Cloud computing has changed the world of IT forever – gone is the hardware heavy business; we are now living in a software world where only few of us can remember the pain of back-up tapes and floppy disks to transfer and store information.
Just as the cloud has changed the world of data, it stands to do the same voice. Having come from a traditional voice background myself, I understand how this change can sound like more of a risk than an opportunity. It requires embracing new technology and adjusting to an OPEX business model, but the effort is worthwhile for the revenue rewards.
In the most simplistic terms, cloud telephony is Hosted PBX or IP Centrex – the telephone system is not installed locally in a business, but operates in several highly secure external data centres, which are reached by VoIP technology. It makes customer relocations and expansions are very easy, plus they save money on the cost and space of an on-site telephone system. VoIP desk phones, DECT VoIP phones or VoIP softphones can be used. Another key advantage is that hardware phones can also be used with other VoIP telephone systems.
As it’s cloud-based, it enables much simpler automated management, deployment and provisioning. Ultimately cloud telephony is just another IT application running on the network. So how big is the market opportunity, what are the key benefits and how can businesses navigate any potential hurdles?
Well the market is huge. Illuma Research has stated that the cloud telephony segment is increasing by 50% to 100% year on year; currently a small percentage of the UK business telecoms market is cloud-based but this will grow and follow the direction of data cloud services.
Driving this growth are the many benefits of cloud telephony. There are more advanced requirements around unified communications that can be enabled through cloud-computing, such as FMC, IM, chat and video conferencing.
Plus there is the OPEX vs. CAPEX benefit as it’s a subscription-based service – it is fully scalable and thus can easily accommodate new employees. There are also huge operational efficiencies with cloud-based services; updates can be applied across the whole customer base, whereas on-premises solutions require on-site updates, which mean delays and increased costs.
Getting started with cloud telephony is very simple as it’s an out-of-the-box solution. To ensure a seamless shift and no downtime when moving from an old setup to the new cloud system the key is documenting the process and following the installation guidelines correctly. The feedback that we have has been phenomenal!
With cloud telephony being plug-and-play system the revenue opportunities are huge. We all know how much the UK telecoms market is worth. We all know how quickly cloud computing took revenue share from pre-existing hardware solutions.
The technology is ready and customers are ready and willing to move all of their ICT into the cloud. With the market still in its infancy there is a huge opportunity to get a head-start on competitors that are resisting the progress this is happening in the communications market.
Guest Blog by Myles Leach, Managing Director, NFON UK