(Republished with permission from Mitel)
Your phone system plays a critical role in your business operations and in your company’s success. But with more employees working from home and on the go, increasingly global markets and ever-changing customer demands, today’s workforce requires decision makers to think beyond the traditional phone systems of days past. The modern workplace requires a complete communications and collaboration system that not only lets employees interact with ease, but also empowers IT teams to easily manage and adapt to an evolving business environment.
Why Cloud Communications?
Chances are, you’re already using cloud technology in other aspects of your business. G Suite by Google Cloud®, Microsoft Office 365® and Dropbox® are just some examples of cloud-based applications. The cloud simply refers to software and services that are hosted by the provider and run on the Internet instead of equipment housed in your building. Since the documents, emails, photos and other software that live in the cloud are available from any device with a secure Internet connection, users can access the information and services from anywhere.
Cloud vs. Onsite: Considerations and Benefits
When it comes to communications, a cloud-based phone service offers unique benefits a traditional on-site phone system cannot. Let’s take a quick look at how these two deployment models differ:
On-Site Phone System
- You fully own and operate the solution
- You are responsible for overall maintenance, upgrades, reliability and security
- Typically acquired as an upfront purchase and accounted for as a capital expense
Cloud Phone Service
- Applications are hosted remotely by the cloud provider or a hosting partner
- Cloud provider manages the service, relieving in-house IT of most or all network-related tasks
- Services are consumed as a monthly subscription expense
With an on-site phone system, IT maintains control of your solution. As a capital expenditure (CapEx), there are minimal-to-no ongoing costs to finance the solution. However, there are several important considerations to keep in mind:
Total Cost of Operations – Plan to factor in the additional costs of system maintenance, changes/adds/deletes, upgrades and replacements.
Obsolescence – With technology constantly evolving, there is risk of the equipment quickly becoming obsolete.
Resources – If IT resources are limited the complexity of the deployment may pose problems in implementation and user adoption.
Less Flexibility – An on-site solution may have limited flexibility when integrating with new applications and rapidly supporting new sites or remote workers.
Benefits of a Cloud-Based Phone System
Value – There are minimal-to-no upfront expenses because you pay monthly on a subscription basis. Plus, with many cloud providers, upgrades are automatic, and maintenance or installation fees are either low or non-existent.
Maintenance – Cloud phone services require minimal-to-no on-site equipment, eliminating the need for equipment that requires valuable time from IT staff and space in your building.
Accessibility – Employees have access to the same easy-to-use features and functionality, whether they’re in the main office, working from a remote location or on the road.
Integrations – Easier integrations with popular back-office cloud solutions, such as CRM, ERP and other apps, turn a cloud phone system into a communications hub that enhances productivity and collaboration.
Scalability – Adding locations and growing teams become simple to handle in a cloud environment, with new users able to be provisioned in minutes.
Why Businesses Are Making the Move to the Cloud
The key difference is that cloud communications can help your business to be more agile. Cloud solutions are often more flexible, scalable, reliable and offer greater access to innovative features designed to make your employees more productive.
The five most cited reasons for moving to cloud communications are:
- Total cost of operations
- Lack of IT resources
(Source: “The State of Cloud Communications,” 2015 No Jitter Research)
Is a Cloud-Based Phone System Right for Your Business?
Now that we’ve covered the differences and value a cloud solution can offer, you can consider if the cloud is a good fit for your business. Certain business dynamics are custom-made for the cloud. Do you see your business reflected in the list below?
- Rapid Growth – The built-in flexibility of the cloud makes it a great fit for companies that need to scale.
- Multiple Locations – If you’re moving or adding offices, cloud systems make it simple to add new users quickly.
- Limited IT Resources – Cloud communications offer expert installation, ongoing support and automatic software upgrades.
- Outdated Equipment and/or Equipment Coming to End-of-Life – If it’s time for an upgrade, there’s no better time to consider moving your communications to the cloud.
- A Need to Improve the Customer Experience – Cloud-based solutions offer greater integration opportunities that, in turn, can help you meet the distinct needs of your customers.
- Competitive Pressures – The increased agility of a cloud solution can help you increase productivity, retain and attract top talent and more easily set your business apart in competitive markets.
What to Look for in a Cloud Communications Solution
Unified communications (UC) technologies go beyond basic telephony by seamlessly integrating popular communications and collaboration applications, helping to streamline everyday workflows and improve productivity. As you’re evaluating communications solutions, take full advantage of what the cloud offers by looking for a solution that includes features such as:
Chat/Instant Messaging – Collaborate and communicate with other employees across the office, across town or across the globe.
Web Conference & Desktop Sharing – Increase the effectiveness of your online meetings by sharing important documents and visuals with a single click.
Video Conferencing – Integrated, cloud-based video conferencing provides a seamless environment for a more personal communications experience.
Mobile Applications – Apps let you take your business line wherever you go and seamlessly move from your desk to a computer softphone to a mobile device without skipping a beat.
Collaboration Tools – Eliminate email clutter with virtual workspaces, team- or project-based chat rooms and task management tools.
Back-Office Integrations – Solutions with a broad suite of integrations to your key back-office systems, such as your CRM or helpdesk systems, help simplify routine tasks and improve reporting capabilities.
MiCloud Connect: A Cloud Communications Solution Designed to Give You More
More Integrations – MiCloud Connect integrates with countless applications, so your business can do more.
More Flexibility – MiCloud Connect makes it simple to add users and capabilities as your business expands.
More Value – Due to its monthly releases, MiCloud Connect enables you to always run on the latest and greatest without your bill ever changing.
More Mobility – Convenient mobile apps and collaboration tools allow teams to stay connected and productive wherever they are.
More Collaboration Features – Goes beyond just a phone system to provide rich collaboration features like desktop sharing, chat, video and team workspaces.
More Simplicity MiCloud Connect – Provides a complete UCaaS solution and intuitive experience for all users, no matter their location or device.
As your trusted partner in telecommunications for over 30 years, Millennia Technologies can help you determine the best phone solution for your business. We are a full-service voice and data solutions company headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI. Our primary focus is to help our customers architect/design solutions with stability and longevity by helping to future-proof their LAN and WAN voice and data networks.
For more information, please give us a call at 616-249-9599.