The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed life for workers and business leaders across the world, with lockdown restrictions continuing to keep office doors closed. Remote working has become the new normal, and the question of strong and effective telecommunications in business has never been more relevant. We discuss this and more with Paul Hogan, Managing Director at Synctive. Check out the full interview above and don’t forget to like, share and subscribe!
Like many successful entrepreneurs, Paul Hogan followed a path in life that was totally unrelated to the business he would eventually set up. Born and raised in Solihull, Birmingham, Hogan moved to Ireland with his family at the age of 15, where we worked as a factory-based toolmaker for two years before enrolling in the study of art and design. After studying for three years in Athlone, Paul became a graphic designer and established his own company in Dublin. Coming to Dublin was a rewarding experience, meeting three like-minded individuals who joined him in establishing BFK, which specialised in graphic design and branding.
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Disrupting the Market
However, this didn’t mark the end of Paul’s delving into the world of business. The players behind BFK set about creating an online alternative for international call top-up cards. “We were successful in this, swapping it all over and approaching businesses rather aggressively. We sold the company last year, and that marked 20 odd years of successful training”, recalls the telecommunications expert. He adds that such disruptive technologies normally come in five and 10 year cycles, with new generations constantly arriving at the market – a topic which leads us on to Synctive, Paul’s current telecoms business.
Synctive offers broadband services to customers across the Republic of Ireland, allowing its customers to aggregate the very best out of their network. In many cases, Synctive customers will then take a step towards unified communication as a service – the element of Paul’s business which he describes as “the sexy part”. According to the Managing Director, webcam systems like Zoom, Google Meets and Microsoft Teams represent how our means of communication are starting to evolve. “It’s not just a phone call anymore, it goes much deeper than that. It goes into how companies operate , and it’s about making these systems work together in the right way.”
The outbreak of Covid-19 will change how we live and work, and Paul suggests that whilst this is new to most people, they will now have no choice but to familiarise themselves with these technologies. “Covid has forced technology on us, but for young people nowadays, it was always going down that path. This is something that everyone can get used to if they try”, he says”, “and you can look at myself and my elderly father as an example – we’ve communicated the whole time using instant messaging, and it’s been great.”
Why You Need Broadband Backup
Moving on with the discussion, Paul highlights some of the challenges that small-to-medium-sized businesses tend to face around broadband and telecommunications. “The most important thing here is to not get caught out by it. If your broadband is gone, you’re gone until it comes back. The key here is to have a minimum of two connections, and not just one,” he shares. “You might have your main network supplying broadband through the front door. But then you might have a wireless one as a secondary backup connection. This is where our business comes in – we can aggregate these connections so you can get the very best out of both of them.”
The current crisis has forced companies to adapt to remote working. However, Paul suggests that when we do emerge from the pandemic, many remote working patterns will remain in place. “Research proves that you get another day and a half out of a remote worker compared to having them in an office. Another important point to remember is not to have too many applications,” he warns. “It becomes a death by app, and that’s why centralising things under one platform has so many benefits.”
The Managing Director highlights that the outbreak of Covid-19 will hasten the global workforces move away from private cloud services on premises: “Telecoms made most of their money with these contracts. They’re afraid of the concept of a public cloud. It has more security than you’ll ever need from an enterprise point of view”.
Paul does admit, however, that remote working does have its disadvantages. “Loneliness is a big one,” he explains. “There’s no water cooler moment, and there’s not much opportunity for people to get out and about. That’s certainly a disadvantage – mental health is already challenged by Covid, and remote working could exacerbate these issues. Then there’s looking after kids – it’s very, very different,” he adds. But how has the pandemic affected his own business?
A silver-lining of the outbreak is that international business for Synctive is at an all-time high. “It doesn’t matter where you’re doing business – we are all having the same challenges. Businesses are trying to save costs, and unified communications as a service can really help in this regard. It’s only going to scale and get bigger.
