Cloud telephony: A potential hit or miss for businesses?
Cloud telephony allows business to be lean, allowing them to concentrate on their core competency, which is the growing trend now days. It allows employees to work from anywhere creating a flexible working environment. But if you believe that businesses need on premise telephony servers for their business needs, then you probably need very convincing reasons before you agree to this thing called cloud telephony.
Before we go deeper into the topic and understand pros and cons of cloud telephony let’s try understanding cloud telephony. Cloud telephony is an offshoot of the successful cloud computing movement. It is just a natural progression of the cloud computing movement which started out with the goal of allowing the end user to benefit from technology without having to get into the details of the underlying technology.
Virtualization is the key here. It abstracts the physical component into something easier to understand and manage for the layman. For a layman, cloud technology could not come earlier because it allowed him to focus on his core strengths and not on the day to day complexity of managing technology.
Simply put, cloud telephony is the virtualization of telephony infrastructure. You own the phones, but the telephony servers, PBX, and trunk dialing is located in the cloud. This makes it possible for you to plug your phone into the cloud from anywhere provided you have a good internet connection.
Lower Costs – Running your business telephony systems in the cloud is less expensive than premise based systems. Telephony servers, phone equipment, cooling towers, computers are very expensive. Repairs, maintenance, insurance, lease will continue eating up your resources long after the initial investment.
Cloud telephony changes all that. With one dramatic stroke it changes your organization focus from CAPEX to OPEX, from onsite to offsite telephony platform.
Money saved can be re-routed to marketing or R&D leading to more tangible results for your startup business.
Mobility – Cloud telephony allows businesses to be mobile which is the growing trend now days. It allows the end user to tweak call logic according to workflows. For example, incoming calls can be routed to your home, office, hotel, travel phone, ensuring that the calls keep coming irrespective of where you are.
Image Makeover – Image is everything in the services sector. Startups must cultivate a customer friendly image from day one of their operation. But customer service costs money. A lot of money! So how can a startup ensure great customer service with little money? Unfortunately it can’t. Not with conventional telephony systems. If CAPEX won’t kill you, OPEX certainly shall.
So is there a way out? Actually there is. And it is called cloud telephony. It is a makeover artist that will make you look very, very, very good.
Each and every, landing on your business number will be answered professionally in a voice recorded by you and in a language of your choice to provide the best in customer engagement time after time.
Manage leads – Not only will it provide an immediate image makeover for your company but it will also improve your lead management by many folds by recording every call landing on your system. Missed call alerts are sent immediately to your mobile number of email allowing you to call back immediately. You can even tag leads with notes and create timely follow ups – weekly, fortnightly, monthly etc – for better lead conversion rates.
Safety and Security – Most businesses are worried about the safety and security of data forgetting that hosted service providers offer higher security than most SMB’s and startups can provide for themselves. Even the FBI has decided to store data in the cloud. Now if the FBI finds cloud safe enough to store data then it must be safe enough for your business too.
People often forget that their emails are stored in Google or Yahoo! Servers. If there are no known security concerns there then why must cloud telephony be any different?
Then there is the cost of retrieving data. Your computer may get lost, stolen or damaged which means you can say goodbye to your lead data accumulated after years of work. When data is stored in the cloud, however, you may login from anywhere and access data easily. Since cloud telephony platforms are platform agnostic, one can login from any computer or device to access data stored in the cloud.
Internet Connectivity – Unlike premise based telephony systems that work on conventional technology you need stable internet connectivity for making the best use of cloud telephony services. If your internet connection is slow or gets disconnected often your customer service will suffer too. So before running your customer service on a cloud telephony platform get an ISP provider you can trust. Your internet connectivity has to be very reliable for multi user tenet system especially when updating databases or downloading files.
Data Security – There are six aspects of data security important to any IT system. They are confidentiality (secrecy of data contained), integrity (there should be no unauthorized changes in data), availability (on demand), utility (must be of some use), authenticity (genuineness of data) and possession (full control over data). Most cloud telephony providers comply with the guidelines laid down for data security. However, if you have doubts, it is a good idea to call up your cloud telephony provider for more information.
Whatever way you see it, the hits outweigh the misses. The advantages of using cloud telephony outweigh the disadvantages. In the end, cloud telephony is good for your startup or SMB business because it provides the communication capability of a Fortune 500 company at a mere fraction of the price.
About the Author
The author of the article, Ambarish Gupta is the CEO of Knowlarity Communications.
Image Credit: O2Ireland