Category: New Technology

CloudG VOIP Services Compared to Nextiva VOIP – All the Features at Half the Price

With today’s hybrid working environments, it is crucial to have a scalable communication platform that connects your team, partners, and customers seamlessly, no matter where they are. A fully managed VOIP system is no longer a luxury—it is a necessity! 

When it comes to VOIP providers, you have a choice. You can choose one of the big-name providers, like Nextiva VOIP, or you can opt to purchase a service with the same features—and more—from CloudG.

Our fully managed VOIP solution enables you to unify your hybrid workforce, improve productivity, and provide better service to your customers, all at a price that our competitors can’t touch! Our CloudG hosted VOIP offers all the features as Nextiva VOIP, including mobile app, auto-attendant, intelligent call routing, call queues, music on hold, voicemail, CMS integrations, and other common services.

We also offer features the other providers don’t have. Services like Microsoft 365® integration, an open platform on which you own your own numbers, video conferencing, customer caller ID and more! And we offer all these features and services for less than half the price of Nextiva VOIP and other competitors. 

Check out our comparison chart to see how we measure up to the competition and review our case studies to see how we’ve helped others improve customer experiences and communication, reduce IT spend, and enable growth. Then contact us to get started! 

That Random Text Message Could Cost You

We’ve all been warned for years about cyber criminals trying to steal our passwords and personal information to gain access to bank accounts or steal our identities. Phishing and smishing attacks—sending fake emails (phishing) or texts (smishing) that seem to be from reputable companies to get us to reveal personal or financial information, click on suspicious links, or download harmful software—are, unfortunately, commonplace today.

But these types of attacks aren’t the only ones threatening to empty our wallets. The Federal Trade Commission reports that more than 46,000 people fell victim to cryptocurrency (a.k.a. “crypto”) scams, losing more than $1 billion in the 18-month period from January 2021 to June of 2022, and that number is on the rise. 

But, wait, you say, “I am not a millionaire, so I am not a target for these scammers.” Think again. 

Crypto scams are on the rise, and they are targeting individuals at all levels of our society. It can be as simple as a “wrong number” text that starts the “game” and ends with you losing big. In fact, the threat has become so widespread that Senator Diane Warren (D-Mass.) recently introduced a bill, the Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act, which aims to make it easier for government regulators to track suspicious activity around crypto and shut down scammers. 

The Best Defense Against Crypto Scammers

Being aware of the types and scope of crypto attacks can be your best defense against falling victim to these scams. The more you know about it, the better you will be at spotting the clues and determining that “something’s not right.”

First, let’s start with some basics about crypto.

Crypto 101

Crypto is digital currency—it only exists online. There is no physical asset. There are multiple types of crypto, with the most well-known being Bitcoin and Ether.

Crypto can be purchased electronically (using your computer or phone) through an exchange, an app, a website, or a cryptocurrency “ATM.” There are also other ways to purchase crypto which involve solving complicated puzzles. Once purchased, crypto is stored in a digital wallet from which you can spend or invest your money.

The major drawback with crypto is that it is not regulated and there are no legal or government protections for those who put their money into it. So, if you fall prey to a password breach or other type of fraud, there is no recourse.

Types of Crypto Scams

There are many types of crypto scams, so awareness is key to avoiding them. Watch out for the following:

  • Celebrity Enticement. Social media messages from celebrities promising to multiply any crypto you send to them are a typical scam. Think about it, would Brad Pitt or Oprah Winfrey really be looking to partner with you? 
  • Too-Good-To-Be-True Investment Opportunities. When an investment manager contacts you “out of the blue” with promises of big payouts if you invest in crypto, it is often a scam. Also watch out for those offering “free money” or guaranteeing unusually large returns on investment. 
  • Romance. The number one way scammers lure their victims is by promising romance. Scammers use dating websites to lure victims into believing they are in a romantic relationship. There have even been reported cases in which scammers send a “wrong number” text message to an individual, strike up a conversation, and develop a romantic relationship. Then, when trust is established, the scammer urges the victim to invest in crypto with them, with the victim transferring cryptocurrency or account information to the scammer. This story from the San Francisco Chronical shows you how easily the average guy can fall victim to scammers.

Once the scammer draws you in, false reports of huge gains keep you, the investor, “on the hook” and wanting to invest more money. Unfortunately, it is when you try to withdraw your money that the scam is revealed. Then it is too late.

