10 Reasons to Invest in Cloud Communications
From UCaaS to Hosted PBX, the Cloud has changed the way businesses communicate. We investigate why
It would be wrong to think that the long-running debate over Cloud versus on-premises communications solutions has been settled decisively either way. The recent uplift in interest in hybrid systems suggests both have an important role to play in the future of business telecommunications.
It is, however, fair to say that the rise of cloud communications has transformed the market forever. Looking at business ICT in general, the Cloud is now part of the mainstream, with 88 per cent of UK organisations using cloud applications and services in one form or another.
That level of adoption does not happen by accident. If almost nine out of 10 businesses are using the technology, there must be some very good reasons.
Benefits of Cloud Communications
As part of our Technology Track series on cloud communications, UC Today thought it would be well worth a close look at exactly what those reasons are. Here is what we came up with – let us know if you agree or not.
1 – Remove physical barriers
Traditional on-premises communications systems have always been limited by the physical hardware required. Most obviously, legacy telephones had to plug into a wired network, but you also had things like the size of your PBX server limiting the number of users you could plug in.
The Cloud has removed all of that. Built on the physical infrastructure laid down for the internet, and supported by wireless technologies like WiFi and 4G, the Cloud has created an alternative, virtual plane for data sharing and communication. In theory, it is limitless in size and can be accessed from anywhere.
From a business telecoms perspective, if you don’t want to be tied down to one place by wires, and limited by the number of connection points you have, the Cloud opens up new horizons. And this freedom from physical restrictions underpins many of the other benefits, as we shall see.
2 – Reduce operating costs
The other consequence of removing the dependence on hardware is that the Cloud has created a new service-based business model for telecoms vendors. Instead of selling equipment and software to customers, service providers host the platforms in the large-scale data centres which form the physical backbone of the internet, and sell access to those platforms by subscription.
This has created cost savings for end users on all sorts of levels. With no capital infrastructure costs, transparent pay-as-you-go subscriptions and maintenance and system management included, TCO is stable, predictable and lower compared to traditional CAPEX systems.
3 – Simplify deployment
Unified Communications solutions are by their nature complex. Whereas traditional telephony involved setting up, configuring and managing one mode of communication, UC involves many – voice, video, conferencing, IM, email, mobile, presence and so on.
The /unified-communications/ucaas model hands responsibility for running complex multi-modal communications systems to third party providers. Because there are no physical systems or software to install, all the end user has to do is sign up and pay.
4 – Achieve true unity
Because UCaaS provides communication platforms in a virtual environment, it is much easier to run a uniform network across multiple sites. Even for businesses with offices spread across the globe, all you need is an internet connection to run the same platforms in all locations. Not only does this make it much easier for people in different places to talk to each other, you also don’t have to worry about dealing with different carriers and providers, tolls for long-distance calls, web conferencing costs etc.
5 – Scale to your requirements
In the first point we talked about how the Cloud’s virtual infrastructure was to all intents and purposes limitless in capacity and scope. For business communications, this means there is no ceiling on growing your network. You can add as many users as you like, as many locations as you like, and all simply by changing your subscription.
6 – Increase agility
The world of work is changing, possibly at a faster rate than ever seen before. Changing work patterns, with more and more people looking to work remotely and from home, changing technologies and changing customer behaviours all create pressure on businesses to be more agile than ever.
UCaaS offers supreme agility in business communications. Because deployment is so easy, if you need to set up a member of staff to work remotely, you can simply download an app for their mobile or their laptop. If you need a new platform or tool to meet changing customer demands, you simply add it to your service. Keeping up with the latest technology is a matter of keeping your application suite fresh.
Also, more and more cloud communications providers are adopting an open architecture on their platforms, offering ready integration to other third party software and making their APIs readily available.
7 – Integrate mobile
As touched on in the last point, UCaaS is tailor made for a mobile workforce. As long as you have an internet connection, via WiFi or 4G, you can access exactly the same platforms through your smartphone or tablet as you can from your desktop, all under the same subscription.
8 – Increase employee productivity
The more agile your business communications are, the more effective they are in supporting productivity. Take mobility, and the ability to run uniform comms systems across any number of global sites. If colleagues can get in touch with each other any time, any place, with high-performance applications allowing them to talk face-to-face via video, seamlessly invite other people to conference calls and share documents and files, they can get more done in less time.
9 – Improve customer service
The above also applies to customer service. An agile cloud-based contact centre solution, with everyone in an organisation integrated into the same network regardless of where they are, means customer enquiries can be dealt with quickly and efficiently. The right person to refer a question to is always available, with a choice of communication options.
The point about UCaaS reducing complexity also applies. Routing customer inquiries to the right places and keeping accurate records of contact shared between everyone in an organisation is complex, especially when dealing with multiple modes of communication. With UCaaS contact centre solutions, this complexity is the responsibility of the provider, not the end user.
10 – Raise security and recovery standards
In contrast to early concerns over security in the Cloud, there is a growing body of opinion which argues that cloud communications may in fact be more secure than on-premises systems. The physical infrastructure the Cloud is based on, the industrial scale data centres on which the internet is built, are built and run to extremely high security and resilience standards. The data centre operators depend on guaranteeing high availability to customers, so protect their assets with fully redundant architecture, high levels of physical security, and 24/7 cyber threat monitoring.
In addition, UCaaS service providers, who in most cases are not the people who run the data centres (with a few notable big name exceptions) are also wising up to the importance of security. Private cloud solutions are becoming increasingly popular, offering dedicated services hosted in an isolated, rather than shared, virtual space.
Have your say
So there you have it – 10 good reasons to invest in cloud communications, from simplifying the deployment of complex UC solutions to reducing costs, increasing the agility and scalability of your comms systems to improving productivity and customer service standards.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with these points, or do you have any more to add? Do the benefits of cloud communications ring true for your business? Please join in the debate by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below. And why not share this article on social media and invite friends and colleagues to join in too.
This article is part of the July Series of the Technology Track on Cloud Communications, follow the link to see all published and planned articles.