Blog

March 9th, 2012

A new and interesting application of Unified Communications (UC) is using voice technology to improve warehouse operations management. Read on to learn how UC—specifically integrating voice into the item picking and packing process—can improve efficiency, effectiveness, and safety in your warehouse.

Business processes and activities in the warehouse have traditionally been very receptive to automation, with the goal of improving efficiency and effectiveness. Automation has been focused on areas including managing stock levels, tracking stock movements, and more. The processes done on the warehouse floor itself, such as item picking and packing, are now largely run by computer-based systems. One attempt at automation included outfitting staff with handheld systems, but they proved to be impractical or prohibitive since they required the use of both hands, were complicated to use, and made the overall process too complicated. Employees have generally preferred to stick with the simple pen and paper instead. But recent advancements in human-to-computer interfaces—such as the use of voice commands instead of keyboard and mouse, pen-based, or touch based systems—promises to change this.

Using voice technology, warehouse staff and managers can now send and receive instructions via voice, using a headset connected to a back-end system that understands and processes voice instructions and can respond in a natural sounding human voice. This can result in:

  • Faster and more accurate order fulfillment: Warehouse staff can be given more specific and accurate instructions allowing them to navigate the warehouse, identify specific bins or pallets containing items for packing, and be able to pick out the correct quantities for the right order.
  • Cost savings: Faster and more accurate fulfillment can result in reduced costs over time as it reduces the need to redo work, avoids costly customer returns and dissatisfaction, and lessens other costs such as training time for employees.
  • Improved safety: With pallets and bins stacked in long, tall rows, forklifts and other heavy machinery zipping from one place to another, and people moving around, usually in a hurry, with both hands full and sometimes distracted, accidents are commonplace in warehouses. With voice technology, this can be avoided by getting people to focus with voice commands, and freeing up their hands and body to work on other things.
Voice technology in the warehouse is new but promises to deliver great benefits for businesses who employ it. If you are interested, let us know so we can help you find out how UC can enable your warehouse or any other part of your business today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
February 22nd, 2012

Have you heard of the term Unified Communications before? Curious as to what Unified Communications is all about? Read on to find out what it is and what it can do for your business.

Because of continued improvements in technology and changes in the way people work, we now have a multitude of options to communicate with one another. This can be both a boon and a curse, as not only do we have to learn and master a variety of devices from which to communicate—but also contend with an equal or higher number of forms with which to communicate. For example, not only do we make a phone call to talk nowadays, but we also chat, text, tweet, post, like, poke, huddle, share screens, do white board sessions, and more. We can do all of these whether on the desktop computer, laptop, netbook, tablet, desk phone, mobile phone, TV – and soon maybe even from the kitchen refrigerator! Not surprisingly, people have started looking for ways to tame and simplify all of this complexity—and thus was born the concept of "Unified Communications."

Unified Communications, simply stated, encompasses the organization of different communication tools and models so that it can be used and managed in an integrated way, with the goal of improving flexibility, efficiency, and effectiveness. To illustrate the benefits of Unified Communications, here are some examples of how it can be used in several business scenarios:

  1. Have a "single number to call" or a simpler way of reaching people. Instead of remembering and sharing a phone number, IM handle, email address, twitter account, and more, you can have just one number or address by which people can reach you—and systems will bridge that with whatever device or application your Unified Communications happen to be on or you prefer. So you can easily have calls placed to your desk phone routed to your mobile phone when you are out, and have voice mail emailed to you as a recording in case you can't answer.
  2. Reaching people when you need them. If you are working remotely, or managing remote workers, Unified Communications systems can indicate your or your colleagues' location or "presence"—i.e., whether you or they are available at the normal location, working remotely, or out in the field.
  3. Synchronous or asynchronous way of working. If you work with people in different time zones you can opt to conference when your schedules overlap, or swap messages that can be answered at their convenience if they don't —and be able to track and tie all of these together.
  4. Richer collaboration. If you work on projects, Unified Communications can allow you or your team to get in touch and collaborate in a richer and more interactive way. While working on a project you can chat, switch to voice calls for better clarity, or conference via video to provide more context, as well as share screens for easier collaboration—all from a single screen or session.
  5. Application integration. Imagine if you had the ability to call people from your email application's address book, or initiate a web conference from your instant messaging tool. With Unified Communications that is all possible.
Unified Communications may sound expensive and complex, but in reality it can actually lessen costs and make things simpler for you and your business. Learn more about Unified Communications and what else it can do to improve your business by contacting us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 16th, 2012

VoIP is certainly a technology that has come of age. It's cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use. Any business, no matter the size, should be using VoIP to increase productivity, efficiency, and cost effectiveness.

If you are running a business, then there is no reason you shouldn't be using Voice-over-IP, or VoIP, to reduce telecommunications cost, streamline operations, and improve the flexibility for your organization today.

VoIP, simply put, allows telephone communications to run over your data network or the Internet. The benefits of this setup are many, and the following are just a few.

  1. VoIP allows companies to maximize investments already made in their network infrastructure. The same network which handles the flow of data such as web access and email can now accommodate voice as well—no need to add and maintain additional wires and devices.
  2. VoIP can allow you to dramatically reduce the cost of communications, especially for interstate or international communications—everything can go through the Internet instead of incurring expensive long distance toll charges.
  3. VoIP allows your employees to be more productive and efficient by giving them the ability to receive and make calls anywhere with a data connection, using their laptop, mobile phone, tablet, or virtually any device connected to the Internet.
  4. VoIP increases the number of features you can use with your phone system. For example, it's easier to add extensions to your phone. You can provide a local number or extension for all your staff without additional costs or cabling. You can also set up sophisticated auto answering routines and call routing. You can marry voice messages with email and faxes all in one inbox.
  5. You can use VoIP as a tool for real-time collaboration—along with video conferencing and screen sharing. You can employ presence technologies that come standard with VoIP phones and VoIP communication systems. Communicate with colleagues about your presence or receive info on the status and whereabouts of your staff.
Previously, all these benefits were only available with a big price tag and a critical limitation—the unavailability or unreliability of the company's Internet connection—but not anymore. With the great strides made in technology and the wide availability and affordability of broadband connections over the last few years, VoIP is now readily within reach for many businesses—large or small.

VoIP is certainly a technology that has come of age. It's cheap, ubiquitous, and easy-to-use, and any business should have VoIP in their toolset. If you are interested in learning more about how VoIP can help your business, contact us today to find out more!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.