SMBs say reliability is the first thing they seek when choosing a cloud-based phone system.
There are a lot of good reasons for putting your phone system in the cloud. It saves capital costs, offloads much of the phone system management burden, creates access to advanced features and is extremely scalable. You could justify a move to a hosted solution on the basis of any of these attributes.
However, none of those benefits will matter if the service is unreliable.
Despite the rise of instant messaging, web conferencing and other collaboration tools, the telephone remains a primary means of business communication. When an organization’s phone system is down, operations grind to a halt and customers potentially take their business elsewhere. Even a relatively short outage could have a serious impact on the customer experience.
Reliability is particularly critical for small to midsized businesses (SMBs) that often lack full-time internal IT support. Although cloud services can be more reliable than on-premises systems, the multitenant nature of the cloud means that spikes in demand can overtax resources and impact performance and availability. In a recent IDC study, reliability was one of the top technical barriers to adoption of cloud-based communications.
Reliability Is No. 1
A recent study conducted by research firm TechAisle found that reliability is the No. 1 factor that SMB decision-makers consider in choosing a cloud-based communications solution, cited by 63 percent of respondents. This was followed by price (57 percent), features (50 percent), quality (47 percent) and support (35 percent).
When it came to changing cloud phone system providers, SMBs named call quality issues (46 percent) as the top reason, followed by cost (33 percent) and support (29 percent). This further emphasizes the value SMBs put on having a solution that consistently and reliably works.
With today’s workforce having an ever-increasing expectation to work in a more mobile, “virtual” environment, the tools that enable and support this mobile workstyle are no longer a “nice to have,” but are now a “must have.” Not surprisingly, the study shows that the adoption rate of unified communications (UC) and UC-as-a-Service continues to grow among SMBs.
Despite this growth, internal support for SMBs remains a challenge. Fewer than half (44 percent) of all SMBs surveyed were staffed with full-time, internal, dedicated IT personnel. Without in-house IT resources, SMBs need communication and collaboration tools that are reliable, secure and robust, yet cost-effective. They also need solutions that are easy to deploy, manage, scale and support.
Factors to Consider
The first step in choosing a cloud-based phone system provider is to identify specific business requirements and user demands. With a list of must-have and nice-to-have features and capabilities, organizations can begin evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of various service providers. If reliable voice communications is a top priority, the organization should look for an established provider that has made significant infrastructure investments.
Next, it’s important to evaluate the provider’s service-level agreement (SLA). The SLA should detail all agreed-upon availability and performance levels and outline the process for ensuring that the terms of the SLA are met. An SLA without monetary penalties has limited value and offers little to no recourse if something goes wrong.
That’s why it’s a good idea to work with a qualified solution provider who understands cloud-based communications technology and the challenges SMBs face. The right provider will not only assist in the selection of a solution but serve as an advocate in the design and implementation process.
With years of experience in the design, implementation and management of on-premises and cloud-based phone systems, Verteks can help SMBs architect a solution that provides the reliability they demand and the flexibility to meet changing business requirements.