“At the minute, we’re really focussed on 5G. When it kicks in, we’ll need so many more antennas hanging from buildings. This will have a huge impact on how we communicate.”
**Those wishing to learn more about Synctive can visit the company’s official website. Paul is also available for connection on LinkedIn.**
Our remote interview with Synctive’s Paul Hogan joins our award-winning Business Leader series, recently recognised with the Best Content Marketing Award for a Video Series at the inaugural Irish Content Marketing Awards. To pitch your brand to our series or to discover how digital marketing can boost your online presence, get in touch today.
Navigating the Maze: A Guide to Business Phone Systems
Effective communication is the lifeblood of any business. Choosing the right phone system lays the foundation for seamless connections, streamlined operations, and ultimately, thriving customer relationships. But with diverse options like landlines, VoIP, and mobile systems, selecting the perfect fit can seem overwhelming. Fear not, intrepid business owner! This guide decodes the different types of business phone systems, compares their features, and highlights their ideal use cases, empowering you to make an informed decision for your unique needs.
1. The Tried-and-True: Traditional Landline Systems
Landlines offer reliable, familiar service through physical phone lines. While not the flashiest option, they boast several advantages:
- Crystal-clear voice quality: Dedicated lines ensure consistent, high-quality audio for uninterrupted conversations.
- Built-in redundancy: Physical infrastructure provides backup in case of internet outages, mitigating communication disruptions.
- Security and privacy: Closed systems minimize the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access.
Ideal Use Cases:
- Established businesses in stable locations with high call volume.
- Industries reliant on clear audio like healthcare or financial services.
- Businesses requiring dedicated emergency lines or fax services.
2. The Modern Marvel: VoIP Phone Systems
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems transmit voice data through the internet, offering flexibility and a wealth of features:
- Scalability and growth: Easily add or remove extensions as your business expands.
- Cost-effectiveness: VoIP often translates to lower call costs compared to traditional landlines.
- Advanced features: Enjoy functionalities like call forwarding, auto-attendants, and video conferencing.
Ideal Use Cases:
- Startups and remote teams.
- Businesses prioritizing mobility and remote work options.
- Companies embracing unified communications with integrated phone, video, and messaging platforms.
3. The Pocket Powerhouse: Mobile Phone Systems
Leveraging personal mobile phones as business lines brings convenience and accessibility:
- Always connected: Stay reachable anywhere, anytime, fostering responsiveness and flexibility.
- Personalization: Individual lines allow tailored call settings and voicemail messages.
- Cost-effective for low-volume calling: Can be advantageous for businesses with minimal phone usage.
Ideal Use Cases:
- Solopreneurs and small teams with primary communication through email or in-person meetings.
- Field teams or mobile workforces requiring constant accessibility.
- Businesses with minimal budget constraints for phone services.
The Comparison Matrix:
|Requires internet backup
|Established businesses, high call volume, security-sensitive industries
|Startups, remote teams, unified communications
|Solopreneurs, small teams, low call volume, mobile workforces
Choosing the Right Internet Option
In today’s digital world, reliable internet access is the linchpin of everything we do. Whether it’s powering your business, keeping you connected with loved ones, or streaming your favorite shows, choosing the right internet option is crucial. But with acronyms like DSL, cable, fiber, and satellite swirling around, you might be feeling more lost than a dial-up modem in the age of broadband. Fear not, intrepid web surfer! This guide dives into the depths of internet connectivity options, equipping you with the knowledge to navigate the waves and find the perfect internet solution for your needs.
1. The Wired Wonders: DSL, Cable, and Fiber Optic
These three landline options deliver internet through physical cables, each with its own unique strengths and limitations:
- DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): Utilizes existing phone lines, offering affordability and widespread availability. However, speeds can be slower and inconsistent, particularly in rural areas.
- Cable: Leverages cable TV infrastructure, delivering high speeds and often including bundled TV and phone services. Downside can be data caps and potential network congestion during peak hours.
