Breaking through the cloudy future of communications

JobA number of companies from a cross section of industries have already harnessed the cloud and are enjoying the scalability and flexibility that this approach offers. Businesses have started to streamline processes to increase company-wide efficiency and reduce Capex and Opex.

But with so many options, where should companies who are new to the concept start? Jorn Vercamert, VP, Communications Solutions at BICS, discusses how best to utilise the cloud to boost business.

What’s in the cloud?

According to a recent report, 95 percent of businesses are now using the cloud, with 79 percent of their workloads running in virtual environments. It’s no wonder, as the cloud enables greater agility and delivers efficiency and cost savings. It allows businesses to more easily handle challenges relating to data storage, management and security, and enables them to deliver services on-demand to clients using fewer resources. So, which processes and operations are being virtualised?

Common cloud services include productivity solutions, web and email hosting, content filtering, and back-up and recovery services. Many cloud solutions are more affordable to deploy and maintain than traditional approaches, meaning it’s not only large corporations which are harnessing the cloud, but SMEs and start-ups too.

What’s the silver lining?

Every cloud has a silver lining – cloud computing included. Embracing the cloud means that businesses do not need to manage and maintain physical infrastructures and can instead update and scale more easily, at a lower cost. New services can be trialled and subsequently brought to market or pared back, without the significant expenditure once required.

Cloud services are often based on a subscription model, further reducing Capex, as a business will only pay for what it uses. Moving operations and processes to the cloud also removes the – often hefty – costs associated with legacy infrastructure, including energy expenditure and real estate. One report found that 45 percent of virtualised operating systems running on-premises could run more economically in the cloud, generating annual cost savings of 43 percent.

Cloud benefits not only include a company’s ability to better manage its finances, but also to better manage and utilise its workforce. Moving operations and services to the cloud means these are accessible and available to employees wherever they may be. This better enables remote working from multiple offices, for those employees who choose to work from home, or on the daily commute.

Organisations can adopt a more flexible approach to working hours, allowing them to maximise workforce productivity and scale business. A small company looking to increase its global footprint, for example, can facilitate collaborative and remote working at a low cost and with little investment.

Entering the cloud

This collaborative mobility can best be achieved by adopting cloud communication solutions. These offer a great entry point for those businesses new to virtualisation, allowing them to adopt a global outlook, ensure on-demand availability and reactivity, and to provide a better end-user experience. Over half of businesses begin their cloud journeys with the adoption of a communication and collaboration service, and the global unified communications and collaboration market is expected to grow to $60 billion by 2020.

Adopting a cloud communication platform for employees, for instance, enables a workforce to interact – whether by voice, video, or messaging service – either one-to one or using a group collaboration tool. These solutions support multiple devices, meaning employees can be contacted wherever and whenever they are, either using a company device or their own. This approach aligns with the growing BYOD (bring your own device) trend across industries, as well as the increasing tendency for employees to work remotely and flexibly.

Cloud comms for comms companies

For those companies where communications is a central part of business, moving these capabilities to the cloud can be a daunting prospect. Yet this approach increases reliability and security of communications and helps a business deliver a more localised service to its customers whilst allowing it to scale globally and tap into new markets. Cloud communication services have several forms, ranging from unified communications to mobile applications.

Call centres, as well as providers of unified communications, cloud PBX and digital and conference services are all required to connect to fixed or mobile networks globally. Migrating these processes to the cloud provides a straightforward way of achieving this, whilst reducing the total cost of ownership by minimising investments in physical equipment and infrastructure.

Offering a local, accessible service to end-users is a must for any company, service provider or enterprise. Again, this can be achieved with ease by harnessing cloud services. These include local, toll-free numbers which allow customers, end-users and their businesses to be visible in the local telephone directory. This gives a company’s customers a low-cost, or free, means of getting in contact with a company in a specific region, even if they are physically located elsewhere; this is of particular importance to call centres.

Thanks to cloud adoption and APIs, global communication services are far more accessible to businesses of all sizes. Traditionally expensive international services, for instance, are now open to all. Embracing the cloud means forward-looking CTOs can begin to look for more globally-oriented service providers to bridge their communication services directly to each local in-country provider. This offers total cost of ownership savings, service advantages, as well as increased flexibilities in packages. Communications clearly has a cloudy future.
Jorn Vercamert of BICS
By Jorn Vercamert, VP, Communications Solutions at BICS

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