CLOUD TELEPHONY’S COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
The view of real business adopters
The huge growth of cloud, mobility and apps is creating fundamental changes to the way businesses buy and consume IT. In particular, the ‘double’ convergence of IT with communications, and fixed with mobile telephony, is blurring the boundaries between different types of suppliers, their services and consumption models.
The market landscape is changing rapidly, creating opportunities for business leaders to take advantage of new solutions to increase their competitiveness.
According to NFON’s own research, two-thirds of all companies renewing their PBX check out their cloud telephony options before they make a move. This is contributing to the momentum behind cloud telephony’s increasing share of a UCaaS market projected to be worth $38bn by 2022.
This guide uses real-world examples of cloud telephony adopters to probe the reasons why they embarked on change in their businesses, and the competitve benefits they’ve realised as a result.
The four most commonly referenced benefits of cloud telephony
The objectives behind cloud telephony adoption are typically strategic. Cloud telephony is less a case of technical preference, and more a matter of hard-nosed business expediency. In this respect, the motivation behind cloud telephony adoption is broadly consistent with other cloud-based IT services, from email and data storage to CRM/ERP and managed cybersecurity. 50% of all IT spend will be cloud based by 2018, and a good deal of this will be ascribed to cloud telephony.
Based on an analysis of NFON cloud telephony customers across the UK and Europe, the core areas for business improvement identified are:
- Budget minimisation and control
Predictable cost base and reduced total cost of ownership for advanced telephony capabilities
- Workforce productivity
Enabling more flexible and dynamic working practices
- Business availability and continuity
Reducing risks of technical failure, supporting continuous operations and ensuring high performance metrics
- Platform for business agility and transformation
Assuring integrations between key IT systems and communications functions, and a future-proofed platform that can adapt and evolve with new technologies
Budget Minimisation and Control
What are the bottom-line advantages of adopting cloud telephony, compared to the traditional on-premises phone system approach?
Cloud telephony adopters universally recognise the value they gain from accounting for their whole-life telephony costs on an OPEX, rather than a CAPEX basis. Moreover, the n+1 cost associated with adding new users results in more predictable budgeting, enabling the prioritisation of revenue-generating projects, safe in the knowledge that telephony will not attract unexpected overspends.
TECOSIM is an international engineering firm with offices in the UK. Having used cloud telephony at its global headquarters, the fixed pricing model made extending service to the UK a straightforward decision. “The main factor in our decision to commission NFON was the very positive feedback we had from our head office,” commented TECOSIM’s UK project manager. “NFON offered a very cost-effective solution that provides us with a fixed cost every month.”
Cloud telephony customers report significant cost savings compared to the old phone system they migrate from. When Taiwanese IT manufacturer D-Link deployed NFON, it took the opportunity replace traditional ISDN connections with broadband connections too. This enabled it to lower communication and operation costs by 50%.
Reported total cost of ownership savings across other cloud telephony adopters can range up to 70%.
How do the powerful features within a cloud telephony solution drive increased staff productivity?
Businesses adopting cloud telephony understand that the key to improved productivity is working smarter, not just working harder. This elevates the importance of enabling all staff with the same large set of calling, conferencing and mobility features. This, in turn, drives competitiveness through the optimisation of workflows, as well as improving customer service levels because knowledge is more readily available across the business.
Oxfordshire-based motorsport and engineering innovation firm, Prodrive, switched its 500+ users to cloud telephony when it relocated to new purpose-built premises. One of its most fundamental communications challenges was the inconsistency of service experienced by different users. This applied to conferencing functionality, as well as access to other important features of the old telephony system, but was particularly acute in the case of remote users. This meant that the various motorsport teams – including Aston Martin Racing – attending races at circuits and courses around the world, were unable to benefit from the communications capabilities of a centralised phone system, and would often accumulate significant call charges when communicating with colleagues back at base in the UK. These problems were solved with its migration to cloud telephony.
Cloud telephony is now the communications keystone for all Prodrive motorsport teams participating at circuits around the world, including every Aston Martin race. “Now, when our team travels to an international race circuit, they take everything they need to be successful, including reliable high quality communications,” said Prodrive’s Head of IT. “With the NFON system, all they need to do is take handsets to plug into a broadband connection and their pit wall presence pops up as an extension as if they were in the garage in Banbury. When they’re on the move, they use the NFON app on their smartphones.”
Family-run property agent Daker Estates is a small UK business with a strong local reputation and high professional standards. Saving money on phone system costs was not the only motivator for switching to cloud telephony – the business was keen to ensure that key personnel could be productive at all times too. “I like the mobility that the NFON system delivers,” explained Managing Director, Rachid Daker. “It allows us to connect and transfer calls easily with staff who are out of the office. I can call the office from anywhere in the world where there is a Wi-Fi connection and can make international calls at a much cheaper rate than previously. It is very convenient and the call quality is always very good.”
Business availability and continuity
Does cloud telephony offer the same service quality as traditional phone system approaches?
