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  • January 08, 2019 05:48:59 PM
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A Little About Us

Onestop IT Solutions provides IT services to your business. Established in 2003, OnestopIT has grown to a staff of 9 with 3 offices covering Edinburgh and Glasgow. The team offers IT support, IT strategy, IT security and IT compliance support. At Onestop IT we care about understanding the specific needs of your organisation and translating these needs into action plans to support and develop your business.

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  • Annual Regular Membership: 1 Year Term 2020-01-08 17:48:59 (318 days left)
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    OnestopIT – Tesla Event

    What you absolutely must know for 2019! Meet the OnestopIT team for an evening of drinks, snacks, and live entertainment... We are excited to invite you and host you at our 1st social business event. You can expect to enjoy a combination of networking, music, drinks, live demo's, snacks, prizes, more Discover more The post OnestopIT – Tesla Event appeared first on Onestop...

    Man handing out canapes at event
    What you absolutely must know for 2019! Meet the OnestopIT team for an evening of drinks, snacks, and live entertainment…
    OneStop IT logo

    We are excited to invite you and host you at our 1st social business event. You can expect to enjoy a combination of networking, music, drinks, live demo’s, snacks, prizes, more drinks and of course lots of laughter.

    What to expect:

    17h30: Arrival Drinks

    17h30 to 18h30: More drinks & snacks served by our beautiful people (compliments Private Concierge Scotland) accompanied by live music from Ginny&The Tonics.

    18h35: Welcome address from OnestopIT followed by a short address from one of our event partners – Alan Smith (Action Coach).

    18h45: A live demonstration from Datto including the crushing of a laptop … followed by the instant recovery of all data, demonstrating just how quickly we are able to recover your data from a crushing disaster when you have the correct business continuity systems in place.

    19h15: Awarding of prize for 1 lucky winning guest on the evening.

    19h15: Music, drinks & snacks.

    20h00: End of event, please remember to grab your gift on the way out and if you don’t want the night to end join us for some post-event drinks!

    If you would like to bring additional guests to the event  – please feel free to contact me and I will include them onto the invite list, please remember that we can only accommodate 130 guests.

    I hope that you can put this into your calendar and look forward to seeing you at the event. Please look out for further emails that will highlight different aspects of the event evening.

    Best Regards,

    Brett Ellis

    07752773403

    Finger pointing to screen
    Contact us

    The post OnestopIT – Tesla Event appeared first on Onestop IT.


    Why Security Assessment Is Essential For Businesses

    IT security covers the integrity of computerised business systems, as well as the protection of privacy, sensitive information, and commercial secrets. Few would doubt the need to assess security, nor the problems that can arise from overlooking it.  However, researchers recently identified that one in three companies had no controls in place to Discover more The post Why Security Assessment Is Essential For Businesses appeared first on Onestop...

    hand typing on keyboard

    IT security covers the integrity of computerised business systems, as well as the protection of privacy, sensitive information, and commercial secrets. Few would doubt the need to assess security, nor the problems that can arise from overlooking it. 

    However, researchers recently identified that one in three companies had no controls in place to deter hackers. Equally worryingly, more than six in ten cyber attacks (62 percent) singled out small businesses. According to Consultancy UK, computer systems in SMEs are usually more accessible to hackers.

    If those alarming statistics illustrate nothing else, it is the importance of cybersecurity. Regardless of the current status of an organisation, it is always worth double-checking that protection is adequate – and, preferably, in line with professional standards.

    In a previous blog post entitled 15 Ways To Protect Your Business From A Cyber Attack, we described straightforward, practical steps for SMEs to boost cybersecurity and protect against breaches. Now, in the information and tips below, we show how security assessments can also add value. As well as the salient points, we show how they improve defences and safeguard vital data. If you are an IT decision-maker with responsibility for cybersecurity, read on.

    What Could Happen Without Proper Security Measures

    By themselves, anti-virus, firewalls, and encryption techniques do not deliver sufficient protection. With only these dated and somewhat limited measures in place, the stark truth is that computer networks (and, consequently, stored data) will probably be susceptible to security breaches and cyber attacks. What is more, if current trends are anything to go by, it is simply a matter of time until any given business receives unwanted attention from cybercriminals.