The Bottom Line

No matter who you are or how much—or little—money you have, you need to be aware of the types of scams out there. 

Watch the news or read about scams on the internet so you know what to look for. 

Be vigilant—or even a little suspicious—at all times. Never click on unsolicited links in email or text; never give out account information (through email, text or phone) without verifying that the receiver is who you think they are (i.e., your bank, your credit card company, etc.), and even be wary of romantic partners looking to help you invest.

Finally, think! If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Supporting Your Work-from-Home Staff: Technology is Key

Two and a half years after Covid closed offices around the world and required millions of workers to perform their jobs from their homes, the work-from-home “job feature” has gained a foothold across varying demographics, occupations, and locations, and remains a reality for more than half of the US workforce. According to a recent McKinsey & Company report*, more than 58% of the American workforce (approximately 92 million people) have the option of working from home at least one day a week and 35% have the option to work from home five days a week.

While this flexible staffing model is convenient for workers and typically more cost-effective for employers (less office space is required), issues can arise if you don’t have the right technology to support a work-from-home model. If your office staff fields customer calls, you need to ensure that the customer experience remains consistent whether your staff is in the office or at home.

One of the ways to ensure productivity and minimize issues is to upgrade your phone service to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). This technology, which allows office-based and remote employees to work on the same system, keeps your remote employees connected to your business no matter where they are. 

How it Works

VoIP uses the internet to digitize the user’s voice and send it to the receiver. Calls can be routed throughout offices and to remote locations without having the phone company run “lines.” This digital setup includes many features you can’t get with analog phones, including intelligent call routing, video conferencing, screen sharing, voice-to-text and call recording, analytics, and more.

Further, employees can be assigned a single number whether they are in the office or at a remote location and can integrate the technology—through an app—with their smartphones, allowing them to perform their work from anywhere.

Benefits of VoIP

Efficiency – VoIP uses an automated attendant to route customer calls, getting your customers to the right agents no matter where those agents are—all with one call to a single number.  In addition, changes such as adding more lines, scaling back, or reallocating lines, are quick and easy.

Cost – VoIP is a cost-effective option for most employers. No hardware is required to run the system; all you need is an internet connection and a subscription plan. There is no need to purchase additional hardware or pay setup fees every time you add a new employee.

Security – When used over a virtual private network (VPN), VoIP encrypts the data being sent over the company network, giving you a secure method of communicating and sharing data.

Tracking/Monitoring – VoIP records calls and reports data to you, so it is easy to track performance of in-office and remote workers. Metrics such as missed calls, call volume, and availability are easily monitored.

To get started with VoIP for your workforce, contact us.

*McKinsey & Company, Americans are embracing flexible work—and they want more of it

How to Help Seniors with Technology

In today’s digital world, if you don’t use the latest technology, you can be left behind.

8 Tech Buzzwords and Acronyms Business Executives Need to Know in 2023

The tech world evolves quickly and each year brings new advances. It can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends and technologies, but if you don’t keep up, you risk falling behind and your competitors will take the lead. You may have heard many of the latest buzzwords and seen the acronyms, but do you know what they are and how they can help your business?

At CloudG, we aim to connect you with the technologies and tools that will make your business run more efficiently and give you a competitive advantage. The first step is knowing what’s available and trending in the market. Here is our high-level overview of the top 8 technology buzzwords and acronyms you need to know in 2023. 

#1. “As-A-Service”

In the past, you purchased hardware and equipment for your office, but thanks to cloud computing, today’s tech world is largely subscription-based. As more and more businesses move to the cloud, there is no longer a need to purchase hardware, or even software. Instead, you use “on-demand” infrastructure, networks, applications, and software that are centrally hosted and accessed through your web browser. A main advantage of as-a-service delivery models is that you can stay up-to-date with the latest releases without purchasing and installing new equipment.

#2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is the ability of software or machines to make decisions and learn over time from experience. Popular forms of AI include Machine Learning, which involves leveraging data to make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed to do so, and Deep Learning, a broader family of machine learning processes based on artificial neural networks. But enough of the technicalities. What you need to know is that AI is the foundation of many cyber security tools that can help detect and prevent cybercrime or cyber attacks.

