BNI Gateway To Business

Members' Articles

BT to switch off business phone network

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

11th May 2016

Post Type: Education Item

Most businesses with more than a handful of employees use ISDN  telephone lines.  After 2020 BT will stop training ISDN engineers - and in 2025 it will switch off the ISDN network.  Businesses will need an alternative in place well before then so it is prudent to find out when your current telephone contract ends and start considering your options many months in advance.

“Old fashioned” telephone handsets send an analogue signal along analogue phone lines.  Modern telephone equipment can convert analogue voice signals into digital data “packets” which can then travel via the internet rather than telephone lines.  This technology is called “Voice over IP” (“VoIP”).  Because VoIP signals use the internet, anyone wishing to use a VoIP telephone needs a reliable and fast data connection.  A leased line or fibre connection is best - ADSL can sometimes cope with a couple of additional voice signals but this often results in poor call quality (upload speed is generally the limiting factor).

VoIP systems offer two main alternatives, with many permutations underneath.  Some companies might wish to retain their existing telephone system or switchboard (PBX).  If the system is not too ancient it can have additional circuit boards fitted to allow VoIP channels (called “SIP trunks”) to replace ISDN lines.  It is not necessary to have one SIP trunk per staff member, i.e. a company of 50 employees might have 20 SIP trunks as not every employee will use the telephone simultaneously.

The other alternative is to replace the physical PBX/ telephone system with a "virtual PBX" in the cloud.  This is called "Hosted VoIP".  Employees access a web portal to configure the system which allows a huge range of functions (hunt groups, failovers etc).  Each user needs a VoIP handset which plugs into a data socket identical to that used by their pc.  In contrast to SIP trunks, each handset needs its own VoIP channel.  In most cases VoIP handsets arrive pre-configured and are “plug and play”.

There are many variations to the above and migrating to a new technology is an opportunity to consider how (and where) your staff will work in the future – do they need a fixed handset on a desk, or a mobile handset or headset ?  Will they work from home ?  What about video calls and conferencing ?  Integration with CRMs ?


For impartial advice on the above please contact me - even if your existing contract does not expire for some considerable time.  We can then diarise the project for a future date and plan accordingly.

 


Britain Needs Houses - We have Plenty to Chose From.

by Noel Greenwood from GWD

19th April 2016

Post Type: New Member Article

Britain Needs Houses.

We’re always being told that there’s a housing shortage here in the UK. Well at GWD, whilst we tend not to get involved in politics or the Planning Industry, we certainly have no shortage of houses.

Collection Box for a charity

Collection Box for a charity

We’ve been making presentation and promotional packing boxes for nearly twenty years. During this time we have made numerous boxes in the shape of houses and other buildings, ranging from henhouses and outhouses…..

Henhouse Box for Miniature chocolate eggs for Bettys (folding box)

Henhouse Box for Miniature chocolate eggs for Bettys (folding box)

……to the Liberty building and Buckingham Palace boxes that we designed for Rococo Chocolates.

Liberty Building and Buckingham Palace (folding boxes)

Liberty Building and Buckingham Palace (folding boxes)

We’ve made this type of specialist presentation packaging boxes for a wide variety of clients, including builders, estate agents and charities. Whether you want to work alongside our designers to come up with a unique box that is perfectly tailored to your business, or whether you just want us to do it all for you, we can provide you with a box that suits your needs and promotes your brand or product. We are not a wholesaler, we design and make the majority of our boxes here in the UK, meaning we have no minimum order requirement and total control over lead times. We are also happy to offer face to face meetings as required to discuss your requirements and can offer quotes by email or telephone. Manufacturing in the UK means we can also handle short notice arrangements when possible.

Gingerbread House Money Box for Harrods (rigid box and lid)

Gingerbread House Money Box for Harrods (rigid box and lid)

It’s that time of the year when many people are considering moving home or extending their present residence. Home improvement is in vogue. You might also want to consider  house-shaped packaging as a form of direct mail to promote your brand and services, perhaps in the form of folding boxes such as the ones shown below?