    Reports of costly data breaches include Equifax, the credit reference agency. In 2017, hackers exploited web vulnerabilities and stole confidential customer details. Similarly, in Australia, a hacker sabotaged Distribute.IT’s web servers, hosting systems, trading network and backups. Although the infiltration lasted only around thirty minutes, the miscreants deleted 4,800 valuable client accounts. Damage to reputation and customer confidence was such that the impaired business had to close within a year.

    Notably, small companies are far from immune. Quite the opposite: they are equally or more vulnerable. For most SMEs, the business, financial and regulatory effects of data breaches can be severe. As many as one in six SMEs (16 percent) assess their protection only after incidents. If these sole traders, partnerships, small firms, and growing companies had invested a relatively small amount of time and effort in prevention, the outcome could well have been different.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, more than nine out of ten data breaches involve innocent human error that, unfortunately, has far-reaching consequences. Apart from the loss of privacy, the miscreants, fraudsters, and cyber-criminals involved might perpetrate damage via external and internal network components, as well as guest and remote networks.

    Moreover, assessments are not one-off. Periodic reviews should carry the same weight as regular inspections on passenger aircraft, for instance. In short, security assessments are crucial in modern, digital businesses.

    How Legislation and Regulations Affect Business IT Security

    In some cases, third-party assessments are necessary, whereby experts from outside an organisation work with its in-house IT staff to evaluate internal security policies, procedures, and measures. Third-party assessment techniques include reviews and testing. Objectively, the external assessors investigate and establish whether the computer systems comply with legislation and regulatory frameworks.

    In all cases, the aim is to mitigate security threats and protect the organisation’s business systems. Checks include applications, patches, and updates to network hardware and infrastructure, including cloud computing. Additionally, preventive measures and security policies should adhere to the terms of the Data Protection Act 2018, which implements the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regime within the UK.

    Other international standards include compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which applies to companies of any size that accept electronic payments. Specifically, if your business takes debit or credit card payments and either stores, processes or transmits customer cardholder data, you should use a secure hosting service provider that is PCI-compliant.

    How IT Professionals Conduct Security Assessments

    To prevent data breaches and ensure your organisation stays ahead of threats to your company computer systems and data, IT security specialists will pinpoint any gaps in defences. The risk-based assessment looks at firewall performance, updates and patches for relevant system firmware and software, the existence of malware and any other risk that might affect safe operations. The approach is, in essence, to balance the cost of protective measures against the potentially larger financial toll of a data breach.

    Essentially, computer security assessments involve checks, tests and evaluation of the following areas:

    • Preparedness, taking into account existing policies and measures.
    • Vulnerability and threat assessment, including levels of severity.
    • Risk assessment of future attack(s) to company systems: an objective evaluation carried out by a specialist team, using procedures based on qualitative and quantitative models.
    • Penetration testing, sometimes referred to as a pen test, along with other specialised security tests.
    • White box testing, where the analyst has full knowledge of the company systems.
    • Grey box testing, where the potential hackers possess only limited information.
    • Black box testing by ethical hackers with no prior knowledge of the company system(s).
    • Physical security attributes and policies, including access control to premises and computer installations.

    An integrated approach will address the risks inherent in network technology, business processes and individual staff members. One straightforward illustration might be the type(s) of network data protocol in use. Dated installations could still be using obsolescent, insecure communication methods such as FTP (File Transfer Protocol), Telnet or SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol). In contrast, secure, modern-day equivalents such as FTPS, HTTPS or SFTP use stronger encryption and additional authentication.

    How Qualitative Severity Rating (QSR) Works

    Textual descriptions of risk tend to be subjective. To standardise QSR reporting, consultants often use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System. An open industry standard, the CVSS assigns a grade to the severity of vulnerabilities. Subsequently, the gradings enable prioritisation of responses and resources, per the threat(s) detected.

    CVSS Assessment Scale 

    In the CVSS, four rankings between low to critical record the assessed severity of security issues:

