unified communications

Unified Business Communication FAQ

What Is Ucaas?

Unified Communications, as a Service, is a communication service offering that combines multiple streams of communication and opens up some new ones. For end-users, it puts all emails, voicemails, calls and texts in a single queue. 

This allows users to sort through any and all business communications in a single interface. 

At a glance, users can interact with various communication streams from both customers and co-workers. 

And because of the UCaaS mobile or PC app, the same experience can be accessed from anywhere.

Why Do I Need It?

Because, frankly, you need more time. We all do. UCaaS will reduce the time you waste chasing down emails, listening to voicemails and prioritizing everything. Users can set up rules that will help automate their communications.

Using these tools, you can lessen the anxiety that you forgot to follow up on something important or that you lost track of information you can’t relocate. UCaaS can help make sure none of your messages falls through the cracks or gets lost in your inbox.

Will It Work With My Current Systems?

Yes. UCaaS works with most mobile or PC devices and your existing network and carrier. If your current network cannot support UCaaS, Forum Group can provide network services to enhance your network connectivity based upon the application.

That said, UCaaS is cloud-based, so whatever direction your organization is going, these tools can come with you. Also, it is completely scalable, so you can quickly and easily add users as your business grows.

Which Features Do I Need?

UCaaS has a lot of features: presence, chat, single number reach, video, mobility, unified messaging, contact centre, multi-media communication streams and more. Keeping them all straight and learning how they function can be intimidating. But when it comes to learning and benefiting from UCaaS, you’re not on your own.

Instead, this is where we at Forum Group come in. We can help you figure out what you need right now and what you might need for the future.

We will ask questions like:

  1. Do you have satellite offices around the country?
  2. Have you hired, or do you plan to hire, employees who will work from outside the office?
  3. Are you sensitive to capital expenditures?
  4. Are you focused on customer experience with your products?
  5. Are you an eight-to-five organization or do customers expect you to be available for questions 24/7?

With answers to these questions, we can help your organization choose the right UCaaS features.

Can I reuse my current investments?

It depends on the investment. For desk or cordless phones, reuse for UC is rare. Phones usually end up being the most dated, and often incompatible with modern platforms. The effort, time and money required to reuse them don’t pay off in user experience.

I always recommend a full assessment of all communication assets, including conference/boardroom video systems, paging systems, fax machines and even elevator phones. New UC phones often enable more effective ways to deliver the same capabilities while building a nimble foundation for the future.

How much bandwidth will we require?

Most reputable UC partners will offer tools to help you determine the amount of bandwidth usage. Inputs for the calculation include the number of users at each site, capabilities being deployed (i.e. voice, video) and how the proposed platform plans to deliver those capabilities.

What’s the best and most secure way to enable mobility?

Many companies choose UC because employees can work anywhere they have an Internet connection. However, security must be strategic. Traditional firewall and VPN technologies can potentially impact voice and video quality. Conversely, modern UC applications can encrypt all signalling and data streams natively.

The UC platform’s edge capabilities can enable secure authentication and access, with little delay to real-time streams.

Will I eliminate long-distance costs?

Not entirely. Long-distance costs will lessen because interoffice communication will be data network, rather than PSTN-based. Also, by introducing presence and IM, your employees will be making fewer calls to locate colleagues or subject matter experts.

If you enable federation to other companies, you can replace regular phone calls via PSTN with UC calls over the Internet. For calls made via the PSTN, the SIP Trunk service may come with free calling within boundaries – either provincial, national or North American. These boundaries are service provider dependent – not all offer the same capabilities.

What is Unified Communications? 

Unified Communications is the ongoing process of bringing together vendors, technologies, applications, processes, and users. It is the integration of all separate communications components into a homogeneous, efficient, productive user experience.

For example, Forum Group can combine your business phone solution with email, audio/video conferencing, IM chat, social media, your smartphone, and much more!

