Collaboration in the Cloud: a business innovation driver, part 1
Businesses everywhere understand the value of productive collaboration, whether it’s internal or external, or with customers, suppliers or partners. But developing this collaboration often involves technological challenges, increased risk during launch, and additional costs. Collaboration in the Cloud, on the other hand, has helped speed the process along. In fact, this model is now ushering in a new era of innovation for businesses. Within companies, the Cloud facilitates innovation in the following ways:
- increases flexibility so use can be adapted to the needs of innovative communities
- optimizes processes for idea sharing
- simplifies collaborative tools
This helps bring all employees – not just a specific group or functional level – to the innovation process. Of course, the Cloud also provides features that enhance security and protect intellectual property – two critical concerns for businesses. The collaboration in the Cloud model solves many of the problems that once hindered collaboration, making it once again a fundamental tool for businesses.
Simplicity and user-friendliness: two watchwords
Collaboration in the Cloud definitely offers employees the most functionality (regardless of their age, location or business) for a variety of features ranging from basic voice services and unified, real-time message systems, to presence services, multichannel contact centers (voice, web, email, video), web conferencing, mobility, video, etc.
According to a recent Forrester study, "basic voice, email and web conferencing tools will be the most widely used collaboration services through 2018."
Not surprisingly, voice services (telephones) remain the most widely used collaboration tool but are expected to see the least amount of growth. Looking ahead, we can expect to see more web collaboration and videos that link work stations to video conference rooms located across a company’s various locations.
We are also entering the post-PC era (in French only) with the launch of new multiplatform and multisystem equipment and work stations (PC, Mac and virtual machines in the Cloud). Used to replace or add to work devices, personal smartphones and tablets have increased functionality for mobile work. According to the same Forrester study, tablets and smartphones are the preferred UCaaS platforms for collaboration and video services.
While this plethora of features can overwhelm some companies, the "as a Service" model helps companies choose the right functional profile. It enables them to best meet the needs of multi-generational user communities that may change at any time, with spikes and lulls in company activity.
a new billing model to reduce costs
Usage-based billing helps limit and even eliminate investment budgets (CAPEX) by transforming the classic purchasing model into a usage-based model within an operating budget (OPEX).
New investment budgets can then be dedicated to developing a company’s critical business applications. Monthly billing also provides the financial predictability needed to coordinate the activities of business divisions with financial and administrative divisions. In conjunction with a UCaaS provider, IS divisions play an important planning role and also act as an internal service provider for deploying, collecting or migrating equipment.
transforming project management systems
As of 2013, advanced and efficient collaboration services are available to all businesses in France: large companies, small- and medium-sized companies, and in between. The Cloud also makes it easier to set up these services. The complete suite of collaboration applications is preloaded and preconfigured in the Cloud. All that’s needed are the business and user settings and it’s ready to use.
Collaboration in the Cloud is a one-time transformation project that is easier to manage internally. Companies typically undertake several projects at once, though it can often prove difficult to manage them all at the same time. Even with external support, these projects can be hard for a single company to manage due to a lack of skills locally.
The Cloud offers a completely new model for deployment, as well as migration organized around a single offer and a single structuring project for all management bodies and decision-makers at a company. On average, this helps reduce time to launch and time to connect from nine to three months.
For businesses, the real value of the UCaaS model lies in the “All in One” model: a single offer for all company employees, a single service provider, secure integration with data, voice, video and application networks, a single tool for all current and future needs, a single deployment project, a single contract, a single bill, a single portal, a single service contact… Of course, it’s important to choose the right offer to maximize the advantages. I’ll end the first part of this article here, and I’ll have the second part up in a few days… stay tuned! :-)
Nicolas @Cisco France
This post was originally published in French here.
image © Nmedia - Fotolia.com
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