    • Critical. Attacks in the critical category could involve unauthorised access to view, modify or destroy highly confidential information. Attackers may falsify financial transactions, delete data or damage the target system. Consequently, critical attacks tend to have catastrophic effects on confidentiality, integrity and system availability. Probably, financial loss, significant reputation damage and serious legal or compliance-related fines will result. Critical threats, therefore, require immediate attention.
    • High. Attackers might gain access and view, modify or destroy business information. Possible problems include false transactions, deleted data and compromised systems. Attacks in the high category could have a significant impact on privacy, integrity and availability and cause financial loss, reputation damage and other effects. Accordingly, an immediate remediation plan is necessary to address the underlying security weaknesses.
    • Medium. In the medium category, vulnerabilities often have a noticeable impact. Attacks could involve cybercriminals poring through commercial information or private records and carrying out unauthorised operations – though not usually business-critical ones. As well as possible service downtime, medium-level attacks lead to confidentiality, integrity and availability issues, along with financial loss. A timely remediation plan is recommendable although, at times, business pressures may necessitate other courses of action.
    • Low. Low-level threats mean that the possible impact is unlikely to be noticeable. However, security weaknesses do not exist in isolation and could enable wider attacks. Accordingly, low-level vulnerabilities should receive due consideration and, where appropriate, their remedies form part of scheduled improvement programmes.

    What Post-Assessment Options Managers Might Consider

    On completion of the initial assessment, managers then study the findings and evaluate the measures necessary to resolve or mitigate any issues detected.
    Options include:

    • Security enhancement.
    • Reallocation of existing resources.
    • Deployment of additional or new resources.
    • Acceptance of the risk based on information about the likely threat(s) and cost of potential measures.
    • Project cancellation, in the case of the most potentially severe or costly risks.

    How To Stay Up To Date

    In today’s ever-changing business landscape, the role and importance of computer security assessments are clear. We invite you to stay up to date and check our upcoming informative blog posts and other events, designed to support Scottish businesses.

    Here at Onestop IT in Edinburgh, our team of expert IT consultants specialises in helping SMEs to access enterprise technology solutions. If you are looking for the best practices at an affordable price, contact us today. We support businesses throughout Scotland and will be delighted to discuss your security requirements with you.

    Contact us

    The post Why Security Assessment Is Essential For Businesses appeared first on Onestop IT.


    15 Ways To Improve Your Business Cyber Security

    In today’s computerised world of business, cybersecurity is more important than ever. Digital networks are almost universal, while fraudsters are increasingly innovative. Around the clock, miscreants and criminals scan unsecured networks (and those with poor defences) to find the latest Achilles’ heels. Unfortunately, chinks in corporate computing armour and the digital defences typically Discover more The post 15 Ways To Improve Your Business Cyber Security appeared first on Onestop...

    cyber attack image

    In today’s computerised world of business, cybersecurity is more important than ever. Digital networks are almost universal, while fraudsters are increasingly innovative. Around the clock, miscreants and criminals scan unsecured networks (and those with poor defences) to find the latest Achilles’ heels. Unfortunately, chinks in corporate computing armour and the digital defences typically used by SMEs are still too common, if the statistics tell us anything.

    Nonetheless, with the right approach, forward-thinking organisations can defend themselves. If you would like to strengthen your business cybersecurity, read on to see why it is vital to do so today. We also list fifteen practical, straightforward and easily identifiable protective measures that modern businesses can adopt right now.

    Why Computer Security Is Crucial in 2019

    While many computer criminals either use cyber attacks to access, change or destroy confidential or sensitive information, others set out to interrupt business processes in an attempt to extort money. Although corporations are investing more in strengthening their security protocols and digital boundaries, IT decision makers often mention bewilderment with the detail or concern over the cost.

    Security on screen

    However, the startling expense of a single data breach can run into tens of thousands of pounds or dollars. Then there is damage to business reputation and loss of future income as customers go elsewhere. Computer experts McAfee now estimate that the cost of annual damage due to cybercrime has soared to approximately $400 billion – almost a two-thirds increase from 2016 levels.

    Well-funded, highly-coordinated groups of hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated as they expose new computer network entry points. When pressed to identify a cause, experts point to the combination of third-party cloud service provision and increased usage of mobile devices. Against this backdrop, sophisticated hacking tools, password decryptors and ransomware threats abound. Additionally, the IoT (Internet of Things) automates tasks in our homes and offices using devices with inbuilt microprocessors capable of machine-to-machine communication, but the proliferation of this new hardware represents a growing security hazard.

    International concern has focussed on cybercrime and the disruption it causes. Tellingly, accountants Deloitte – who, ironically, also specialise in cyber security – were themselves the subject of an autumn 2017 attack. However, this corporate magnate was not alone. Other notorious data breaches include the Car Phone Warehouse where in August 2015, data thieves stole payment card and customer information.

    Similarly, Talk Talk systems leaked customers’ bank details, an incident which led to the loss of more than 100,000 angry customers. In another shocking example, more than 650,000 J D Wetherspoon customers’ details came up for sale on the dark web. Unsurprisingly, these worrying incidents attracted the attention of the European Network and Information Security Agency as it investigated more than 200 major incidents in 29 countries, in just one year.

