A new report by the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) has revealed that nearly two-thirds of UK businesses plan to move the entire IT infrastructure to the cloud in the near future.
The take up of cloud continues at a pace, and as the recently published CIF report highlights, more companies than ever are embracing the cloud and this is set to increase. But what of the remainder – are they as yet undecided or have they purposefully chosen not to go full on cloud?
There is no doubt that cloud delivers many benefits over traditional on-premise applications, among them lower costs, reduced or no physical maintenance requirements and productivity gains. However, doubts among some SMEs remain and this is often still down to issues such as inertia, hanging onto existing investment in infrastructure, a fear of losing control, slow broadband speeds (particularly in rural areas) and cyber security. It’s worth noting that in the CIF report, the vast majority (98 per cent) of all respondents said they had never experienced a breach of security when using a cloud service.
Another issue for some SMEs is connectivity as an inhibitor to cloud adoption. According to Ofcom, 69 per cent of organisations say the phone system is its most vital communication source, however some don’t have provision in place for when lines go down.
While some businesses are cautious or simply reluctant to place ever more of their eggs into one big cloud basket, the fact is that many are still deciding and looking at what’s available and selecting what they feel is right for them based on their unique and future needs – either full on cloud or a hybrid approach.
IT and cloud phone systems
A cloud phone system no longer sits apart from a company’s IT applications and the seamless integration between them means that businesses can choose to have all or some of their functionality in the cloud. SRK Accounting, for example, is entirely cloud driven with its IT applications and phone system all in the cloud. From the outset the firm wanted to be paperless and this approach offered SRK the ability to become just that.
The firm also operates a flexible working policy, where team members occasionally work from home, and their cloud phone system provides the ability for staff to work remotely with all of the functionality of the phone system as if they were in the London office.
Like SRK, the approach that a company takes to its cloud adoption policy will depend on things like its business processes, how its workforce operates and how it serves customers. Through a thorough understanding of its business needs and how these are likely to change, a company can select what it believes are the best of breed tools for the job at any particular time – either cloud or not.
It is perfectly feasible for SMEs – and many now do – to operate without any centralised physical premises and employees are not required to commute into a communal office. This type of set up is perfect for a 100 per cent cloud-based business because staff can simply use their home or other remote internet connections to work successfully. And they can use their cloud phone system through their laptop and softphone rather than relying on a physical handset that is say five or 10 miles away.
Smarter working in the cloud
The benefits of moving into the cloud are borne out in the CIF report. For example, over two in five (45 per cent) businesses say that enabling innovation is a business objective driving continued investment in cloud. Enhancing business continuity (37 per cent) and improving customer service (31 per cent) are two other objectives driving investment in cloud.
Furthermore, 64 per cent found that using cloud has saved their organisation time and 86 per cent report that their organisation has experienced at least one intangible benefit of cloud adoption.
Cloud phone systems offer SMEs a number of such smart benefits, including improved business analytics, greater integration with other IT and cloud applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and greater facilitation of remote working and mobile forces.
Previously companies could only analyse basic metrics with the telephone system. Now recent advances in certain systems allow the capability to measure greater detail of aspects that can show business insight such as performance and efficiencies of different teams.
SMEs are also taking advantage of more evolved voice communications that co-join with customer databases and CRM to provide intelligent communications hubs operating at the heart of customer interaction. This coordinated approach can have a hugely tangible difference on a company’s productivity as well as a more positive customer experience of the business.
And freedom from the traditional physical elements of a company, such as working in a specific building or using a fixed office line, is possible with cloud and many employees now expect this fluidity, especially where it offers them flexibility such as the ability to work remotely or from home.
In summary, the findings of the CIF report indicate strongly that the march by many SMEs is in favour of nearly all cloud operations. Quite rightly some companies are still considering their options and some will still prefer to adopt a hybrid approach, but certainly there is no doubt that cloud is now the new norm and overall provides the majority of SMEs with much smarter ways of doing business.
Rafael Cortes is head of marketing at Foehn.
The Foehn Buyers Guides to cloud phone systems
To learn more about cloud phone systems, download the Foehn Buyers Guide 2 – Smarter Cloud Phone Systems.