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Finding Good Advice Key For Tough Telecom Decisions
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By Carl Weinschenk

The sheer number of telecommunications and internal communications choices can be mind-numbing. It may come as bad news to startup and small companies struggling with their core businesses, but the only sensible approach is to learn about all the new technologies and services--and to get help.

The problem is that there are so many decisions to make, and each is based on a complex set of variables. Previously, we've discussed VoIP and suggested that companies should only deploy it after determining that it truly makes sense for that company. The key is to not fall victim to the glitz factor.

VoIP is far from the only technology with which companies must be familiar. For instance, a new generation of laptops is emerging that comes with connectivity to a particular cellular carrier's 3G service. It is now possible, for example, to buy a Lenovo (formerly IBM) ThinkPad with Cingular connectivity built in, or a Compaq from HP with Verizon written all over it, so to speak. Linking in this way, the thinking goes, will make the platform more efficient and, by the way, lock in users.

For startups and small businesses, the marriage of cellular providers and laptop manufacturers will irrevocably change the decision making process. On a long-term level, it will impact whether the company relies on cellular or Wi-Fi (and, soon, WiMax) for its mobile connectivity.

These are important questions simply because a company's internal and remote communications is so vital. There are three things that a company should do. The first is to look within. There are probably people in your organization whose interest in consumer electronics and cellular services make them knowledgeable and savvy. This makes them a valuable resource, especially as the line between small business and the consumer electronics fades.

Executives also must abreast of what's going on. They don't need to understand things at a micro level, of course. However, they should have at least a 50,000-foot understanding of these changes and how they may impact what's available. The third idea is to get professional help. An integrator, value-added reseller or other expert can provide that overview and make recommendations on what to do. In the complex landscape of modern telecommunications, good advice--whatever its source--is invaluable.

Carl Weinschenk is the Editorial Director of SmartBiz.
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