    Computer screen coding

    With such incidents now so commonplace, the question now is now not whether an organisation might be attacked, but when it will happen. Will the controls and measures in place be able to detect and stop any malicious activity in time before cybercriminals cause disruption and damage?

    1. Passwords

    Robust passwords are an essential part of a defence against cyber attack and business interruption. Though an oft-repeated message, and one that busy computer users sometimes ignore, effective security nevertheless starts with strong passwords featuring combinations of alphabetic, numeric and special characters. Consider using user screen timeouts, too.

    Regular password changes are advisable while using the same password for multiple accounts is not. Passwords should not contain names, obvious words or individuals’ dates of birth. Writing passwords on post-it notes or whiteboards – especially in view of windows – is like offering gifts to hackers.

    Identifying and verifying users gives us a secure footing. From there, network IT administrators should set access privileges to control, limit or deny drive, directory, and file access.

    2. Spam Email

    Most attacks originate via email. Choose an email security plan that reduces spam and staff exposure to attack(s).

    3. Security Awareness

    User training and reminders about data security and possible email attacks form part of a policy of protection. In particular, everyone should know how to differentiate between legitimate emails and phishing frauds, as well as not to trust links on the Internet. Accordingly, company training programmes should include these important principles.

    4. Security Assessment

    In the most up-to-date and progressive companies, IT security surveys establish a baseline from which the next step is to resolve existing vulnerabilities. To achieve this, IT experts assess risks, analyse weaknesses and draw up action plans. Then, it is important to prioritise those threats that are most probable, while allocating extra resources where necessary.

    5. Computer Updates

    Whatever the operating system, critical updates such as for Adobe and Java improve protection from the latest known attacks. Regarding anti-ransomware and anti-malware, some products block malicious code from inception, whereas others employ grey lists to spot suspicious behaviour. Nonetheless, because the threat landscape evolves unremittingly, regular updates are necessary to maintain system efficiency and ability to withstand attacks.

    6. Firewalls

    As a start, intrusion detection and prevention features should be active. Additionally, it is best to configure firewall software to send incident log files to a managed SIEM (Security Incident & Event Management) system. There is more on this in the next item.

    7. Security Incident & Event Management

    Nowadays, SIEMs use big data engines to review event and security log information from connected network devices. Using data aggregation, correlation and dashboard alerts, cutting-edge SIEM tools boost protection, facilitate compliance and enable forensic analysis.

    8. Mobile Device Security

    As well as through office servers and workstations, cybercriminals are equally adept at accessing networks and stealing data through smartphones and tablets. As a result, businesses need to close this gap with the latest security measures for mobile devices.

    9. Encryption

    Whenever possible, aim to encrypt all files – whether stored in a server or workstation directory, attached to emails or mobile on portable devices.

    10. Backup

    An offline backup for each month of the year protects against crippling data loss. Back data up both locally and to the cloud. Remember: backups require regular testing; if you have any doubt that they are working reliably, it is best to enlist specialist help.

    11. Web Gateway Security

    Cyber security is, in effect, a race against time to keep up with computer criminals. Fortunately, cloud-based systems can detect emerging web and email threats and deploy countermeasures at lightning speed to block malware on protected business networks. Thankfully, the latest systems act within seconds, before new threats reach users.

    12. Multi-Factor Authentication

    Wherever possible, use multi-factor authentication on your network, especially with banking websites and social media. A wise precaution, this double check ensures that even if an anonymous hacker steals your password, your data stays protected.

    13. Advanced Endpoint Detection and Response

    Protect your data from malware, viruses, and cyber attacks with advanced endpoint security. As a replacement for outdated anti-virus programs, the latest solutions protect against fileless and script-based threats – and can even deal with a ransomware attack.

    14. Dark Web Research

    Awareness of stolen passwords and accounts listed for sale allows companies to be proactive in preventing data breaches. An efficient security system scans the Dark Web and takes appropriate action to protect businesses.

    15. Contingency Planning

    Nowadays, shrewd entrepreneurs are protecting their income and business with cyber damage and recovery insurance. That way, if all else fails, expert support is on hand and unexpected costs covered from the outset.

