It is Time to Stop Resisting Hosted Voice

Is the transition from on-premises phone systems to hosted voice really any different than that of DOS to Windows? Early in my career, I worked as an IT Consultant.  I recall an assignment for a law firm to transition them from WordPerfect for DOS to WordPerfect for Windows. Now some of you understand how I just dated myself, and some do not have any idea why I mistyped Word as WordPerfect.  That being said, WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS was extremely popular with legal secretaries, transcriptionists, and anyone who produced significant amounts of documents. As I started my project, I sat
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Five Steps to a Successful Telecom Broker Business

Being an entrepreneur, business owner, telecom broker, speaker, and author, I’ve had plenty of chances to make mistakes—some large, some small. Over time, I’ve learned what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. The funny thing is, however, that the recipe for success, or at least the strategy behind it, changes. What I did in 2002 wouldn’t necessarily work today, and vice versa. Interesting point, right? Well, this got me thinking: What would I do if I could be a telecom broker and start a cloud brokerage agency, today, knowing what I know now? After much thought (and recent experiences with
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Partner Spotlight on Jack Knocke

At six feet, two inches, Jack Knocke is easy to spot in a crowd. I first met him last March in Las Vegas at the Channel Partners show. I knew he’d be attending the event, but at such a large show, I didn’t think I’d see him. Walking the show Sunday night I spotted a well-dressed, tall man across the aisle. With a friendly smile we greeted each other and, when I saw his name tag, I broke out laughing—he was right….find each other, we did! Jack makes a living helping VARs and MSPs fine-tune their businesses. Many leave 30
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Partner Spotlight on Adam Edwards

I first met Adam Edwards, co-founder of Telarus, when we shared the same hallways in the Centennial Plaza. Our VXSuite offices were located on the same floor as Telarus and he always gave a smile and friendly greeting when we passed. Since we were all in the same building it was easy to mention, in passing, our VXMadness event and introduce him to the idea of attending and sponsoring. We would update him on new registrations and other sponsors. He loved the idea and has attended VXMadness both years. He is such a fan, in fact, that he and co-founder
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Network Readiness in 2015

Dimension Data, VXSuite partner and one of the largest networking companies in the world, recently released their 2015 Network Barometer Report, gauging the network readiness of today’s businesses. They concluded that investing in maturing your organization’s network performance monitoring, support, and management systems is the most effective way to improve the network’s ability to support the business. They found processes, rather than refreshing technology simply for the sake of avoiding obsolescence, would prove network readiness and net winners in the end. Keep it Until it Breaks It makes sense to “sweat” assets longer, as long as the risks are known
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Why Transparency is Important in a Cloud Broker Relationship

Today’s cloud broker is different from the cloud broker of yesterday. The term “broker” has a negative connotation because people associate it with someone only concerned with price. The new role is expanded because the cloud broker becomes a cloud aggregator. While they may provide a cost analysis of services, they also save the buyer time by conducting research on their behalf. Some also act as intermediaries for contract negotiations. They act as a consultant who understands the needs of the business in relation to their business goals. Tech Target defines a cloud broker as, “A third-party individual or business
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Partner Spotlight with Mike Hanks

I first met Mike Hanks when I worked for one of our VXSuite partners, CONNECTIONS. Owner Jon Giberson knew Mike from his days at another call accounting competitor. When I began work for VXSuite I became the channel manager for Continuant and had the pleasure of working with Mike. Our first meeting was over eight years ago. Fast forward to now and we were able to reconnect last March at VXMadness 2.0. Mike is quiet and thoughtful. He participated at our board of directors meeting in place of another board member who couldn’t attend. He has great insight into his
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Telarus Acquires VXSuite

A letter to VXSuite Partners from Roger Blohm, President Helping our partners build their best brand has always been a top priority at LVM, Inc. I hope this is evidenced by the top-notch products we have built for you to sell to your customers, the white-labeling of those products, the marketing assistance, and more. During  the past 18 months, we have sought venture capital funds to help grow the business and, because of these conversations, we have decided to join Telarus. Telarus acquires VXSuite products, partners, and customers. I wanted to take a moment to explain how this came about
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The 7 Habits Recap

We are speeding toward the fourth quarter and managers at all levels are wondering if the company will reach its 2015 goals. To better understand where you are—and what you need to do in the fourth quarter—ask yourself these questions: What are the year-to-date numbers and what is in the funnel for the last part of 2015? Will you reach your sales goals? What projects did you commit to finishing in 2015 that might slip into 2016? What relationships did you commit to develop that have been put on the back-burner? What strategic initiatives have you committed to starting that
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Keys to Successful Skype for Business Installation

The question was asked at VXMadness, “Is Skype for Business (Lync) ready for primetime?” Partners are hearing the buzz from customers and are worried about Lync issues popping up. The Lync panel assured our partners it is a product that is ready for primetime. The problems occur when clients don’t properly prepare for a successful Skype for Business installation. Skype for Business is About Outcome and Culture Shift To ensure a positive quality of experience, you need to ask questions pre-deployment. Engineers can design a perfect Skype for Business installation, but if the business hasn’t done their homework about how
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Six Lync Issues to be Aware of in Competitive Situations

