Review of the Blackberry Tour 9630

October 21, 2009 No comments yet

After a few years of carrying around a Palm Treo and having nothing but service problems, I had just about sworn off all smart phones forever.

I had eyed the Blackberry Curves for a while, but had heard that while they were tremendous devices, the battery life left a lot to be desired.

So, I waited, and this summer they introduced the Blackberry Tour. The initial reviews had a common theme:they got the battery longevity right this time. So, I bought one.

As a Verizon Wireless customer for over 9 years, I think very highly of the network and the service techs in my local area. I purchased the phone at the Johns Creek, GA store. My “education” really was nothing more than the salesperson telling me about the e-mail capabilities of the device-that it can handle up to 10 email accounts.

Pros of the device:

Email accounts-extremely simple to set up and configure. You have the ability to set up 10 emails. I personally have 6 set up on the device. The ability to manage all of the emails from one central “message icon” is tremendous. It is the first icon on the Blackberry screen. I love this feature.

Keypad -having used an Apple iPhone for business, I can state that touch screen typing, at least for some of us, is simply not fun nor accurate. The Blackberry Tour’s key advantage is, well, the keys. I like typing on the keypad where I can feel the buttons and I find it is far more accurate than touch screen typing. It is for this reason that I never seriously considered the Blackberry Storm.

Applications-having used the iPhone, I am familiar with the apps that can be used and was pleasantly surprised to find a nice array of free applications available to Blackberry users. Among the applications that I use are Pandora Radio, Flickr, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Google Sync (for syncing contacts as a backup), one of the many weather apps, Viigo (an RSS feeder for news-my kids like when I read them “Reuters Oddly Enough” which is a “news of the weird”), Xenozu (a Youtube player), My Verizon, and a financial app for the place which still has what is left of my 401K.

Camera-the device can come with a camera (other models do not) and the one that comes with the Blackberry Tour is a 3.2 mega-pixel camera. It takes nice pictures and also comes with a flash. I recently used it at a local concert I attended (very dark) and it took excellent video as well. When I uploaded it to my computer, it was obvious that this is a great media device.

Device Manager– the Tour comes with simple to use software that you load on your PC and it allows easy movement of media to and from the device. I like to backup the data every few days, as I’ve learned my lesson about not backing up from a past bad experience.

Screen Size-I’ll admit it: I got spoiled by the iPhone and it’s large, media-friendly screen. There is simply no competing with the size of the iPhone’s screen, so this is an obvious disadvantage.

That is really the only thing I can think of that I would change about the Tour. I would highly recommend it to any and all.

Integrated Business Services Inc. Announces 7 New Strategic Partnerships

October 13, 2009 No comments yet

Johns Creek, GA October 13, 2009 Integrated Business Services, Inc. (IBS) today announced seven additional new partnerships with telecommunications service providers. IBS is a telecommunications consulting firm that has served clients since 2001 in both the commercial and enterprise spaces.

The new service providers that IBS has partnered with are Masergy Communications, Cypress Communications, American Fiber Systems, ACT Conferencing, Nuvox Communications, A+ Conferencing, and Cavalier Telephone. Each was selected to add to the portfolio of available services for the existing IBS client base as well as potential clients.

Eric Blaier, President of Integrated Business Services, Inc. stated: “I am very happy to have the new partnerships with these excellent providers. Freedom of choice is what every telecommunications agency preaches and the more choices that a client has, the more an agency can follow the mantra. Some of these offerings bridged gaps in our service portfolio while others enhanced the available offerings. We look forward to working with the respective channel partners and having a highly productive relationship”.

All new services will be offered immediately by Integrated Business Services, Inc.

About Integrated Business Services Inc:
Integrated Business Services is a full-service telecommunications consulting firm and sales agency based in Johns Creek, GA. Since 2001, IBS has helped clients in the commercial and enterprise space streamline costs while improving operational efficiency. With over 18 years of experience in the industry, the company is recognized as a leading telecommunications consultancy in the southeast.
For more information, please call us at 770-645-9965 or visit us at
Eric Blaier
Integrated Business Services, Inc.
Phone: 770-645-9965

Highest Rate of Spam in the USA

October 7, 2009 No comments yet

Interesting bit of info I discovered today: as this will show the states with the highest rates of spam in the country.