Loss or degradation of communications service is a risk that all organisations face, and which plays a significant role in the choice of enterprise telephony. Despite their market size, traditional telecom carriers are not immune from service interruptions that can unexpectedly knock out the communications of large enterprise customers for hours or even days at a time. But cloud telephony adopters don’t just expect the same level of continuity and resilience from their provider; they expect even better.
As a highly specialised financial consultancy, Cityfront Group has a fluid and mobile team that periodically expands to meet the requirements of specific client projects. Based in managed services offices in central London, the company found the basic telephone system provided was not suited to the heavy demands of the business and failing to deliver value.
Cityfront Group relies heavily on telephony. As well as looking to reduce its communications costs, the company had a requirement to improve its operational and reporting regime to ensure its ongoing business efficiency, and was looking for a telephone system that would enable this. Ultimately, any new system would need to deliver reliability, flexibility and ease of management for the core Cityfront team and any new staff brought in to service project needs. Cityfront also needed its new telephone system to be installed and fully operational by the time the company relocated to its new office to ensure that business activity would suffer minimum disruption. The project was a success and, as well as benefiting from superior call monitoring and reporting delivered through the NFON system, users have been impressed by the Ncontrol user interface that allows the system to be personalised for speed dialing, ring tones and other functionality. Again, this has helped staff to be more efficient while delivering a more positive user experience for both Cityfront staff and callers to the business.
Cloud telephony is an increasingly popular choice for local government bodies across Europe, reflecting the high level of confidence that these traditionally conservative and risk-averse organisations have in its underlying robustness and security.
Among the earliest local government adopters is the Elbe-Elster District in rural eastern Germany. Germany has the strictest data protection laws in Europe, making data security and business continuity critical pre-requisites for any IT or communications deployment. On a more practical level, the 100,000 citizens of the region had high expectations for being able to access local government services and communicate with the 800+ employees of the administration.
“The decision to go with cloud telephony was definitely the way forward,” commented a member of the Elbe-Elster technical team. “A high level of availability and voice encryption were vital parts of our security requirements. The NFON solution fulfils our needs and offers a high level of efficiency, significantly reducing business travel between our offices, contributing to a better CO2 balance in our region.”
Platform for business agility and transformation
To what extent does cloud telephony adoption enable organisations to be agile enough to respond to market forces and constantly take advantage of new technologies?
Businesses that have already adopted cloud telephony are realising the benefits over conventional solutions, including lower costs, easier roll-out, increased control, automatic updates, built-in business continuity, and a scalable pay-as-you-grow model that provides the ultimate flexibility for businesses of all sizes. What’s more, by taking advantage of the ability to try-before-you-buy, organisations considering the switch get a flavour of the benefits beforehand.
The consensus among adopters is a belief that they have made a progressive, strategic choice by switching to a cloud telephony provider. But this doesn’t mean being chained to a long-term commitment that won’t serve their interests if something – anything – changes their mind in future. Enjoying the flexibility of a 30-day rolling contract, means freedom to innovate and develop.
Integrating telephony with converged business applications is a significant driver for the adoption of cloud telephony solutions, bringing scalability, flexibility, efficiency and speed benefits. Another is the reassurance that, whatever the future holds in store for telephony and Unified Communications, investment in a cloud telephony approach guarantees a future-proof solution, automatically updated free-of-charge to take advantage of new features and capabilities. This gives a huge competitive advantage to organisations of all sizes and sectors that can’t typically keep pace with digital evolution because of prohibitive cost.
Elbe-Elster District is typical of local government bodies who are constrained by taxpayer funding to try to achieve the best possible communications platform, stating that: “The nfon solution gives us access to the latest communications technology. We are pleased to know that with nfon our future communications requirements will always be up-to-date.”
Prodrive echoes the sentiment of many private sector companies that have used cloud telephony to cope positively with change over the long-term: “NFON impressed us by showing just how easy it could be to manage change. We’re all about striving to win through a meticulous approach to quality, performance and reliability, and we’ve found that with NFON for our communications needs. We’ve gained immediate benefits through the flexibility, manageability and OPEX-based pricing of the system, but it’s the long-term vision for communications that made them the standout choice.”
Organisations are increasingly using cloud to transform their businesses at pace, with more than 80% of UK firms deploying at least one cloud service already, and many more in the pipeline. Cloud telephony is certainly one of those.
NFON cloud telephony also integrates with key software implementations such as CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) and Lync/Skype for Business, plus a range of vertical industry solutions. This enables immediate rollout of advanced features with minimal training and additional licensing costs.
By contrast, on-premise systems are hypothetically rich in calling, conferencing and other PBX features, though there are big differences between what certain manufacturers include as standard and which are considered premium add-ons. Non-standard features necessitate the installation of additional line-cards and/or software which may require specialist skills, training and testing, and invariably introduce delay. In any case, whenever new capabilities become available, costly and time-consuming project implementations are an inevitable consequence.