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Moving your communications to the cloud – What’s holding you back?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock)

According to Gartner, more than $1 trillion in IT spending will be affected by the shift to the cloud by 2020. From this, it appears that most companies have already migrated their communications strategies to the cloud, or are in the process of doing so, but that is not the case.     

Overall, enterprises are converting over to cloud-based collaboration and communications tools.  The concept of digital transformation has shifted how we connect, and it has evolved from being a trendy buzzword to a critical success factor that is changing the way employees work.  Companies of all sizes are now transitioning from traditional, on-premise phone systems to cloud-based PBX (private branch exchange) systems, as there are many benefits to a cloud PBX system over on-premise systems, which are driving IT departments to adopt this latest enterprise technology. 

However, there are still concerns that IT professionals have when it comes to moving their phone systems to the cloud and many companies are hesitating about taking the plunge.    

Fear of Relinquishing the Tried and Tested   

One understandable fear is of relinquishing familiar systems, such as the traditional company PBX.   Yet, one of the biggest reasons why businesses find a cloud-based PBX approach more beneficial is the cost implications.  Hosted or cloud-based PBX solutions provide flexibility and cost savings for international calling.  There is a significantly lower overall cost, as there’s no need for on-premise hardware, as well as the reduced need for technician costs associated with legacy PBX issues.    

Cloud PBX also enables a more mobile-friendly work environment, with features like ‘find me anywhere’ call forwarding and teleworking as the norm in many instances.  In cases of security and emergencies, cloud systems also offer flexibility in that they provide a failsafe for instances when there’s a loss of communications. 

Legacy PBX systems also don’t have premium features, such as HD calling or video conferencing, meaning enterprises would need to purchase additional technology to keep up with these changes, whereas, in the cloud, software can be simply updated to provide new features and fixes.  The ‘Tried and Tested’ is costing your business, so moving out of your comfort zone will be a positive move.    

Misconception around Control 

Users of traditional systems often fear loss of control with a cloud-based system, but the opposite is often true.  If the phone system is cloud-based, you have more control, but also have flexibility.  For example, if you want to make changes, such as re-setting a voicemail password or turning on your holiday schedule, you can do it with one click. You can even do it remotely, away from the office.  In terms of financial control, a cloud solution is a software expense rather than a capital expense. A hosted PBX approach is flexible, and can grow with your business with minimal cost, whereas traditional PBX and business expansion comes with real hard costs. 

Misconception around Quality 

Traditionally, many enterprises have been cautious about moving their PBX systems to the cloud because of call quality.  86 percent of employees cite poor communication and lack of collaboration as the reasons they don’t achieve their business goals, according to PGi research.     

A decade ago, poorly executed consumer-grade VoIP was an issue, but those days are long gone.  For many companies, concerns with hosted PBX were due to insufficient bandwidth on VoIP calls, and echoes or jitter came from interference or packet data interference issues. However, Quality of Service (QoS) has improved recently, and reduced concerns around these call issues.  For instance, the addition of dedicated bandwidth has helped packet latency rates become more consistent, creating a far better quality experience.  Technologies such as mobile collaboration exchanges allow customers to experience point-to-point HD calling, creating a mobile-first preference for calls over traditional and legacy PBX calling.   

As technology evolves, so will the call quality for cloud-based solutions.  When properly architected, hosted voice for business on an enterprise-grade platform has superior quality.  In addition, as its cloud based, companies can monitor quality and correct potential issues before issues occur.   

Misconception around Technology 

Even given the shift to the Cloud, anyone who embraces new technology, however, is aware that it may not always be plain sailing.  To avoid, difficulties, choose your supplier carefully, and consider one that provides an end-to-end communications experience. The right partner will cut down on interoperability issues, ensure a track record in superior call quality, own a global audio network for your expanding needs and provide that all important 24/7 service and support.   

More cautious companies need to know that converting their legacy PBX system over to a pure hosted PBX solution immediately is not the only answer, and there can be interim steps.  For instance, a virtual PBX solution is a solid intermediary point that is flexible and can be expanded upon, as the company decides to move to a full cloud-based system.  A virtual PBX system is part of a hosted PBX but is not a full voice communications system.  This will allow businesses to transmit incoming calls and route them to the appropriate person, in addition to providing them with an automated answering service for call routing to VoIP extensions, mobiles or landlines.   

There is also a hybrid communications system, that allows cloud integration with existing phone systems, so a bit like a hybrid car, where you don’t need to make the leap all at once.   

Misconceptions around Job Security 

Some IT directors fear that moving to the cloud will put jobs at risk. All companies need IT professionals that understand the evolving cloud technology landscape.  A move to the cloud means that menial tasks are eliminated, enabling you to engage your resource, both people and cash, in more strategic projects, that provide opportunities to improve the business. As technology advances, new roles and functions, such as how to monitor cloud communications to improve call quality and how to train users on cloud technology, will be created to support this changing business technology landscape.    

In summary, enterprises need to address the pros and cons of switching to hosted PBX, and decide what best suits their business needs today and tomorrow. We can’t say that 100 percent of organisations must move everything to the cloud, but digital transformation is a reality, and embracing it is a critical factor for business success.  If businesses want to have or maintain a competitive advantage, they need to consider and deploy the best Cloud Communications technology available.     

Lyndsay Cook, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Demand Generation at PGi 

Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock

Lyndsay Cook
Lyndsay Cook is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Demand Generation at PGi, the world’s largest dedicated provider of collaboration software and services. He has been with the company since 2006 and is based at PGi's European Headquarters in Clonakilty, in the West of Ireland. He manages a pan-International marketing and product team and is responsible for the marketing of PGi’s leading UC&C technology and services across EMEA and Asia.