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What Does UC Bring to the Digital Workforce?

The term “Unified Communication” or “UC” describes not only how we connect different communication systems for the digital workforce, but collaboration tools too! That’s why you will often hear the phrase UC&C which simply means “Unified Communications and Collaboration”.

Seamless UC ensures a higher level of interaction throughout the globally dispersed workforce. It breaks down the silos between enterprise teams, and ensures that no matter where you work, you can still access the same secure system, equipped with:

In short, UC incorporates:

  • Messaging
  • Voice and video calling
  • Team collaboration
  • Video Conferencing
  • File sharing

What Are The Benefits of Unified Communications?

In a world defined by a dizzying mix of platforms designed to suit organisations spread across vast spaces, UC simplifies the world of work. The right UC platform gathers everything your employees need to connect, share, and work together on ideas in the same streamlined interface. The result?

  • Better productivity: Teams can connect however they feel most comfortable, using any device or medium they choose
  • Reduced costs: Because UC systems operate on the cloud, they allow companies to shift away from a Capex model, to an OpEx strategy with fewer initial expenses
  • Stronger performance: Because employees can both communicate, and collaborate in an instant, they can solve customer problems faster, and improve your business reputation
  • Enhanced user experience: A good UC strategy can delight your employees and even reduce turnover in your organisation, by giving people more freedom to work as they choose

Which Are The Benefits of UC for Small Businesses?

As small businesses struggle to boost their external connections with customers and enhance their internal communications among employees, UC is becoming a powerful solution for many companies.

UC can integrate desk phones, PCs, and mobile devices with a range of additional capabilities like voice recording, video calling, and instant messaging, so that anyone within a small organisation can connect with the right person, at the right time, using any device.

UC helps small businesses to keep their teams running smoothly with as little initial investment as possible. In fact, cloud-based UC services can even eliminate the traditional CapEx spend associated with on-premise communication. In the small business environment, UC:

  • Enhances productivity: Time is money, and in a small business space, there’s no money to waste. UC ensures that all your communications are accessible through the same streamlined interface, meaning that employees can work together faster, and more efficiently.
  • Promotes productivity: With UC, small businesses can give employees access to the tools they need to communicate efficiently whether they’re in the office, or on the move. The staff doesn’t have to be limited to waiting for emails or trying to connect through VoIP. They can engage in everything from video conferencing to persistent chat with IM.
  • Reduce office space costs: Small businesses are under incredible pressure to keep costs low. As remote working grows more popular, UC provides small companies with a cost-effective, and cloud-based way to access expertise from across the globe. With remote workers, firms don’t need to pay for as much physical office space, leading to reduced operating costs.

Why are headsets important?

Experience superior sound. The most obvious reason for this is to experience the greatly enhanced call clarity offered by UC. Anyone who has struggled with a cheap PC headset for VoIP will understand why this is so important!

While traditional telephony is transmitted in the narrowband frequency range (300 Hz – 3,600 kHz), most UC systems support wideband frequency response – up to 6,800 kHz, for optimum call clarity. To enjoy this feature, you need a headset with full wideband audio capabilities.

What is Unified Communications?

Unified Communications (UC) is an extension of voice/data convergence and describes a situation in which technologies such as voice, email and instant messaging are integrated and presented to the user via a single intuitive user interface. UC also includes new applications such as ‘presence’ and ‘click-to-dial”.

Which benefits does UC give the company?

One of the things that make UC so attractive is that it facilitates collaboration. The combination of a common interface and the improved sound quality of wideband headsets increases the sense of proximity, regardless of location.

This benefits green business initiatives such as working from home and remote cooperation between virtual teams. Moreover, the ability to communicate using any device from any location can turn ‘wasted’ moments into productive ones.

What is the role of the personal computer in UC?

UC is defined as the ability to manage all communications, whether it is voice, email, fax or instant messaging, through one user interface. UC vendors with IT/Software heritage are positioning the personal computer as the place where enterprise workers (especially mobile-centric workers) manage all their communications.

