Dec 14

Using cloud communications to supercharge enterprise phone systems


Landline legacy telephone networks have been a standard of enterprise operations for years. But while the connections they create have not dwindled in importance, the technology behind them is beginning to show its age. This is leading many small businesses to take one of two paths - either update what they have or push for off-site cloud communications. Regardless of the route, however, organizations are frequently ending up at the same destination: VoIP telephony in the cloud.

There are two major reasons for the shift toward cloud VoIP. According to Streetfight Magazine contributor Mark Sullivan, much of this has to do with the        growth of mobile technology among customers.

"These smartphone users are searching, reading, chatting, sharing and shopping in their local markets directly from their devices," Sullvan wrote. "Take into account the increasing number of websites, search engines and advertising platforms that have adopted 'click-to-call' buttons and it is easy to see why the leap from searching to calling is so natural. After all, there is that phone inside of every smartphone."

But the benefits don't stop at consumer relations. Chances are that one person's customer is another organization's employee. Understanding that professionals need the same kind of intuitive systems that patrons do will help to streamline daily operations - not to mention increase worker satisfaction. Phone systems for small business need to be available in the cloud now that people are so accustomed to operating tools of this nature in their personal lives. Staffers need to have a modern level of autonomy over their schedules.

"For any business owner, finding a cost-effective solution to managing flexible working will be at the forefront of their mind," wrote The Guardian contributor Kitty Dann.

Be it with customers or employees in mind, cloud communications are going to be essential for small businesses moving forward. They allow for work to be more agile and responsive while giving consumers a stronger sense of connectivity with their favorite companies.

Dec 14

Cloud communications enable business continuity


It's impossible to predict everything that could possibly happen to a business. Disasters caused by everything from the weather to human error have been known to force enterprises into countless amounts of downtime - or worse, total closure. Downtime is expensive, and every second that a company is unable to operate at full strength increased the likelihood of total shutdown.

This is one of the reasons that people are turning to the cloud. Cloud technology has been found incredibly valuable when it comes to business continuity and disaster recovery. Much of this has to do with the constant Internet connections that many people enjoy via Wi-Fi and mobile data networks.

"One key notion to consider is permanence: how often will you be out of touch – severed from the Internet and the cloud? For most people, total temporary excommunication from the Internet is a rare thing, possibly only occurring during a network crash or a city-wide power failure," wrote CloudTweaks senior writer Steve Prentice. "But even in those circumstances, it is usually possible to re-join via another channel such as a cellphone."

This means that, in one way or another, people are generally able to get to the cloud if their phone is on and connected somehow to the Internet. Something like this is important to remember when it comes to business phone systems. Outages of these networks can happen at any time for all sorts of reasons - namely as copper landlines continue to age. Turning to cloud-based VoIP as a back-up phone line can, at the very least, keep colleagues connected in the face of adversity.

Cloud adoption rates climbing
While the technology still faces some unfair stigmatization, cloud services are being leveraged at a growing rate. According to ITProPortal contributor Sam Pudwell, 2015 is expected to be a "busy year for cloud adoption," with recent research from Equinix revealing that 77 percent of businesses are planning on investing in "multiple" cloud services. Additionally, 74 percent of organizations anticipate larger chunks of tech budgets to be directed at cloud-based initiatives.

Many of these developments are undoubtedly related to ensuring business continuity and disaster recovery. The cloud has proven itself to be a valuable way to keep moving despite problems with other services. Say a storm knocks out landline phone connections across the board during work hours. In previous generations, this would have probably meant calling it a day and taking the loss. But if cloud communications are in play, VoIP apps can still operate as expected. This is a powerful incentive that is helping organizations to gradually transition to VoIP, with its reliability as a backup plan illustrating its value as a de facto solution.

Cloud communications are becoming a standard in the enterprise world. There are few reasons to not pursue VoIP in some way, especially if it is going to keep downtime at bay.

"The ultimate acid test for any company of any size is to ask the simple question: 'If I was cut off from my files at this very moment, what would that mean?' The answer to this question should be written down and then acted upon," Prentice wrote.