Derek Smalls - Friday 05.06.15, 16:39pm
Business Phone Remanufacturing – The Economical & Environmental Benefits
You may be mistaken for thinking that remanufactured phones are simply second hand phones wiped clean and fitted with a replacement cord. However, reputable companies, such as Office Phone Shop, carry out extensive remanufacturing to offer their customers the opportunity to purchase high quality second hand products. They view this process as important, both from a sales point of view and in terms of recycling and reducing the environmental impact of electronic waste.
What does the remanufacturing process involve?
- First the phones are cleaned and tested to identify if there are any faults
- Then they are taken apart and tested, with any repairs being carried out to the main circuit board
- Casings, hand pieces, buttons, and DESI scripts are replaced
- The phones are tested again
- They are then boxed, as new and offered for sale with a one-year warranty
Businesses operating a well-maintained and regularly serviced PBX system can keep their organisation communicating for years. During the lifetime of this system, however, the desktop telephones may not fare so well.
Broken cords and hand pieces, cracked and chipped casings are all problems that the handsets can fall foul to. A piece of equipment such as the telephone, used extensively, is unlikely to outlive the PBX telephone system to which it complies.
Why buy a remanufactured phone instead of a new one?
Compatible telephones for older PBX systems may no longer be in production. Manufacturers upgrade models and release newer versions on an on-going basis. When they do this, it is usually to the detriment of an older version, which then becomes ‘end-of-life’ or ‘legacy’. This means that companies cannot purchase replacement telephones from the original manufacturers. In this case, it makes sense to source high quality remanufactured alternatives.
There is a cost implication to consider when buying new telephones, as well as deciding whether to replace one or all. If the phones needed are no longer in production, it shouldn’t automatically mean a whole system upgrade in order to incorporate new phones. Instead, it is economically viable to buy quality, remanufactured phones to use alongside an existing PBX.
A further consideration is the reduction of environmental waste. Waste electrical equipment is a huge issue. 15 million mobile phones are upgraded in the UK each year and it is estimated that more than half of them are still working. In the UK, we throw away 1.2 million tonnes of electronic waste every year. That’s enough to fill 150 thousand double decker buses (source: recycle-more.co.uk).
The European WEEE Directive requires the collection, treatment, recycling and recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment. This applies to a wide range of electronic and electrical products, including telecoms. Under the WEEE, you can no longer throw away your old and unwanted hardware. Producers and importers are responsible for financing the collection, treatment and recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment (Reference: The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive 2002/96/EC, as amended by 2003/108/EC).
At Office Phone Shop, not only can you buy remanufactured phones, they will also help you to dispose of the old phones that you no longer require. Fulfill your obligation to reduce the environmental impact of your organisation, by recycling your electrical equipment and ensuring that less waste is added to landfill sites.
You will find a large range of remanufactured phones, accessories and parts, from popular manufacturers such as Siemens, Ericsson, Mitel, Avaya and Nortel on the Office Phone Shop website.
Derek Smalls - Thursday 28.05.15, 21:13pm
Phone Phreaking - the hidden dangers of telephony fraud
Would you risk connecting your computer system to your network without having any virus detection and firewall security in place?
Would you pay for something on line using your credit card without ensuring that the payment method was secure?
Would you leave your office at the end of the day without securing all the windows and doors and activating the alarm?
The answer to all the above should be ‘no’ because you are aware of the pitfalls and dangers of not taking the proper steps to protect yourself.
So the real question is why are you not protecting your telephone system against telephony fraud?
Because you weren’t aware of the dangers
Telephony fraud, also known as Phreaking is a very dangerous type of fraud believed to generate up to five times the losses to businesses than that created by credit card fraud.
Phreaking is costing UK businesses billions of pounds in lost revenue. This is a global problem, but the UK is one of the top five countries in the world where Phreaking is most likely to occur, according to the Communication Fraud Control Association (CCFA), which estimates that up to 40% of companies have been hit at some point.
So what is Phreaking?
Any business with a telephone system (PBX), whether big or small can be targeted by phone hackers (Phreakers).