It’s quite evident that the spammers are persistent, but one must wonder how effective that persistence really is. Does anybody even acknowledge these messages?

Bottom line: Get yourself some good anti-spam technology because these guys aren’t going away any time soon.

Ever wonder about the UNE-P ruling and why?

October 4, 2009 No comments yet

Having spent almost 20 years in the telecommunications business, the ruling to prevent competitive local exchange carriers (CLEC’s) from reselling the RBOC’s lines was the death sentence of many companies and was the single worst telecommunications regulatory decision of the past two decades. I found this which shows Michael Powell’s statement on the ruling.

IBS Announces 5 New Partnerships

September 30, 2009 No comments yet

We have signed sales agency agreements with 5 new providers: Masergy Communications, Cypress Communications, Nuvox Communications, Cavalier Telephone and American Fiber Systems. The offerings of each of these companies will be available immediately.

A great resource for Conferencing Industry news

September 29, 2009 No comments yet

If you are interested in keeping abreast of conferencing industry updates on a daily basis, check out this site where you can read about the latest industry trends and developments from many of the key players.

10 Top Reasons Why a Business Should Be Using Conferencing Services

September 25, 2009 No comments yet

1. It completely eliminates geographic disparity

This can apply to anybody doing business anywhere. You can instantly meet with people in your organization, partners, clients, or prospective customers. With products like Reservationless 800 Conferencing, you can e-mail, text or IM a number and access code from your Blackberry or other PDA and participants can join instantly. The proximity to a geographically separated client base becomes instantaneous.

2. It improves productivity in research and development

This applies to persons heading R&D in IT, biotech, physical science, product development, marketing, or any other area. The widespread introduction of conferencing and collaboration tools over the past few years has helped organizations better improve research and development among team members. For instance, web conferencing software has allowed company employees in separate locations to collaborate on projects in real-time, greatly boosting operational efficiency. Countless organizations have benefited from this technology and seen time-to-market improve, resulting in competitive advantages not enjoyed before, reduced R&D costs, and quicker ROI.

3. It improves investor relations

This applies to any and all CFO’s and CIO’s. All public companies are scrutinized in their quarterly conference call and earnings report. When the call does not go seamlessly, it makes a negative impression on the operational aptitude of the company giving the presentation. Investors think, “What type of company has an error-prone conference call?”

The unfortunate reality is that some companies do botch the investor call, whether having not enough seats/bridges open or a complete lack of moderation/order. Often, they utilize products not geared for such large audiences and/or products that don’t support the unique needs of such an important call. The top conferencing providers have solutions geared toward investor and enterprise-level calls, and a wide variety of solutions exist to accommodate such needs and eliminate highly-visible public disasters.

4. It boosts sales

This applies to any sales VP’s, Regional Directors, or Area Managers. Any company with multiple offices needs to have management tools in place to meet with the branch subordinates on a regular basis. As a former sales manager, I learned the mantra “inspect what you expect” very early in my career. Having regularly scheduled calls with subordinates will help prepare the organization better and teach a culture of being prepared and organized. It will also keep senior management informed on the sales activities as they are happening, instead of hearing about things in retrospect. This allows the senior sales executive the chance to act on accounts before they are possibly lost, like stepping in and offering better pricing, terms, or service level guarantees. The best organization leaders I have ever worked for personally made it a point to keep in regular contact with the field sales organization, and it showed in the results.

5. It improves corporate communication

This applies and directly affects everybody in an organization. Have you ever worked in an organization where you felt like the corporate office was a world away? Perhaps you do now, as I did at one time. The biggest difference between companies that grow successfully and those that do not is not being like-minded in goals and spirit across the organization. The most successful companies (like Google) convey a sense of togetherness and corporate culture that is inspired from a set of values, such as “thought leadership”, “customer-centric”, “caring”, etc….. The organizations that keep their main cultural values at the forefront do so by regularly communicating with their remote and regional offices. Audio conferencing and web conferencing are two of the simple ways to accomplish this high priority.

