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Switches with Integrated Voice Features Speed New VoIP Installations

Small business switches with auto-deployment features remove the complexity of rolling out IP-based voice systems

If you’ve decided to upgrade your legacy phone system to a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) solution, you want to make sure that installation is as smooth and trouble-free as possible. A good place to start is with your network switch. As the traffic controller of your network, the switch connects different devices and allows them to communicate with each other. To make rolling out IP-based voice easier, you can choose a managed or smart switch with integrated automatic deployment features and built-in configuration tools.

Several of Cisco’s small business switches are designed to simplify VoIP deployments as well as make day-to-day network operations easier. The Cisco 200 Series Smart Switches, the Cisco Small Business 300 Series Managed Switches, and the new Cisco 500 Series Stackable Managed Switches include auto-deployment features that remove most of the complexity of installing voice equipment. Each of these small business switches include four integrated, easy-to-use configuration and management tools and integrated features: Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) and Link-Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP), Auto SmartPorts, Voice Services Discovery Protocol (VSDP), and Cisco Configuration Assistant (CCA) Used together, these tools can result in zero-touch deployments of voice equipment.

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Smartphones are business tools, too

Learn how you can make employees more productive with their mobile devices

Smartphone usage—and the expectations around smartphones—are changing rapidly. Average smartphone usage nearly tripled in 2011, and by the end of 2012, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth. By 2016 there will be an estimated 1.4 mobile devices per person. Given the rise of smartphones, it’s not surprising that people rely on their mobile devices for more and more of their daily interactions, including business communications, whether at work, at home, and on the road. In a Cisco report, 46 percent of people surveyed expect to be able to access their corporate network from their personal mobile device.

However, there’s more than just flexibility accompanying the BYOD trend. These shifting expectations about connectivity also come with a host of decisions for small business. For example, do you have the network infrastructure in place to enable your employees to use their mobile devices for business communications? Do you have a wireless device usage policy? Are your VPN connections secure? And when your employees do connect to the workplace via a mobile device, do they have access to products and tools to help them do their jobs?

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Network Got You Down? A Support Contract Can Help

April 26, 2012 at 8:00 am PST

The right service plan can maximize network uptime and minimize lost revenues

New products and technologies, increasing mobility among employees, the need for round-the-clock access to company data and resources—these are just some of the factors driving small businesses’s growing dependence on their networks. This makes network downtime costly for any small business. According to Infonetics Research, unplanned network downtime costs companies an average of 3.6 percent revenue per year. And that doesn’t include the incalculable cost of damage to your business’s reputation caused by the downtime.

To minimize network downtime and ensure your network is available for employees to connect, collaborate, and communicate with customers and partners as well as each other, you may want to consider a support contract. A service plan will not only help protect your company’s technology investment, but it can also help save lost revenue and customers. Read More »

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Supersizing Your Small Business

Look around at most tech news lately and you’ll find four consistent trends: Cloud, Mobility, Social Media, and Big Data. Talk to analysts and you find that those four actually break into pairs: Cloud and Mobility; Social Media and Big Data. And what becomes apparent is that each second half of the pairs is responsible for accelerating the combination of the two.

Essentially, mobility has sparked the cloud imperative and the cloud has given mobility greater value. One of the more compelling aspects of this is how cloud actually helps level the playing field for businesses, rendering labels such as SMB or Enterprise irrelevant at times.

Enter social media. Social media has evolved to become a necessary tool for SMBs. Yelp is now the de facto standard of rating businesses; Twitter has become an effective marketing tool to spread news quickly and Facebook lets businesses develop communities. So, while Cloud/mobility is interesting on its own, social media makes cloud/mobility imperative.

At the same time, cloud/mobility has an accelerant effect on social media. It’s what enables happy customers to recommend your place of business while on the go. Similarly, to take advantage of point-of-sale customer enthusiasm—and build on the momentum—the best way to do that is to offer wireless access so your customers can Tweet, Facebook, Yelp and employ any other number of social media to give props to your business.   

But it doesn’t end there. If all you do with all that great data is conclude that your business is popular, you’re missing a big learning opportunity. “Big Data,” which refers to the wealth of information that’s flowing out there, is yet another important way for you to identify the key differentiators that can help your business grow.  It’s no longer enough to simply say that your business has 3.5 stars on Yelp. You need to understand that customers that give your business 4 stars, speak glowingly of your dinner ambiance and wait staff while your 2-star customers complain about long lines and grumpy staff at lunch. It’s this color inside the lines that really helps you see the big picture—with its details.

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, last year’s mobile data traffic was eight times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000. Mobility, Cloud, and Social Media are all fueling the data explosion. Remember: Each can push your business to new levels—by helping you operate faster and more cost efficiently with greater reach, while gaining a greater understanding of market segment. Plus, these key elements put greater power in the hands of employees to get their jobs done and in the hands of customers to deepen their relationship with your business. It’s up to you to harness that power.

Time to level that playing field.

Say What? Clear Communication Is Key to Small Business Success

New and updated Cisco voice products simplify communication, improve productivity

Communication: It’s critical to any small business. Your employees need to be able to communicate effectively and clearly with customers and partners as well as with each other. But with employees often away from their desks or working in dynamic office arrangements, communication has gotten more complicated and that can impact their productivity.

Cisco recently expanded and updated its IP voice and UC solutions with features and functionality that simplify small business voice communications and improve employee productivity. New products include SPA512G and SPA514G IP phones, SPA112 and SPA122 Analog Telephone Adapters, and Wireless-N Bridge for Phone Adapters as well as an updated version of the Cisco UC320W unified communications solution.

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