What is the difference between UC softphones and normal softphones?

While a standard softphone is a stand-alone application, the UC softphone is integrated with other applications such as email, calendar, presence and voice mail.

How Does Unified Communications Lower Operational Costs?

Unified Communications reduces costs in many ways, including transferring mobile device traffic from the cellular network to the WLAN (when in WLAN range), further reducing service provider charges by enabling use of more efficient network transport such as SIP trunking and intelligent call routing, reduced travel costs and time replacing in-person meetings with Web collaboration, and by minimizing or even eliminating the human latency that arises from unsuccessful contact attempts.

What is telematics?

Telematics insurance is personalised car insurance based on your driving style. It’s also known as black box insurance, smart box insurance, pay as you drive, and usage-based insurance (UBI).

An increasing number of insurers offer a telematics device as a way to lower the cost of your car insurance. The device is fitted in your vehicle, and the way you drive is reported back to your insurer.

Responsible, safe driving is rewarded by offering lower premiums. This reflects that you represent less risk to your insurer.

Will it save me money?

If you think you’re a better than average driver, then it’s probably worthwhile having a telematics device installed.

If you then drive within the parameters set out by your insurer, there’s a good chance you could save money.

Likewise, if you’re not a “good driver” to begin with, but learn from the analysis provided and improve, then the cost of your insurance could fall.

There are no guarantees. If you aren’t considered to be a good driver and don’t learn from the analysis, then a standard insurance policy may be a cheaper option for you.

How do I access my driving dashboard?

The process is different depending on the type of telematics device you have. Mobile phone apps usually contain a driving dashboard within the app. 

Driving data from hard-install and plug-in telematics devices can usually be accessed when you log in to the dashboard on your insurer’s website.

How do telematics providers capture my data?

There are five main data collection processes that you should consider before you agree to a telematics policy:

Black box – a device that’s hard-fitted into the car

Mobile apps – runs off your phone’s GPS technology.

Plug & Drive – removable boxes that connect to the 12volt lighter socket

On-Board Device (OBD) – removable boxes that connect to the car’s OBD port (usually under the steering wheel)

Factory fitted On-Board Device – hard-install devices built into the car by the manufacturer.

What will happen if I speed?

Telematics devices assess how you drive and look for trends in your driving style. Occasionally breaking the speed limit by a small amount shouldn’t affect your policy. Persistent speeding is likely to result in your insurance premium rising.

Dangerous speeds are treated much more seriously. In extreme cases where there’s a persistent pattern of excessive speeding, some insurers would consider cancelling your policy. 

Depending on the insurer, you may get several warnings to improve your driving before this happens. Remember, telematics policies are aimed at safe drivers!

What data do telematics devices collect?

The majority of telematics devices operate with accurate and reliable GPS technology and are used to capture:

  • max/average speed travelled
  • acceleration
  • braking
  • cornering
  • latitude/longitude
  • elevation
  • distance travelled
  • number of journeys
  • journey time
  • road type
  • G-force (impact detection)

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What if someone else drives the car?

If someone else drives the car, then that person will be using your miles and their driving will be assessed, and count towards (or against) your good driving score.

This is really no different from a regular insurance policy.

It’s best to think in terms of the risk the car presents, rather than the risk you present. If you add another driver to your policy, the car will become a higher or lower risk accordingly.

Who are the primary users of telematics and why?

Anyone that relies on vehicles to deliver goods or provide a service – mostly van and truck fleets but also company cars and plant. For private motorists and in particular younger drivers, some insurers offer reduced premiums for cars fitted with telematics.

By showing where a vehicle is located, telematics provides real-time visibility of mobile operations for improved control, security and customer service. In addition, tracking data is logged to record movements, arrival and departure times, time on site, as well as data analytics for producing management reports. Telematics is used mainly to improve efficiency and productivity, but it also improves safety and security.

What are the options available?

There are two things to consider; the actual system and who supplies it. As hardware and communication costs have come down the telematics industry has opened up to many more suppliers. That’s good from a competition and price perspective, but it has pitfalls.

Once you have fitted telematics, it is probable that you will be able to improve your efficiency, productivity and customer service. Telematics is something that will enable the business to transform and remain competitive.

So, it is crucial to choose a supplier that is and will remain financially secure; ideally, part of a large diverse and long-established company, with the resources and backup you need. You don’t want to arrive at the office and discover your supplier has disappeared along with all your data.

Remember also you need to choose a system that will be professionally fitted; a company with a strong presence in the fleet sector like Forum Group will certainly have the right credentials.

What is Geofencing?

A geofence is an imaginary line drawn to circle an area or a specific location. It might be a congestion charging zone, a low emissions restriction zone, a pre-planned route or a border.

On entering or leaving the defined geographic area, the system is automatically informed to either collect data for later use or to alert controllers; for example to an unauthorised movement of the vehicle, deviation off route, or entry into a restricted area.

An array of other locations can also be mapped such as customer sites, depots, home addresses and low bridges and dynamic data such as live traffic congestion feeds can be incorporated.

Can we use telematics to prevent fuel card misuse?

Yes, linking fuel card data to telematics data is really useful.

Firstly you can track your MPG without manually comparing invoices to the miles driven for each vehicle and secondly you can identify any fraudulent use of your cards. There is always a possibility that cards they are being misused for non-company vehicles.

Fuel fraud alerts allow you to monitor for fuel misuse by cross-referencing the location of your vehicles to the location where the fuel card was used. Even if you don’t have fuel cards and your mobile staff claim a mileage allowance, the telematics data can be invaluable in spotting false mileage claims.

Telematics can also allow you to differentiate between business and private journeys, making it easier to reclaim fuel tax and private-use fuel.

How difficult is telematics to install and use?

A professional installer should come and fit a small GPS device into the vehicle and ideally a driver ID reader as well. You’ll need to arrange for cars to be available for a couple of hours. As for the tracking software, it is likely to be a cloud-based system that requires no special software and no installation.

Everything online once security access levels have been set up for each user, the system is immediately accessible and will start receiving vehicle data as soon as trackers are fitted. Plug-and-play systems powered by the cigarette lighter offer a simple solution where wiring in a tracker is not practical; a rented vehicle or where the driver switches vehicles regularly.

Can telematics improve security?

A telematics system can trigger an alarm when there is unexpected movement, for example, when the driver has not been identified or when it leaves a secure zone. Telematics may not stop the theft, but it will allow for quick retrieval of the vehicle, and that is vital when the business depends on it. If the vehicle is only insured for business use, the system can also alert management to unauthorised use out of hours.

How can telematics improve efficiency and productivity?

This is the ultimate benefit for most businesses and telematics provides a clear insight into your operational performance; something that was invisible before.

With the data on miles travelled, travelling time, time on site, routes taken and areas covered, you have an array of actual data which can be compared with your existing ‘pre-planned’ operations.

With this added visibility, you can properly access your operational costs, and inevitably you’ll be able to make improvements to routes, schedules, resource allocation and many other operational variables.

It’s not uncommon for companies to report 20 per cent reductions in mileage and similar gains in productivity; telematics allows new working practices to be employed such as enabling engineers to work from home rather than start the day at the depot.

What Fleet Telematics Does

Fleet telematics empowers you with a solution to solve your unique business challenges.

The most common of these challenges is simply knowing where your vehicles and equipment are at all times.

Also, there are numerous examples of using a fleet solution as a theft deterrent for companies and saving them thousands of dollars.

The simple benefit of location information is the origin of this technology. Today, technology has evolved to provide a significant return on investment with more strategic initiatives such as safety.

