This article first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of The Record.
Recent research has revealed that 76% of enterprise IT decision makers believe that cloud deployments will bring ‘simplicity’ and ‘accelerate business adoption’ of unified communications (UC) technology. This is encouraging news and backs up what GCI is already seeing in the market place – that the cloud makes it much easier for firms to wind down their legacy IT and telecoms estate in order to transform their business.
Why is the cloud such a game changer in UC? Simply put, if offers the best options in terms of flexibility and ease of deployment. It’s flexible because customers only pay for what they need on a monthly basis. It’s easy to deploy since software delivered via the cloud is continually updated with the latest features and therefore future proof. It means that firms using it are finding it easier to deploy and it is driving higher adoption amongst their users. UC means true mobility and an end to separate bills for landlines, licences, and hardware.
The benefits don’t end there. Skype for Business provides full PSTN calling meaning it’s easy to assign a landline number to a user but still take advantage of free calls internally and with federated businesses. The growth and extensibility of Skype for Business APIs is making the platform even more useful by opening it up to third party ingenuity, creating specific solutions for certain sectors. Similarly cloud based machine intelligence services such as Cortana are evolving all the time and it won’t be long until we see this technology changing the way companies and their customers communicate.
Embracing this new cloud-based world needn’t be complicated but it is incumbent on all Microsoft partners being highly consultative with customers – many of which may be taking their first steps to the cloud. In practice this means offering comprehensive design workshops to capture customer requirements and tailor solutions to meet their needs. It’s then important for partners to work collaboratively during the roll out and be on hand to help with adoption.
Getting ‘buy in’ from end users is important – no technology deployment should be ‘top down’ and users must always be engaged so they know what’s in it for them. Once these benefits are understood and are realised however, there is no turning back. Skype for Business has real advantage here, because it presents the same UI as the consumer version that nearly all users are familiar with. These factors all potentially help to explain as to why over three quarters of decision makers believe the cloud can help accelerate UC adoption.
Jon Seddon is head of product at GCI