- The fraudsters hijack the PBX by breaking the PIN code on the voicemail then configure it for their own use. They use access codes and on-line password cracking technology, enabling them to infiltrate your system no matter how many times you change the passwords or codes.
- Once access has been gained the hackers are able to make outbound calls to anywhere in the world, the cost of which falls to the owner of the phone line connected to the system from where the call has originated from.
Phone Phreakers are organised criminal gangs, linked to terrorist organisations. Typically they sell phone services in developing countries to customers who do not own their own phone line and they deal in cash, which is virtually untraceable.
How was it that a company in Harrogate managed to ring up a telephone bill of £25,000 over the New Year weekend, when the office was shut down? And how did two offices in Guernsey manage to make £28,000 worth of calls between them over just one weekend?
The answer is that both were the victims of telephony fraud, also known as ‘Phreaking’, and these are not isolated incidents.
A BBC News item in August 2011 reported on a business in Basildon, whose telephone system had been hacked. The company only discovered the problem when they received their telephone bill and found that £1,600 worth of telephone calls had been made to Papua New Guinea.
This is the pattern for most of the companies who fall victim to Phreaking.
How will I know if I’ve been Phreaked?
Hackers are more likely to hit at night or over the weekend, when nobody is in the office. Your phone system will be lit up and the lines/trunks will be in operation for hours, even if there is no activity in the office. The first you are likely to hear about it is when you get your phone bill.
The question is who foots the bill?
Unfortunately, calls made using your phone line are your responsibility to pay for, even if you didn’t actually make those calls yourself. Telecoms providers and carriers will argue that they lease you the lines but that it is your responsibility to protect your systems against this type of attack. The trouble is that they fail to inform their customers about the potential risks, which leaves companies vulnerable and naive.
Full service telecoms provider, MF Communications, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, is taking the initiative to educate its customers about the possible dangers of Phreaking. As well as sending information emails to all its clients, MF Communications also offers its customers an Exceptional Call Reporting (ECR) service,to monitor for signs of fraudulent activity.
‘We want to make sure our clients are aware of the potential risks of not protecting your PBX,’ says managing partner Fraser Young. ‘This is a dangerous international fraud crime which is only likely to worsen, unless we all take measures to tighten our security.’
So what can you do to protect yourself?
If you happen to have a PBX system from Panasonic, Siemens or Samsung, you can now get a firewall protection system called Control Phreak, which was developed by a New Zealand company called Callista.
Control Phreak can be configured to deny/allow any combination of numbers or facilities and is managed independently of the phone system, which means it cannot be accessed by hackers.
But if you haven’t got one of these systems, there are a number of measures you can take to protect yourself, which cost nothing to initiate:
- Use strong system passwords, change them regularly and never use the same one twice.
- Change the password from the default as soon as you activate any settings.
- Lock or disable any unused voicemail.
- Ensure you’re using the latest up-to-date software for your PBX. Ensure any remote access is secure and monitored.
- Never disclose voicemail passwords to people outside your organisation and be vigilant against bogus callers.
Phone Phreaking is an international concern, run by criminals and organised gangs and it is virtually impossible for police to detect. Therefore prosecutions have so far been rare to non-existent. UK companies are continuing to be hacked to the tune of £1.5 billion per annum and rising.
There is no guarantee it won’t happen to you, as hackers are non-specific, so small or large, it makes no odds, and if you have been hacked once already, this doesn’t mean that it won’t happen again.
The only way forward is for companies to be aware of the potential dangers that are before them and to make sure that they follow the correct procedures to protect their systems in the same way that they would in other areas of their business.
Terry Lane - Monday 27.04.15, 21:11pm
A Mind for Business - Get inside your head to transform how you work
A Mind for Business – how taking care of your mind is the key to taking care of business
It is common knowledge that people are now the most important factor in any business, whether that is customers, suppliers, staff or business partners, and in the knowledge economy it is the human mind that is the most valuable asset of any company. Advances in neuroscience and psychology mean we now understand more about how the mind works than ever before, recognising how factors such as nutrition, sleep, water, exercise, distractions, relationships and even sunlight and can directly impact how effective we are mentally. Tapping into this knowledge can give individuals and organisations a huge competitive advantage.
