Technology Advisor Blog

Going Remote - Phones and Office Collaboration Technology Made Simple

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 7/10/20 2:05 PM

Take your business calls from Anywhere While maintaining your Business Number

This week we hosted another business leader in our Pandemic "Lunch and Learn" small business technology series.  Frank Correira, Senior Channel Manager at LogMeIn spoke to the Ekaru business community about "unified communications" - Voice / Video / Text. 

The pandemic has forced so many businesses to get creative and figure out a way to work from home.  Small businesses with older technology run the risk of being left behind as the world workforce goes remote.  We've talked to business owners who have to send someone to the office to retrieve voicemails, forward all calls to cell phones, and have to keep someone in the office just to answer the phones.  There is a better way!

Years ago when we were looking for our own new phone system, we researched all the solutions and found Jive (now part of LogMeIn) to bet the best fit for small business.:  Great price, great features, easy to use and Internet provider neutral!   The system is totally flexible - you're never locked into a specific Internet provider like Comcast or Verizon - easy to use, and has an expanding list of features.  We got a brand new system for LESS THAN we were paying for our old Verizon lines.  During the pandemic, we've also taken advantage of the built in video capabilities to host twice daily "huddles" using GoToMeeting - all integrated with the phone system. We're so excited about this, we want to be sure all the small businesses in our community know what's available.

We started our training webinars years ago with a goal of educating small businesses about how to get more from the technology you already have, and the new technology you need to know about.  Ekaru's mission from the beginning has always been to serve the small business community.  Here's technology that fits in a small business budget and provides all the features that big businesses have.

Here's some of the highlights of the presentation, and a full recording is linked below.

  • LogMeIn was founded in 2003, and is headquartered locally in Boston, MA.
  • 1.2 Billion audio minutes are hosted every month
  • Trends - Remote workforce and "Work from Anywhere"
  • The GoToConnect platform includes:
    • Voice
    • Messaging
    • Fax
    • Text
    • Presence (See if someone is already on the line)
    • Video Conferencing
    • Audio Conferencing
    • Screen Sharing
  • All of these features combined on one platform is what's known as "Unified Communications"
  • Work from Anywhere means you can use a traditional handset, your laptop, or an app on your smart phone to dial out using your office caller ID so you can keep your personal number private.
  • All support and new features are included in the monthly subscription.
  • Features like call queues and international calling to 52 countries are all included.
  • A national redundant network provides reliability
  • Another topic that was briefly discussed relating to the remote workforce is password management - with so many employees collaborating with cloud applications, password security needs attention.

All businesses will need to adapt to the new remote work "normal".  With careful project planning, its easy to switch to a more modern and affordable platform.  

Here's the full recording of the lunch and learn:


Call us 978-692-4200 if you want to set up a personalized demo, or if you want to get trained in advanced features.    Ask for Nancy to set up a demo, and ask for Tony to help with new features if you're already on the system.

Tags: small business, small business technology advice., VoiP,

VoIP Telephony - e911 and Staying Connected in the Covid-19 Crisis

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 4/3/20 3:37 PM

VoIP Phone - Ekaru IT ServicesVoIP (Voice over IP) telephony ensures effective communication and business continuity in times of crisis, as many of our clients have seen over the past few weeks.  Unlike traditional phone systems that are tied to an office location, VoIP phones can be used anywhere. 

Over the past few weeks we've helped clients all over the Boston area and surrounding suburbs to set up productive work from home environments.  The handset can simply be moved from the office to home, or users can use a smart phone app or desktop app to make and receive office calls.  Outbound calls have the business caller ID (even from a smart phone) ensuring a professional presentation, and you'll never miss an inbound call or voicemail.

In this way, VoIP phones can provide an enhanced experience compared to traditional phone lines, but they differ in some important ways.

Unlike the old copper phone lines, a VoIP phone won't work during a power outage or Internet outage.  Very importantly this includes 911 service.  During the outage the system will still be able receive voicemails, or even process simultaneous rings to cellular service, but you would not be able to make outbound calls with your handset.

Another important distinction is that the Enhanced 911 functionality, which includes automatic forwarding of location and call back information in the event of a disruption of a 911 call, would not function properly if the "address" for the phone is still the physical office.  For this reason, if you need to call 911, it is important to stay on the line and provide your address and callback information.

When using your business line from home, if these limitations are of concern, we recommend that you maintain an alternative method to reach 911. 

