A Look at the Glue That Holds the Internet of Things Together

b2ap3_thumbnail_radio_narrow_band_400.jpgWith millions of new and exciting devices connecting to the Internet every day, the Internet of Things is an IT trend that has the potential to dramatically improve society. Yet, the most significant change brought about by the IoT may actually come from devices that aren’t really that exciting.

Even though sexy devices like smartphones, smart cars, and smart homes are getting all the press when it comes to IoT, it’s the forgotten-about, behind-the-scenes devices which drive the IoT forward, like gas meters, water gauges, trash cans, soil moisture sensors, and more. Instead of having these devices be used to download the latest apps and post to social media, they’re primarily tasked with a singular purpose, like collecting and transmitting data so that work can get done more efficiently.

Devices like these actually present a unique technical challenge: how does one connect these devices to the Internet in such a way that little (if any) maintenance is required (like swapping out a device’s battery), and in locations without a reliable Internet connection? Having these devices achieve such requirements is necessary in order to enjoy the desired benefits. Otherwise, implementing small IoT devices on a wide scale wouldn’t be worth it, due to the expense of providing power, device maintenance, and Internet coverage to remote places. For example, installing an Internet-connected gas meter to a log cabin in the middle of the woods would prove most difficult due to poor 3G coverage, and it would be inconvenient to send a technician to service the meter. How then does one equip important IoT devices to hard-to-reach areas?

The answer lies in narrowband Internet of Things technology (NB-IoT), a development that allows for billions of obscure devices to be connected to the Internet, earning it the reputation by experts as “the glue that holds the IoT together.” NetworkComputing explains:

NB-IoT, originally called the cellular Internet of Things, is an emerging industry solution designed to enhance the global deployment of low-power wide area (LPWA) networks. Through licensed operator spectrum, in-band, guard band and standalone deployments, NB-IoT can provide connectivity to devices in hard to reach places without requiring much power to do so.

The ways that NB-IoT technology expands the IoT breaks down barriers and opens up a whole new world of Internet connectivity. Think for a moment about IoT devices in basements deep underground, or even attached to buried pipes, or about those on islands that lie beyond the services of normal infrastructure. NetworkComputing cites further examples:

This is where NB-IoT and LPWA technology come in, because they can provide a long-range mobile connection with low power consumption. This combination of connectivity and low-power needs means a utility company can install connected flow meters around a water distribution network to automatically detect leaks without worrying about whether or not the sensor will work.

This is just one example of how technology can provide organizations with new possibilities of productivity. At Amaxx, we’re excited about how the IoT has the potential to dramatically change things, and with more than five million devices being added to the Internet every day, you’re going to want to fully leverage the IoT for your business. The best way to do this is to have a technology professional in your corner who has the know-how you need to succeed. Give us a call at 614.486.3481 and let’s discuss ways that technology can expand your business to new horizons.

A Look at the Glue That Holds the Internet of Things Together

b2ap3_thumbnail_radio_narrow_band_400.jpgWith millions of new and exciting devices connecting to the Internet every day, the Internet of Things is an IT trend that has the potential to dramatically improve society. Yet, the most significant change brought about by the IoT may actually come from devices that aren’t really that exciting.

Even though sexy devices like smartphones, smart cars, and smart homes are getting all the press when it comes to IoT, it’s the forgotten-about, behind-the-scenes devices which drive the IoT forward, like gas meters, water gauges, trash cans, soil moisture sensors, and more. Instead of having these devices be used to download the latest apps and post to social media, they’re primarily tasked with a singular purpose, like collecting and transmitting data so that work can get done more efficiently.

Devices like these actually present a unique technical challenge: how does one connect these devices to the Internet in such a way that little (if any) maintenance is required (like swapping out a device’s battery), and in locations without a reliable Internet connection? Having these devices achieve such requirements is necessary in order to enjoy the desired benefits. Otherwise, implementing small IoT devices on a wide scale wouldn’t be worth it, due to the expense of providing power, device maintenance, and Internet coverage to remote places. For example, installing an Internet-connected gas meter to a log cabin in the middle of the woods would prove most difficult due to poor 3G coverage, and it would be inconvenient to send a technician to service the meter. How then does one equip important IoT devices to hard-to-reach areas?

The answer lies in narrowband Internet of Things technology (NB-IoT), a development that allows for billions of obscure devices to be connected to the Internet, earning it the reputation by experts as “the glue that holds the IoT together.” NetworkComputing explains:

NB-IoT, originally called the cellular Internet of Things, is an emerging industry solution designed to enhance the global deployment of low-power wide area (LPWA) networks. Through licensed operator spectrum, in-band, guard band and standalone deployments, NB-IoT can provide connectivity to devices in hard to reach places without requiring much power to do so.

