More and more companies are moving their business communications to a cloud-hosted Unified Communications (UC) solution. Although it might sound technical and complicated, it actually simplifies business phones compared to traditional systems and VoIP. For most small-to-medium size companies, it is not a matter of if but rather when this transition will happen. Generally, the statistics are staggering in regard to the use of the cloud for business services.
- 90% of organizations surveyed using some type of cloud service (451 Research)
- 83% of workloads are estimated to be in the cloud by 2020 (Forbes)
Although the cloud is being utilized for a variety of business services, the adoption of cloud-hosted UC is not yet as prevalent. According to recent research from Ribbon Communications, there is still room for substantial growth.
- 51% of large companies, as defined by more than 1,000 employees, have yet to make the investment in UC technology
- Nearly 75% of smaller companies, as defined by less than 1,000 employees, have yet to make the investment in UC technology.
This study was based on nearly 1,300 companies in North America. Nearly 64% of these companies plan to adopt UC within the next two years.
Perhaps the reason that UC adoption is not as robust as other cloud technologies is that companies are just not yet ready to make the transition. Most articles and resources focus on the features and benefits of cloud-hosted UC. This is a resource to help know if the timing is right to make the switch. How do you know if your organization has the technical set-up and specifications to support moving to the cloud? How does a company know when the timing is right?
There is a lot to consider but here are a few high-level considerations to keep in mind when determining if your organization is ready for cloud-hosted UC.
4 Key Items to Consider Before Moving to a Cloud-Hosted UC Solution
(1) Internet Access:
All companies have internet access these days so to list this as a requirement seems almost silly at first brush. However, although virtually all companies have internet access, not all companies have enough current bandwidth or configuration of existing bandwidth to support cloud-hosted Unified Communications.
UC requires prioritization of audio communications otherwise voice audio is broken, garbled, and jittered which leads to a poor experience. UC requires less bandwidth compared to other applications, hut if a company does not have enough bandwidth cloud-hosted UC may not be a good option.
How much bandwidth is enough? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer except for “it depends”. It depends on a variety of factors. Companies with Gig-speed are likely good and even those with over 200 Mbps are also likely good. Another option to support UC is to use an internet connection that is not used for anything else. The speed (and therefore the price) for a dedicated connection can be much lower than a normal business internet.
(2) Failover Options:
Besides not having enough bandwidth to support existing business operations and calling, the other issue is having a failover internet or another failover option. Hosted-voice, unlike traditional phone service, is dependent on an internet connection. No internet means no hosted voice service. Many companies already have a failover internet option already or are willing to invest in one at the time of switching to UC. In lieu of not having a back-up connection, some companies are okay with options where calls could failover to mobile phones when an internet connection is not available.
Companies that use a dedicated internet for their UC could failover to the company’s main internet connection for a short period of time.
(3) Static IP Address:
Another item to consider with an internet connection is the type of IP Address. There is either Dynamic or Static. Dynamic means your IP address changes frequently whereas Static means your IP address remains the same. A failover internet connection requires a Static IP for UC service. Static IP requires a slightly higher monthly price compared to a Dynamic IP address. However, most companies are willing to make that investment.
(4) Power over Ethernet:
Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a technology for wired Ethernet local area networks (LANs). This allows the electrical current necessary for the operation of devices, such as a desk phone, to be carried by data cables rather than by power cords. Having PoE minimizes the number of wires that must be strung in order to install the network. Not having PoE means having to have a power supply go to your desk phone.
Depending on your situation, there might be other requirements to consider. The above are considerations that need to be discussed before switching to a cloud-housed business phone system. Assuming your company is comfortable with these requirements, the next step is to determine if the timing is right to make a change. Below are a few signs that the timing could be right for your business.
4 Signs It’s Time for a Cloud-Hosted UC Solution
(1) Current Phone Systems Issues
Are you experiencing issues with your current system? It could be quality or reliability issues or even voicemail issues. Finding equipment to replace onsite systems and replacing voicemail cards can be difficult and expensive. Is it worth spending money to repair an old phone system that needs to be replaced? Read more about Reasons Not To Replace Your End-of-Life System.
(2) Paying Onsite Upgrades and Maintenance Costs
Are you having to pay more in onsite system repairs or maintenance to keep your system going? At some point, the investment is probably not worth it. In essence, you are throwing good money after bad.
(3) Increasing IT Support
A “soft” cost that could be related to increasing onsite costs is the time your IT Department is spending to support an onsite system. UC is a turn-key solution for IT. Your IT staff likely has other legacy systems to upgrade, support, and maintain and they won’t miss the headaches of having to manage maintenance and repairs for your onsite phone system.
(4) Missing Features For Remote and Mobile Teams
With traditional onsite phone systems, many features that support remote teams, such as a softphone to make and receive calls using a computer or your mobile phone, are not available. Other features such as voicemail-to-email or voicemail transcription often require additional onsite equipment to work. With Unified Communications, many features that support remote and mobile teams are already included with your service including a softphone on your computer and a mobile app.
Is your company ready and experiencing some of the signs that point to cloud-hosted Unified Communications? If so, Level365 can help.
About Level365: Level365 offers a complete Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solution with enterprise voice that is customizable and scalable for your business. Our service seamlessly integrates communication among desk phones, computers, and mobile devices to improve efficiency and collaboration. The UC platform extends beyond voice communications with Unified Messaging, Presence, Chat/SMS, Video Collaboration, Cloud Faxing, CRM Integrations, and more.