voip phone systems chicago
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Can You Hear Me Now? The VoIP Option: Pros & Cons Explained

Since VoIP came on the telecom scene back in the early 2000’s it has grown in popularity and become a commonly used term in the business community. With more and more technology moving to internet/cloud based delivery it makes sense that our phones do the same.

Now, VoIP offers many features that a legacy phone system doesn’t, but when it comes to choosing a system that connects your business to the outside world, you’ve got to take many factors into consideration.

That being said, we would like to provide you a brief list of pros and cons to VoIP systems. Remember, each business and each setup interact with VoIP differently. Some of these may or may not apply to your company. It is always important to consult a reputable vendor who understands both your telephone and your current IT setup first.

The VoIP Option: Pros & Cons Explained

Pros

Monthly Cost Savings: Perhaps the biggest advantage of choosing VoIP is the opportunity for monthly savings. Traditional systems depend on landlines (POTS lines) to connect your calls. Some VoIP systems allow you to cancel all landlines and connect calls via internet. This cuts out the middle (your phone company). Do not be fooled though. You still pay for service to this system on a per phone basis.

Lower Hardware Costs: VoIP systems are typically less costly up front. This depends on the type of system you are purchasing and the options your vender offers. Sometimes there is no upfront cost at all for these systems. However, we all know nothing in life is REALLY free. Many times when a company offers free hardware, they build that price into your monthly cost. Be sure to look into this before signing on the dotted line.

Versatility and Scalability: VoIP allows you to tailor your phones and features to your business needs. Systems come as basic or feature rich as you want. Do you need CRM features? Call parking? Auto attendant? Twinning? Presence Management? These are all features that VoIP can provide. It should be mentioned that PBX systems offer these functions too.

Portable/Professional: VoIP is great for people on the move.  Switching from an office phone to a mobile phone? VoIP can make a switch between phones seamless.  These features allow clients to transfer quickly between phones. Imagine you are on the phone with a prospect and don’t want to hang up but you’ve got a meeting you have to leave for . . . with enhanced features you can press a button and transfer that call to your cell phone without the prospect even knowing you’ve left your office.
VoIP Chicagoland Providers

CONS

Sound quality: When transferring calls over the internet instead of a landline, there can be a decrease in the sound quality. VoIP takes up more bandwidth and depends on a strong internet connection for best call quality.  Not only do you need a constant and steady internet connection, you also need to make sure that your bandwidth will support the demands of your office.

Power outages: VoIP requires power and an internet connection, so if power goes out you can expect service disruptions for your phones.  Having one emergency landline or call forwarding takes care of this problem, in case an emergency ever arises.

Hidden Costs & Hardware Ownership: While we mentioned cost savings as a plus for VoIP phones, those same savings can bite you in the end. Be wary of a provider offering free equipment. This typically means they are charging you EVERY month for hardware. On top of that, many VoIP providers entice customers with great deals on hardware but aren’t clear about who owns what. If you aren’t clear about those finer details you may find yourself paying every month for years on hardware you don’t even own only to have it taken away when you switch providers.

If you’ve made it this far into this article, I’m sure you’ve noticed that each characteristic has positive and negative elements to it. Phones are a very tricky topic for many business owners.

The one absolute positive you have is that by collaborating with Andromeda, you’ve chosen a technology partner that puts your interests above all else. We help our clients install all varieties of phone systems including PBX Systems, Hybrid IP Office systems, Cloud VoIP systems and more. The most important piece of the VoIP puzzle is choosing a vendor you trust.

If you are considering a new phone system for your business, give us a call today and let us guide you through your options.

heatmaps web design analytics
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Heatmaps: The One Tool That Can Actually Tell You Where People Focus On Your Webpage

Websites are a lot of work. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into planning, designing, building and executing a well-developed professional website. However, the work is not over once the site launches. Continued analysis of your site is needed, as it not only helps increase your traffic flow as well as keeping your visitors up-to-date on your business’s happenings – it is needed to ensure that visitors are getting the right information when they need it.

Analysis – that must mean Google Analytics, right? Well, yes – Google Analytics does certainly help show what pages are being viewed, how many times and for how long. Great metrics to use when trying to determine what users are wanting when viewing your website. However, they do leave out one important detail – what the user is looking at when they are on the page. That is where Heatmaps come in.

What Are Heatmaps and Why Do They Matter?