At VXMadness 2.0 we had a lively Lync panel discussion with experts in Lync and Skype for Business implementations. They took questions from the audience and offered advice and suggestions. Amy Freeman, owner of Global Communications, LLC, asked a question about Lync issues. She was concerned about competing against other phone system vendors and wanted to know what limitations Lync has that they will encounter. Because Microsoft owns the desktop, they have the advantage for that user. Office applications dominate most organizations, and users are comfortable navigating these programs. Adding IM, presence, and screen share features inside Office applications they
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Rise of the Cloud Broker

Recently I attended Cisco Live, the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, and presented a keynote presentation at the Telarus Partner Summit. The title of my presentation was “Becoming a Cloud Broker.” I was surprised to learn there was a similar class at all three events. The Telarus Partner Summit hosts a more traditional carrier and bandwidth agent representative who are attending a master agency’s partner show. Cisco Live was filled with technology companies, and Cisco partners. The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference was filled with their best partners selling servers, windows, licenses, and now Azure and Office 365. While the audiences varied,
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Partner Spotlight with Pat Galvin

I first met Pat Galvin over the phone in my role of channel manager. I called on him to introduce myself and learn more about his business. I remember him as warm and easy-to-talk to from the very beginning. Fast forward five years and we were able to reconnect last March at VXMadness 2.0. Pat is warm, inviting and super insightful. He always had great input in our panel discussions and we could count on him for thought-provoking questions about industry trends. He believes his customer are his biggest advocates. They become salespeople in their own community. And this is
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Why Value Added Resellers Should be Reselling Telecom Services

Traditional value added resellers (VARs) have historically shied away from reselling telecom services. They have resisted the headaches and bad reputation that can come with failed installations, outages, and poor performance. This is understandable, but having the bandwidth conversation can be a powerful and profitable conversation and by avoiding this critical component you are missing out on a chance to control more of the customer’s wallet share. Resellers who are asking these questions will discover more opportunities inside their customer:      Have you run a bandwidth utilization report to see how much bandwidth and how many trunks you are using and
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Partner Spotlight: How a Standing Desk Helped a VXSuite Partner Fight Fatigue

Back at the end of May VXSuite partner Jon Giberson of CONNECTIONS shared with us his experiment to try a standing desk to fight constant headaches, fatigue, and back pain. He discovered the idea of using a standing desk when he read an article detailing the medical hazards of sitting at a desk all day. He asked his personal physician if sitting all day might be affecting his health and, if so, if he had any suggestions to help his fatigue. His physician  said anytime you are sedentary, your body is not working as hard. He suggested a couple tools
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Unified Communications Devices a Huge Opportunity for VARs and MSPs

Our society is obsessed with being connected. Unified communications devices are changing the way we go about our daily lives. Gone are the days of waiting to hear back in a day or two from colleagues and business partners. Today’s workers expect an instant response. Users are constantly on their phones. A recent study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions found female college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cell phones, while male students report spending nearly eight. The study also found that about 60 percent of study participants think they may be addicted
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Why a Managed Service Provider Will Beat Out the Agent in the Long Run

Recently, Doug Tolley and VXSuite partner Greg Plum of Plum UC participated in a podcast titled, “Partner Adoption of Converged Bundles and Billing.” The event was hosted by Dan Baldwin, executive director of the Telecom Association. Dan quickly jumped into a series of questions to get to the heart of the VXSuite and Plum UC stories. They talked about the shift from being simply a telecom services agent to a managed service provider. Plum UC provides partners and their customers with a comprehensive platform of unified communications and conferencing and collaboration solutions. They are also a Telarus partner and work
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Rude Passengers Take the Fun Out of Travel

People never cease to amaze me. After a successful International Avaya Users Group (IAUG) trade show in Denver I was traveling home with my father, who happens to be a business partner. We were at the ticket counter checking our bags in the Denver airport and decided to inquire about upgrading to first class. The counter attendant said she had two seats left. Because we were having to check the booth and our bags, the price to upgrade would be nominal because bags are free on first class. We were in! Incompetence? As she was working to get things completed
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What Makes a High Performing Team

I was recently in a meeting of a group of CEOs and we were collaborating and discussing employees, teamwork, and the attributes of a high performing team. During this meeting, the moderator asked everyone to take a few minutes and recall the best team they had ever worked with in their careers. They asked what made it this high performing team the “best” team ever. This may sound trite or convenient, but as I reflected I realized the best team I had ever worked with was the team I work with now at LVM. As I thought about what makes
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The Fallacy of “Do More With Less”

I often hear managers of teams or companies that are talking about profit recovery, turnaround, changing culture etc. talk about the ways that they are going to change. During these discussions in management meetings I almost invariably hear a manager say “we are going to do more with less.” This comment by its very nature is problematic. First, if our employees work hard, are skilled, and have proper instruction there is no way they can do more with less. Unless we are going to train them better, give them new systems or tools that make them more productive, or make
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How Does Checking Work Email Affect Your Business Efficiency?

