Calls on cloud
Mar 03 2014
Free your businesses from the drudgery of building and maintaining IT infrastructure, and drive them towards a high growth trajectory
The IT services known as cloud computing have been around for years, but they never grew to any significance. However, it is only now that they have made their presence felt through a multitude of services — from sales force management, email and photo editing to smart phone applications. The industry continues to be bullish about the prospects of cloud computing with research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) calling cloud computing the foundation for the technology industry’s next 20 years of growth.
Although cloud computing may seem to be a recent development, it has been around for decades. From hardware sharing of the 1950’s to utility computing and then grid computing in the ’80s and ’90s, the concept of pooling IT resources has been evolving through the decades. With the widespread broadband deployment of the 2000’s many of these concepts were green-lit: because it provide the efficient delivery mechanism needed for pooling and resource allocation.
Thanks mainly to increasingly southward-bound storage cost and ubiquitous broadband capacity, cloud service providers have been able to meet customer expectation of simplicity, cost and flexibility. Add the smart-phone revolution to this mix and we have built the perfect environment for rapid deployment of cloud technologies. In an Ernst & Young survey, 45 per cent of 1,598 respondents surveyed from 56 countries have either deployed or thinking about deploying cloud technology in the near future. In the future, as cloud technologies continue to evolve, business organisations will move from owner of IT assets to consumers of IT assets via the managed service level.
Cloud telephony is one of the more exciting spin-offs of virtualisation technology. It is virtualisation of the harder hardware components of a telecom system into software communication interface. But, it is more than a mere cloud communication interface. The real benefit of cloud telephony becomes visible only when used to improve business processes. Since return on investment (RoI) is such a reliable measuring rod for business process efficiency, let me discuss measurable benefits in terms of RoI.
Cloud telephony provides two hard-to-ignore business propositions: pay-as-you-use instead of install and own and flexibile IT capacity. By shifting upfront CAPEX from buyer end of operations to the cloud telephony provider it not only provides greater flexibility and operation manoeuverability, but also freedom from the drudgery and complexity of maintaining telecom infrastructure.
HR & Training
Businesses spend a lot of time and money training employees in customer facing functions. However, without a proper system of feedback and quality control, much of this training will be ill directed, driving return on HR & training investment downwards. In cloud-based telephony systems, incoming calls are recorded in the cloud, providing easy access to recorded call data for training purpose. Access to call information can also help businesses avoid costly litigations that may arise due to misunderstanding or miscommunication.
With a limited advertising budget at their disposal, businesses have to think innovatively to maximise their resources. A low RoI channel eats into any limited resources in no time: therefore, businesses must know how to lock into high yield advertising channels as early as possible to avoid hemorrhaging dollars. Whether it is online or outdoor advertising or radio or TV spots, unless you lock into high yield channels of advertising, you will continue to hemorrhage advertising dollars. A more calibrated methodology to advertising, and one that would lock into high yield channels, is to monitor leads generated and then favouring the one that shows the highest yield. One can buy virtual numbers in bulk and then use them separately on different advertising campaigns to calculate leads generated. The number/advertising generating the highest number of leads can then be used for advertising.
Employee salaries and benefits form a major chunk of all business expenditure and spending. The challenge is to maximise manpower resources through its smarter utilisation. Cloud telephony maximises manpower resources by allocating it dynamically. By using a customised cal logic businesses can divert calls to any home, hotel, outstation number dynamically, leading to higher utilisation rate. Calls can be managed to ring in parallel or simultaneously. In the case of calls landing on business systems after business hours, there’s always the option of voicemail services. Cloud telephony enables telecommuting — employees can work from remote destinations without having to shift to a new geographical location, not only saving time and money, but also providing access to far greater talent pool than possible locally.
Research and development
In a world that continues to struggle with economic uncertainty and more restricted access to capital, cloud telephony is a beacon guiding research and development. Startups can get their product in the market faster by validating customer assertions through beta testing. A fully validated product has a much higher chance of succeeding in the market compared to an invalidated product. Since R&D is costly, it follows, that one should use it wisely. R&D wasted on invalidated customer assertions is completely necessary especially in a scenario when such resources are so scarce. With cloud telephony, startups can launch their product early, and use feedback to pivot if necessary. Similarly, an existing department of an organisation can test their assumptions by beta testing their product on a select group of users internally.
Cloud telephony is no fad. It is the new mainstream, freeing businesses from the drudgery of building and maintaining IT infrastructure, and driving them toward high growth trajectory through faster RoI spanning multiple departments and organisation disciplines. zz
(The writer is CFO at Knowlarity Communications)