What Small Businesses Want from Their Cloud Communications System

One effect of the pandemic has been a quantum increase in remote working and working from home. IT strategies have morphed from strategic to survival as they change to cope with the new business imperatives.

In remote working the need to communicate increases, and it is even more important in helping to maintain team morale and manage projects with a geographically dispersed workforce.   

Collaborative applications like SharePoint, Zoom, NetMeeting, and Skype have become the norm in business. Cloud storage as a means of document sharing and project communications is now essential. A Cloud Phone, a phone that uses Voice over IP (“VoIP”) over the Internet is becoming indispensable for productivity, privacy and general communications.

More than ever, business communications are vital to a business’s success. Customers and suppliers need to get in touch. The company needs to maintain an Internet presence to market its goods and services and support an e-commerce facility. Geographically dispersed businesses need business communications to link home office, manufacturing sites and depots at home and abroad

New company business, communications and IT strategies need to reflect the new realities.   Many companies are looking to implement an Integrated Communications Strategy that defines a common look-and-feel throughout the business.

The first step is for a business to set out what it wants from communications. The strategy will be a mix of policies and procedures defining how the look-and-feel is developed and maintained and the technical elements needed for delivery.  At its heart is a VoIP telephone system. A VoIP telephone system is a lot more than “just a phone”.  The move to Cloud-Base communications is accelerating.

A system supporting VoIP brings with it a host of new features and functions. It provides simple telephony obviously, supplemented by programmed and on-the-fly group voice and video calling. VoIP supports apps like Skype to allow one-on-one and group video calling, file transfer and desktop sharing. Coupled with a full-blown video-conferencing system, it provides a powerful environment for video calling, information sharing and transfers worldwide.

Smart devices can support software that turns the device into a Cloud Phone, connecting the user to the corporate communications system anywhere, anytime.

Benefits of a Cloud Communications Strategy

There are several benefits that a customer can expect from a Cloud-Based Communications system. The main tangible benefit is the financial benefits that accrue from the supply of cost-effective services. Significant intangible benefits accrue for presenting an identifiable, common face to customers.

Tangible Benefits

Tangible Benefits

The Internet is the carrier for Cloud Communications, and connections are free, over and above the costs of providing Internet access to the MSP supporting the Cloud environment. Using the corporate network and the internet to carry voice and video data immediately reduces the line charges associated with dial-up networking. Other cost benefits can accrue with reductions in travel and subsistence costs since meetings can now be held over a video connection rather than in person.

Another tangible benefit is a commonality of communications throughout a multi-site organisation.

The downside is that a third party provides the connection. That means it is sometimes not available and is variable in quality. Unless a local backup is built into the system, lose the Internet connection, and all comms, local and remote is lost.

VoIP is the prime vehicle for delivering the cost benefits.  Implementing a SIP interface

Intangible Benefits

Intagible Benefits

Every business needs a unique selling proposition, a hook that differentiates them from their competitors and persuades potential consumers to buy from them.

It is particularly true in the new digital age. Organisations that present an integrated and cohesive image on all aspects of their communications have a better public profile and are viewed more positively by existing and actual customers.

An ICS, combining the tangible and intangible elements will bring cost benefits.

VoIP also brings intangble benefits:

  • Implementation of SIP interfaces on the VoIP telephone system and a smart device allows a VoIP Phone extension to be transferred to a mobile device, which then becomes a Cloud Phone. The extension owner can make and receive calls anywhere their mobile device can connect to the corporate network, and sometimes even to the internet using a VPN. This means no place to hide anymore.
  • Increased effectiveness of communications, particularly in multi-cultural and multi-language environments. Misunderstandings and miscommunications are fewer and less severe if you can see the other person in the call.
  • Business Image. Being able to route incoming calls from anywhere to the Cloud System, makes it possible to establish virtual support offices. When a customer calls the support office, the call is automatically routed over the Cloud to the real support office, making the company seem to have a local presence.

The Cloud

Cloud Data Centre

The essence of a cloud is a remote data centre, shared or private, accessed over the Internet. The data centre can be in a single location or distributed over multiple locations. It can be managed by a Managed Service Provider (“MSP”), the organisation itself, or jointly.  The rationale is that Cloud Solutions are more flexible, offer faster development and innovation times, all with economies of scale.

Cloud-Based Communications

Cloud VoIP

Simply put, cloud communications is where all communications applications and infrastructure are hosted outside the organisation by a third party, reached over the public internet.  Cloud communication is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in SMME organisations with less than 10 employees because of their low monthly cost per user. Traditional on-site hardware can be considerably more expensive.

Integrated Communications Strategy

Strategy

An Integrated Communications Strategy {“ICS”) is a mechanism for maintaining consistency in all aspects of internal and external communications, especially language, messaging and visual communications. The prime delivery components will include VoIP and Instant Messaging.
What companies expect from a Cloud Communications system, is a positive contribution to cost management, easy management of a uniform image presented to the world at large and inetrnal productivity improvements.

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