- Fiber Optic: The gold standard for speed and reliability, transmitting data through light pulses via glass fibers. Boasts high upload and download speeds, ideal for businesses and heavy internet users.
Speed and Reliability Considerations:
Speeds are measured in Mbps (megabits per second) and affect everything from streaming quality to video conferencing clarity. Your ideal speed depends on your usage habits:
- Basic tasks (web browsing, email): 10-25 Mbps
- Streaming and moderate gaming: 25-50 Mbps
- Heavy online activity (high-definition streaming, online gaming): 50 Mbps and above
Reliability refers to connection stability and uptime. Look for providers with strong service level agreements (SLAs) and minimal outages.
2. Reaching Beyond the Wires: Mobile Data and WiFi Networks
For those on the go or in areas lacking access to landline options, wireless solutions offer connectivity:
- Mobile Data: Convenient and portable, but data plans can be expensive and speeds can vary depending on location and network coverage.
- WiFi Networks: Public WiFi hotspots and home networks provide wireless access, although speeds and bandwidth can fluctuate based on network configuration and user traffic.
Choosing the Right Option:
Consider these factors:
- Budget: Landline options are often more affordable than mobile data.
- Usage: Heavy internet users need high speeds and consistent connections.
- Location: Availability of different options varies by region.
- Needs: Mobile data is portable, while WiFi offers faster speeds and flexibility in usage.
Bonus Tip: Research providers in your area, compare plans and pricing, and ask about bundled deals. Don’t hesitate to contact customer service for clarification and advice on choosing the best fit.
Remember, the ideal internet solution is as unique as your individual needs. By understanding the different options, considering your specific requirements, and researching providers diligently, you can confidently navigate the connectivity ocean and unlock a world of seamless online experiences.
Demystifying Unified Communications Trends
In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, businesses need communication tools that are nimble, efficient, and seamlessly integrated. Enter the realm of Unified Communications (UC), where disparate solutions like voice, video, messaging, and collaboration tools converge into a single, unified platform. But UC is far from static; it’s constantly evolving, responding to changing workplace norms and technological advancements. Let’s dive into some key trends shaping the future of UC:
1. Convergence is King: Merging Voice, Video, Messaging, and More
Gone are the days of juggling separate apps for every communication need. Modern UC platforms are embracing all-encompassing integration, offering users:
- Seamless switching: Effortlessly transition between voice and video calls, messages, and file sharing within a single interface.
- Centralized control: Manage contacts, groups, and preferences from a unified hub, eliminating the need for multiple logins and dashboards.
- Enhanced collaboration: Break down communication silos, foster teamwork across departments, and fuel better brainstorming and project management.
2. Presence Matters: Knowing Who’s Available and When
Real-time presence indicators are becoming essential UC features, allowing users to see if colleagues are online, in meetings, or available for calls. This fosters immediate responsiveness, reduces missed connections, and optimizes workflow. Additionally, features like call transfer based on presence status further streamline communication flows.
3. Remote Work Revolution: Embracing Collaboration Tools
The rise of remote work has propelled collaboration tools to the forefront of UC. Features like:
- Virtual meeting rooms: Host online meetings with video conferencing, screen sharing, and real-time chat capabilities.
- Whiteboard and annotation tools: Facilitate brainstorming and collaborative document editing remotely.
- Task management and project tracking: Simplify workflow management and keep teams aligned, even when geographically dispersed.
4. AI and Machine Learning for a Smarter UC Experience:
UC is increasingly incorporating AI and machine learning to enhance functionality and user experience. Expect to see:
- Automated transcription and note-taking: Capture key points from calls and meetings efficiently.
- Smart chatbots for basic inquiries: Reduce the burden on human agents and provide immediate assistance to users.
- Personalized communication recommendations: Suggest optimal communication channels based on context and user preferences.
