Cloud Communications Enable Stronger Businesses, Contact Centers

    There is a big difference between cloud computing and cloud communications. According to No Jitter contributor Robert Harris, the former is an unfairly-applied umbrella term that offsets the major variations. "The real-time nature of communications," as he puts it, fails to be underscored when this happens.

    "Payroll systems, customer management databases and even storage may require bandwidth and fast response times, but nothing is as unforgiving to a slow network connection as real-time voice and video services," Harris said. Understanding this difference is tantamount to launching a properly-functioning unified communications system.

    The cloud has afforded society with so many advancements in such a short amount of time. Ten years ago, the idea of merging several platforms into one touchscreen-accessible location seemed to be straight from an episode of "The Jetsons." But this type of technology has made much more possible since then, connecting people in more ways than they have ever been before.

    The landscape of telecom is evolving at a rapid, noticeable rate. As the cloud continues to redefine the widespread nature of communications, more businesses will be interested - and quick to invest - in these new technologies. The advantages that cloud can bring to any organization will be crucial to possess, namely in the way of business phone systems, mobility, video conferencing and the contact center.

    VoIP Can Expand Businesses 

    Even though the copper wiring of landlines is going the way of the dinosaurs, the ability to place voice calls is still incredibly important to modern businesses. In the face of other advents like instant messaging, people still want voice capabilities. Due to this, one tool that has become synonymous with cloud communications is VoIP service. According to International News Magazine contributor Nick Rojas, the ready availability of high-speed Internet makes VoIP "the phone system of the future."

    One example of expansion comes in the form of eliminating the need to dial complicated, international phone numbers. Instead of opening a completely new office in a particular location where clientele is high, businesses can simply register a local number in that vicinity. According to Rojas, this allows companies to establish a presence all over the world from a remote location, in turn eliminating the expenses and risks that are associated with this kind of action.

    Mobility Enabled Like Never Before

    One of the trappings of the modern age is not only the power of communication tools, but also the innumerable parts of the world where they can operate. Smartphones have made it so that billions of people can be connected at any time of the day. As it becomes easier to do more from a growing amount of locations on these devices, employees are starting to expect the same kind of flexibility from workplace.

    Cloud PBX can be leveraged to make the company more accessible to its customers, but it can also keep staff connected by facilitating remote workplaces. Take, for instance, Robert Half, a California-based staffing company in the United States. According to Harris, the organization currently utilizes more than 10,000 ShoreTel-enabled handsets, and the ShoreTel mobility client is instrumental in enabling non-traditional task accomplishment.

    "Many users work in a traditional office environment due to the nature of their jobs," said Nikki Roberts, global network services manager for Robert Half. "However, there is another part of our organization that uses an off-premise solution, which has more functionality, including video, an important feature for many of our colleagues."

    This kind of option is typical of today's workforce. The technologies that beget remote and mobile abilities have existed for longer they have been popular, so the idea of working from home or the coffee shop instead of a brick-and-mortar office had much less going for it. But these tools have matured, and the need for the physical workplace is beginning to show signs of diminishing.

    This means big possibilities for the contact center. Because all phone systems and contact information are hosted in the cloud, it can be accessed from anywhere that there is an Internet connection. Virtual call centers allow for business to continue as usual in the event of outages or weather concerns, or if representatives just need a day to work from home.

    Video Conferencing Viable Thanks To Cloud

    There was a point in time where companies could not see the value in text messaging. It was considered by many to be pointless and ineffective, worthy only of teens who were amused by its novelty value. But as more people begin to adopt SMS within the workplace, the critics are being proven wrong. Similar things can be said about video conferencing - according to InformationWeek contributor Nitin Pradhan, services like Skype may have soured some on the potential of video, but those kind of solutions are far from "enterprise-grade," and should be looked past for better quality.

    Thanks to the cloud, video technology is finally starting to catch up to the needs of businesses. If face time is required of people working from halfway around the world, it used to be that travel was necessary. But the expensive costs of transportation are eliminated by cloud communications and the video capabilities they bring with them. The cloud has enabled video conferencing to handle more participants while retaining clarity and should be considered a part of any strong unified communications initiative.

    It is important for businesses to recognize the benefits that the cloud can have on telecom. These tools are only going to become more frequently integrated into companies around the world, and organizations wishing to stay relevant should be interested in moving with them.