Famous Buildings, Outhouse and Santa’s Boots in the chimney boxes (folding boxes)

Famous Buildings, Outhouse and Santa’s Boots in the chimney boxes (folding boxes)

Britain needs houses. Why not make use of our expertise in promotional packaging to help you promote your brand? Let us provide that extra flourish which will boost sales and encourage your clients to spread the good news about your business.

House Key Box for Estate Agent (rigid box and lid)

House Key Box for Estate Agent (rigid box and lid)


 

Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation packaging and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website: www.gwd.ltd.uk


Myanmar part 2 - Bagan and Mandalay

by Norma Fenwick from Your Perfect Travel

05th March 2016

Post Type: New Member Article

 

FishermenMyanmar

Myanmar - alluring and mysterious. In December 2015, I was fortunate to spend 14 days travelling around this wonderful country.  Here’s part 2 of my travel story…

After our day at Inle Lake (think of the iconic pictures of the fisherman, standing on one leg in their boats using cone-shaped nets), day 4 of our travels saw us taking a Taxi to Heho airport (the name made me smile!) - the smallest airport I've ever been to - to catch a plane to Bagan and the Su Tine San Royal Palace Hotel.

Balloons in Myanmar
Balloons in Myanmar

Beautiful temples, dramatic shapes and filigree, colours of the country...and hot air balloons everywhere.  

This place is just awesome; there is so much one could say about Bagan. It is so rustic, has so much charm and completely transports you to a different time. Everywhere you turn there are pagodas and stupors. It's truly stunning and once again the photos don't do it justice.  Please visit Bagan for yourself.

Fact: there are over 4000 temples in Bagan

“No matter where you  go, there’s another golden pagoda”

Day 5 and Mandalay.  I’ve wanted to visit Mandalay for so long that it was worth the effort to get there. After an hours ride in pick up truck, we were cramped into a bus for 5-hours with too many other people! It was dark by the time we arrived in Mandalay - just enough time for a beer at a local bar, a chicken kebab and bed!

“Mandalay is the wealthiest city in Myanmar, with the newest airport and the most disorganised chaos”

What a day in Mandalay! One of the wonderful things about this country is that the local people are so keen to share their knowledge which leads to wonderful local finds. With so many sights to see, and only a few days to see them all, Bebo, a local man, drove us around the city, explaining the sights and sounds. Places have so much more meaning when a local tells you the stories about them.

One of our favourites was Mahumuni Paya, a temple on top of a hill where we took an incongruous lift up to the top and escalators down and met a group of Arsenal supporters (we behaved ourselves!), is home to a 13ft tall, 2000 year-old image of Buddha. Male devotees apply gold leaf to the statue which means that there is a 6 inch layer of pure gold over it. This is the central shrine, with a golden roof and long passageways. Bare-footed, we wandered around browsing the stalls and soaking up the atmosphere.

MahumuniPaya.jpg

Next stop was the famous U Bein Bridge. Built out of 1086 poles standing in the water, and with water lapping at the planks that balance between them, the bridge is one of Myanmar’s most photographed sites. It’s not until the rainy season that you can see why it’s needed. The whole area changes from vegetable gardens into a big lake.

 

UBeinBridge.jpg
U Bein Bridge - the 1.2-kilometre bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world.

After many, many photographs of the bridge and a good night’s sleep, we used our own steam to meander around the city before we would head to yet another airport. We walked along a 230ft-wide moat and well over 4 miles of crenellated (my new favourite word, it means the square cut outs that you see on the top of castles), reconstructed 26ft-high walls that form a vast square around the site of the former Mandalay citadel.

So onto our next internal flight, this time to Yangon, from where we would head to the beach and some much needed sun, sea, sand and cocktails!  Another 5-hour drive took us to Nwge Saung (pronounced We Song) beach. Crazy that a cab costs £60 when a 7-hour uncomfortable bus journey is £38. Arrived at the gorgeous Eskala 5* resort, looking like something the cat dragged in with two rucksacks and a bottle of Mandalay Rum. The look of surprise on their faces was priceless. Spent the rest of the day by the pool, drinking Hawaiian Blue Cocktails and soaking up the sun. Went for a walk into the 'village' in the evening and had a delicious dinner at a Burmese seafood restaurant. Back to villa for a pre-bed Mandalay rum and coke, and a game of crib whilst listening to music on the beach and watching fireworks.

