Adopting cloud-based unified communication and collaboration (UCC) solutions will be a relatively new strategy for many businesses, yet it’s sure to be a highlight at UC Expo, returning to London next week for its 13th year.

This demonstrates the history and strength of the market, with massive innovation and significant developments having taken place in that 13-year period. Further growth is predicted, with the market set to exceed $57 billion by 2024, and cloud-based UCC set for pronounced growth. Ahead of UC Expo, Divya Ghai Wakankar, Head of Cloud Communications Product Management and Innovation at BICS, discusses the benefits of moving comms to the cloud, and addresses the most pressing concerns of businesses and their customers.

At present, North America is further ahead in terms of UCC than both the European and Asian markets. This doesn’t mean that services are less readily available in these regions, or that there’s less innovation: it just signifies the maturity of the cloud market in general in North America. Amazon and Microsoft’s Azure were born in the USA, so the sector has had a headstart on the rest of the world. Cloud technologies and infrastructure has had more time to evolve, and businesses and enterprise are subsequently further along in their digitalisation journeys than their counterparts in other regions.

There has also been a lack of awareness of UCC; of its benefits, what companies should look for, what they should do, and how it will benefit their business. The cloud is now considered a key aspect in the digitalisation strategies of most companies, having already moved a number of key processes to the cloud. No matter how far along they are in their roadmaps, companies large and small should now also realise the importance of including communications in their migration to the cloud.

Why move to the cloud?

First, moving unified comms infrastructure to the cloud, adopting cloud numbers and SIP Trunking (which supports inbound and outbound VoIP calls, messaging and videos, and supporting services like emergency calling, lawful interception and directory listing) with anti-fraud measures, gives businesses secure global coverage from a single supplier. This lowers the total cost of ownership, and therefore also reduces CapEx and OpEx, shaving significant amounts from an organisation’s telecoms bill. Sixty-two per cent of companies responding to a 2019 survey said that above all they want to work with a single cloud specialist and to establish a direct and meaningful relationship.

Second, SIP Trunking fulfils multiple omnichannel requirements, allowing a business to stand out from the competition with advanced multichannel interaction capabilities with messaging and voice-enabled business numbers. In the future, this will also encompass rich communication services.

In addition, many businesses are looking to enhance and augment their comms capabilities in order to support international expansion. However, growing your footprint has traditionally required a comprehensive understanding of the telecoms regulations within each and every country your company is looking to enter. Different regions will have different – and often strict – legal frameworks, governing things like competition, interconnection and pricing, licensing, and universal access and services.

Cloud communications – and in particular, a unified, all-in-one UCC solution from a single provider – has changed this dramatically. Now, companies are adopting cloud comms as a means of easing global expansion, with regulatory compliance issues being handled by a single global service provider.

What can cloud comms deliver?

Migrating communications to the cloud will deliver similar results to those promised by digitalisation strategies more generally. As with other subscription-based, virtualised solutions, cloud comms services can be trialled and tested by an organisation before they have to make a significant decision and investment. Unlike on-premise equipment – which comes with all the hassle of lengthy installation and integration – organisations are able to use cloud comms solutions on a temporary basis, ensuring they are the right fit for their business, and deliver on their requirements.

Agility is also crucial; expansion, and the rapid rate of digital transformation means businesses must be able to pivot, adopt new strategies, and embrace technologies with speed and ease. Cloud comms facilitates this, with solutions quick and straightforward to integrate, and 24/7 enterprise-grade support offered by the service provider. The cloud presents a high degree of flexibility and customisation; organisations can choose whether to self-manage, automate, or to take advantage of a managed service for things like cloud numbers, anti-fraud processes, new application integration and so on.

Finally, moving telecoms functions to the cloud allows a company to replace multiple, disparate systems (managed or delivered by multiple different providers), and instead consolidate new, enhanced services into an all-in-one package. This streamlines things like billing, customer service queries, and ease of use, while at the same delivering high-quality, unified messaging, voice and video services. This could be a high-definition video conferencing facility for a multinational corporation, or local, toll-free, cloud-based numbers for a small business wanting to expand its pre- or-post sales customer support presence.

I’m sure that all of these benefits – as well as emerging technologies and use cases – will be top talking points at UC Expo. Whether you’re attending, are already far along your transformation roadmap, or feeling hesitant about major change: moving communications to the cloud should be viewed as the next logical step in any digitalisation strategy.

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Divya Ghai Wakankar is Head of Cloud Communications Product Management & Innovation at BICS. She is a technology and business leader with 20 years of experience in telecommunications and wireless. At BICS, Divya leads the product management of its cloud communications product portfolio and evangelises new products and services for multinational businesses and digital service providers. Divya is responsible for defining the product vision, strategy, Go-To-Market and implementation of cloud communications services in B2B market segments. She is always determined to build a winning business proposition and create value for end-users.