Category Archives: Unified Communications

Third ‘High on ShoreTel’ Users Group gathering scheduled for May 6

We at High Point Networks firmly believe that the relationships with our customers extend far beyond the day a project is finished. Between projects, we strive to provide opportunities for our customers to learn more about the solutions they have in their environments. One way we have worked to ensure continued education for our unified communications customers is by creating and managing the High on ShoreTel (HOST) Users Group.

This group, powered by High Point Networks and ShoreTel, aims to help administrators and users learn more about ShoreTel’s capabilities, network with other users and provide a place for questions to be answered in an open forum. Past events have proven exceptionally successful and useful to attendees, and this one looks to be even better. Our ShoreTel representatives from Minneapolis will share new information from the annual ShoreTel One Champion Partner Conference, and our ShoreTel Technical Account Manager will speak on “Advanced Applications for your ShoreTel System.”

Are you interested in learning more about your ShoreTel phone system? Join in the conversation!

When:
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
8:00 am – 11:45 am (Includes free breakfast)

Where:
Cambria Hotels & Suites
West Fargo Conference Center
825 E. Beaton Drive
West Fargo, North Dakota

Website/Register:
Learn more and register at: www.HighOnShoreTel.com

HPN Guides School Districts Through E-Rate Process

For years, school districts and libraries have been augmenting their telecommunication budgets with funds provided by the Universal Service Fund through the E-Rate program.  In 2014, the program was modernized to include internal connections under Priority 2.  This modernization funds school districts’ and libraries’ efforts to modernize their wired and wireless connections in proportion to their free and reduced lunch (FRL) student population.

The new funding formula provides $150 per student over five years multiplied by the organization’s FRL ratio. For example, if a district’s FRL ratio is 8 out of 10 students – or 80% – and the district has 10,000 students, it is eligible for up to $120,000 over 5 years (10,000 X $150.00 X .80). The district will need to contribute $30,000 to receive the $120,000 in this example.  These funds are available one time during the five year period, either all at once or distributed over the course of five years. Most districts are applying for their portion in the first year due to uncertainties about the programs funding over the 5 years.

A district needs to begin the process by filing a Form 470 stating their intent to procure Priority 2 funds for an internal project. This form allows vendors to bid for that project. Because districts are only required to abide by their purchasing policies, this is not necessarily an RFP process. As school districts choose a preferred vendor, they submit a Form 471 by the E-Rate deadline, April 16, 2015.  Once the Universal Service Administrative Company returns an intent to fund letter, the work can be scheduled.

Most districts choose a consultant to help them navigate these new and complex waters. This program provides opportunity for districts that have traditionally not been able to upgrade their technology due to financial or staffing constraints.  It also presents a challenge in deciding on the new technology to be used and how to implement it.  This is where a Value Added Reseller (VAR) like High Point Networks comes in.  HPN has been helping school districts improve their infrastructures for over ten years.

We have both the experience and engineering staff to successfully design, implement and support a variety of internal installations. The new E-Rate rules allow for a dizzying array of options to help students make the best use of the technology. Our staff brings their many years of school district experience to bear in designing a solution tailored to each individual district’s needs. We then implement that solution, train staff in its day to day operation, and also back it up with our own support staff. Whether it involves wireless or wired networks, unified communications, server storage or security, High Point Networks is looking forward to partnering with more school districts to enable the success of students and staff in our communities.

Office Communication Has Modernized, Now The Tools Must Follow

With the transition to a more online-centric work environment that is now occurring in just about all industries today, many common office processes have changed. But, the tools needed to complete such tasks effectively have been slower to catch up.

In the old days, companies used the post office to deliver business communications back and forth between locations. As the speed of the enterprise increased and conversations needed to happen more quickly, the telephone aided organizations in their quest to get things done faster. Now, only a small number of daily communication needs are best handled by just a phone conversation, and many offices have yet to implement the necessary tools to accommodate the shift.

Multiple Channels Needed For Modern Communication
A recent survey conducted by uSamp Research found that employees’ attitudes toward communication are changing and they require the right solutions to support the new way of doing business. The report, which included responses from IT decision-makers from more than 500 companies, found that 97 percent of managers believe daily tasks are impacted by business communications. With so much importance being put on how things are communicated, it is critical that information is conveyed in the way that best suits the individual message.

For instance, most employees do not find in-person meetings productive anymore. A majority of survey participants — 93 percent — said that new communication solutions take priority over in-person meetings. Instead, collaborative tools can bring people together without having to actually be in the same location, increasing productivity and reducing the amount of time wasted in traditional meetings. Nearly 45 percent of managers surveyed reported an interest in adopting internal communication tools to bring people together without having to actually be together.

Voicemails are in a similar situation as traditional meetings. Hardly anyone takes the time to listen to voice messages anymore, instead either calling the person back or ignoring them altogether. This wastes time and could potentially lead to valuable information being overlooked. According to the study, 82 percent of participants prefer text messages to voicemails, as they can be digested more quickly and conveniently. With the ability to receive voice messages in a text format, everyone is satisfied and no time is wasted.

By Chandler Harris, ShoreTel