When the pandemic took hold of the United States in early 2020, millions found themselves confined to their homes and logging on to work remotely for the first time. In fact, from mid-March to early April, the percentage of Americans working from home doubled from 31% to 62%. While that number has steadily decreased since the rollout of vaccines, countless employees continue to work remotely some or all of the time and hope to continue doing so well after the pandemic is over.
With this migration out of the office, employers have had to reevaluate their telecommunications structure, and many have come to the same conclusion that the classic telephone system is no longer conducive to the increasingly digital work environment. Cloud-based communication systems – like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Webex – that offer both voice and video capabilities have emerged as the preferred alternative in a post-pandemic world.
For companies that already utilize cloud-based applications, the transition has been relatively easy. Beyond the average office workforce, stock exchange traders – who work with highly specialized end devices – have swapped the trading room for their living room, and entire call centers have gone remote. For companies with more traditional telecommunication systems, however, now is the time to not only explore the benefits of combining voice telephony and video conferencing via the cloud but also examine the advantages of booking this offering as a managed service from a global telecommunications service provider.
No phone, no problem
The pandemic has made individuals more familiar with digital communication than ever before, so the intersection of voice and video in cloud-based communication systems is widely understood. However, the average user may not realize that these video-first solutions also offer fully developed voice telephony capabilities of their own. These allow users to call not only other videoconference participants but any telephone connection worldwide. Conversely, users can also be reached via their original landline number, ultimately eliminating the need for a traditional telephone.
When compared to traditional solutions, cloud-based communication systems offer notable advantages, the first of which is fewer costs. Unlike a conventional telephone system that requires funding regardless of use, cloud telephony systems operate on a pay-per-use plan. And systems with centralized SIP trunks allow companies to negotiate with carriers for cheaper per-minute rates, in addition to improving monitoring and reporting.
The cloud-based communications system also offers companies increased flexibility. With the cloud, it is easier to scale and roll out telecommunications features to additional company locations, and multinational companies can receive billing in multiple currencies or map to cost centers. Companies can also devote less time to training employees on how to use these systems thanks to their centralized helpdesk feature.
Given these benefits, it is clear that converting to a cloud-based communication system would be a smart choice for many companies. To maximize the value, however, they should also consider booking these solutions as a managed service.
Advantages of managed service
Transitioning to a cloud-based communication system comes with a number of considerations, including data and security, employee engagement, the integration of multiple cloud-based systems, Internet bandwidth, and potential regulatory hurdles in certain countries and industries. But global telecommunications service providers that manage cloud systems can support companies through all this and more.
For example, service providers can offer infrastructure with security features like advanced encryption, protection of customer user IDs, and a secure and resilient MPLS connection that allows for end-to-end monitoring of connection quality or dedicated network gateways. This way, companies can be confident their data is secure and protected.
In addition, service providers can ease the transition between communication systems among employees, explaining technical functions and acting as supporters in the change process. Together with company management, the service provider can help increase employee satisfaction by establishing the company’s digital culture.
Digital communication of the future
The digital workplace is still in its early stages of development considering the advancements that will be introduced over the next few years. Telecommunications solutions based on artificial intelligence and machine learning will enhance existing capabilities with facial and voice recognition, automatic call summaries and transcripts, and even live translations. But these features will only be available via cloud-based communication systems.
As technology continues to evolve and the labor force progresses in the post-pandemic world, companies will continue to face changes to traditional ways of working. With a cloud-based communication system supported by a trusted service provider partner, however, they will be better equipped to navigate whatever comes next.
Robert Novo is service delivery director for voice communications at BT, Americas, where he oversees end-to-end delivery of unified and voice communications.