#3. Cybersecurity Mesh Architecture (CSMA)

Speaking of cybercrime or cyber attacks, the newest development in fighting off hackers in our data-sensitive world is a cybersecurity mesh architecture. This collaborative network uses multiple security controls between intrusion points and your sensitive data to help prevent hackers from exploiting parts of a network. Working quickly to discover and resolve security issues in both cloud-based and non-cloud-based environments, CSMA can protect core/internal infrastructure and remote working networks.

#4. Distributed Cloud

This dynamic data form of cloud computing protects and manages computer vision data (detailed information extracted from visual images) and intelligence. It is the fuel behind cloud-based business intelligence, cloud-based services linked to a 5G or mobile carrier service, and more. There is no doubt that you will be hearing more about this advanced technology in 2023 and beyond.

#5. Metaverse

If you’re like most people, you’ve heard that Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has invested heavily in the Metaverse, but you still may be fuzzy about what it is. To put it simply, the Metaverse is a combination of multiple technologies that create a digital ecosystem or world in which economic and social activities are carried out. Transactions and activities take place in the virtual world rather than in the physical world. Powered by Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies, users can interact with businesses and other users in this virtual world. Numerous industries—fashion, music, video, real estate—have embraced the concept, offering products, services, and experiences in the Metaverse.

#6. Extended Reality (XR)

While VR and AR have been in use for several years, the newest addition to the virtual realm is Extended Reality. XR takes VR and AR to the next level, simulating face-to-face interactions for extended periods of time. XR uses headsets, high-definition cameras, and other tools to allow people to conduct business that would otherwise require face-to-face interaction. XR provides a safe and secure environment for such activities as scientific experiments, medical testing, and other services and gives consumers the opportunity to have up-close and personal experiences with products from their homes or offices. 

#7. Hyperautomation

Hyperautomation leverages AI, Machine Learning and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to develop robots or “bots” to perform repetitive processes across organizations without human intervention. This not only allows businesses to improve processes, but frees an organization’s human assets (people) to work on more complex tasks.

#8. Sustainable Technology

As more and more businesses prioritize sustainable business practices and take responsibility for the environmental impact of their actions, Sustainable Technology is becoming the next big buzzword. In the digital world, sustainable technology refers to the optimization of energy and material usage. Not only does that mean using digital means for such things as business literature (rather than paper) or bringing people together (virtual meetings), but reducing your carbon footprint through more efficient use of email technology (compressing files and using links uses less energy than sending attachments) and reducing e-waste by using technology assets for as long as possible.

There is no doubt that some of these technology concepts can be confusing or difficult to understand. You may be asking how your business can benefit from these tools, especially since some of them are still in their infancy stages. That’s where CloudG comes in. To determine how these, and other technologies, can help you win in your competitive marketplace, contact us.

A Look at a New AI Technology: ChatGPT

At CloudG, we go to great lengths to keep our fingers on the pulse of the IT and Cloud services industry. This includes watching and learning about the latest technologies and innovations that can transform our clients’ businesses. One potential new disruptor that’s making the news is a chatbox that was released in November 2022 called ChatGPT. 

A tool developed by OpenAI, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence research lab, ChatGPT uses information from the internet to answer questions in a conversational manner and can build on previous questions in a given thread to create a dialogue.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a “cousin” of the popular GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) language prediction model—that’s the Natural Language Processing (NLP) tool that uses initial text as a prompt to produce text that continues the prompt. Its ability to generate human-like text in a variety of languages and domains allows ChatGPT to conduct natural, back-and-forth conversations with users for an extended period of time. This has the potential to revolutionize the customer service industry.

 

The tool can also generate high-quality content, such as that used in social media articles and posts. For businesses looking to create marketing materials and thought leadership content with limited staffs and budgets, this tool has the potential to be a game-changer.

 

Maybe the best part about it—and the most impactful—is that it can be customized for specific tasks and used to generate personal responses based on user input. This capability makes its potential unlimited.

 

A Note of Caution

While the possible benefits of ChatGPT are innumerable, there are some potential glitches, as noted by the creator. The tool, which recognizes patterns in massive amounts of text from the internet and delivers conversational dialog based on human training, is only as good as the information that feeds it. That means that the answer to the question you ask or the content you create may sound knowledgeable but be entirely wrong.

 

The Bottom Line

Despite its potential drawbacks, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the chatbox space. We will continue to track its successes and gauge its potential for use at CloudG.