The ways that NB-IoT technology expands the IoT breaks down barriers and opens up a whole new world of Internet connectivity. Think for a moment about IoT devices in basements deep underground, or even attached to buried pipes, or about those on islands that lie beyond the services of normal infrastructure. NetworkComputing cites further examples:

This is where NB-IoT and LPWA technology come in, because they can provide a long-range mobile connection with low power consumption. This combination of connectivity and low-power needs means a utility company can install connected flow meters around a water distribution network to automatically detect leaks without worrying about whether or not the sensor will work.

This is just one example of how technology can provide organizations with new possibilities of productivity. At Amaxx, we’re excited about how the IoT has the potential to dramatically change things, and with more than five million devices being added to the Internet every day, you’re going to want to fully leverage the IoT for your business. The best way to do this is to have a technology professional in your corner who has the know-how you need to succeed. Give us a call at 614-923-6700 and let’s discuss ways that technology can expand your business to new horizons.

Use Conference Calls? Here are 3 Reasons to Drop Your Phone Company and Go With VoIP

b2ap3_thumbnail_new_voip_400.jpgConference calling has evolved with the years, and it’s a crucial service that’s needed by modern businesses. You probably find yourself in more meetings than you’d like to be in, but compared to the days before Voice over Internet Protocol existed, you have it pretty easy nowadays. In fact, VoIP is such a great tool that every business should look into its advantages.

VoIP is capable of transmitting your voice over the Internet, making it fantastic for communicating with both your internal team, and for your external communications. In fact, VoIP can be a great alternative to meeting face-to-face if your office has limited space available for meetings. Here are three benefits that your business can reap from using VoIP as your primary conference calling system.

VoIP Uses the Internet
Do you remember those days when you would have to conduct meetings over the phone if there wasn’t space available for a real-time meeting? Conference calling used to be, literally, a pain in the neck. Now, though, the Internet makes it infinitely easier to communicate, and VoIP capitalizes on this fact. By using the Internet to transmit voice signals, you can use your connection in a similar manner to traditional telephone systems. The biggest difference is that you won’t have to deal with all of the complex landline cabling that makes adding new extensions and lines so irritating (and expensive).

In general, cable companies tend to package together several services that your business might not necessarily want or need, which means that if you want to use their landline telephony services, you’d have to go all-in on something that you won’t need. With VoIP, you don’t need to worry about this. All VoIP needs is your Internet connection, so you won’t have to worry about unreasonably high charges… including long distance. If you find that you do need more services, VoIP solutions are flexible enough that you can easily add them as required.

This also means that limitations for trunks (the number of physical phone lines you have leaving the building) are a thing of the past. As you grow, your phone system won’t limit your team from making outbound calls.

VoIP Provides Mobility
Traditional phone systems are limiting in nature. You’re limited to your desk or office, and even if you have a cordless phone you can only travel so far from the receiver before it stops working. VoIP solutions utilize a web application or desktop software that transfers your voice over the Internet, so as long as you have access to the web, you can take full advantage of anywhere, anytime access. You can even use your smartphone with your VoIP solution, which makes it feel just like any normal telephone service. Depending on the VoIP solution, you can also just use a headset on your desktop or laptop.

If you choose to integrate VoIP, you could even let your team work remotely. By doing so, you’re opening your business up to untold opportunities for cost savings and increased productivity; not to mention the fact that your employees will be much happier and fulfilled with their daily duties.

VoIP Has Add-Ons
One of the best features that VoIP presents is its versatility with add-ons. VoIP often comes with video conferencing software, which allows users to emulate face-to-face meetings via video chat. By taking full advantage of VoIP and its various add-ons, you can essentially replicate an inter-office communication solution, even if your team is scattered across the country (or the world).

VoIP can change the way your business communicates for the better. Amaxx has the skills and expertise required to help your business integrate VoIP, from planning the implementation to the setup itself. For more information, give us a call at 614.486.3481 .

3 Hidden Fax Machine Expenses That Really Add Up

b2ap3_thumbnail_fax_server_400.jpgDo you have a functioning fax machine in your office? The technology is outdated; yet, there it sits, churning out faxes. Before you keep your fax machine around for another decade, you may want to first consider how it’s chipping away at your company’s operating budget.

Here are three ways that the fax machine can cost you more money than you may realize. Thankfully, none of these expenditures come with its replacement, a fax server solution.