6. It speeds training and education

This applies to any C-Level who has a training requirement in their company. Organizations spend a lot of money getting new employees trained on company and industry information, internal procedures policies and methodologies. Many industries, such as education, legal, real estate, technology, manufacturing, and accounting, have initiatives that require constant training in order to maintain current standards in the respective industry. Audio and web conferencing are the dominant training tools to accomplish any organization’s e-learning initiative. Companies that utilize this technology save thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, in hard-dollars savings from travel, accommodations, meals and gratuities, and air-fare. The often-overlooked aspect of savings in using conferencing products for e-learning is that it is a definite boost in productivity. Instead of losing several hours (at best) with flight time, your employee is able to return to work instantly.

The company that utilizes these communications tools effectively trains their workforce more efficiently, save money, and boost productivity at the same time.

7. It improves your internal marketing initiative

This applies to Chief Marketing Officers and VP’s of Sales. Companies that can roll out new products in unison to a geographically disparate workforce have a greater chance of success. The ability to introduce new offerings in a clear, concise manner and in a positive fashion can boost sales’ attitudes about the new product or direction. In addition, the marketing message is the most important differentiator in our highly competitive society. The roll-out is the marketing organization’s best time to convey those vitally important differentiators to the internal sales team as most buyers want to know “what is in it for me”. Differentiators bridge that gap to the prospect and help the sales team close deals.

8. It improves the external marketing initiative

This applies to the direct and indirect field sales force and client retention specialists/account managers. Similar to the internal benefits listed above, the same benefits apply to external customers. When you roll out new products or services, it is easier to demonstrate it in a clear and concise manner. Audio and web conferencing solutions let a sales force introduce new offerings easily without geographic limitation. Retention and service personnel within a company can use the same conferencing and collaboration tools to introduce new products, conduct account reviews, and keep connected with vital decision-makers in an organization. Since sales is all about relationships, keeping those relationships active is vital to protect your customer base and maintaining contact with the most important positions is the key.

And for companies relying on an indirect channel, frequent communication is of paramount importance when driving productivity. Effective presentation done in an entertaining way is the best method to get your channel partners pushing your product and not your competitors.

9. It offers mobile proximity

This applies to anybody with a PDA or cell phone. While it is true that cell phones often can cause a lot of static when they participate in audio conferences, sometimes the urgency of the call overtakes the immediate need for everything to be 100%. Most conferencing providers today offer mobile solutions that allow web features to be accessed from PDA’s, so that you don’t miss any aspect of the call that is taking place at that moment.

10. It will save your company money, boost productivity and is good for the environment

This principle benefits everybody. Whether you measure by hard dollar savings in travel, meals, accommodations, entertainment, or soft dollar savings in areas like boosted productivity, increased sales, and better messaging, your organization will save money.

Further, it will help to lessen the carbon footprint that is of such great concern these days. Instead of consuming more fuel, conferencing adopters are making a socially-responsible decision that lessens the impact on the environment.

Less travel = less fuel = better for the environment.

So with these 10 reasons, you may be able to see other applications for a conferencing solution and how it could positively impact your organization.

About the Author:
Eric Blaier is the founder of Integrated Business Services, Inc, an Atlanta-based telecommunications consulting firm. He has worked in IT sales and sales management for over 17 years and has worked for companies such as Allnet Communications, Allegiance Telecom and AT&T. His client roster includes numerous Fortune 500 clients in the healthcare, finance, technology, consumer goods, and consumer services sectors.
He can be reached at or

Do you really want the frequent flyer miles that badly?

August 24, 2009 No comments yet

By: Eric Blaier, Integrated Business Services
In today’s current global economy, we are asked to do less with more, but do it quicker, better and in a way that is easy to replicate. Companies are trying to stretch their budgets, but often follow the same procedures and try to “trim the fat” from the same operations. I’ve always been a big believer in changing process if you want results, and one of the greatest areas to boost productivity, cut costs, and work smarter, is by more effectively utilizing the telecommunications services available to help today’s corporate user.

One of the key areas that can be improved is the “mandatory face-to-face meeting”, as there are several factors that should be considered when assessing business travel and the need for really meeting “face to face”.