Life is good and I’m looking forward to the beach...

If you would like to know more about Myanmar and other bespoke holidays that we can put together for you, please get in touch either through our website  http://my.notjusttravel.com/your-perfect-travel or call us on 01279 724239. We’re looking forward to creating Your Perfect Travel.



'Always On' Marketing Strategy - How SMEs can Benefit

by Steve Chew from Magnificent Stuff

02nd March 2016

Post Type: New Member Article
'Always On' Marketing Strategy - How SMEs can Benefit

Always On Marketing

Definitionadjective before noun UK   /ˌɔːl.weɪzˈɒn/  US  /ˌɑːl.weɪzˈɑːnAlways On – available or operating at all times. 

The media landscape can be an intimidating place for SMEs. Primarily because they are greater in number (representing 99% of all EU businesses) and therefore face more competition from peers, but also because they lack the vast budgets and ability to generate the standout and market recognition larger organisations can. An Always On strategy should be considered.

Financial benefit

An Always On strategy – where small amounts of information or content is delivered constantly rather than a more traditional “campaign” model, is ideal for smaller businesses on a financial level, as it is easier to spread the cost over time instead of crippling your bottom line with a major fiscal hit every few months. It also means that your message is continuous rather than being reinvented each burst.

Relationship building

A further advantage of Always On content is that it engages you and your audience in an ongoing two-way conversation, a key driver for building your customer base. Your audience, like the rest of us, live in a world where they have become accustomed to constant information- when that drops off at the end of a campaign, a lot of that engagement can be lost. Of course attracting their attention in the first place is important, but equally crucial is being able to retain it. An Always On strategy can help to develop a relationship – keep them coming back.

“A good analogy would be with web browsing – getting people to click on your page is one thing, but what you really want is for them to bookmark it”.

Allows you to be both reactive AND proactive

Always On is key when it comes to maintaining relationships because it enables you to be nimble, and adapt to changing circumstances or customer feedback on the fly. A campaign which is generally more proactive, is a commitment, and if poorly-judged can be very difficult to come back from and can even be damaging.

“To summarise, with Always On marketing, even if you are using it in combination with campaign marketing, you will have much less trouble turning the ship around if you reach choppy waters!”

If you would like help with an Always On strategy for your business please email  info@magnificentstuff.net or visit our CONTACT page

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The bug in your Apple

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

24th February 2016

Post Type: Education Item
The bug in your Apple

Do you own an iPhone with a damaged screen or damaged Touch ID button - or one repaired by a non-Apple engineer ?  If so, updating your operating system to iOS9 might kill your phone.

When handsets are updated to the latest operating system, iOS 9 runs a series of internal checks.  If certain checks fail the message ‘Error 53’ is displayed and the phone becomes totally inoperative.  In most cases users cannot salvage their handset (or even their data) by rolling back to an earlier version of the operating system or disabling the Touch ID pad.  A non-Apple repair to the screen or Touch pad can trigger this result, as can (occasionally) a cracked, unrepaired screen.

Apple’s initial explanation was that the screen and home button’s fingerprint recognition “pairs” with encrypted data on the handset.  A non-Apple repairer can fit a replacement Touch ID button or screen but cannot fully authorise the handset to accept the new part.  This is a security measure designed to prevent unauthorised access via swapping ID buttons, particularly relevant since the advent of Apple Pay.  The end result is that any repairs to these components must be done by an authorised Apple repairer at premium rates.

After an public outcry, Apple offered an alternative explanation that ‘Error 53’ was in fact a factory test and never intended to impact consumers.  They have released an update to iOS 9.2.1 to correct the error message and restore functionality - instructions can be viewed here.

Now all Apple have to do is fix the bug which breaks iPhones if the date is set to 1 January, 1970.  This is a known bug - online tricksters are spoofing gullible users to alter date settings with promises of  retro themes.  In fact it breaks the handset and requires a trip to the Apple store to rectify.