The Need for a Dedicated Phone Line
Any business with a fax machine must have a dedicated phone line to go with it. Otherwise, callers won’t be able to get through whenever the fax machine is in use; a situation that could potentially lead to a lost sale. If you use a traditional phone service, then a fee for this phone line shows up on every bill, which can really add up over time. A fax server solution utilizes your Internet connection (something you’re already paying for), allowing you to finally cut the cord on your ancient dedicated fax line.

Paying for Paper and Ink Toner
Like the previous example, paying for paper and ink toner is a small expense that can really add up over the years. For example, did you know that one gallon of HP 02 Black ink adds up to $4,294.58 per gallon? Over the years, think for a moment about how many times you’ve replaced your fax machine’s ink cartridge. And now, try not to think about what else you could’ve done with that money. When implementing a money-saving paperless strategy for your business, a fax server solution is a must.

Fax Machine Upkeep
Fax machines are just like any piece of technology, they’re prone to breaking down. When this happens, you’ve got to contact an IT technician for a repair, and it may cost you more than you’d like due to the fix requiring an on-site visit for a specialty item. Also, don’t forget about the daily maintenance that comes from simply keeping a fax machine operational. Tasks include:

  • Replacing ink cartridges
  • Refilling paper
  • Taking care of paper jams
  • Tending to the sending and receiving of faxes
  • Filing the faxed paperwork

Essentially, all the time that your staff spends doing fax machine upkeep tasks like these equates to time not spent working on more meaningful and profitable projects; AKA, lost productivity.

A fax server solution from Amaxx will eliminate all of these fax machine expenses for your company. Instead of dealing with ink and paper, you can send and receive digitized faxes in the form of PDF files, all from your email inbox. And don’t forget about finally getting rid of that bulky fax machine! To learn more about how a fax server solution works, along with more ways that it will benefit your business, reach out to Amaxx at 614.486.3481 .

Microsoft Office 2016 is Here and It’s Got Something For Everyone

b2ap3_thumbnail_microsoft_office_400.jpgIt’s only been a few months since Microsoft introduced Windows 10, but the world’s largest software company is now updating their wildly popular Office productivity suite. Office 2016 takes the fully-featured productivity apps that users are used to and adds in significant improvements, especially to the integrated collaborative capabilities. Applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and the other apps that make up the Office suite have all seen improvements.

Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is one of the most utilized word processing programs on the market, and has been for over three decades. Word 2016 has built-in dynamic features that help users collaborate, share, and remain productive, in real time. With integrated features that allow users to edit any kind of text file, including classically-stubborn PDFs. Improvements to Read Mode allow for a reconfiguration of text to provide an easier-to-read interface, while the “Tell me what you want to do…” bar is a great addition for users that want to utilize the software to its maximum benefit. Whether you use a centralized SharePoint interface or simply store your files using OneDrive or a local repository, Microsoft Word will continue to be the go-to program for all of your word processing needs.

Microsoft Excel
Excel is the most useful spreadsheet application on the market with dozens of features that no other major spreadsheet application offers. Like Word, the Excel program has been improved to include dynamic collaborative options, while maintaining the trusted and powerful interface millions of users already know. Some of the more useful new options that Excel 2016 delivers include more access to charts and graphs than ever before, as well as improved pattern recognition. Like the other apps in the suite, Excel adds the “Tell me what you want to do…” box, to help users completely utilize the app’s features.

Microsoft PowerPoint
For anyone that needs to produce the perfect presentation, Microsoft PowerPoint is on the short list of applications dedicated to that purpose. PowerPoint 2016 provides users with a higher degree of access than ever before, allowing users to team up to edit, manage, and create presentations in real time. The new PowerPoint offers improved revision history and better conflict resolution, keeping users on task and efficient.

Microsoft Outlook
Outlook is one of the most utilized email interfaces in the world, and Outlook 2016 makes certain that won’t change in the future. Again the major theme of Office 2016 is collaboration, and Outlook makes it easier than ever to send and receive files and keep messages organized. Outlook, has also integrated the “Tell me what you want to do…” box, giving users a robust interface to assist them with whatever issues arise.

Other improved applications that are a part of the Microsoft Office 2016 suite are:

  • Microsoft OneNote - Office’s note-taking application
  • Microsoft Access - Office’s database management software
  • Microsoft Project - Office’s project management software
  • Microsoft Visio - Office’s diagramming software

Each will get the “Tell me what you want to do…” box integration as well as subtle improvements over their previous versions.

If you are looking for a comprehensive productivity suite, look no further than Microsoft Office 2016 through Microsoft’s Office 365 offering. With Office 365, users get all of these powerful apps complete with OneDrive integration for a simple and affordable monthly rate. Call Amaxx at 614.486.3481 to get an idea of further benefits Microsoft Office 2016 and Office 365 can offer your organization.