The challenge of a changing landscape
It’s no secret that the world is changing at an unprecedented rate. New technologies are being introduced daily, each one altering the way we connect, communicate and think together. Though the consumer market tends to adopt these new technologies faster than enterprise, businesses can’t afford to drag their heels.
When employees are able to enjoy convenient apps and revolutionary capabilities on their personal devices, it’s only natural that they come to expect the same level of convenience from their workplace technology.
According to our 2019 Insight Technology Trends report, 77% of IT decision-makers believe it’s “very or extremely important for corporate IT to resemble consumer experiences.”1 If your company can’t provide a consumer-like IT experience at work, you’ll lose good employees to other businesses that can.
When it comes to collaboration, platforms like Skype® and FaceTime® have been enabling face-to-face communication from anywhere, on any device for years. Similarly, file-hosting services like Dropbox® and Google Docs have been helping consumers collaborate on documents for quite some time.
If your business still requires physical attendance for every meeting and collaborates by sending numerous emails back and forth — this is a major disconnect. With more and more businesses working and sharing globally, employees expect greater flexibility and more reliable ways to collaborate remotely.
One thing is for sure: The future is already here and there’s no time to delay. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of companies already have remote workers today.2 Very soon, every company will need to find a way to accommodate this newly distributed workforce.
Addressing the key issues
If your collaboration technology isn’t yet up to par, you’re not alone. There are two common scenarios that keep businesses from implementing the communication innovations modern workers expect.
The first is feeling beholden to legacy technologies and processes. Some IT decision-makers hesitate to introduce new technologies for fear of wasting investments made in older systems. This is the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality that leads many companies to rely on outdated technology.
The problem with legacy technology is:
- It’s often more expensive to maintain than to upgrade. Between software renewal and operational costs, aging technology drains the budget, decreases efficiency and increases security risks.
- End users are limited by location. While employees may have access to collaboration tools at work, these are available only while on premises or while using the organization’s Virtual Private Network (VPN).
On the other end of the spectrum, some businesses make an effort to update their collaboration technology but do so piece by piece. When all is said and done, they end up with a mishmash of old and new toolsets that don’t “talk to each other.” The combined experience ends up creating confusion and frustration instead of convenience.
To avoid this, your communication toolsets must be thoughtfully designed and flawlessly integrated. It’s critical to deliver a seamless experience across all platforms and devices.
Cloud is the future of business communications.
As the future of work leads to greater physical distance between teams, it will be up to IT decision makers to find a way to keep teams connected and productive. If the signs are any indication, the most efficient and secure way to enable collaboration from anywhere will be through Unified Communications As A Service (UCaaS).
What is UCaaS?
Also known as “cloud as a service,” UCaaS is a cloud collaboration solution that makes it easier to enable mobility while managing and securing communications across your business.
Essentially, UCaaS captures all communication capabilities across an organization (telephony, video calling, chat, document sharing and collaboration, etc.) and rolls them into a singular, cloud-delivered service. Cloud computing allows users to access these communication features anywhere, any time, on any wi-fi enabled device.
Nemertes Research defines cloud as a service as “a delivery model in which a service provider owns, maintains, and delivers applications from within their own data centers. Customers buy the applications they need, typically on a per-user subscription based model, with the service provider handling all application management, provisioning, and maintenance.”3
This quote reveals one of the key benefits of UCaaS — namely, not having to manage the cloud tenant yourself. The service provider takes care of all the maintenance, updates and security so you don’t have to.
Let’s explore some of the other prominent benefits of moving to cloud communications.
Why move to the cloud?
According to a 2017 BroadSoft Cloud Collaboration Survey, 80% of enterprises are already considering a move to cloud-based unified communications.4 Furthermore, in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, Worldwide, they predict, “by 2023, 40% of new enterprise telephony purchases will be based on a cloud office suite.”5
If you’re curious as to what’s driving cloud adoption across businesses today, about 44% of IT leaders will tell you it’s because they believe cloud adoption will help them improve IT agility. Another 37% say they’re moving to UCaaS because they want to reduce capital costs. 27% of IT leaders say the ability to roll out services faster with cloud is their primary reason for making the switch.3
By adopting cloud-based communications, you can help employees stay connected wherever they are. If you go through a Managed Service Provider (MSP), you get the added benefit of not having to manage the infrastructure, maintenance and security yourself.
Aside from the need to keep employees connected across locations, there are a number of other reasons to consider cloud adoption:
- Improve employee experience: With UCaaS, employees no longer have to be bound to an office to be productive. Insight’s Director of Technical Architecture, Joe Flynn explains, “Companies today can offer softphone clients on almost any device, allowing users to get the same voice experience as if they were sitting in the office with a desk phone.”
- Increase security: Hosted cloud platforms are professionally audited regularly and are also held to stricter compliance requirements. In addition, cloud solutions have no single point of failure — data centers are distributed across various locations to prevent disruption from power outages and natural disasters.
- Access new features faster: With UCaaS, updates are rolled out in small, frequent release cycles, giving you access to the latest features without the hassle of re-deployment. Updates are automated, require no IT planning and deliver new capabilities with no disruption to your end-users.