    Securing Your Business Systems

    Finally, it’s worth remembering that all the above steps play an important part in cybersecurity. As the adage has it: prevention is better than cure, especially when it comes to unwanted attention and full-scale attacks from fraudsters. To put it another way, computer and network protection is no longer something on a wish list. Nowadays, it is vital for everyday business.

    According to Continuum Managed Services, a leading Boston-based computer consultancy, as many as one in five small businesses was a target for cyber attack(s) during 2018 and suffered a security breach. Cyber attacks are not the direct fault of the targeted company. Nonetheless, such misfortune still exposes the victim to the possibility of negligence claims, legal proceedings for breach of contract, regulatory enforcement and loss of trust.

    More than four-fifths of all such breaches involve SMEs. Astonishingly, if the latest computer technology had been present, almost all these attacks (97 per cent) could have been prevented. Moreover, tighter rules such as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) framework mean that companies must make security a priority if they are to avoid punitive fines.

    If your local IT support needs assistance with any of the protective measures, we invite you to contact us today. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, our expert team will be pleased to help.

    Contact us

    The post 15 Ways To Improve Your Business Cyber Security appeared first on Onestop IT.


    Downtime Calculator: Why Your Business Needs One

    Here, we explore how IT system failures, however occasional, can affect businesses negatively – both operationally and financially. As well as these important considerations, we provide an overview of the benefits of using a downtime calculator to highlight potential issues. That way, an organisation can be proactive and make improvements, before any weak Discover more The post Downtime Calculator: Why Your Business Needs One appeared first on Onestop...

    downtime IT calculator

    Here, we explore how IT system failures, however occasional, can affect businesses negatively – both operationally and financially. As well as these important considerations, we provide an overview of the benefits of using a downtime calculator to highlight potential issues. That way, an organisation can be proactive and make improvements, before any weak areas or vulnerabilities become problematic.

    Analysing the Threat

    Quantifying the cost of failure in an organisation is often a requirement when justifying the expenditure necessary to pay for business continuity hardware, software and staff. Although the results of system downtime are obvious and the necessity for the contingencies required to mitigate them widely understood, the way to calculate the costs may not always be clear.

    Fortunately, there is now a straightforward and practical method to estimate the cost of system downtime with ease – and free of charge. Using this calculator, an enterprise can evaluate whether the protective and preventative measures that it is evaluating will be cost-effective when compared to the price of failure.

    Using the above calculator allows companies to evaluate the likely financial consequences of business IT stoppages, whether for a whole company or one of its departments. The calculation requires three main inputs: annual revenue, the number of employees and the average cost of each employee per hour. If required, the calculation can be proportional: computer outages would affect an IT worker almost totally, whereas the impact of downtime within marketing teams might typically be 80 per cent. Conversely, staff in sales roles might experience a 75 per cent reduction in output.

    Assessing the Financial Effect

    To quantify the potential outcome, there are four main areas to take into account:

    • Reductions in productivity.
    • Lost profits.
    • Fines or penalties.
    • Recovery costs.

    Imagine a bulk sales order processing environment where a hundred sales support, administration, accounts and customer support staff are keying in commercial data to take, confirm and amend orders. They could also be printing delivery schedules, invoices and reports. In this example, if the business IT system were not available, work would be impacted severely.

    In such examples, it is feasible to calculate the direct cost of employee idle time as a function of hourly pay or a proportion of monthly salary. Where staff can be re-deployed to perform other duties on a temporary basis, it is possible to mitigate the loss. Such activities might include updating manual records, off-line work, filing, tidying, office reorganisation or training. In cases like these, the same accounting principles and method of calculation apply, although pro-rata.

    Nonetheless, even if the failure reduces productivity only partially, the opportunity costs and lost potential income per hour can soon stack up team-wide. In the fast-moving world of business, computer databases and their supporting networks form a significant part of IT infrastructure. Apart from their level of specification, hardware, software and firmware components have to perform reliably and deliver an uptime bordering 100 per cent, especially in customer-facing roles. As well as good network speed, the availability of applications and uninterrupted 24/7 access to transactions and operational data are vital.

    Significantly, delays due to outages could result in organisations facing contractual penalty clauses for late or non-delivery. In particular, there might be a regulatory framework that imposes fines for not meeting deadlines or complying with set requirements.

    In contrast, recovery costs include reinstating backups and replacement hardware systems in the case of faults. Then there is the delivery time of any necessary equipment or parts and their subsequent installation, configuration and testing to add into the forecast. Software-based rectification or configuration and support may be possible remotely, though there will still be a delay in returning to full productivity.

