How the cloud will unlock new opportunities for businesses with flexibility, agility and scalability
Flexibility, agility and scalability, this trio of aims is shared by the majority of businesses today, which either have an established global presence, or hold expansion ambitions. For any business to achieve all three, it needs to ensure that the IT and infrastructure are supporting and powering its growth and is equally flexible, agile and scalable, writes Divya Wakankar, the head of Communication Innovation and Next Generation Services Product Management at BICS.
When it comes to enterprise communications, this means a move to the cloud, which presents huge opportunities for both businesses and communication service providers.
Out with outdated comms
For many businesses the traditional approach to communications, running an on-premise private branch exchange, is costly, is often hampered by maintenance issues and requires time, money and resources to expand and adapt. Legacy comms systems can also throw up challenges when a business is looking to expand to new territories or open new branch office, with requirements to comply with local regulatory requirements including local licenses or agree deals with local providers.
Due to the rigidity of traditional communications services, many businesses are also finding that they are unable to support evolving workplace demands. An increasing number of us are opting to work from home, from remote office locations, or on the go, driven by a broad range of factors, from the rising cost and stress of a daily commute, to the unpredictable housing market in many major cities.
This has prompted a move towards using personal devices for communication wherever we are; the bring your own device (BYOD) trend. Equipped with collaborative working apps – the likes of Skype and Slack, as well as feature-rich conferencing services – employees can work when and where they please, and businesses can hire and retain talent from anywhere in the world. According to a global report, 89% of IT departments enable BYOD in some form, with 69% of IT leaders saying they’re positive about BYOD, citing increased productivity, employee satisfaction and lower costs as major benefits.
However, just as with expanding a physical footprint, adopting a BYOD strategy and supporting a productive global workforce cannot be achieved by those businesses which rely on on-premise comms.
These factors have contributed to an environment which has seen cloud-based unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) emerge as a critical tool for businesses. The global unified communications market is predicted to reach US$143.49 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 16%.
Adopting UCaaS enables enterprises to scale rapidly and cost-effectively with minimal opex, boost collaboration with multinational teams, tailor their presence to local markets and easily manage cost structures in these regions, supporting business evolution on a global scale.
Enter the cloud
The cloud is transforming business communication, and a key component of this is cloud numbers. These include local, national freephone numbers, and universal international freephone number or worldwide toll-free 0800 numbers.
Local numbers with SIP Trunking capabilities support UCaaS solutions with voice telephony, including mandatory emergency calling, while toll-free numbers are frequently used by businesses to build operation centres with customer support services across multiple geographies.
Moving any service to the cloud is viewed by some as risky, potentially opening up access to hackers whose techniques are increasing in their sophistication. However, despite this perception, communication services delivered from the cloud are far more secure than on-premise implementations, as they can support state-of-art artificial intelligence solutions which monitor and analyse voice traffic patterns. Anomalies and suspicious activity can be identified quickly, and pro-active anti-fraud measures can be implemented.
Prepare for the present
Given cloud communication’s huge potential, we expect to see significant, global uptake of the technology in the coming years. We’ve already witnessed significant demand for cloud communications services in North America, closely followed by Europe. This trend is set to continue across Asia and Africa as businesses expand, presenting significant opportunities for CSPs.
However, to fully unlock cloud communication’s potential, the telecoms industry must give their customers what they want, meeting current demands, whilst preparing for new business in emerging markets. This means working with global carriers which have the necessary infrastructure, services and relationships to deliver global, cloud-based communications to customers.