If you approach fleet management from a strategic mindset — as a safety initiative or becoming a safer and more responsible fleet, for example — then you can begin thinking about how to use the technology to address more significant issues.

These can include reducing the number of accidents, speeding instances, harsh acceleration, deceleration, etc.

Here are a few more examples of areas where your business could discover significant improvements

  • Cutting fuel costs
  • Improving safety
  • Reducing operating expenses
  • Improving customer service

Who Uses Telematics Data, And What For?

The technology is commonly used by fleet managers to obtain a more accurate insight into how their vehicles are being used. This allows them to deploy their fleet in more efficient ways, saving money on fuel as well as reducing their carbon footprint.

Some firms may even use geo-fencing, restricting a vehicle’s movements to certain boundaries. Some car insurers also insist that telematics devices are installed as a condition for providing insurance cover (often among younger drivers, for example).

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What Should Businesses Consider Before Adopting Telematics?

The first question for businesses to consider is which type of telematics system would be best for both their needs and their budget.

The variety of vehicles that the business run, the services they provide and objectives they have are key questions to think about before investing.

There are many telematics solutions on the market so our advice would be to speak with a telematics expert who can advise what type of solution would deliver your business the strongest return on its investment.

What is a Landmark or Point of Interest?

Landmarks or Points of Interests are areas, addresses or locations that you want to monitor. They can be added manually, imported in bulk, changed or be exported to other formats (such as KML, used by Google Earth).

What is an alert?

Alert is a feature to notify you via email or on the map when your vehicle(s) exceed a specified limit or threshold.

For example, if you determine that your vehicles shouldn’t be driving over 75 mph, you can set up your FMS to email you a Speeding Alert when that limit has been exceeded.

Where Are Telematics Devices Installed?

You generally install telematics devices in your car’s on-board diagnostics port (OBD II Port), which all vehicles that are newer than 1996 have. This port is typically located beneath the steering wheel of the car, making the device easy to install. As soon as the telematics monitor is installed, it will start recording information about your driving habits and passing them on to a connected app or your insurer.

Will GPS fleet vehicle tracking cause tension with my employees?

There is nothing unreasonable about wanting to make sure that your business operates as efficiently as possible. The employees who are doing their jobs up-to-standards will embrace a fleet management solution as it will highlight the outliers.

Furthermore, a team of same-minded, top-performing workers will excel in any realm and in any organization setting.

Those who continuously take shortcuts and at your workplace and fail to do their job properly bring down the team morale.

This is because the top-performers who do the lion-share of the work will become disenchanted with the makeup of the force as they have to over-extend themselves and compensate for others who are not pulling their weight. A GPS fleet vehicle tracking system will increase accountability, give you the data you need to grow your business and cut into your competitors market.

Is fleet tracking beneficial to a small fleet?

Some might wonder whether their fleets are big enough to warrant this investment. The truth is that fleet tracking works even if you only have one vehicle with one driver who you are not sure about. We cater to small businesses of all sizes, and really give them an enterprise-level type of data that will even the playing field and give insight that big companies pay top-dollars for.

There are additional security benefits like anti-theft protection and support, such as navigational assistance that will increase the overall efficiency of the business.

Why do I need GPS fleet vehicle tracking if I trust my employees?

Not all employees who are hurting your business are doing it directly. Small distractions and indiscretions can quickly add up and dip into your profit margins. Even a long-time employee who you trust could one day think “I can stop for 10 minutes and take care of that thing”. Then another employee will think “If he does that then I can do it, too”.

It is a profit-eating cycle. It will not take long before it snowballs and hurts your company. With fleet tracking, your drivers are held accountable at all times when they should be working, and you will quickly see improved results.

What is the difference between live and passive GPS tracking systems?

The data collected is generally the same for both types of systems. Live vehicle tracking transmits the GPS data collected to cellular networks which route it to a website where you view the data. It’s considered live tracking because it is visible shortly after being logged.