    Planning Proactively – Proactive Planning?

    Once we know the estimated financial impact of downtime caused by unexpected computer, network or infrastructure failure, along with its direct effects on profitability and operations, we should also address the indirect damage. Nearly seven in ten IT decision makers acknowledge that downtime has a detrimental effect on reputation and consumer confidence, not only in a particular brand but also in the company behind it. The toll will depend on the duration of the outage, how widespread the problem is and the time of day, along with the industry type and annual turnover of the company concerned. In extreme cases, the lack of availability of an adequate main or standby computer system could lead to liquidity problems and bankruptcy.

    Similarly, interruptions and refocusing take their toll during typical working days, too. A telling study carried out by the eminent Department of Informatics in the University of California illustrated the negative effects that distractions have on business processes and productivity. According to researchers, office workers and staff typically took around twenty-three minutes to refocus after each interruption. Corrosive multitasking reduced quality thinking time and wasted up to 238 minutes per working day per person.

    Nowadays, with computerised business systems, there can be few applications and databases that are not mission critical. Protecting an organisation from the effects of system outage (and other interruptions) is, therefore, a shrewd investment in its future. When looking for a starting point, the 3-2-1 rule applies: keep three different backup copies on two different media formats and with one of them kept off-site.

    Notwithstanding the above precautions, there is more to it than regular, reliable backups. Replication and redundancy (i.e. a standby server or servers) are also necessary – or at least, a solution which can be brought online as quickly as possible to minimise system downtime. The aim should be to reduce service failures to seconds or minutes at the most, instead of hours. This objective is especially important when one reflects on the negative media coverage surrounding UK banking problems, inaccessible hospital records and the notorious PetNet incident in the USA that left animals unfed.

    Supporting Growing SMEs: Onestop IT

    Based in Scotland, Onestop IT is a leading information technology services supplier and consultancy that specialises in supporting SMEs by delivering enterprise technology solutions at an affordable price. As well as business customer care, Onestop’s focus is on process-driven IT solutions to help organisations grow.

    Onestop IT’s team of friendly, professional IT experts will be delighted to assist with any queries you may have, including the effects of computer outages and contingency planning. Finally, if you would like to obtain an individually calculated estimate of the possible impact of downtime on your business, visit our free downtime calculator page now.

    Contact us

    The post Downtime Calculator: Why Your Business Needs One appeared first on Onestop IT.


    Using Voice Over IP Solutions for Your Business

    In this post, we discuss what VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is. We also look at how modern SMEs can successfully deploy the latest intuitive and easy-to-use communications solutions to boost their competitive advantage. Staying Competitive Management teams in growing businesses understand how important it is to stay in contact with their Discover more The post Using Voice Over IP Solutions for Your Business appeared first on Onestop...

    Man with headphones facing computer

    In this post, we discuss what VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is. We also look at how modern SMEs can successfully deploy the latest intuitive and easy-to-use communications solutions to boost their competitive advantage.

    Staying Competitive

    Management teams in growing businesses understand how important it is to stay in contact with their client base. Despite the ubiquitous smartphone, packed with applications and features yet paradoxically underused for speaking, there is still little that beats the immediate feedback and interaction of direct verbal communication with customers. It is for all these reasons that marketing, sales and accounts payable departments make dozens if not hundreds of telephone calls every working week, in businesses across the country.

    Given that it is so important to promote dialogue with prospects and maintain contact with existing customers, how can companies minimise ongoing expenditure? Is it still possible to maintain the same level of outgoing calls while making the most of new, flexible communications packages? And what other benefits can the latest communications technologies offer an expanding business in today’s rivalrous and sometimes cut-throat marketplace?

    Making the Most of Existing Networks

    The answer is in Voice over IP calls, sometimes also known as computer audio. Internet telephony is another term used to describe the new way to make digital voice calls, instead of connecting via the long-serving public switched telephone network (or PSTN) that uses analogue electrical signals. Rather than the copper cored electrical wires of telephone lines, Voice over IP telephony uses computer networks – whether broadband ADSL or fibre-based – to transmit the call, video and other information. The latest protocols supersede ISDN (Integrated Services for Digital Networks), which was a bolt on to the older infrastructure and still limited by the typical capacity of conventional telephone cables.