Heatmaps are visual tools that allow for you to see where visitors go on a specific page of your website. Heatmaps allow for a visualization of what content is being viewed, or not viewed on the page. By being able to see where your visitors are going, and ultimately viewing, you can tailor your most important content to the heavily viewed areas. Highlights of varying intensities depict the density of user activity at each point of the page; typically annotated with data. For instance, number of clicks on elements and other useful ratios like clicks/hovers. Broadly, there are two kinds of heatmaps:

Eye-tracking: A variant of usability testing – this method asks you to engage in a sample size of your website’s visitor population and tracks their eye-movements as they engage in designated webpages. The Eye-tracking method is a bit more expensive and only somewhat reliable as it is only tracking a sample of the website’s population.

Mouse-tracking: The mouse movement heatmap tracks all mouse movement and activity of all users to the website over a period of time and are represented graphically. It is also a fairly good indicator of eye movement as studies found that eye-movement and mouse-movement have an average distance between curser and eye gaze of about 90 pixels. This method is the more preferred method as it is also the most affordable on top of being the most accurate.

What are the different kind of Mouse-Tracking Heatmaps?

There are three different kind of mouse-tracking heatmaps available. Each of these provides useful insight into how visitors are viewing your content- how they engage your website and how to increase your click-thru-rate.

Mouse-Movement Maps

Mouse-Movement maps are probably the closest way to getting an eye-tracking test without having to pay huge amounts of money for it. These maps do what they say in their name – track the mouse movements of users (hover and click-thru) and then converts that data onto the page. They provide insight into how users read and navigate a page on your website. Mouse-movement maps also show analytic data, such as how many visitors hover over a particular areas of the page – which can indicate how well content-areas are being received.

mouse movement heatmaps web design

Scroll Maps

Scroll maps analyze how visitors use the scroll on the page and where they abandon the page altogether. You can utilize this data be seeing where those points are and adjusting the length of the page for optimal effectiveness. According to a Nielsen Norman Group study, 80% of visitor’s attention is spent above the fold (or the space seen when loading a page before having to scroll).

scroll map data heatmaps

Now, that does not mean that your conversion rate will suffer if your webpages are long. However, it is good to test out where people lose interest. These maps provide analytic data in terms of the percentage of people dropping off from the page at any given point. Data from Scroll Maps can tell you if people are missing important content tucked away below the fold – and if you should restructure your page.

scroll heatmaps web design analytics

Click Maps

Click maps analyze where users are clicking on your website. How can this help? It gives insight into where users flounder on the page, weeding out any unnecessary or unwanted distractions that could be blocking your conversion rate – or getting users to the contact or order pages and thus getting new business. You can see if links are working against each other on a given page as well as if any design elements are clogging up the works, so to speak. Having click maps gives that visual as to what is drawing the attention and where the user experience is going. With this information, you have the ability to clean things up and improve user experience.

click map heatmaps web design analytics

In essence, heatmaps are a great tool to help you visually understand your visitor’s experiences. They allow you to make sure the content you express to potential customers is getting viewed and processed, This allows you to focus on tactics that improve website conversion for your business. Just like any analytic tool set, having the data and numbers can help shape the ongoing user experience you have with your users. Still not sure about heatmaps or not sure how to set one up? Andromeda’s website development team can help! Give us a call, or reach out and we can start getting your website into top shape!

Andromeda Integrated Security System Pro-Watch Honeywell Dealer
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Integrated Security – It Does A Whole Lot More Than You Thought Part 2 (2 Part Series)

Last month we dove into three functions integrated security can offer your business: Enhanced Environment Regulations, Productivity Boosters and Visitor Management. (check out part 1 in case you missed it)

In this second part of our two part series on Integrated Security we will dive into a couple more features and introduce you to the Honeywell Pro-Watch Ecosystem.

Integrated Security – It Does A Whole Lot More Than You Thought Part 2

Employee Training & Certification Management – I know what you are thinking. How can a security system help me manage my employee certifications and training? Well, with applications and the right security suite, you are able to manage this information easily. On top of that, you can connect these pieces of information to key fobs and employee access protocols. For example, imagine your facility requires certain certifications and ongoing training for compliance reasons. You can monitor employee information. Fobs will automatically shut off access to controlled areas of your building if an employee does not have the proper documentation on file. This is only one piece of Compliance Report Management available to you with a professional integrated security suite. Never spend time worrying about compliance for NERC, Title 21 HIPAA, TSA etc. again.

Mass Notification – with integrated communications management you have the ability to automate notifications to assigned groups. The most common use for this is to send out information. Most notably to customers, employees and community members about closings, weather alerts and/or other urgent information. Get your message to the masses with a few clicks of a button!