The first thing to consider is, “What is the importance of this meeting relative to the time it is taking away from my staff?” The second consideration would be “How does this time away from their reports/duties possibly affect the overall well-being of our organization?” Finally, I would assess the total hard dollar travel cost and determine if it’s imperative to bring key personnel to meet on-site.

Recently a friend of mine (let’s call him Tom) told me a story that typifies the need for more time-effective, cost-efficient, and productivity enhancing organizational communication. Tom heads the national sales of North America for a European company. At the end of their most recent sales quarter, Tom was summoned unexpectedly to Europe with a 3-day notice to go over sales projections. In the meantime, Tom had several important sales meetings scheduled with his team that needed to close in order to hit those projections. Clearly, Tom could not be in both places at once.

His initial thought was to schedule a conference call with the principals in Europe to review the sales projections, but he regrettably did not do so. Tom took the meeting in Europe, met his superiors, and his sales organization missed their numbers for the first time in his tenure of several years with the company. Tom learned that his first priority is to deliver numbers, as that is what he is ultimately measured on.

A simple conference call set up between the parties, even globally, would have resulted in thousands of immediate dollars in cost-savings just from the travel alone. When you factor in the lost deals that needed Tom’s guidance, and the fact that the company missed its sales projections, it negatively affected the numbers of the company when it was reported to the investment community. The financial performance caused the stock to drop 5% over the news, negatively affecting the shareholder value, in addition to questions from the investment community as the strength of the organization.

In today’s global economy, it is paramount to do things in the most efficient way possible. Like the BlackBerry’s that proliferate corporate culture today, effectively using an audio conferencing service can truly help in making a difference between your organization succeeding or failing. Sometimes in more than hard dollar savings.

Buy or Lease Your Own Data Center? Think About It.

August 24, 2009 No comments yet

By Eric Blaier

The typical Information Technology Executive has a lot of unique demands on his or her time, especially in this turbulent economy. By the most basic of definitions, the lead C-Level in each organization oversees some level of capital investment being transferred into IT infrastructure investment. Other duties might be overseeing the integration of various technologies and applications management and optimizing the performance of the networks and systems of the corporation. Additionally, the position will ultimately oversee the personnel needed to accomplish these goals.

In simple terms, it is about managing IT infrastructure. This has never been a particularly simple process. Technology is always progressing, and the need to be educated on these innovations, adapt to them and integrate the technology into the corporate culture is continuous and often very complex.

Why is this so complex? We live in a world of innovation, and the amount of applications to solve our systems seems to grow by the day. As the modern-day company manages core operations, application integration presents more of a challenge due to the complexity of meshing the various architectures.

The modern CTO/CIO/VP of IT also faces increased risk of cyber security compromise. There has never been greater risk, nor attention focused upon, the threat of hackers, viruses, cyber theft and hijacking of corporate servers.

Why would a modern day, C-Level IT Executive willingly take on more responsibility?

I found myself asking this very question recently, when I found myself talking with a very large prospective co-location client who considered either outsourcing their data center operations or buying commercial space and managing it themselves.

Let’s look at the present environment and why it may be favorable for a company to acquire and manage its own center, and also discuss the reasons why they might wish to outsource their core data center operations.

Some of the factors favorable to a company buying and running its own data center:

Money talks. When they say “cash is king,” it has never rung truer than in today’s business environment. Companies willing to pay cash are finding that the opportunity to get a better deal than those requiring financing is readily available. The real estate market over the last 18 months can certainly attest to that.

The Real Estate Market……today. The depressed real estate market has trickled down to the commercial space. Companies who built new data centers several years ago have found their profit margins going down and have been forced to unload tangible assets or they might risk going under. Often, the company itself was liquidated, with the data center being just another casualty of that failure. Thus, there is some space on that market today that would have been unthinkable several years ago.

Interest Rates….how low can you go? Even more favorable to a potential data center buyer is that interest rates are at near-record lows. If a company has a nice reserve of cash, they can get tremendously favorable financing that makes the deal seem like a no-brainer. The Federal Reserve Bank’s policy so far, in answer to this economic crisis, has been to repress rates to encourage growth.

Given those factors, it would seem like data center ownership is a foregone conclusion.

