and you’ll see a considerable reduction.

In particular, look at your existing:

  • IT maintenance costs vs implementing a cloud-based solution
  • Call costs vs VoIP costs
  • The cost of IT tools

The latter includes video conferencing, apps, software subscriptions. It also extends to a centralised portal for texts, emails, chat, video, and voice

You should also examine your existing travel costs, such as between sites vs adding audio conferencing tools to reduce business travel costs and use file sharing, video meetings and group chats as an alternative.

Soft ROI

The Soft ROI is less simple to assess but primarily focuses on how much time a UCaaS will save you because:

  • Employees are easily accessible via any device, any time and have no connectivity issues
  • Employees are available in real-time
  • It’s easier for employees to work together via MS Teams, Slack and other software tools

Lastly, your employees can work remotely and safely.

The Calculation

Now you’re ready to calculate the unified communications for ROI for your business. 

Imagine your business’s initial investment will be £40,000, with monthly costs of £6,000. Your total unified communications cost for the year will be £112,000.

  • Take your Hard ROI costs. Imagine they come to £68,000.
  • Your ROI calculation is £68,000 / £112,000 = 0.60
  • To get that as a percentage: 0.60 x 100 = a 60% ROI. 

Simple, right?

Other ROI

While not entirely scientific, the above calculation can give you a good idea of the costs you can save in the future by implementing a unified communications system for your business. 

There are other ROI’s that can add value to your organisation. For example:

Improved customer retention: You’re more likely to retain customers by offering them a one-call solution.

The same goes for contacting you via multiple means, including VoIP, social media and email. Customers are more loyal to brands when they receive good customer service. 

Improved customer satisfaction and, therefore, business revenue: As many as 84% of companies report higher revenue due to providing better customer service. 

Happier employees: This can be a by-product of remote working and greater flexibility. Happy workers are more productive. A recent Oxford University study found workers are 13% more productive if they are happy at work.

Remember, it costs more to recruit new employees than it does to retain them, with some reports suggesting it could cost up to £12,000.

More productive employees: A YouGov Microsoft study of 4,000 UK companies found 56% of office workers were happier when they could work from home. 

Are You Ready to Calculate Your Unified Communications ROI?

If you’re interested in finding out more about unified communications ROI for your business, get in touch. Our friendly team is more than happy to provide more information.

We can help you calculate your ROI and liberate your organisation through powerful unified communications technology.

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

Why Your Business Needs Data Backup and Recovery Plans in Place

Regardless of the size of your business, it’s likely that data is an essential aspect of running it. There are three fundamental components you should consider if you don’t yet have a robust strategy in place to keep your data safe.

All humans make errors, all computer systems crash, and disasters happen when you’re least prepared. In any of these situations, you need to have your data backed up and available.

Not only does having a data backup and recovery plan in place give you peace of mind, but it can help you recover valuable data in the event of a breach.

What Is Data Backup and Recovery? 

Data backup and recovery is the process of generating and saving data. You can use this data to protect your business from data loss. That data loss is due to many different reasons but in particular, cyber-attacks, and you refer to it as backup and recovery. Disaster recovery is a term often used to describe this process.

The data from a backup is usually restored to its original location or to a different location where it can be used in place of the missing or damaged data. Backing up and restoring data is an essential part of every business’ disaster recovery plan.

Planning Your Backup and Recovery

The cost of losing access to data and applications for some amount of time, determines how you back up your data and applications. Also the cost of restoring or recreating the data if lost for good, (i.e., how often you back them up and to what system or location).

The first steps in developing a backup strategy are recovery time and recovery point objectives, and application. That is, especially in an enterprise backup strategy.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) refers to the maximum period of time the company can afford to be without access to the data. Also the application time or how quickly recovery of the data and application is.

Recovery Point objective (RPO) refers to the amount of data your company can afford to lose. It also determines how often the data should be backed up to prevent further loss.

RTOs and RPOs can differ depending on the industry and the specific applications and data specifications. Mission-critical applications will have very small RTOs and RPOs. That is because downtime could result in significant financial losses. (i.e. such as a major retailer’s online shopping system or an airline reservation system)

Other factors that influence your backup and restore technology selection include your need for scalability, data protection, and even physical distance.

To recover from a local power outage or disaster, the business may need to keep backups far enough away from the production infrastructure.

Backup Solutions

In general, there are four types of backup. Let’s learn about them below:

Tape Drive

The oldest backup medium still in use today is a tape drive. Tape provides low-cost, high-capacity data storage. But its slow read/write performance makes it unsuitable for incremental backup. Or any other backup system requiring backups whenever data changes.

Tape is often more susceptible to physical wear and damage than other storage media. So it must be carefully monitored and checked to ensure that it can function when needed.

External Drives (HDD or SDD)

The majority of data nowadays is backed up to a hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SDD), whether it’s a standalone drive or a backup server.

External HDD and SDD drives have much faster read/write speeds than tape, making them a better option for backups that need to be continuously updated and have a shorter RTO/RPO.

A minor disadvantage of both HDDs and SDDs is that neither is truly scalable—if more backup capacity is required, more disks must be purchased.

Backup Servers

A backup server is a dedicated server designed to back up files from several client computers connected to the same network. The server consists of a large amount of disk storage and backup scheduling and management tools. Backup server disks are often designed for redundancy to protect backup data and keep backups running even if a disk fails.

While an on-site backup server can be a cost-effective backup option for a small business, it does not secure backup data from local outages or natural disasters.

Backing Up To the Cloud

All data and applications are backed up to a virtual backup server at a remote data centre. That server is hosted by the business, a hosting provider, or a cloud services provider via a corporate network or internet connection.

The most versatile form of backup is usually cloud backup. It can backup files, application data, and even entire physical or virtual servers. Backups can be scheduled as regularly or infrequently as required. For protection against local power outages or disasters, cloud storage eliminates the need to physically transfer backup media to another location (and the relatively bigger RTOs and RPOs that can result).

Backup Methods

When selecting a backup system, consider the factors mentioned previously. But also privacy and confidentiality requirements, retention rules, what is being backed up, and, of course, budget.

No Backups – Pay the Price

Backups should be made on a consistent, regular basis for the best results. That will reduce the amount of data lost between backups. 

Any data loss can endanger personal identity, destroy family history, and even put a company out of business. 

A strong backup policy and sound procedures would undoubtedly secure confidential business data in the event of a hardware failure, hacker infiltration, or several other risks to digitally stored information.

This is why backing up your data regularly is so important. Contact our team to learn more about cloud services and the solutions that we offer!

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager