ITCS Blog

What Smart E-Commerce Solutions are on the Horizon?

Online retail sales have burgeoned in recent years. It now seems as if there is an application for every product and service on the market. All experts agree that these trends show no signs of slowing down and if anything, they are expected to increase. The same holds true when examining the meteoric rise of user-friendly and cutting-edge ecommerce platforms. After all, such systems are absolutely necessary to secure online sales and to proactively address any issues that a customer may have. This is why a great deal of thought has been placed into adopting some of the latest and most innovative smart technologies. So, how has the e-commerce sector evolved and what interesting amenities might be looming just over the horizon?

Smart Systems and Artificial Intelligence

The role of artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to gain ground as computing power increases alongside the demand for more intuitive UX architecture. How might some of these transformations translate to the end user? While no one possesses the proverbial looking glass, some features that are likely to emerge in the coming years include:

  • Smart chatbots to partially replace human interactions.
  • Facial recognition technology to augment existing security protocols.
  • Marketing campaigns based solely off of the buying habits of the client.
  • A more accurate collection and interpretation of big data to hone advertising strategies.

It is therefore clear to see that the role of “smart” systems involves much more than architecture alone. The main goal is to provide the end user with a more targeted and interact experience than in the past. This will breed loyalty over time and encourage future purchases. However, smarter and more flexible are not always better. We need to embrace a careful balance between technological advancement and a user-friendly e-commerce system.

Designed for the Individual as Opposed to the Coding Expert

The first e-commerce providers tended to adopt a “one-size-fits-all” approach. In other words, they were comparatively inflexible in regards to their ability to be moulded around the discrete needs of a specific organisation. They instead offered “blanket” approaches and naturally, some freelance businesses fell through the digital gaps. It did not take long for developers to realise this oversight. This is why we have seen the emergence of more targeted and user-friendly solutions such as those which are currently offered by Shopify.

To put it simply, it is much better to work smart as opposed to hard. As the number of individual entrepreneurs continues to grow, we should expect e-commerce software to adapt to this inexorable momentum. This ultimately signifies more flexible architecture, drag-and-drop functionality, 24-hour customer support solutions, and websites that can be modified on the fly as opposed to requiring the use of a dedicated IT expert. Larger enterprises as well as small businesses should both benefit as a result. While the digital future is not set in stone, it is likely that these trends will continue to emerge (to the benefit of everyone involved).

WebWhat Smart E-Commerce Solutions are on the Horizon?

World Password Day should Be Every Day!

It’s World Password Day: when you look back – even as little as ten years – cyber security has never been as important as it is today. Businesses and Consumers both store some of their most sensitive details live behind online password protection. Financial information, confidential files, official documentation, personal photos, the list goes on. With intimidating statistics coming out about hackers and business all the time (Did you know there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds?), it seems that keeping sensitive online data safe needs to be at the top of everyone’s priorities.

With this in mind, World Password Day seems to present the perfect opportunity to be diligent about ensuring our passwords are secure. A few tips to keep in mind include:

1. Make your passwords 9-10 characters long:

Most websites recommend an 8 character minimum, but we would recommend using a minimum of 9 or 10 characters on all passwords.

2. Check your password vulnerability:

Go to a site such as haveibeenpwned.com – this is a completely free site built by one of Microsoft’s Regional Directors. Type in one of your passwords and see if your chosen code-word have been compromised in a breach and are generally available to hackers. If they are, change them wherever they are used.

3. The No-Name Rule – but expanded:

Do not use common passwords, and do not use basic personal details within your passwords. Info such as your birthday, family members’ names or pets’ names is easily guessable. According to security company SplashData the two most commonly used passwords are “123456”, and “password” – a dream for hackers and fraudsters.

4. Complex is Best:

Strong passwords normally incorporate a mixture of the following:

  • Uppercase characters
  • Lowercase characters
  • Base 10 digits (0 through 9)
  • Nonalphanumeric characters: ~!@#$%^&*_-+=`|\(){}[]:;”‘<>,.?/

5. Lather, Rinse… but DO NOT REPEAT:

Do Not Re-Use Passwords! Password reuse is extremely common. It’s extremely risky, but it’s a regular occurrence, because it’s easier to remember one or two passwords, and people aren’t aware of the potential impact. But, repeating the same password across several sites means if a hacker discovers just one password, all personal info is suddenly at risk. Therefore, it is crucial to diversify your passcodes to ensure hackers cannot obtain access to all of your accounts at once, should one password be somehow compromised.

Overall, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that your passwords are as secure as possible, every day – not just on World Password Day. CyberCrime is only escalating, and neglecting the defence of your network is simply allowing your data to be hacked. Secure your passwords now, and make sure you keep vigilant to the risks that we all face.

If you have any questions or concerns around computer security, please don’t hesitate to contact the ITCS support desk on 08456 444 200, we are always happy to help.

WebWorld Password Day should Be Every Day!

5 Reasons Businesses are still Afraid of Social Media, and why they shouldn’t be

We speak to many businesses every day, who are still afraid of opening their doors to social media marketing.

These clients won’t always say outright that they are unsure of the platforms, but will instead say things like:

“Our industry doesn’t lend itself to social media”,

or something about being an industrial business, such as:

“We’re B2B, not B2C – we don’t need social media.”

These conversations differ slightly, but generally go the same way. Reason after reason. Excuse after excuse. We’re not on social media because. . . we don’t do social media because we. . . it’s only for young people. . .

We do understand this. When you are a business owner, you’re already juggling a million balls up in the air. Often, the suggestion that you add another ball like social media can elicit a groan.

But, social media isn’t going away. Your customers and potential customers are on social media. And so are your competitors. Social platforms help you connect with your target market, allow you to increase awareness about your brand, as well as boost your leads and sales. With more than three billion people around the world using social media every month, it’s no passing trend. In fact, social media is one of  the fastest growing, and arguably, most innovative ways of marketing your business today. Below are some of the main reasons we hear daily about why a business isn’t implementing a social media strategy, along with ITCS’ reasoning behind why they should be.

1) We’d have no control over what others said about us:

This is probably the most common uncertainty we hear. It’s true: Social media allows everyone to be a journalist. It’s a completely public platform. Provide a bad client experience, and they will quickly take to their Twitter or Facebook feed to express their disappointment.

Our answer to this is always the same:

They are going to say it anyway. 

This may sound harsh; but even before social media came to its prominence, word-of-mouth still spread like wildfire. Whether you have a social presence or not, people will still complain about a bad service experience, and tell as many of their friends as they can. So, with that in mind – social media complaints can be a golden opportunity to control your narrative as a brand. It can allow you to showcase your customer centricity and brand values, and potentially quickly change a bad review into an improved experience. For tips on how to handle social media complaints, see this article by the Social Media Examiner.

Build an active networking base online to ensure that you can communicate quickly and respond to the conversation going on. Present your own perspective on the topic. Be part of the conversation, and don’t ignore it.

2) Social Media marketing can’t be measured:

Our answer to this? Yes it can! 

How do you measure a billboard? Do you know how many people drove by, read it, and bought your product? How do you measure a TV, newspaper or radio ad? Can you calculate how many heard, watched, or read the ad, were swayed by its’ message and bought as a direct result of it? How many people never even saw it because they changed the channels?

It’s true that measuring the results of your social media marketing campaign can be challenging, because there is not a clear path to measure true ROI. However, you can easily measure engagement. Platforms are now becoming more sophisticated – you can now see on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn how many people engage with your content. Social media can tell you how long someone watched a video or visited a website, when they clicked away, and where they went. In contrast, mainstream media can only guess at the numbers of viewers, listeners, and readers. We aren’t saying that these forms of marketing aren’t effective, but they should definitely be integrated with online channels in order to be able to truly measure customers’ engagement with your brand.

Related image3) I don’t want my staff on their phones all day: 

According to recent studies, UK employees spend nearly 3 hours a week on social media – so we understand this concern. However – as we stated earlier, social media isn’t going away. So our answer to this?

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em:

Rather than reprimand your employees for all the time they’re probably already spending on social media, why not harness that time spent online for promoting your business? Encourage them to share pictures, blog articles, an other similar activities. If you are a B2B service business, employee advocacy on platforms like LinkedIn can actually be a very effective lead generation tool.

4) Paid advertising is expensive:

We also understand this one. It’s true – poorly targeted social media adverts with no strategy can be costly. When it comes to advertising on social media, it is best to proceed with caution and with a budget in mind, as spending more money doesn’t necessarily equate to greater success.

However, when done right, paid advertising on social media can be really effective. Each platform is designed to facilitate the goals of your business, such as brand awareness, lead generation, website traffic, and more.

Our recommendation:

We recommend planning out paid advertising. Work out who your target audience is: who do you want to reach and how you want to reach those people? Then, you will be able to  decide how to spend your advertising budget.

5) I have no time and I’m really not ‘techy’:

This is one uncertainty that is both extremely common and totally understandable. There are two elements to our advice here. Busy business owners can find social media a struggle: It can even be frustrating. You may have the the best of intentions, and the desire to be helpful and visible on social media. But real time posting throughout the day, lack of resources and having to split yourself into 10 different roles at once, means that real time social media just isn’t realistic for a busy business owner or Managing Director.

Our time-saving solution:

Schedule your posts.

Social media scheduling, quite simply, saves time. No more having to get to your computer at a certain time each day, no more missed opportunities. Scheduling your social content in advance lets you take care of everything scheduling-related in one go, and then it’s out of sight, out of mind. Then, you only have to keep up with notifications and engagement with posts.

Our tech novice solution:

Ask ITCS for help.

This is for those who simply do not know how to use social media. You’ve read through this article, you agree with all of the points put across, and yet you are still feeling disheartened. You don’t know where to begin, and you don’t have the time to sit down and learn from the beginning. Well – we can help there. We build a bespoke SEO and Digital Marketing Strategy to enable you to continue doing what you do best – running your business. At ITCS, we’ll work alongside your business every step of the way. We will get your website seen by more people, and make sure it appeals to all your potential customers.

Rounding Up:

The power of social media is huge, and it can open the doors of success for your business when used in the right manner. Benefits generated are cost effective and measurable and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be using them.

Web5 Reasons Businesses are still Afraid of Social Media, and why they shouldn’t be

Tips for Cutting IT Costs in Your Company

A part of your business streamlining processes that takes time to develop is your cost-cutting strategy. Over the course of months and years in your industry, you’ll become increasingly aware of the inputs that you’re paying to keep your company afloat. What you may not be so aware of is the fact that the costs of your IT systems – perhaps the most important and biggest source of your business expenditure – can be reduced with smart planning.

This article provides tips to help you cut these hefty costs.

Modern Software Solutions

Software packages are a part of your obligatory expenditure in business. You don’t simply require hardware and computing power – you also need the programs that’ll help you perform whichever process your business is concerned with. With software developers quickly moving to produce the best solutions for businesses large and small, there’s healthy competition to take advantage of in this space.

Whether you take it upon yourself to personally monitor the emerging tech scene, or you rely on IT specialist advisors to do it for you, it’s fundamentally important that you keep your software up-to-date and effective. The best software packages – offering the best balance between investment and outputs – are centralised, allowing you to process a number of different functions through the same program. These are easily onboarded as third-party applications, with data transfer capabilities to ensure that you don’t lose your past work.

Energy Usage

Computing power relies on a constant source of energy and, especially in larger offices maintaining a number of devices between working hours, this can add up substantially. You can enact a number of strategies to keep your energy costs down – the simplest of which being to ensure that no device is left running unnecessarily. Likewise, purchasing efficient hardware with low-energy cooling systems is another way to reduce the energy used by your computers.

Meanwhile, you can also cut costs with the energy supplier themselves. Use this site to find a comparison of utility prices in the UK, with business-specific packages competing for your attention and custom on-screen. This is the simplest way to reduce your expenditure on energy bills, and will help you make cost-efficient use of the tools that your staff use every day.

Upgrade Wisely

Every company must intermittently upgrade their hardware, which is a costly process that you’re unable to avoid as computing systems slowly become either obsolete or incredibly slow. When you are forced to consider a wholesale upgrade to your computing systems, you’re faced with a choice – whether you invest in a long-term solution with plug-in extras you can onboard over time, or a shorter-term investment that gets your company running smoothly on new hardware.

In either case, you’re going to want to talk with IT specialists, and monitor tech sites, in order to find the best deals on your new office equipment. Bear in mind that many providers will provide discounts for multiple computer purchases, so sometimes it pays to buy in bulk to achieve the discounts that’ll cut your IT costs.

These tips will help you cut the IT costs in your company dramatically, while maintaining the same performance levels that helps your staff make the most of the technology available to them in the workplace.

WebTips for Cutting IT Costs in Your Company

Conquering Kilimanjaro

Conquering Kilimanjaro:

7 Life Lessons Learned by climbing the World’s Highest Free-Standing Mountain

Managing Director of ITCS, Brian Stokes, has returned from scaling the World’s Highest Free-Standing Mountain. Originally from the Afan Valley, and always looking for ways to give back to the community, Brian pushed himself to the extreme, with a core team of 11 people, to raise money for LATCH: Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity. Here are some of his thoughts upon his safe return:

 

I just wanted to say a massive thank you, for all the support and well wishes I received to climb Kilimanjaro. I’m back in one piece, and conquered the mountain. Not all our group made it, and some had to be practically carried to the summit, so it was no easy task.

It was a tough challenge, but a very memorable and rewarding one. Watching the sunrise over Africa from nearly 20,000ft was like nothing else, but I believe setting challenges however big or small, is a good thing to do. Pushing boundaries, and striving towards our goals is important in life. Our work, personal and family life, can all be effected in a good way with a positive mind-set.

Thoughts from the mountain….

 

1. I can do this.

The way we talk to ourselves impacts what we actually achieve. If you tell yourself that you can do something, chances are that you will, even if you don’t accomplish it straightaway.

Kilimanjaro climbing

2. Challenge accepted.

Next time someone throws an unfamiliar or tricky task your way, don’t throw it back at them – embrace it. Even if you mess up along the way, you can be sure that you’ll do better the next time.

3. Work hard for it.

You’re unlikely to reach any goals without the effort to match. Work hard, even a small bit at a time, and you’ll be able to enjoy the rewards.

4. No such thing as perfect.

Don’t let the idea of perfection get in the way of getting things done. Perfection can sometimes be an illusion; what matters most is your effort.

5. Be open to new ways of doing things.

You can never be sure of how something is going to pan out if you’ve never tried it before. Before assuming that something will never work, ask yourself: ‘What do I have to do to make this work?’

 

Kilimanjaro selfie

6. Don’t let setbacks get you down. 

Setbacks don’t mean you’ve failed, just that you need to try a different approach. Take feedback from the experience on board, and make changes accordingly. You can learn just as much from a mistake as you can from success.

7. Positivity is everything.

By staying positive, you not only live a happier life, you become a good person to be around. When things get tough, it is the positive people that we all look to in order to get passed the situation. Be an influencer with a positive attitude, and watch the effect it has on everyone around you.

If we want to learn new things in life, we have to embrace challenges head-on and to treat any setbacks as a learning experience, never a failure. Climbing Kilimanjaro was similar in a lot of ways to running a business, it’s only possible by surrounding yourself with like-minded people and having a positive can do attitude, a growth mind-set and self-belief that you can make it work.

There’s still time to donate to Brian’s very worthy cause: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brian-stokes-kilimanjaro 

You can see some more images from his amazing trek below:

  • beginning of climb
  • view Kilimanjaro Brian Stokes
  • Kilimanjaro selfie
  • Kilimanjaro tent
  • surveying Kilimanjaro
WebConquering Kilimanjaro

Norsk Hydro: The ultimate example in handling a data breach

We regularly post about being prepared for a cyber attack in your business, but the sad fact is, that sometimes, they happen. 
So, if you’re hit by a Cyber Attack, what do you do?

The Norsk Hydro Cyber Attack: March 18th 2019

Norsk Hydro, one of the world’s largest global producers of aluminium, suffered production outages after a cyber attack affected operations across Europe and the U.S. Hitting 160 plants worldwide, many branches had no choice but to switch to manual operations, and several of its metal extrusion plants used to make components for car manufacturers and other industries were shut.
Not only this, but the company’s new CEO had only started one day before. Talk about the ultimate test.
It’s clearly a situation that no business wants to find itself in. But the way in which the company reacted, we believe, was extremely impressive and should serve as an example for all business. In fact, many industry professionals have agreed that both operationally and from a PR perspective, the company’s reaction may well become industry standard.
Here are some of the main takeaways that other businesses can take from the attack:

1) Honesty is the best Policy

One of the most commendable aspects of Hydro’s response to its’ data breach was its transparency: Hydro didn’t shy away from admitting it had been a victim of a targeted ransomware attack. The company utilised daily webcasts and social media posts to keep business partners and the media informed about what was going on. With its email systems down, the company used Facebook as a main source for communication. They also used a redirect on their website, sending users to a temporary Azure hosted area:

holding page norsk hydro

The temporary holding page that Norsk Hydro Sent users to after the attack

This allowed them to control the narrative from the outset: The company has been completely transparent about the scale of the incident, constantly reassuring stakeholders and media about their efforts to tackle it.

The result? Well, most tellingly, the company’s share price has remained more or less constant throughout the attack’s aftermath. Despite such major upheaval, insurance company RMS believe that Hydro behaved exceptionally in terms of its communication of the breach:

“One of the critical factors in cyber breach response and recovery is executive action, including public communications, accountability, and responsibility,” RMS said.

2) Forewarned is definitely Forearmed:

It’s well known among businesses that cyber attacks are now a ‘when’ not ‘if’ scenario. Therefore, being prepared for incidents such as this should now be commonplace.

At a news conference, Hydro’s finance director Eivind Kallevik said that the company would not pay the extortionists:

We have good back-up routines. Our main strategy is to reinstall data from the back-up systems.”

Any business would hate to find itself in the position of having to shutdown operations for any longer than absolutely necessary following an attack. Hydro was the ideal example of a business that is prepared: it had secure backups in place, and mechanisms for restoring impacted systems. It was also insured against such attacks.

It would be prudent and good practice for any sized business to build its’ cyber defences and segment networks, to reduce the chances of an attack successfully permeating your organisation. Ensure that you have a secure, working backups of your critical data so you can get back up and running as soon as possible if an incident does occur.

3) Upgrade to the Cloud:

Unlike some other victims of cyber attacks in the past, the fact that Hydro had already migrated its email systems to the cloud meant that even if its computers were down, workers were still able to communicate via smartphones and tablets.

Cloud hosting not only serves as a disaster recovery solution, but allows portability: everyone in your business can access data across multiple offices or different locations on the go.

4) A business is only as good as its’ people:

Hydro released a Youtube video on April 2, explaining the attack. In it, the company states how its employees were prepared to do whatever it took to get the company back up and running: ‘with a tremendous effort of our colleagues…the plant has managed to get production back up to 100% normal, despite operating in manual mode’. Staff spent hours building a manual drawing archive so that orders could be fulfilled. ‘Everyone wants to help,’ the video states, ‘we do not even have to ask people’.

Did you know that globally, human error is the second largest cause of data breaches? At Hydro, staff are experienced and prepared, so they were able to be proactive and run manually for a while.

Watch their video here – it really provides an insight into the dedication of the company’s staff:

Ensure your personnel are clued up and prepared for a security breach, and know exactly what to do in the event of a cyber attack.

Rounding up:

LockerGoga is a particularly nasty form of ransomware as it has the capability for destructive erasure (also known as “wiping”). The attack on Hydro could have caused severe damage to industrial control systems, had the ransomware gained network access. As the Insurance Journal said, “If it had become necessary to do an emergency shutdown of critical plant, this could have led to a very costly recovery operation”.  This actually happened at a German steel mill in December 2014.

It is almost certain that there will still be a battle at the organisation before everything is returned to normal, but you cannot fail to be impressed by what the global company have achieved so far. They should serve as an example to us all in how to prepare, and react to, a cyber security attack.

WebNorsk Hydro: The ultimate example in handling a data breach

FAQs about the VoIP Phone System

With the Phaseout of ISDN Systems imminent, the technology that we are using to communicate is changing.  Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the future of business telephony.

ITCS’s dedicated account managers have been working hard to speak to both new and existing customers about future-proofing their phone systems and answering any questions they may have about VoIP (voice over internet protocol). A common hesitation with business owners, is that after years of doing things the same way, your team may be hesitant to embrace a switch a new VoIP communications system. Both you and your staff may have concerns about the new technology, and what the change will mean for you all on a daily basis.

We have put together a few of the most commonly asked questions about VoIP systems, and have answered them as clearly as possible to reassure you and your staff that the transition is well worth it.

1. What is the difference between VoIP and a traditional phone line?

The biggest difference between VoIP and traditional calling is the phone lines that are used. Traditional lines use an analog signal, and VoIP uses a digital signal. Do you remember the big Digital TV Switchover in 2012? The ISDN Phaseout is a similar concept; these legacy systems are out of date, as are the associated maintenance and running costs.

A digital signal is more efficient than analogue, and costs less money. Anyone who has used a program like Skype has used VoIP to communicate.

2. But my phone system works just fine, why do I need to change it?

VoIP technology can provide businesses with the best platform for continued future development, on a modern and flexible infrastructure. VoIP brings with it a multitude of benefits such as more mobility, cost savings, and better call quality.

3. What sort of features do VoIP systems bring to the business?

The range of features available on a VoIP phone are one of the main reasons that businesses upgrade to the system. VoIP systems include dynamic call handling, pre-recorded messages and seamless transfers at the touch of a button. The systems completely erase the barrier between phone systems and internet browsers.  Engage in video calls with any compatible device, incorporate other communication services like instant messaging, teleconferencing, receive voicemail and faxes via email, and much more.

4. Do I have to know and be re-trained in complicated software just to make a phone call?

Although feature rich and completely modern, VoIP telephones function much the same way as an old fashioned handset. You can configure the phone with the same key presses to pick up, and transfer calls. ITCS will provide you and your team with full support so that you’re confident with your new system. We provide training, number porting, provisioning and assistance. This will give you complete peace of mind.

5. What equipment is required to use VoIP?

Besides the cost savings, setting up and maintaining a VoIP system is a much simpler job than with traditional telephone systems. This is because there is so little on site equipment compared to traditional ISDN networks. Only pay for the users you need.

6. Is VoIP an expensive investment?

The expense of VoIP systems is a very common myth. In fact, with VoIP you’ll save money. Enjoy lower international calling rates, free calling features, as well as lower monthly service costs. The feature-rich element of VoIP systems means that you can get rid of single use devices and enjoy voice, video, fax, voicemail and more in one device.

7. I’ve heard that VoIP sound quality is really unreliable. Is that true?

A persistent myth surrounding VoIP is that because it relies on internet connections, the voice quality will suffer. This myth has really stuck around from the very early days of VoIP, when networks were slower and less sophisticated. Broadband has come on a long way, but as with many things in business and in life, you get what you pay for.

In other words, the better your business broadband connection, the higher quality your VoIP telephone system is going to be.

Current internet and 4G connections represent a huge leap in technological progress, but for anyone considering VoIP, it’s a case of ensuring you have the bandwidth to support your network.

8. Is VoIP secure?

We all know that hacking and cybercrime is regularly making headlines in modern business. But, as long as your internal network is secure, then your phone network will be too. As long as you have a good Disaster Recovery System in place and you are using a trusted IT Support Provider, the risk of falling victim to hacking or cyber-crime is minimal. ITCS ensure that security is a priority when we look at your system in readiness for VoIP.

9. I don’t run a large business – is VoIP right for me?

You don’t have to be a large corporation to benefit from VoIP. It is a truly versatile communications solution. SMEs and startups can benefit because it’s so easy to set-up and use, and you can add new phones as your business grows. Plus you can benefit from various business features that come with the system, adding to the professionalism of your company.

Are you ready to discover more about upgrading your business phone system to a VoIP solution? Do you have more questions? The ITCS team are always happy to help. Call us today on 08456 444 200, or email: info@itcs.co.uk. You can also fill out a contact form.

WebFAQs about the VoIP Phone System

Managing Director Takes on World’s Highest Free-Standing Mountain in aid of LATCH

Standing at 5,895 metres high – Kilimanjaro remains one of the world’s great challenges. Brian Stokes will be taking on the gruelling charity trek this April in aid of LATCH. On April 5th 2019 he will push himself to the extreme, with a core team of 11 people, to raise money for LATCH Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity.

Who Are LATCH?

LATCH  is currently supporting an amazingly brave little girl from Maesteg, Amira Barry. Amira was diagnosed with Leukaemia last year, and is currently receiving support from LATCH. The fantastic help and support provided by LATCH has driven Brian and ITCS to raise money to help the charity continue its excellent work.

The Kilimanjaro trek is set to take 7 days, where on average 44% of people fail, mainly due to altitude sickness. This is no mean feat, and a real challenge.

“The idea is to raise awareness around this vital support for Amira’s family,” says Brian, “LATCH Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity needs to raise, on average, £800,000 a year to cover the costs of supporting families like Amira’s. So, we wanted to test ourselves to the limit, and see what we are capable of, whilst raising money for a really worthy cause.”

The trip has been entirely self-funded by each individual, so donations are well received and go entirely towards the charity, not paying for any part of the expedition. The training has been well underway for many months, along with numerous trips to the doctors for a huge list of jabs. The malaria tablets and altitude pills are all ready to go – now they need as much support and encouragement as possible.

You can donate to Brian’s cause by visiting his JustGiving page – every donation, no matter how large or small, is gratefully received.

