Communication technology in the cloud is nothing new, but the last few years have seen many more companies migrate their phone and unified communications systems into it. It has been predicted that we will see a cloud-first universe by 2020 (source: PwC), but why is this happening? Adrian Hipkiss, MD EMEA at ShoreTel, would argue that migration to the cloud is intrinsically connected to the future workplace.
Technology always becomes essential because of outside factors, and cloud communications are no different. There are a number of social factors at play in our modern workplace that are driving this move to cloud. Here are four key challenges of the modern workplace that cloud solves:
Different working environments
The office was once the centre of the business where the communications most vital to the enterprise took place. Today, prices of property have rapidly risen, and businesses need to make the most of their limited office space. Naturally then, many organisations can see the value of reducing their real estate footprint and moving to a virtual office model that’s extremely cost-effective, if backed up with the right kind of technology. Add to this that three quarters (74%) of people now say they want to be given the right to request remote working (source: UC EXPO) and you have the recipe for not only an effective workforce but a happy one through enhanced remote working facilities. By putting communications in the cloud you are ensuring true flexibility across a physically disparate workforce by allowing them to communicate however they like from whichever device suits them. One platform means that employees have the same experience however they choose to communicate. It not only makes remote working easy, but in many ways a preferable experience as the power is in the hands of the employee.
The drive to subscription models
We use subscription models in our personal lives, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. When it comes to business technology, companies have been slower to adopt the convenience of subscription services, partly due to legacy systems that depend on a fixed application that must be purchased, installed and maintained. As cloud offerings have matured and become more reliable, the barriers are lowered to adopting the same subscription model in business services. Organisations can easily subscribe to a monthly service in which the applications are located in secure data centre. The vendor takes on full responsibility for owning, configuring and managing them, rather like how Netflix means you don’t have to go to Blockbuster to rent a video anymore. More and more businesses are recognising that this is highly efficient and less likely to result in downtime as there is always support available when needed. It’s a move in society towards a flexible, short-term arrangement rather than a permanent solution with no adaptability.
Planning for high growth
Growth is a top priority for many businesses today, particularly small and medium businesses (SMBs) as the market is fierce and rife with ultra competitive, ultra innovative newcomers in every field. Yet growth needs to be supported by the right kind of communications. By choosing one centralised software platform in the cloud, businesses can flex up or down to add new workstations as the business expands. It is also easy to add or remove new features and capabilities with minimal disruption, effort or hardware requirements. For any business planning to grow, the cloud is the perfect way to make sure communications are future-proofed.
A more collaborative, creative culture in the workplace
A collaborative culture is now highly desired by most millennial workers – used to communicating frequently and within seconds across messaging apps. Many young people would not buy a dress without snapping it on their smartphone and checking with their friends via a messaging service first. With enhanced mobility, there is always a risk that things get lost in translation between remote working teams. The benefit of using cloud communications here is that you and your team can speak wherever or whenever, with communications linked up to documents that can easily be accessed or edited. Integrated collaboration apps can ease workflow and ensure that all team members are involved in the way that is most comfortable for them.
Some more traditional companies may find it a little difficult to stomach but the reality is that the workplace is changing and we need to cater to these changes. Cloud technology can be the bridge between the expectations of employees and the desires of employers for enhanced productivity.