Streamlining your business

Cloud communications: A guide for business

Cloud technology is becoming an increasingly prominent part of our professional lives, and a key pillar of digital business transformation. According to a recent Telesyte study, 77% of all Australian organisations now use more than one cloud platform, with 41% adopting a ‘cloud first’ policy.

A big focus of this transition has been cloud communications. It replaces traditional business communications systems such as phones with internet-based applications. This opens up a rich new array of communication features that allow users to connect to a business from any location, across any connected device.

What is cloud communications?

Also known as unified communications as a service (UCaaS), cloud communications allow you to access a range of useful telephony and messaging services from your computer or mobile device. Services, such as chat apps, voice or videoconferencing, file sharing, social media and more, can all be accessed via an internet connection, without the need to host the technology on-site.

A well-known example is the Skype app, which is just one of hundreds of cloud communication tools now available. All of them fall into the category of cloud-based solutions that are commonly called platform as a service (PaaS).

cloud services

A cloud service is a powerful, highly scalable computing platform, hosted outside the business by a third party that your business can rent and use on-demand.

Its reliability and flexibility make it easy to connect and share information with people inside and outside the business, instantly and wherever their location – at their desk, in a meeting room or on the road.

How does a cloud service benefit the business?

In today's fast-paced business environment flexibility is key, and cloud communications were made to support this way of working. Whether you employ a full-time team or temporary contractors, cloud technology has you covered, whether they work remotely or on-site. So much so, it enables you to defy things like geographical locations and time zone limitations.

And more businesses are realising that their future growth and success depends on their ability to embrace that. In fact, 68% of Australian employers already do, according to Indeed. Other benefits of using cloud technology in your workplace are:

  • improved employee productivity
  • faster response times and greater business agility
  • reduced need to purchase and maintain expensive IT systems
  • reduced costs and environmental impact associated with daily commutes
  • allowing you to spend more time on innovation initiatives, instead of IT maintenance
  • easily deployed to any location
  • automated off-site backups allow for quick data recovery in the case of a hardware crash.

Some cloud communications platforms can be free to access, such as the basic versions of Skype and WhatsApp. However, most businesses prefer to take advantage of more advanced features, which can often be purchased on a subscription basis. This can help reduce costs to a predictable monthly expense that can be added to the operating expenditure (OpEx) outgoings of your business.

Types of cloud communications

There are many third-party providers offering cloud communications solutions, many of which are able to be customised to the needs of a growing and changing business. Two of the most widely used types of cloud communications services are:

Conferencing: If your business has a need for audio, video or web conferencing, there’s a plethora of cloud communications solutions available offering superior call quality and feature sets. Skype provides a scalable conferencing service that can accept non-Skype calls. Cisco WebEx and Zoom are also popular, offering plans tailored to businesses of all sizes.

Call centre: ACDs (automated call distribution) systems can easily be implemented as part of a cloud telephony system (CTI). Like a regular contact centre, incoming calls can be routed to specific destinations (or ‘agents’), depending on factors like the number, availability and time of day. Many of these solutions now include an interactive voice response (IVR) option, which provides callers with a self-service function that helps them reach the right person or department more quickly.

Limitations of cloud communications

Cloud communications need a fast and reliable internet connection, which isn’t always available in all regions. They also require a business internet plan, although this cost can be more than offset by the savings gained if they can successfully replace a fixed or mobile phone plan.

As the trend towards flexible and remote working continues, and more people turn to their smartphones for work activities, cloud-based communications and collaboration will only become more popular – and essential – in the years ahead. 

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