During the Cisco Live Empowered Women’s Network session Sunday afternoon, we had a round table discussion about work/life balance—specifically, how often we check work email and how hard it is to unplug. It’s difficult to improve business efficiency when our focus is all over the place. Our session moderator and Cisco Executive, Kim Majerus, posed the question, “How do you unplug?” As we went around the table I was amazed at how many of the women I was seated with just don’t unplug from email. Ever. They check work email all the time. Taking a Break … to Improve Business
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I Bought a Truck and Learned a Lesson About Business Intelligence Analytics

Sometimes things happen in life that allow my business world and personal world to collide. Recently I was asked by my neighborhood Boy Scout Troop to be the Scoutmaster. I have been a lifelong supporter of the ideals and values that Scouting teaches boys and I am an Eagle Scout. I also have always wanted to get a big truck, and saw this as a perfect convergence of truck-justification and a chance to give something back to the community. The truck-buying journey drilled home a lesson in business intelligence analytics which was unexpected. Luckily my terrific wife also allowed the
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Dimension Data Takes Employee Training to a Whole NEW Dimension!

We are lucky enough to work with some amazing partners. Recently one of our partners, Dimension Data, invited us into their elite training facility to work with their sales and engineering staff. What an amazing experience. As if running a multi billion-dollar organization with locations and staff spread out world-wide isn’t stressful enough, imagine employee training for such a massive operation. Think about the trouble of trying to bring a group of internationally based consultants, architects and managers together. It’s no easy task! The employees we’re talking about are folks with major account and/or unique practice responsibilities ranging from hosted
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Fighting the Dangers of Sitting All Day

I am fortunate to have built a successful technology business in a home-office environment. It offers plenty of freedoms that not everyone can boast about—not the least of which is that my commute involves grabbing a cup of coffee in my own kitchen. No cars, no highways, no crazy drivers. But I’ve realized lately the dangers of sitting all day might counteract some of those great benefits. In truth, 30 years of sitting at my desk for several hours a day has taken its toll on my health. These days, with the Internet, email and telephone as our primary method
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Communications Monitoring, IT software, and the Question “What Do You Do?”

Communications Monitoring, IT software, and the Question “What Do You Do?” Recently I attended a rock climbing competition for my son, and as you do at these events, I met family members of the kids on his team. In these conversations, it invariably comes to the, “What do you do for a living?” question. Sometimes I answer with the easy out, “I sell IT software.” I might go out on a limb and mention “communications monitoring.” But it’s really more than that. I am the Vice President of Marketing for LVM, Inc. While I am not one for fancy job
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What is VXDash? Business Analytics Software That Works for You

VXDash was created because our operations team was fielding requests from partners who wanted to massage data in unique ways. The resulting business analytics software brings the ability to include any data we are collecting and build an operational view that works for the individual user. In our individual applications we have siloed information, and building custom reports can be time-consuming. By introducing VXDash, we have eliminated the need for our technical resources to build custom reports. We can teach an analyst level position how to use our business analytics software to create the reports they will find most useful
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ShoreTel Bets the Farm on Cloud UC but Will Fail Without This Key Component

As a unified communications wonk, I recently attended the ShoreTel conference excited to glean some intel about trends in UC, and especially cloud UC. As the ShoreTel conference was reconvening for the first time in almost 30 months, I was also expecting some huge announcements or product unveiling. Unfortunately, from that perspective the conference was underwhelming. That said, I was particularly interested in the comments by ShoreTel President and CEO Don Joos, who clearly stated in his keynote that the target market for ShoreTel is the SMB market—specifically 5,000 seat deployments and below. But the other clear message from the
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ShoreTel Partner Conference 2015

Partner shows are a great way for us to gain exposure to the partner channel and the ShoreTel Partner show of 2015 was no exception. After a two year hiatus, the ShoreTel partner conference made a triumphant return by hosting about 1100 attendees at the Gaylord Palms Resorts in Orlando, Florida. This week Doug Tolley and Roger Blohm give us their show recaps. LVM participated as a sponsor, and as usual were impressed with the overall quality of the partners that attend this event. And best of all, our Managed Services for Unified Communications message was well received as we
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Life Without Lync

My morning was crazy. I had backed up plumbing in the house and the dog threw up on the carpet—all before 6 a.m.! Then when I finally make it to my desk for my morning conference call, Lync wasn’t working. I recently upgraded from a MacBook Pro to an iMac with a 1 TB flash hard drive. Ahh, life is good. Except when it’s not. Like today when no one in my company could get on our call. Was it my new computer?  I had to start from scratch and download every program, add-on and plug-in one at a time.
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Top Ten Favorite Moments at VXMadness

VXMadness , Business Lessons Learned from The Princess Bride, was a huge success! We invited VXSuite partners from around the country – and the world – to join us in Lake Las Vegas for three days of thought-provoking discussions, VXSuite education, lively panels and viewing of the NCAA March Madness opening games. As I reflect on a fabulous three days, I can’t help but smile as I think of my top ten favorite moments. Avaya con Dios – aka – the debut of Princess Buttercup. Pam, Ron and Kurt did an amazing job busting into Roger’s Grow Your Sandbox presentation. The
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