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Signs You May Want to Move to a Cloud-based Communications Solution - Part One
October 11, 2013 @ 10:37 AM | By James Whitemore

While many business technologies seem to be moving headlong into the cloud these days, one area that has been slower to change is communications. Whether you’re talking about direct calls between two individuals, conferences between several co-workers or large-scale webcasts to the entire organization, the communications function is so core to the way business is conducted that IT and business leaders alike are often reluctant to abandon all that nifty hardware and cabling in the locked closet in favor of a solution hosted somewhere “out there.”

Not saying that isn’t the right decision for some. But with the realities and speed of business today, many organizations might be better-served by moving to a cloud-based communications solution. How do you know if yours is one of them? Here are two signs that can help you make the call.

The need for change is already past due. You know the feeling. The organization has outgrown the system’s current capacity, or it will soon. Or perhaps your sales force is clamoring for a true unified communications solution that your current technology can’t deliver. Whatever the problem, it’s urgent and you need to make a change ASAP to serve the business.

If you’re planning to replace the old equipment with a new on-premise solution, “ASAP” probably means “in 18 to 36 months.” At least by the time you get done talking to the stakeholders, determining requirements (including projecting out for several years despite having no clue what the economy, technological innovation or other future factors will bring), comparing vendors, sending and reviewing RFPs, installing and configuring equipment, provisioning users – you get the picture. It’s a long, arduous process.

You can bring that time-to-working-solution down considerably, however, by moving your communications to the cloud, because many of the steps will have already been accomplished by the cloud provider. Sure, you’ll still have to determine the requirements and seek out RFPs from the providers. But the bulk of the infrastructure itself will already be in place and operational in their datacenters, which means you can be up and running with your new solution in half the time – or less. And with a significantly simpler pricing model (along with fewer “hidden” charges) it’s a whole lot easier to calculate the cost and project the ROI.

The other good news is your communications platform will always remain current. If there is a new advance or disruptive technology introduced, a good cloud provider will make the upgrade (if it makes sense) so you’re never stuck paying for yesteryear’s technology tomorrow.

The business requires greater flexibility or scalability. Let’s face it. If you could reliably predict the future you’d be using that talent to select Lottery tickets. Since you can’t, you need to be able to make adjustments to your communications solution as the business’ needs change. Sometimes large ones.

Look at the impact unified communications has had on organizations – starting with the fact that voice communications are now managed by IT instead of a separate group of telecom specialists. The wider use of video between individuals and groups is taking up more time as well as network bandwidth. Increases in the number of remote offices, not to mention mobile workers overall, has made it even more difficult to keep up with user demands – especially when IT is already being asked to do so much more with so much less.

Using a cloud-based communications solution allows IT to shift the bulk of the heavy lifting to the cloud provider. You simply send an email telling the provider what moves, adds or changes need to be performed and they take care of it – most of the time with no more involvement from your team. Which frees your team to focus its time on higher-priority projects that will help advance the business.

Recognize any of those signs in your organization? We'd love to hear your feedback!

James WhitemoreJames Whitemore is senior vice president of sales and marketing at West IP Communications, the team that delivers InterCall’s unified communication services. InterCall and West IP Communications are both a part of West Corporation. James holds a B.A. (Hons) degree in Business from Newcastle University in the U.K. and currently resides in Boulder, CO. In his downtime, James is an avid skier with an enthusiasm for traveling and car collecting.

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