Note also that you can register additional phone numbers for your system - Direct Inward Dial or "DID" - to associate to users who may permanently be in a home office, and separate addresses can be associated with these numbers.   In that case the Caller ID would be set to the separate phone number, and that can be registered with E911. Also, if you were to move your entire office, the new address would be registered with E911.  

If you need help with any questions about phone systems or setting up a productive remote work environment, call Ekaru at 978-692-4200.

Tags: Managed Services, business continuity, VoiP,

Whats New in SMB Tech?  Internet (VoIP) Phones!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 6/5/18 1:04 PM

Ekaru-Jive-Lunch-EventIn case you missed it:  Last week we hosted a technology lunch and learn event with our partner, Jive Communications.  Local business owners enjoyed networking, lunch, and technology.   

Verizon is phasing out old copper phone lines, and if you have an old phone system, you may be in need of a change (even if you aren't excited about the latest and greatest features!). We still see SMBs with phone technology that's over 10 years old!  If its been that long, its time for a change.

One of our missions at Ekaru is to help SMBs get more from the technology you already have and to learn about the new technology you need to know about!

Some of the highlighted features covered in the presentation include:

  • Auto Attendants - You can add multiple Auto Attendants for your business at no additional cost.
  • Call Queues - Instead of needing to do a rapid-fire "please hold" for multiple inbound calls, you can set the calls in a queue with a pre-recorded message (with an escape hatch to voicemail) and then pick up when you're free.
  • Custom Schedules - Need to send calls to an answering service after hours - just program it in.
  • Mobile App - You can send and receive phone calls with your office caller ID from your cell phone - bring your office phone anywhere you go!
  • Hot-Desking - Get your customized phone settings to appear on another office phone.  This is great if you have shift workers or mobile workers who work out of different offices.
  • International Calling - Free calls to over 50 countries.
  • Reporting and Call Analytics - What are your busiest phone times?  How long are your average calls?  How many calls go to voicemail.  With a modern system, all the data is at your fingertips.

These are just some of the features we discussed.   For more information, check out the presentation slides.  If you're already using the system, we recommend starting with a simple plan and then building in new features as you learn about them and how they may help your business.

We've been using the Jive system for a few years and you can stop by our office to see the system in use, try a loaner phone, or get a full on-line demo.  If you haven't looked at phone systems recently, we highly recommend that you check out Jive!

Sign up for a Demo!


Tags: VoiP,, SMB

Thinking about a New Phone System in 2017?

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/25/17 8:38 AM

Old Phone System.jpgIt's a New Year - Are you tired of your old phones?

If you haven't checked out phone technology recently, you'll be amazed with what's available!  The lines between computer technology and phone technology have blurred.  Instead of paying for multiple phone lines, you can run all your phones over your Internet connection (Voice over IP or "VoIP"), providing a lot more functionality at less cost.  You also don't need a lot of complicated phone network equipment on site - just handsets connected over your regular office Internet connection.

Old PBX.jpgDoes this look familiar?  This is an old PBX system and if you see a lot of wires like this in your network closet, its time for a change.   A PBX is a "Private Branch Exchange" which is the technology that enables incoming calls to be switched between all your handsets and extensions.  Years ago, your office would have multiple phone lines coming into the PBX, and then multiple phone lines going out to each handset in your office... a lot of wiring!  

With VoIP, you may still have a PBX on site, but it will look more like a modern switch or router with network cables coming out of it.  You also have the option for added flexibility now to have your PBX "in the cloud".  There's a lot of hype about the cloud, but a PBX in the cloud is now mainstream, and a great cost-effective option for Small and Medium Businesses to have a low maintenance solution that also enables connecting remote users.

Custom Schedules: Configure time-based call routing for open/closed business hours, holidays, and special events.

Visual Dial Plan Editor:  Map out call flows visually and make changes on the fly using the drag-and-drop interface. Easily configure elements like wait times, auto attendants, voicemail boxes, sound clips, and schedules.

Detailed Call Analytics: Create opportunities for more efficient use of resources, better training, and proper scheduling by using  time-of-day reports, geography-based heat maps, and downloadable call detail logs. 

Mobile Operation:  Use the mobile app to use your cell phone as an extension of your office handset.  You can take your office wherever you go.  Need to take office phone calls on a snow day?  No problem.  

Remote Office:  Remote workers can plug in a handset anywhere with an Internet Connection.  It's easy to connect multiple office locations even if there's just one user.

We've put together a training video on VoIP and some of the features in the system we recommend:

 Want to schedule a demo?  Call us at 978-692-4200 or send us an email.

Tags: VoiP,, Phone System

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