Cloud communications provide cost-effective alternative to traditional telecoms
The cloud is now an integrated part of most enterprise IT structures, with organisations running applications, storing and processing data, or hosting platforms in the cloud. The benefits of this are being realised, and it is now time for telecoms to follow suit. Jorn Vercamert, the vice president of Communications Solutions at BICS, discusses how companies can harness cloud-based communications services to help drive business growth and reduce investment and operational costs.
90% of all companies today either have apps running in the cloud or are planning to use cloud apps within the next three years. Cloud is big business: the cloud computing market will be worth an estimated $241 billion by 2020, up 23% from 2014. This trend is hardly surprising, considering the significant benefits cloud can deliver to enterprises. However, businesses may not entrust all of their infrastructure to reside in the ether quite yet, so hybrid IT models which comprise both cloud and on-premise are fast becoming the norm. These might consist of keeping certain applications like email systems on-premise, whilst also adopting scalable cloud-based services.
The cloud offers a cost-effective and flexible way for businesses to test, implement and scale new services. It enables mobile and remote working, delivers operational efficiencies and allows smaller businesses to access technology and services which traditionally would have been too costly, via a subscription model. Cloud not only allows businesses to grow financially; without hardware and on-premise equipment tethering employees to certain locations, organisations are able to expand across the world and grow their customer and client bases easily and affordably.
In addition to assets and applications, there is an increasing realisation of the benefits of migrating communications services to a virtualised environment. Businesses are increasingly exploring ways to use cloud capabilities to enable mobility, flexibility, and a more cost-effective alternative to traditional telecoms, driving and supporting the globalisation of business. With employees and services now spread across the world, ensuring cost-effective communication with customers and suppliers, as well as between members of their own workforce, has never been more important to the success of a business.
Investment in global unified communications services is rocketing, with the market expected to be worth $143.49 billion by 2024, as more and more businesses move traditional on-site telecoms infrastructure to a virtualised environment. These services help drive flexibility, agility and collaborative productivity, and range from cloud public branch exchange (PBX), contact centres, conferencing services and applications. In order to be successful and deliver a high quality end-user experience, global connectivity, security and high definition voice quality are required.
Customers today demand increasingly personalised, interactive and immersive digital services. Communications providers can benefit from virtualised communications solutions, which allow these businesses to grow globally whilst still providing the kind of personal, localised service customers expect. These types of solutions provide companies with local numbers from anywhere in the world. A call centre for instance would be able to expand business into new territories, even if the centre itself is located thousands of miles away from their customer base. Customers calling the centre also benefit, as cloud-hosted numbers provide localised connectivity and low-cost access. Virtualised communications solutions can also provide functionality like dynamic international call transfer, as well as enabling users to join conferences from any location, using local or toll-free numbers. This can prove vital in supporting any business comprised of a remote workforce.
Migrating communications to the cloud can be a particularly advantageous move for smaller companies. Whilst larger players may have the resources to expand globally, less established outfits, start-ups or those with limited resources often face financial hurdles. Cloud communications reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) by minimising outlay in physical equipment and infrastructure. Adopting a cloud comms strategy allows all companies to deploy and scale enterprise systems, democratising the playing field and opening up competition, meaning more organisations are able to take advantage of the globalisation of enterprise.
Cloud adoption and easy-to-integrate APIs from third parties have made a huge range of global communications services, both national and international, more accessible. Forward-looking CTOs with a view to easily and cost-effectively expanding their business can partner with globally-oriented service providers, which have the expertise and resources to bridge communication services directly to each local in-country provider.
Many businesses have already moved their data, servers, processes and applications to the cloud; now it’s time for them to play catch-up with their comms. Adopting a cloud communications strategy allows organisations to expand globally without the usual outlay and ongoing costs associated with supporting a business on this scale. Employees can work remotely and collaboratively, and customers can enjoy a localised service. The digitalisation of the economy has allowed for the globalisation of enterprise, and as more companies embrace the cloud for communications, even the smallest start-ups can think global.