WebManaging Director Takes on World’s Highest Free-Standing Mountain in aid of LATCH

ISDN Phaseout 2020: Threat Or Opportunity?

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It is common knowledge amongst telecommunications experts that ISDN is a dying technology, and is planning an ISDN phaseout beginning next year.

BT will begin with a cease in supply in 2020. They intend on moving to a full migration by 2025, permanently switching off ISDN networks. The BT ISDN switch off could affect many businesses – especially if you’re unaware of the phaseout, and are looking to invest in or upgrade your current business telephone system.

ISDN’s days are numbered. Is your business ready?

What is ISDN?

ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network) is a telecommunications technology that enables the transmission of digital data over standard phone lines. Known as the original high-speed internet service, it can be used for voice calls as well as data transfers. It sparked high-speed internet development between service providers in the 1990’s and revolutionised internet use.

ISDN is a communications network that relies heavily on physical infrastructure; specifically, copper wiring. It came to prominence because it provided the opportunity to transmit voice and data over the same lines. However, because of its reliance on physical infrastructure to manage calls and additional functionality via a PBX (or multiple), this takes up space within business premises and requires resources to administer and maintain them. Similarly, it is hard to add and remove new lines to an ISDN network because it requires the physical addition and removal.

Why the ISDN phaseout is important for my business:

The BT ISDN phaseout marks the next evolution of telecommunications technology. Despite being continually updated, ISDN phone lines are still cost far too much to maintain and run. Although the BT ISDN end of life of 2025 has not been set in stone, businesses will be unable to buy systems that use ISDN after 2020. If you currently have a traditional ISDN/PSTN based system, now is a great time to look into alternatives – and what many businesses don’t realise is just how beneficial the new systems are.

Hosted Telephony – what is it?

There are two future-ready solutions storming the market right now; the one we will focus on is Hosted Telephony.

Hosted telephony is a complete business phone system, delivered over the internet and provided by a host and/or telephony company.

ISDN phaseout VOIP ITCS

IP Technology:

IP (internet protocol) technology is incredible advantageous for business, and many are beginning to realise the endless benefits. When it comes to facilitating communications, organisations are able to use IP technology build a single infrastructure that supports both their voice and data communications needs.

After the ISDN phaseout, all phone lines will be superseded by IP technology, which is vastly superior to what we have used in the past.

What is VoIP? We’ll tell you: 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a telecommunications technology that allows users to make calls using the internet, rather than using traditional systems. VoIP works by converting sound into digital voice communication, and then transferring it through Internet broadband. Using a VoIP system has several benefits for many businesses:

1. It’s Cost Effective

Most importantly, the cost of using a VoIP telephone is much cheaper than using a conventional phone. Making long distance phone calls are also cheaper when using a VoIP provider. There’s no need for masses of on-site equipment either; only pay for as many users as you need.

2. Easy setup & maintenance

Besides the cost savings, setting up and maintaining a VoIP system is a much simpler job than with traditional telephone systems.

This is because there is so little on site equipment compared to traditional ISDN networks.

3. Greater Control

Furthermore, take complete control of your phone system with an extensive range of call handling and management features. These are all operated through an easy-to-use web interface. Ideal for home workers or multiple sites.

4. Freedom & Portability

VoIP technology is completely adaptable and flexible. This means you can easily add and remove users as you need. More importantly, physical location doesn’t matter either. Regardless of where you are, if you have Internet access, there should not be any problems in terms of costs and connections. In addition, VoIP systems are accessible via email or while you are travelling. Simply take your headset or IP phone, and you can contact staff or clients with a low cost call.

5. Provide better customer service to your clients

Enhance the service you can provide to your customers at all times. VoIP systems include dynamic call handling, pre-recorded messages and seamless transfers at the touch of a button.

6. Reliable and Secure

We provide full support including: training, number porting, provisioning and assistance. This will give you complete peace of mind.

Summing Up:

As you can see, the great BT ISDN switch off is as much an opportunity as it is a problem. The one thing we know for certain is that BT ISDN end of life is around the corner. Make sure you’re prepared for it. Make the ISDN Phaseout an opportunity for your business to cut costs and thrive.

Ready to find out what the advantages of VoIP for your company are? To discuss your particular requirements, or to discover more about the systems we offer, contact us by filling out our enquiry form or call us on 08456 444 200 for advice today. You can also email info@itcs.co.uk.

                                       

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