Now, with all of these features in mind, it is important to point out that not EVERY integrated security suite provides these features. One of the most important things you need to be aware of when considering your solution is whether it is open or closed platform.

An open platform solution integrates easily with third-party systems. This means you can customize your solution to the needs unique to your business. As new technologies emerge and new software comest to market, an open platform system will grow with you. These same flexibilities are not easily attained with a close system product.

integrated security system pro-watch honeywell ATS IS servicesUltimately, this is why Andromeda Technology Solutions partners with Honeywell to provide our customers a range of professional integrated security options via the Pro-Watch Ecosystem.

For more information on Pro-Watch and other Honeywell products, give us a call and speak with a representative today.

 

Data Encryption Protection PII
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3 Ways Data Encryption Can Save You From Unnecessary Stress, Spending & Headaches

When you think of data encryption, you might imagine top-secret files and espionage. Historically, militaries and governments protected messages and sensitive information using encryption. These days encryption has many more uses. And with hackers and cyber criminals constantly after your data, it is important that you make use of this security measure.

Encryption is defined as scrambling data or text to make it unreadable. This protects stored data and personal information from  displaying to those without a proper clearance or key to decode that information. There are all kinds of pieces of information you have on file that a disgruntled employee or criminal could make use of:

  • Home addresses
  • Email Addresses
  • Drivers Licenses
  • Credit Card information
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Date of birth
  • Medical history or records
  • Financial information – routing numbers, account numbers etc.

Depending on your industry, this information may be subject to state and federal regulation, hefty fines and, in cases of negligence, even jailtime (we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars). Businesses close their doors over this stuff.

While employee training and proper cyber protocols are great at protecting you and your business from user error and data breach – encryption is an added layer of security every business benefits from.

3 Ways Data Encryption Can Save You From Unnecessary Stress, Spending & Headaches

  1. Encryption Saves Your Reputation – More and more employees are working on the go in 2017. With employees working from home, sales staff in the field and the hustle and bustle of every day, you don’t want to hold your employees back or decrease productivity by preventing devices from leaving the office. But imagine your employee runs into the neighborhood Starbucks and leaves their company laptop in their front seat. While they are ordering their venti latte, a criminal breaks into their car and steals their belongings – your laptop included. Now you’re out the hardware but more importantly, you have a criminal at large with sensitive data. If this data has any sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) on it, you are required to report the incident. Do you want your customers losing valuable trust in your company? In fact, this fear of reputational damage is the reason that three out of every four victims to ransomware, data breach or cyber-attack do not report the incident. Think back to 2013 when 41 million people found out Target compromised their sensitive data. You’d probably think twice about shopping there again if you were one of them. If the stolen laptop had been encrypted, you wouldn’t have to report an incident. The criminal would have no way of deciphering data on the equipment.
  2. Encryption Keeps Designated Information Private – Let’s bring this example back into your office for a moment. Even if you don’t keep sensitive customer information on file or process credit cards. You have personal information for employees on file: Performance reviews, social security numbers, salary information and more. You don’t need a hacker or even a disgruntled employee gaining access to these records. With encryption you can ensure that even if an employee accidentally or intentionally stumbles into an area they shouldn’t be, they can’t make sense of any of that information. 
  1. Encryption Can Save You From The Unexpected – Whether a device goes missing from the office, is stolen from a front seat or possibly snatched by a disgruntled employee, you can’t have sensitive information at large. Your reputation aside, as mentioned earlier, these types of breaches can result in very large fines, prosecution and years in prison. Nobody needs that on their mind every night. With encryption you can rest easy that even in the wrong hands, your data can’t be manipulated or exposed. To take this a step further, certain encryption management tools have the ability to remotely disable and even wipe devices. This comes in handy in all of the examples we have described. So now, not only is the information on your device useless, but after your IT company takes necessary steps, the device shows nothing but the “blue screen of death”.data encryption blue screen of death

Encryption is a powerful tool. It is an incredibly useful and we would say necessary piece of your cyber security and data protection plan. It is important that you protect sensitive information. Even if you don’t want to believe it, there are criminals and people out there that would wreak havoc with that data if given the chance.

For more information on our encryption software and other cyber security training, protocols and plans, give us a call at (815) 836-0030.

And be sure to click here and explore our Unlimited Security Training Program. Over 80% of data breaches are a result of human error and the first step to prevention is education.

Mention this blog and receive 50% off your first annual subscription.