    In contrast, computers, new IP telephones and smartphone handsets that use VOIP software now send audio and video signals in data packets. In effect, these signals are bursts of information that use a special sequence of network handshakes and validation to check the sound quality and general call performance. In technical terms, the way in which computer systems transmit these packets of data can follow various digital methodologies. Some leading examples include Skype, Cisco, PBX, SIP or open source protocols.

    Apart from numerous technical advantages and additional features that provide up-to-the-minute flexibility, Internet voice and video calls deliver significant cost benefits in comparison to traditional telephone systems. Each call is more economical, taking fixed line rental charges into account and given that many businesses already have Internet service provision in place. Ideal for free or low-cost calls to customers and suppliers in remote sites or distant offices, the latest high-speed services are reliable and offer businesses top quality service featuring life-like sound.

    With the latest digital offerings, there is no longer any need for a modern company to rely on consumer-grade Wi-Fi to power its communications. Simply upgrading the contract bandwidth to a professional-level business package is sufficient to ensure clear sound quality and excellent reliability of service. Moreover, larger SMEs may find it cost-effective to opt for individually hosted professional communications services, should they so wish.

    Working Together

    Available anywhere that has a reasonably good connection, Internet calls also tend to facilitate increased mobility and new ways of working. According to industry sources, the rapid deployment and extra flexibility are ideal for more than seven in ten home workers. Now, remote staff can take calls on their PC or their mobile with ease, with seamless call transfer that is often invisible to the customer. What is more, cloud-based management enables network monitoring from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, whether by cable or satellite.

    Because calls made using VOIP software are significantly cheaper, the new communications method is currently experiencing an unprecedented CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of almost 10 percent a year. This impressive uptake looks set to continue at the same level until at least 2021, as businesses switch from old telephone and landline-based systems to save costs. Innovative companies are quick to appreciate the benefits of little or no up-front capital outlay, combined with the considerable savings to be had from the outset.

    Communicating More Easily

    Reassuringly, Voice over IP service providers advertise that call quality is of similar or superior quality to that experienced when speaking via standard telephone landlines. It is possible to make Voice over IP calls using computer headsets (for hands-free working) or from special telephones, similar to conventional equipment but boasting additional functionality yet still easy to use.

    Typically, VOIP calls use only a fraction of the connection’s available broadband capacity and the processor power of a modern PC or workstation. Some of the other advantages of VOIP calls include:

    • Instantly deployable – phone lines are virtual, so extra cabling is not necessary.
    • Convenient for office workers, using a computer headset or earpiece and microphone.
    • Only one network to manage, which now carries voice and data at once.
    • Reduced maintenance costs, as there are now no traditional phone system overheads.
    • Video calls and conferencing using web-based functionality help to reduce business travelling time and costs.
    • Three-way calls: ideal for post-sales support, technical questions and handovers.
    • Integration with mobile devices makes for more efficient and convenient communication.
    • Virtual meetings at short notice.
    • Website click to call services.
    • Possibility of integrating with CRM (customer relationship management) software systems.
    • Call monitoring and recording.
    • Instant messaging.
    • Presence information.
    • Voice call buttons on emails.
    • Feature-rich voicemail with that can be set for email delivery.
    • No need to buy or rent extra switchboard hardware or dedicated lines.
    • Works with existing standard office computer and network hardware.
    • Portable personal Voice over IP number, allocated to a person (wherever they are in the world) instead of a conventional landline number that is fixed to a desk.

    Supplying Leading IT Solutions in Scotland

    Edinburgh-based Onestop IT offers a fixed cost VOIP software service from only £10.00 per month. The company is a leading information technology and communications services supplier that specialises in helping growing SMEs to gain access to quality enterprise technologies at affordable prices. If you are an IT decision maker and would like to optimise your business communications with leading-edge Internet telephony to engage customers and empower employees, please click here for further information.

    Contact us

    The post Using Voice Over IP Solutions for Your Business appeared first on Onestop IT.


    Moving To A New IT Support Company

    If you are responsible for information technology in a small to medium-sized business with between ten and 150 employees, read on to discover why your company might want to consider changing its IT support arrangements. We also offer some advice about the points to check before making a decision, as well as useful Discover more The post Moving To A New IT Support Company appeared first on Onestop...

    moving to a new IT support company

    If you are responsible for information technology in a small to medium-sized business with between ten and 150 employees, read on to discover why your company might want to consider changing its IT support arrangements. We also offer some advice about the points to check before making a decision, as well as useful tips to ease the transition.

