The nature of business and work itself is changing. Competitive advantage is now based on the speed of “right” decision-making, workforce mobility and cross-functional collaboration across both the enterprise as well as between organizations. Unified communications is rapidly evolving into a software-hosted industry, and software is headed to the Cloud. This Cloud-based communication strategy, when deployed the right way, can deliver a superior collaborative experience over legacy solutions.
Polycom, an industry leader in video conferencing and collaboration, recently held its webinar entitled Cloud Communications: Beyond the Cost Savings, led by Polycom’s Director of Service Provider Marketing, Alex Doyle and Founder and Principal Analyst of ZK Research, Zeus Kerravala. The webinar offered an alternate view of the rapid shift to cloud communications, identifying it as a strategic benefit, not just a cost play.
Doyle began the webinar with an appropriate analogy. Burden Iron Works was an iron works and industrial complex on the Hudson River and Wynantskill Creek in Troy, New York that once housed the Burden Water Wheel, the most powerful vertical water wheel in history. In 1851, the wheel was the largest and most powerful water wheel in the world, by 1890, it was completely abandoned and rotted due to rapid industrial advancements. He continued with a quote from Geoffrey A. Moore, Author of Dealing with Darwin. Moore defined the “core” as anything that increases sustainable competitive advantage, whereas “context” as any activity that does not differentiate the company. His book emphasized that great companies innovate at every phase of their evolution; the balance of power in business shifts, and a new set of frameworks is needed to bring the new realities into focus.
Both of these examples prove to be interesting ideologies that can be applied to today’s rapidly advancing communication technologies and undoubtedly raise a big question for today’s businesses: is the way we run our business communications a competitive advantage?
To properly equip viewers with the right metrics to answer that question, Doyle and Kerravala pointed out some key business advantages of the Cloud. The three drivers behind buying behavior today are economics (predictable costs, OpEx vs. CapEX and “utility” purchase), technology (complexity, security and disaster recovery), and demographics (mobility and multi-location). The operational benefits involve flexibility of deployment, rapid time-to-market and centralized management. Productivity gains include scaling the solution to extended enterprise, consumerization of IT and improved disaster recovery. Budgetary benefits include lower overall TCO, efficient resource utilization and the low cost of migrating the service. The type of Cloud that companies choose is solely determined by their business needs. While some businesses choose basic, advanced or full UC deployment, others may opt for a more hybrid solution. Hybrid solutions are a combination of premise-based and cloud solutions.
However, as Kerravala pointed out, the jump to full UC deployment is not always easy. Many small organizations are still not aggressively deploying the technology for several reasons, including lack of in-house expertise, high up-front costs and time-consuming implementations.
It is evident that many challenges lay ahead for scalable, robust and secure UC deployments. One helpful solution for migrating services, as Doyle points out, is “turning to reliable, experienced service providers. Since strategic solutions require diligent review and strategic decision-making, businesses will want solutions backed by strong partners.” When choosing a service provider, Doyle said, it is also important to research their scalability, operations, functionality, roadmap and partnerships. Service providers offer several benefits, including comprehensive customer support, SLAs, and most importantly, the framework for evolution.
One such trusted partner of Polycom is Stage 2 Networks. Since 2004, Stage 2 has consistently grown and established itself as a leader in the hosted PBX, or business phone system solutions, market. The company offers a robust and redundant network with connectivity, quality of service and local number portability available across the country and around the world.
At the heart of Stage 2 Networks’ philosophy is the belief that businesses deserve more than boilerplate solutions, and that communications services can value-add to business growth – but only if those solutions are carefully thought out to meet the specific needs of each client. Stage 2 makes it a point to understand a client’s operations, workforce, customers and objectives in order to develop effective, customized communication solutions. By doing so, the company can help their clients’ run more efficiently, enhance customer service and improve bottom lines.
Doyle’s other criteria for choosing the right service provider include openness, interoperability and mobility. All of Stage 2’s products are supported by robust data connectivity that can fully integrate customers’ communication platform for both voice and data services across multiple locations.