Passive GPS trackers store the GPS information on the tracker until the truck returns to a central location or office. When the truck is within range of a wireless base station, usually under 500 yards, the GPS tracker will transfer the GPS tracking data. The GPS data is then put in a database which is connected to fleet management software where you can view it online.

How many vehicles can I track at one time?

There is no limit to how many vehicles can be tracked by the GPS fleet management system. Fleet sizes range from 10 to over a 1000 vehicles per fleet. If you have a large fleet size, do enquire about our bulk pricing.

Do I have to tell my staff if I install vehicle tracking?

This is your decision. Some companies take the decision to fit the trackers without informing their staff initially, to gather comparable data from before and after the employees were made aware. If you wish to keep the installation of your trackers covert, all you need to do is inform our customer support team, and we’ll arrange installation in private.

However, we encourage our customers to be open with the installation of tracking devices, and it’s important to ensure your workforce feel comfortable with the introduction of tracking devices in your business. Reliable and hardworking employees should have no concerns about the devices being installed and our customer success stories prove that employees rarely react negatively.

If resistance does occur, this tends to be from individuals who haven’t been using company vehicles legitimately.

It’s vital that you explain the reasons why tracking has been installed.

This can be done successfully by highlighting the benefits to both the business and employees. It’s essential not to lose sight of the fact that the devices are designed to integrate with the day-to-day operational processes of your business, adding value to what you do, resulting in improved efficiency and profitability.

You may also wish to explain to your workforce exactly how the tracking system works. Even if they are not directly using the system themselves, this approach will make them feel more at ease with the system and give them a greater understanding of the feature’s system.

What types of vehicles can the devices be installed on?

We can track anything you need to keep tabs on. Vehicles of all sizes, yellow metal, trailers of any size & shape, construction equipment as well as tools & machinery, just ask!

The plug n’ play tracking devices can be installed on any vehicle with a diagnostic or ECM port. This includes cars, vans, pick-ups, all the way to cab-overs, big rigs, and heavy equipment.

What happens when there is no network coverage at all?

From time to time, you will find yourself travelling through areas that don’t have any network coverage when this happens; the most GPS units will automatically store the vehicle tracking information and send it when your driver re-enters the coverage area.

Which vehicles can use the OBD device?

Nearly all vehicles made after 1996 have an OBD port. The port is usually somewhere below the steering wheel.

How Will I Save On Fuel Costs?

Fuel cost savings can be achieved in several different areas. Monitoring how much time an engine is allowed to idle, and reducing this time can provide anywhere from 5% to 30% savings. Reducing the speed at which your workers travel can also drastically reduce fuel costs as well as reduce the possibility of accidents and insurance claims. By dispatching the closest vehicle to a client, one can also reduce fuel costs and increase efficiency.

What Is Active Versus Passive Tracking?

Passive devices store information such as GPS location, heading, speed and other pre-programmed events such as ignition on/off, door open/closed, seatbelt on/off. Typically when the vehicle returns to a predetermined point (e.g. an office or yard), the device is removed and then connected to a computer in an office or connected to a laptop brought into the vehicle itself.

The data is then downloaded and utilized in various ways. Some of these systems are also capable of being connected to a wireless transceiver which allows a controller to download the information wirelessly as long as the truck is within about 100 meters (300 feet).

Active or Real-Time devices/systems collect much of the same data as a passive system, but regularly transmit this data at pre-programmed intervals, (e.g. anywhere from 1 minute to twice a day depending on the client requirements). To retrieve this data, cellular, satellite, or both systems are utilized.

Passive systems are no longer as popular because they only allow access to vehicle information after an event and are less dependable when a vehicle or piece of equipment is stolen. It’s important to note that most active devices have the ability to become passive devices if they are out of cellular range and are able to hold weeks’ worth of information.

This is of course, not an issue if the vehicles are equipped with a dual-mode (cellular and satellite) system.

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