Remember: The UC landscape is dynamic and constantly evolving. Staying informed about these trends empowers you to choose the right platform for your business needs and maximize the benefits of unified communication. Embrace the convergence, leverage presence indicators, empower your remote workforce, and explore the potential of AI for a seamless and productive communication experience.
Network and Information Security Demystified
In today’s digital world, where data is the lifeblood of virtually every business, safeguarding your network and information is paramount. Breaches and leaks can have devastating consequences, impacting reputations, finances, and customer trust. But fear not, cybersecurity champions! This guide delves into the essential elements of network and information security, equipping you with the knowledge to build a robust defense against digital threats.
1. The Guardians at the Gate: Firewalls, VPNs, and Encryption
These form the first line of defense against unauthorized access:
- Firewalls: Act as gatekeepers, monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic, blocking suspicious activity and protecting your internal network from intruders.
- VPNs (Virtual Private Networks): Create secure tunnels for remote users to access your network as if they were physically present, encrypting data transmission and safeguarding sensitive information.
- Encryption: Scrambles data into an unreadable format, rendering it useless to attackers even if intercepted. Use strong encryption algorithms for both data at rest (stored) and data in transit (being transferred).
2. Controlling the Keys: Access Controls and Employee Policies
Strong access controls are crucial to keep sensitive data in the right hands:
- Multi-factor authentication: Requires additional verification beyond a password, such as a one-time code or biometric scan, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
- Least privilege principle: Grant employees only the minimum access level necessary to perform their job duties, minimizing potential damage in case of a breach.
- Regular security training: Educating employees about phishing scams, password hygiene, and reporting suspicious activity is vital for a robust security posture.
3. Protecting the Crown Jewels: Customer Data Privacy
Safeguarding customer data is not just an ethical imperative, it’s also a legal requirement in many regions:
- Data privacy regulations: Familiarize yourself with relevant regulations like GDPR and CCPA, ensuring compliance with data collection, storage, and usage practices.
- Data breach notification: Develop clear procedures for notifying customers and authorities in case of a data breach, minimizing reputational damage and legal repercussions.
- Data anonymization and pseudonymization: Consider anonymizing or pseudonymizing data where possible, reducing the risk of identifying individual customers in case of a breach.
Remember: Network and information security is an ongoing process, not a one-time fix. Regularly update software, conduct vulnerability assessments, and monitor network activity for anomalies. Partner with cybersecurity experts for comprehensive solutions and stay informed about evolving threats and best practices.
By combining technical safeguards, access controls, and data privacy awareness, you can build a robust digital fortress, protecting your critical data and fostering trust with your stakeholders.
FAQ: Business Continuity Planning
Q: How often should I update my BCP?
A: Aim to review and update your BCP at least annually, or more frequently if your business undergoes significant changes or experiences new vulnerabilities.
Q: What should I include in my disaster recovery plan?
A: Include details like emergency contact information, communication protocols, alternative work locations, and step-by-step instructions for restoring critical systems and data.
Q: How much should I invest in BCP?
A: The cost of BCP varies depending on your business size, complexity, and chosen solutions. However, even small investments in planning and testing can significantly reduce the costs associated with downtime and recovery efforts.
Q: What are some common business continuity mistakes?
A: Some common mistakes include neglecting to test failover capabilities, not involving employees in the planning process, and failing to update the BCP regularly.
Q: Where can I find resources to help me develop my BCP?
A: Several government agencies and professional organizations offer resources and guidance on BCP development. You can also seek assistance from IT specialists or business continuity consultants.
Conclusion: Telecommunications in Business
Business continuity planning is not a one-time exercise; it’s an ongoing process of preparedness and adaptation. Investing in proactive planning, testing, and employee engagement builds resilience against unforeseen disruptions, ensuring your business can navigate any storm and emerge stronger.
Remember, a robust BCP is not just a document; it’s a lifeline, safeguarding your operations, minimizing downtime, and ultimately, protecting your business against the uncertainties of tomorrow.