Eliminating expensive physical infrastructure, enabling a work-from-anywhere environment and improving customer service are all benefits of the transition to the cloud.
By Peter Flischman, head of business development at Contineo Virtual Communications

We live in a time where businesses, regardless of their size, find financial constraints at every turn, which is why the focus on ‘doing more with less’ has become the accepted cost saving mantra. While there are a multitude of ways these businesses can go about driving cost savings, one area that seldom receives attention is telecommunications. Although voice clearly remains a critical aspect of any company’s communications, what is much more important is the fact that it is an aspect of the business that is closely affiliated with expensive physical hardware.

Think about it – any normal telephone environment within a business will require, at the very least, a PBX to control incoming and outgoing calls, a switchboard to direct these to the right people, and desktop phones that employees will use to answer such calls.

But what if there were a way to significantly reduce the costs associated with all this infrastructure, while at the same time simplifying operations and increasing productivity?

The answer lies in the cloud, which is already being used by organisations to eliminate the vast majority of traditional physical IT infrastructure that is associated with business operations, so it seems only logical to apply this virtualised approach to reduce their dependency on telecoms hardware as well.

By utilising a cloud-based virtual solution that can provide the same service as an on-premises PBX, companies are able to eliminate their costly physical hardware, secure in the knowledge that the back-end operations and security are taken care of by the provider. And because it is cloud-based, it is entirely scalable and means that any adjustments – such as when an employee leaves the company, or new staff members are added – can be done on the fly in the cloud.

Moreover, it becomes possible to utilise a simple application loaded onto a cellular handset to replace the traditional IP-based desk phone. An app like this would mean the cell phone would have access to the full client directory, would make it possible to know which individuals in the office are available and which are busy, and could even reflect as the office phone number when calling out to a customer.

When one considers the cost of an IP desk phone, eliminating these – and remember, the larger the organisation, the higher the number of such phones you will have to invest in – will significantly reduce costs, from the point of view of infrastructure, not to mention also from a power usage perspective. And of course, a cloud-based option can be set up for a new user the same day, as opposed to the weeks that would be needed when installing IP desk phones.

Such an app further means that the business can eliminate the traditional receptionist desktop solution, enabling the front desk to be run from a simple laptop. Moreover, this means that in effect, the receptionist can be based anywhere, even a home office. Which leads to yet another cost saving – namely that of renting physical property.

While not all businesses can operate across a distributed, horizontal model that effectively eliminates the need for physical offices, those that can, will be able to utilise a virtual telecoms environment to do away with these massive costs, since it becomes possible to enable all employees to work from wherever they are.

However, moving to a cloud-based telecoms solution goes beyond simply the cost savings that can be achieved. Because it sits in the cloud, it is a simple matter to add analytics to such a solution, enabling management to derive deeper insights from individual users’ phones. This could be information related to how long it takes for a call to be answered, how many calls a particular salesperson has missed or even details relating to which customers are calling most often.

This opens the doors to significantly improving your company’s service levels, due to the additional layers of insight enabled by such a cloud-based solution. And in a market that is driven by service, being proactive, rather than reactive in the manner in which you service your customers is a sure-fire way to improve revenues as well.

The real beauty of moving your communications to the cloud is that whether your organisation is a small, two-person business or a massive, several thousand strong enterprise, it can be equally effective at both cost savings and revenue generation, thanks to the complete scalability of the solution.