Darach Beirne, vice-president of customer success at Flowroute, busts some common cloud communications myths.
As the shift to SaaS-based offerings continues, more and more businesses have begun to transition communication services like voice and messaging to the cloud, in order to build competitive advantage, lower costs, improve customer service and enhance the customer experience.
Indeed, the global cloud communications market is forecast to reach $4.45bn by 2021.
Cloud communications systems provide control
IP/cloud-based communications give businesses of all sizes direct access to, and control over, telephony resources such as phone numbers, inbound and outbound calling, SMS, MMS, and advanced signalling data through APIs.
A US survey of more than 1,000 business owners identified several factors influencing their decision to adopt cloud-based communications services over traditional, on-premise telephony systems.
These included a lower total cost of ownership (38pc), the ability to scale quickly (19pc) and greater system resiliency (15pc). Respondents also noted the ability to add new communications features via the cloud as easier in comparison to an on-premise system.
‘Security is only as good as its weakest link, and a business communications platform is as safe as you make it’
Common cloud communications myths
As with any innovation, however, there are some misperceptions around cloud-based communications, most commonly around elements such as security, complexity, costs, reliability and call quality. We aim to set the record straight for those concerned with taking their voice and messaging services to the cloud. For example:
My traditional landline phone company works just fine, thank you!
In the age of smart refrigerators and self-driving cars, why are modern businesses still dependent upon legacy telco providers that focus on providing a dial tone and little else? Today’s customers expect instantaneous, seamless voice and messaging communication, as well as personalised interactions and the ability to take action immediately based off a phone or text message. This type of functionality can take months to implement with a legacy provider, versus days with an IP-based carrier.
I’ll have a less reliable network connection
With nearly all corporate operations relying on telecom or mobile connectivity, outages have the potential to halt an entire business, impacting areas such as internal and external communications, supply chain, customer service centres, and e-commerce manufacturing and delivering processes. Historically, it has been a very real challenge to quickly reroute voice traffic in order to resolve an outage and prevent further impairment.
Cloud-based carriers with roots in software development have created adaptive call-routing solutions that maximise call quality, coverage and reliability. This means that when a company (or a service provider, for that matter) has an outage, they can leverage adaptive call routing to bypass the outage, so that their business can quickly resume normal operations. Similarly, if customers are experiencing downgrades to their services, adaptive call routing can reroute the service to another network to ensure uptime.
I’ll have to sacrifice call quality
Voice quality should be number one on the priority list when evaluating software-centric (ie cloud-based) carriers. It’s critical that your IP service provider can ensure carrier-grade voice and messaging services and minimise the presence of latency and jitter. Notably, some software-centric service providers are certified as CLECs (competitive local exchange carriers), giving them direct access to telecom resources that can ensure carrier-grade, clear, reliable and high-performing voice connections 24/7.
Other performance-related functions to evaluate include the carrier’s ability to provide E911 emergency services, caller ID and troubleshooting, and ensure that telecom regulations and taxes are handled appropriately. Providers with attention to quality and technical expertise are a must-have, as these benchmarks can seriously impact the customer experience and your bottom line.
I’ll be at increased risk for telecom fraud
Fraud is a significant and growing problem in the telecom and VoIP industries. In 2017, the estimated losses globally from fraud were $29.2bn, according to the Communications Fraud Control Association. Security is only as good as its weakest link, and a business communications platform is as safe as you make it. To keep sensitive information out of the hands of fraudsters, the entire network must be secured, including internet phone lines. This means following basic security practices, such as ensuring software and firmware are up to date, and conducting an annual security audit of the system.
Being proactive and vigilant in the fight against telecom fraud will help protect and secure a company’s ability to keep day-to-day operations running smoothly, while also keeping customer relationships and corporate reputation intact in the long term.
Developing a strategic plan for selecting a software-centric carrier is key to maximising the benefits that cloud-based communications services can offer. Weighing up the deployment options and service provider offerings, and assessing your company, partner and customer needs, will assure that you’ve developed a high-value strategy for a successful move to the cloud.
Darach Beirne is the vice-president of customer success at Flowroute. He brings more than 20 years of experience building and leading customer support, customer success, professional services and sales engineering teams for a variety of providers.