According to a recent survey conducted by Cisco on cloud communications, 86 percent of small businesses are considering cloud-based unified communications (UC) systems to replace the traditional on premises systems they have in place.
So What are the Benefits of Deploying Cloud-based Communications?
Unlike premises-based solutions, cloud communications requires minimal capital and operational expenditure, which saves time and money throughout the lifetime of the service. The reliability, scalability and flexibility of the technology as well as its development is professionally managed with regular software upgrades so it will never be obsolete.
Additionally, it provides services that are essential in today’s highly digital and connected world, including detailed analytics, disaster recovery, manage support, CRM integration and communication enabled business processes with hybrid deployment solutions.
All of these features translate to superior customer interaction and satisfaction as well as improved staff productivity by supporting mobile and distributed workforce with unified presence that is now key for team collaboration.
Here are some tips if you are looking to make the migration to cloud communications.
Cloud Communication Implementation Tips
Create a Comprehensive Web Portal
The web portal is going to be the control center for your cloud-based communication system. Since there are many different communication solutions that are available, it is essential to have a web management portal that brings all the systems together. With the right platform in place you will be able to modify how the service is delivered with advanced call management features. Administrators will be able to see call logs, voicemails, call recordings, assign extensions, create detailed reports and more.
Prepare for Disaster Recovery
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) are two terms any business with a digital presence should be very familiar with.
If there is one thing you can count on when it comes to digital technology, it is the potential for disaster always being around the corner. With cloud, your business communications solution can be recovered and accessed from virtually anywhere as long as there is an Internet connection. This means minimal or no downtime, whether it is a natural disaster or a technological failure. The DR plan you have in place should also include BC to ensure you can be up and running as soon as possible no matter what happens.
Deploy a Hybrid System
Even though there are multiple redundancy systems in place by cloud service providers, having a hybrid cloud strategy that uses a combination of cloud services and on-site solutions is a foolproof way to ensure your business communication is always available.
Familiarize Yourself with Digital Security
Cloud communications and cloud technology in general is very secure, but since you are not in control of the backend you have to identify what the risks are to your organization and take the necessary precautions in the event of a security breach.
Because not all cloud providers are created equal, make sure you thoroughly vet the company regarding the type of security protocols it has in place. In most cases, cloud services are more secure than on-site deployments, which is another benefit of this technology. If you provide healthcare or financial services, you must ensure the service provider complies with the different regulatory bodies of these industries.
Understand the Relationships Between Mobile and Cloud
Cloud and mobile technology can be said they are one and the same in today’s collaborative environment, because they rely on each other so much to deliver and access a host of services, including communications. The synergy between both technologies combines to produce a platform that is greater than the sum of their separate parts.
Develop a Cloud First Strategy
Developing a cloud first strategy for your organization means there is no legacy infrastructure to hold you back in the future development of your communications as well as other technological needs. What this means is, you’ll have the flexibility to access cloud platforms, infrastructure, software, communications and more, so you can scale as the growth of your business demands it without limitations.
Take it for a Spin
After you narrow down the number of service providers to the ones that you think will deliver the best service for your company, take it for a spin.
The vast majority of cloud communications services have a 30 day trial period, which is more than enough to give you a better understanding of the technology and whether applying it to your business will be beneficial in the long run.
Bring Your Employees Into the Decision-Making Process
The communication technology you deploy for your company is primarily going to be used by your employees, so make a concerted effort to get their point of view before making a decision. Whether you workforce stays in the office all day or they are outside, find a communication solution that simplifies the way they communicate.
Don’t Forget the Customer
Although the cloud communications you choose is for the people in the organization, you have to remember it is used to interact with customers. With cloud services you will have more options to engage with your customers across different touch points. The more options you provide, the easier you make it for them to keep in touch with you.
Add Unified Communications
With Unified Communications (UC) you can integrate real-time enterprise grade communication services in one comprehensive platform. You can provide voice, video, data, mobility, conferencing, collaboration, unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax) and a host of other services for your employees, customers, vendors and partners.
Get the Best Service Level Agreement (SLA)
When you migrate your communications to the cloud, the service provider you select is going to be responsible for making sure you always have access. Before you sign on the dotted line make sure the SLA has a clear description of the service being provided, the type of reliability that offers, responsiveness, procedures for reporting problems, and the type of monitoring and reporting service level they offer. Additionally find out what are the consequences if the company doesn’t meet its service obligations as well as the escape clauses or constraints they have in place.
Cloud communications gives small businesses access to enterprise grade solutions at price points they can easily afford. However, it is extremely important to assess your options by taking into consideration reliability, scalability, support, and security and not solely focus on price. Make sure you thoroughly evaluate the cloud vendor to ensure you are getting the company that will solve the communication needs of your company, employees and customers.
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