    Supporting Business Growth

    For some managers and decision makers, the idea of changing an IT support contract may seem daunting at first. Nonetheless, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) can often gain by keeping their requirements and current provision under review.

    By making the best decision for its future computing, a company can transition to a well-specified and finely tuned business information system that boosts efficiency and fosters organic growth. Additionally, the right IT outsourcing supplier will smooth the changeover, thanks to business awareness and expert technical skills.

    Identifying the Need For Change

    Businesses change their managed IT support for various reasons. Recently, the CompTIA (the Computing Technology Industry Association), a non-profit organisation based in Illinois, USA, surveyed leading companies to investigate why. It found that the main reasons for leaving IT providers were:

    • Cost. In today’s marketplace, companies seek competitive pricing and quality of service. In contrast, unjustifiable costs tend to sound alarm bells.
    • Lack of expertise. SMEs need to avoid recurrent downtime problems, problematic security glitches and the crippling effects of data loss.
    • Communication problems. Lengthy response times, failure to return calls and unanswered messages are unacceptable. Poor service or a perception of not being on the same wavelength are worrying signs, while other difficulties include a lack of clear, concise and timely information.
    • Proficiency. Problems include failure to deliver innovative solutions to meet business change (such as organic growth or expanding product ranges) or to resolve problems as quickly as possible.
    • Difficulty working with the supplier. Business relationships are seldom perfect, but if the red flags have been anything other than occasional, it is probably time to consider matters carefully. Problems should be an exception, not a rule.
    • Recurring downtime. Business variables beyond service providers’ control mean that 100 per cent availability may not be feasible. However, if the supplier cannot keep the business system up and running reliably or there are other regular serious issues, it might also be time for a change.
    • Innovation – or lack of it. An IT support company should be able to see the potential for business technology, especially within its area of expertise. Suppliers ought to know about the latest business solutions and recommend them when appropriate – especially if new developments will decrease your costs and increase your revenue. Moving to cloud computing instead of maintaining an onsite server farm might be one example.

    If you are dissatisfied with your IT support provider or recognise any of the above tell-tale signs, a review is probably worthwhile.

    Switching and Starting With Your New Supplier

    Businesses that move to new IT support companies should consider their previous experience(s) and take the opportunity to capitalise on the change. Firstly, check existing service level agreements and determine whether the previous provision was adequate. Did the service keep up with business change and were any extra features necessary? Alternatively, the reverse could be true: were any existing features redundant or in clear need of an update?

    Collect feedback from across your company and collate the information into a tender document. As well as hardware and software inventories, key details include network diagrams, usernames, login addresses and permissions or levels of access. A support log helps to identify recurrent issues and could assist in proposing and developing long-term solutions.

    It might prove useful to approach the existing supplier and ask whether they would be prepared to work with staff from the incoming support organisation. Agreeing an incentive or extra fees may be necessary. In any case, your new company should work hard to ensure a smooth handover, minimise short-term disruption and set the foundations for a brighter future.

    Maintaining Security

    When implementing a change of supplier, do check to what extent the support operation is enmeshed with your company’s business system. If your current provider also manages your network, some of your company data may be on servers that the supplier owns. In the interests of data security and to help achieve a smooth transition to the new supplier, the data needs to be moved to your own company’s resources – and backed up. A new support operation should review and monitor such arrangements to ensure a smooth migration and secure day-to-day operation of your business IT.

    Additionally, suppliers could well have a high level of access to systems, including administrator privileges. Although unlikely and unethical, unscrupulous individuals might be able to change vital network, data or program settings. Accordingly, to counter such threats to your business information security, it is advisable to review who can log on to your IT systems and what level of access each account has – whether a user, power user or an administrator. Well-known security measures and precautions apply; in particular, it is important to back up data, change passwords regularly and review special directory permissions when there are changes of personnel.

    Supporting SMEs throughout the UK

    Onestop IT Solutions is a leading information technology supplier. With a firm focus on caring for customers and delivering process-driven IT solutions to growing organisations, Onestop specialises in IT outsourcing, managed IT support, strategy and compliance. Based in Edinburgh, its friendly and professional team of experts helps SMEs across the UK gain access to enterprise technology solutions and best practices at an affordable price.

    If the issues raised in this article have resonated with you, or if you would like to discuss the IT support service that Onestop offers when working with companies, please click here for further details. We will be delighted to assist.

    Contact us

    The post Moving To A New IT Support Company appeared first on Onestop IT.


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