In an increasingly health-conscious society where we are all constantly made aware of the importance of regular exercise and the benefits eating 5 fruit or vegetables a day, it is remarkable that taking care of our minds is still such a taboo subject. For so many entrepreneurs, business leaders and executives, skills like decision making, creativity and communication are the keys to success, so what can be done to improve the tool that controls all these skills – the mind.
A Mind for Business leads the reader through chapters on how to master mood swings, get and keep your motivation, managing pressure, learning and understanding yourself and how you deal with situations, training your mind, making better decisions, influencing people, understanding how to better communicate, work collaboratively and think creatively.
A Mind for Business by author Andy Gibson is a visually engaging book that offers simple, practical advice on improving the day-to-day performance of your mind. The book is very accessible; and though it explains how to manage this through effective insights from psychology and neuroscience to help people work smarter, manage their minds and thrive under pressure, it is simple to follow and isn’t full of heavyweight psychobabble. The visual approach of A Mind for Business will not only appeal to professionals from any sector, but is also an informative and inspiring guide for anyone who wants to get the most out of their minds in everyday life.
Andy Gibson is an entrepreneur and consultant specialising in innovation, business performance and social change. He is the founder of Mindapples.org. In A Mind for Business Gibson lays out a compelling yet relaxed and simple-to-follow program for business owners, team leaders and motivators to take care of their minds, in the same way they would take of their bodies, in order to make a genuine difference to their lives.
This is a really amazing book and well worth a read. Given the time, A Mind for Business will help you take care of your mind so you are able to take care of your business.
Mindapples is a London-based non-profit business that promotes public mental health and teaches everyone how to make the most of their minds. They offer training to businesses in smart and healthy working practices, bridging the gap between wellbeing and performance training, and take this same content into communities and education to help everyone get more from their minds, including supporting local campaigners to promote mentally healthy living. The proceeds from A Mind for Business go towards their ongoing campaign to make looking after our minds as natural as brushing our teeth.
A Mind for Business – Get inside your head to transform how you work by Andy Gibson is published by Pearson, priced £12.99.
For more information visit www.mindapples.org/business
Derek Smalls - Friday 19.12.14, 13:36pm
Storing excess inventory is something that a huge range of businesses – from retail store to e-commerce companies – struggle with. With the cost of office space on the rise, particularly in major cities, many companies are using external stock storage.
From flexibility to security, there are numerous benefits to storing your company’s stock in a commercial unit. Despite this, many businesses continue to store stock on site or in an industrial property.
We spoke to the commercial storage experts at Store First to find out how external stock storage for your company’s products and equipment can help it save money, become more efficient and avoid common security concerns.
External storage means greater flexibility
Has your business expanded rapidly over the past year? While it’s impossible to add more storage space to your retail store or industrial facility – save for renovating it and adding a new building – it’s easy to scale commercial storage up and down.
Many external storage contracts give your business flexibility to increase or reduce the amount of space it needs, often on a monthly basis. Scaling up your company’s storage is often as simple as ticking a box and signing on a dotted line.
Compared to the huge cost of building your own storage space or renting an entire industrial building, outsourcing your company’s storage to a commercial storage provider is much more flexible and affordable.
External storage means no security worries
Security is a major concern for many businesses. Although insurance means that most thefts won’t hurt your company’s long-term financial health, when stock is stolen it can be a major short-term blow to your company’s cash flow.
While you’ll need to hire your own security if you store stock on site or in a rented industrial building, you’ll never need to worry about security at all if you keep your stock in a commercial storage space.
From 24/7 CCTV cameras to alarms and trained personnel, storage providers take security extremely seriously. Enjoy peace of mind, fewer security risks and lower bills by storing your company’s excess stock in external storage.
External storage means lower per-metre rental rates
If your business is based in a major city or urban area, you’ll undoubtedly be paying more rent on a per-metre basis than you would in location that’s further away from the city itself.
Most commercial storage facilities are located within easy reach of major cities and urban areas, but not so close that they’re affected by city property prices. This gives them a serious competitive edge over storing your stock on site.
