The term cloud telephony is popularly used nowadays. But what is it? Cloud telephony is a very broad term with several definitions, but no definitive ones. Understandably this causes confusion and apprehension for businesses when considering cloud telephony systems. The simplest way to define cloud telephony is that it is a system that integrates applications, web services and IT infrastructure over the Internet.
Is Cloud Telephony Good for your business?
There are several computing models that can be used as a framework for cloud telephony that allows any type of business to scale their requirements instantly, be it an upscale or downscale manner. In other words, cloud telephony can be used practically by any type of business, small to medium to large businesses.
Cloud telephony has also proven that it is cost-effective. Upfront capital investments done on PBX hardware, wiring and software installation, and upgrade costs are avoided, and it uses utility pricing models that are based on usage. A business would only pay for the features it wants.
Steps to implement the cloud telephony system
The first step to any process is planning. This is the same in implementing cloud telephony. Clear and realistic goals must be established. Consultation with major stakeholders in the company must be done including the CEO, CFO, the IT Director, legal advisors and insurers etc.
Once the goals have been identified, the next step is to determine the problem. An inventory and assessment of the current communications and related systems should be done. The assessment should check what parts of the current communications are having issues and how the company may gain benefits with using cloud telephony. One approach that can be used is to migrate less risky applications that are not core to the business or are customer-facing first before the more risky applications.
The next step is choosing the cloud telephony service provider. This is critical to make the cloud telephony system sustainable as the CSP supports the business in the cloud. The CSP should be someone who cares about your business’ success. When selecting the CSP, the following must be considered:
- The CSP’s tenure and reputation.
- The range of services they offer.
- Their pricing models.
- Whether their services are reliable and secure.
- The technical support they offer and whether the support is 24×7.
- The technologies they support.
- The service level agreement that comes with their services.
- The contract terms and length.
- Possible discounts for high volume usage.
- Any minimum monthly spend requirements.
- Whether their service enables mobile access.
- Do they offer a free trial period?
After choosing the cloud telephony service provider and identifying the communication that needs to be migrated first, the next step would be implementing cloud telephony. Inter office communication is one service that can be implemented first. Connect to your remote offices through cloud telephony and schedule a call every week to ensure that the system is tested and your employee gain confidence. As a next step, get a few clients onto cloud telephony. Again experiment and make sure you and the client are happy.
After the first few communication systems are migrated, reassessment of the business needs should be done. If there are no hitches and the stakeholders and users are happy, a broader deployment can be planned.
The last step is not really a “last” step per se. This step is a continuity step. The business must ensure that there are service level agreements in place. This is so that the CSP are held responsible for their due diligence and also ensure that the working relationship between the company and the CSP remain in good standing.
*About Author: Michelle Patterson has been learning and writing about the new IP based communication technologies. She loves sharing her information so that businesses and business owners could take advantage of these technologies.