- Control costs: Since cloud is provided as a service, this allows businesses to move related expenditures from CapEx to OpEx. It also provides more predictable billing to help IT leaders budget more accurately. Plus, because the cloud provider maintains the platform and updates are automatic, there’s no need to pay for additional capabilities, software updates or hardware maintenance.
- Integrate seamlessly: UCaaS has simple integrations for the majority of your enterprise applications and productivity platforms such as G Suite and Microsoft Office 365®.
Whatever your top business priority happens to be, it’s safe to say the potential benefits of cloud-based communications are both varied and far-reaching. However, orchestrating your move to the cloud can be complex. Having a trusted IT advisor to help craft a transition strategy will save you a lot of time and hassle.
What’s the best way to transition to the cloud?
The journey to the cloud is not a well-worn path — the route can look very different from company to company. Having an expert who can help you plan your move will make the transition to the cloud much smoother.
For example, when it comes to cloud-based communications, you have three options: public, private or hybrid cloud. A knowledgeable IT advisor can help you assess your environment and determine which option is the best fit for your goals.
What’s the difference between public, private and hybrid cloud?
All three approaches to the cloud align to specific business needs and have the potential to be a great fit for the right company. Let’s break down the benefits to each cloud approach.
Public cloud – cloud-hosted applications are served up by a third party. Using individual virtual instances, your company shares the same multitenant software platform with other customers.
Who should use it?
Public cloud is great for newer companies that aren’t heavily invested in an existing phone system and on-premises infrastructure. This is ideal if you don’t have legacy technology to worry about and you want fast access to the most affordable calling and collaboration software, hardware and infrastructure.
Private cloud – the cloud provider creates a dedicated instance for your company on a single-tenant platform. Your data may reside on-premises, in an offsite data center or with an MSP.
Who should use it?
For businesses that deal in sensitive information, such as banks or government agencies, private cloud architecture may be required. However, this option requires the most maintenance and oversight and is often only preferred by large enterprises with strict compliance requirements.
Hybrid cloud – combines public and private cloud in a way that makes sense for your company’s needs. Sensitive data is stored within private cloud architecture, while other applications reside in public cloud.
Who should use it?
For those who want to take advantage of emerging features in the cloud, but still want to leverage existing on-premises systems, apps and processes, hybrid is ideal. Its greatest asset is that it allows you to make a more gradual move to the cloud.
Hybrid cloud has become the preferred option for a majority of companies, especially those in the midmarket or enterprise space.
According to Nemertes Research, 38.3% of IT leaders use a mix of cloud and on-premises platforms, while 32.6% still use an all on-premises platform and 29.1% have fully adopted cloud-based platforms. That means nearly 68% of IT leaders have moved some or all of their collaboration capabilities to the cloud.3
With a hybrid cloud approach, you don’t have to cut your losses on your existing Private Branch Exchange (PBX) infrastructure. You can continue to leverage your PBX infrastructure while introducing cloud capabilities at your own pace.
Why we think Cisco Webex is a great fit for hybrid
When it comes to UCaaS providers, Cisco is uniquely positioned to deliver hybrid cloud solutions for both enterprise and mid-market businesses. Their advantage lies in the fact that they’ve had a strong presence in the field of unified communications for years.
Established in 1984, Cisco has a long-standing reputation for state-of-the-art telecommunications equipment and networking hardware — an area it still specializes in today.5 While their reputation for communications excellence began with on-premises solutions, it has recently expanded to the realm of UCaaS.
Cisco now offers a robust UCaaS portfolio that includes Webex Calling, Webex Meetings, Webex Teams and Webex Contact Center. For the last 3 years, Cisco has been named in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, Worldwide.*5
While Webex Calling is relatively new as a brand, it already supports some 700,000 business users. As a whole, the Cisco Webex suite delivers advanced mobility, HD audio and video calling, meetings, team collaboration and customer care solutions. It can be deployed as cloud only, or as part of a mixed network of cloud and on-premises PBXs.
Cisco Webex provides a uniquely flexible transition to cloud communications, encouraging customers to move at their own pace while continuing to gain value from legacy technology investments. This flexibility is what sets Cisco apart as a UCaaS provider. According to a recent UC Today article, “If you want innovative software combined with state-of-the-art hardware, Cisco can provide everything from your contact centre to your desk phone endpoints.” 5
There are many more reasons to consider Cisco Webex for UCaaS. Some of these include:
- End-to-end encryption of messages, documents, etc.
- Powerful moderation controls and secure search
- Geo-redundant data centers in 7 countries
- Global availability (across 36 countries)
Explore the Cisco Webex collaboration suite in detail on insight.com.
What are your next steps?
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to designing a modern collaboration strategy. Should you move everything to the cloud or is hybrid a better approach for your business? Which collaboration platform is best aligned to your business needs?
A majority of IT leaders (38.8%) eventually choose to rely on a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to not only procure cloud services, but provide advisory services, plan a smooth transition and manage subscriptions going forward.3
If you’re considering Cisco Webex for hybrid UCaaS, Insight’s professional services can help you identify what to move to the cloud and how to integrate your existing on-prem hardware. We’ll provide a strategic roadmap to help you reach your goals faster and ensure a successful transition.