By storing your company’s stock externally, you can save on rent by using a smaller retail outlet with less internal storage space. This is a direct saving – one that your business can see on its monthly expense list – of storing your stock externally.
External storage means no utility bills to worry about
Does your stock need to be kept at a certain temperature or humidity level? It can cost a fortune to keep your stock at the right climate when you store it locally, but doing so is simple when you outsource storage.
Today’s commercial storage facilities offer climate and humidity control, making it easy to keep your commercial equipment, products and other items at the perfect temperature for long-term storage.
Avoid costly electricity bills by outsourcing your storage to a commercial storage provider. Since their energy is supplied in bulk, they benefit from lower per-unit rates, reducing the cost of maintaining your storage unit’s temperature.
Edwin Huxley - Friday 19.12.14, 13:33pm
If you could live and work anywhere in the world, where would you go? Would you choose the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, the art and culture of Paris or the exotic, tropical charm of Rio de Janeiro?
No matter which location you relocate to and how long you spend there, working in a foreign country is a unique experience that everyone should have. It’s more than a working holiday – it’s a chance to learn about the world and about yourself.
From expanding your perspective on life to improving your salary, we sat down and talked to the experts at Robinsons to learn the five reasons everyone should work in another country at least once.
Your perspective on life will change dramatically
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”
– Aldous Huxley
Everyone, no matter where they grow up, develops a view of the world that’s based on their surroundings. This often involves stereotypes about countries and cultures that break down immediately once you experience them first hand.
Travelling to a country on holiday gives you a short glimpse of reality there, but it’s often too short to change your thinking. Living and working in another country, on the other hand, breaks down your illusions and changes your perspective.
Working in another country, particularly for a local company, expands your views on life and exposes you to ways of thinking, cultural values and perspectives that you might not have ever considered had you stayed at home.
You’ll gain a worldwide network of friends
One of the biggest benefits of working abroad is that it lets you network with other expatriates, whether through events or your professional life. The people you meet can become great friends, fantastic mentors and lifelong business connections.
Feel like expanding your professional horizon? Make a call to the managing director you met during your year abroad working in Sydney. Need a place to stay when you next travel to Tokyo? Call your old colleagues and ask to catch up.
Staying in your home country gives you a tight network of friends, but travelling the world – and working in another country in particular – gives you a global network of friends and professional contacts that can supercharge your career and life.
You’ll expand your professional and personal skillset
Working abroad doesn’t just mean working – it also means learning new languages and acquiring new skills. When you’re in unfamiliar surroundings, the importance of personal development becomes much greater, forcing you to adapt.
This can mean developing the ability to network and make new friends and business contacts easily – something you’d never have to learn at home. It can mean learning a new language to fluency and adding a valuable selling point to your personal CV.
The key to personal and professional improvement is forcing yourself to get better at new things, every day. From language to networking, working abroad makes the art of learning new skills something you have to master.
Your skills could be worth much more than you think
Think your English degree isn’t worth very much? Think again. Countries like China, which have rapidly-growing economies, are desperate to learn English to give their workforce an international edge.
Likewise, countries like Chile, through its Startup Chile programme, are encouraging would-be entrepreneurs in Western countries to move abroad and start businesses overseas.
Your professional skills – from language ability to entrepreneurial drive – might be worth a lot more than you think in another country. From Chile to China, Western-educated professionals are in huge demand throughout the emerging economies.
You’ll gain a new appreciation for your home country
Not only does working abroad make you appreciate the rest of the world more – it also helps you gain a new appreciation for your home country. After a year abroad, you’ll enjoy the things you grew up with more than you ever expected.
This is particularly true if you become a long-term professional expat and work in a foreign country for several years. The small things that you never appreciated when you lived at home become more enjoyable whenever you travel back.
If you could live and work anywhere, where would you go?
Working abroad isn’t just a rewarding experience – it’s also a surprisingly easy one for many people. From teaching English in Asia to becoming a digital nomad, there’s a surprisingly wide variety of ways to internationalize your career and your life.
From Europe to South America, Asia to the Middle East, if you could live and work in any country, which would you choose?