Before a company buys that data center, however, it will want to consider some of the factors not often assessed versus the favorable events listed above. There is a big difference between running the IT infrastructure of an organization and being the facility manager. Once a company has decided to build their own center, they are in the data center business. Things can run smooth or they can go horribly wrong.

Some of the factors unfavorable to a company buying and running its own data center:

Utilities management: Understanding the variable costs of power and how it can make or break your model is paramount to success. Power efficiency and utilization is the key component to running a successful data center financially. The elements that affect a company’s decision to go with a certain density in a “client/host” environment may now be drastically altered when weighed against the new building’s infrastructure and cooling systems. Often, the C-Level finds that one of two things need to happen: a complete revamp of the systems architecture or an unplanned necessary upgrade of systems to handle the larger space.

Further complicating things, the variable climates of the location can make a difference in the planned capacity utilization. Planning a data center in Phoenix, AZ is vastly different than planning one in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Understanding the weather patterns and climate and associated power costs at different times of the day, year and month make all of the difference in running a highly profitable center or bleeding money.

Personnel staffing: Most C-Level IT Executives have hired System Integrators, Network Security Specialists, Data Center Managers, Application Architects, Network Technicians, Desktop Support Personnel, etc…..but they have not hired Cleaning, AC, Electrical, Plumbing and Maintenance personnel.
Understanding the core strengths and competencies of subordinates is often learned from spending years in that area. In this case, the IT Exec is now tasked with hiring for positions that they know very little about.

Managing the facilities staff is a completely different challenge. When a head of an organization does not have the hands-on experience in the areas they oversee, performance and process can suffer greatly. As I was once told in my introduction to sales management many years ago, “You have to inspect what you expect.” The point is, if you don’t know what to expect, how can you inspect it?

Wear and replacement: Knowing the life-cycle of building components (i.e.: roofing, structural elements, generators, HVAC, water pumps, electrical systems, transformers) is not usually the core competency of the typical IT professional. When you factor in the costs of depreciating assets and how they weigh into the budget versus the standard client/host model, it is a far more complex equation than before.

The on-going maintenance costs and the depreciation of the assets are often an overlooked and hidden cost.

Forces of nature: Up until this point, planning for disaster and how to recover was something the IT executive thought about in terms of servers, network and personnel. The facility itself was an afterthought, as they paid somebody else to worry about it. However, being in the data center business, that same IT executive is now fully responsible for the building. At what force wind does the building become compromised in a hurricane or tornado? What are the contingency plans if the main power source is wiped out down the street and only the backup systems can operate? How long can they operate without interruption? What is the contingency plan if the backup systems run out of fuel? What procedures are in place to sustain an entire data center being wiped out?

In other words, there are a whole slew of new responsibilities.

Scalability: One of the more overlooked aspects of data center responsibilities is the deployment cost of systems on a smaller scale that are now in a larger facility and need to be increased. When the company was in a client/host relationship, the infrastructure supported that environment. The new environment often means that additional expenditure is necessary.

Another variable along this line is the cost to upgrade the facility. It is one thing to purchase a data center, but does it have the needed structure, systems, redundancy and security to meet those needs? Often, the answer is no. I recently spoke with a leading commercial realtor who specializes in the data center industry, and they told me of a client who was excited about what they perceived to be a low cost for an available data center. After a team of consultants assessed the building, the client realized that it would cost over four times the purchase price to bring it up to commercial grade.

Given each of these factors, both positive and negative, the modern IT executive needs to determine if the organization can handle the additional duties of running the facility, as well as that proper planning has been done to accommodate all of the factors that could adversely affect the financials. If the answer is yes, then data center ownership may be an option. For those that say no to one or more of the factors listed above, it may be wise to continue a relationship with a commercial data center.

About the Author:

Eric Blaier is the founder of Integrated Business Services, Inc, an Atlanta-based telecommunications consulting firm. He has worked in IT sales and sales management for over 17 years and has worked for companies such as Allnet Communications, Allegiance Telecom and AT&T. His client roster includes numerous Fortune 500 clients in the healthcare, finance, technology, consumer goods, and consumer services sectors.
He can be reached at or