LineSpeed LLC is excited to share this guest blogpost, written by Frost and Sullivan, about key competitive differentiators between UCaaS providers. Frost & Sullivan is a leading group of financial analysts in the United States. They work to uncover market trends, highlight technological advancements, and award strong companies through their Best Practices Award.
Today, businesses of all types and sizes are actively moving their software workloads to the cloud. Many business applications, including e-mail, office productivity, file sharing/storage, customer relationship management (CRM), payroll, IT/ticket management solutions, and others have already moved to the cloud, and in the process disrupted traditional software licensing models in favor of subscription-based cloud service consumption models. Real-time communications solutions were among the last business workloads to be effectively supported by cloud computing architectures, and are now quickly joining the ranks of successful cloud services. Today, the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market is experiencing high adoption rates. Per Frost & Sullivan research, the global hosted IP telephony and UCaaS installed user base grew by 27% in 2016 and will experience strong double-digital growth rates going forward.
As businesses weigh the options to migrate their communications workloads to the cloud there are many criteria to evaluate, including: price, scalability, feature functionality, security, reliability, integration capabilities, provider reputation, and more. In addition to these attributes, the ability to offer a one-stop shop for business communications that includes telephony, conferencing, mobility, and contact center services is a key factor in UCaaS purchase decisions. This last attribute has become a position on which UCaaS providers attempt to differentiate in an increasingly competitive marketplace, which ultimately benefits customer organizations.
One-Stop Shop Portfolios
Like telephony, most businesses require some level of contact center or customer care functionality. Contact center solutions are the life blood of many businesses, while others have less formal processes that are currently supported by telephony hunt groups or basic automatic call distribution (ACD) features and workflows that would benefit from more robust contact center capabilities.
Because virtually all businesses need both communications and some level of contact center functionality, it makes sense to take advantage of the benefits offered by one-stop shop cloud communications service providers. This makes contact center services an increasingly important factor in UCaaS purchase decisions. But while many providers can check all the boxes today, there are significant differences in the breadth and depth of their respective applications sets.
Contact Center Considerations in UCaaS Purchases
Does the provider offer multiple contact center options?
As discussed above, organizations of all stripes inherently need contact center functionality, with needs differing due to business model, size, industry and other factors. Therefore, business decision makers must be careful not to over or under-buy in their selections. Just as providers offer tiered communications functionality (from entry-level to advanced; a la carte and bundled) decision makers should seek providers such as Jive Communications that likewise offer tiered contact center functionality spanning basic voice to multi-channel solutions.
Is basic contact center enough?
Peeling back the onion to understand all the included functionality can save from add-on charges later. Whether basic or advanced, decision makers should look for contact center solutions that include analytics and reporting capabilities that provide the necessary depth of insight into agent and business performance as well as overall trends. Analytics-driven decision making enables businesses to quickly make informed adjustments to drive efficiencies and customer satisfaction.
Are the one-stop advantages real?
Most providers evangelize the potential cost and support the advantages of selecting a single provider for UCaaS and contact center. However, the benefits should not stop there. Prospective buyers should consider whether management utilities across the two solutions are truly unified, as this capability streamlines administrator training and can save significant time on overall day-to-day management tasks.
Will you be nickel and dimed?
It’s common for stand-alone contact center providers to charge for basic capabilities as well as to incrementally charge additional fees for added or enhanced contact center functionality. However, Jive Communications and a select few other leading one-stop communications providers do not; they are more focused on delivering the value that keeps their customers competitive. Buyers should ensure their selected provider is in the latter camp as there will always be requirements to enhance technology, but paying much more down the road than was initially agreed is a downward slope.
Is customization possible?
Access to the same functionality as everyone else does not gain a business any ground—it only maintains the status quo. The most value is derived from tailoring solutions to the specific needs of each business. Prospective buyers should ensure their chosen solution can integrate efficiently with existing popular business software (i.e., CRM) as well as a greater range of industry and line-of-business solutions that are integral to established workflows.
The businesses that continue to piece-meal solutions together, put up with “good enough” solutions or have not thoroughly evaluated their requirements are doing themselves an injustice. Businesses that recognize the need for more robust capabilities should consider not only the functionality that they truly require, but why it’s important to include contact center as part of their overall unified communications solution selection. An ideal provider offers more value by making multiple contact center options available for the best fit, as well as added advantages in support, pricing and tight integration with the rest of the enterprise communications stack. In these regards, prospective UCaaS buyers should ensure Jive Communications is on their short list for evaluation.
Cloud computing is a resource that meets the needs of companies with growing employee bases and departments. It can be used as an exceptional technological tool to measure company value, if the company takes advantage of the value provided. With the ups and downs of the world’s economy, affordable and reliable technology is more and more necessary. Cloud computing fills that void.
If used strategically, cloud computing can provide true business value. Let’s review how:
Fuel Top-line Growth
Value can be seen through the increase of business agility, reach, and scalability. Agility can be difficult to quantify, but it is a real win when it comes to cloud computing. It can facilitate exactly what your business wants/needs – how much CPU, what type of application configuration is required, and how you want to distribute these. Cloud computing also drives business growth and value by helping businesses develop rapidly, transition into a new market, integrate applications, and much more. Agility provides great value to those that are competing in an environment of uncertain high-growth markets. Increased innovation creates great value to businesses alongside improved communication and collaboration. According to IBM, leading companies are 73% more likely to rapidly innovate products and services via the cloud. Having agility can improve business services at an increasing speed, reducing delivery time from months to just weeks.
Enable innovation of new services
Differentiate with new technologies
Enhance business resiliency by improving data center/application uptime
Improve Bottom-Line Economics
With cloud computing you pay only for what you consume, when you need to consume it – that’s the pay-as-you go model. By reducing total cost with cloud solutions, resources can be utilized more efficiently. Cloud solutions replace on-premises applications, which increases your reach and scalability and increases value. By eliminating expensive maintenance issues, which would normally cost the IT department time and money, cloud offers great efficiency and true value to a company.
Improve resource life cycle management
Eliminate constant, expensive upgrades
Pay as you go
Experience TCO reductions greater than 50%
Bring Forth Collaboration
Cloud computing also provides the ability to reach your customers at any time. A reliable solution transfers all data securely into the cloud and can be accessed by any authorized client, partner, or employee. Barriers between once-separate departments are broken down, which allows for sharing of expertise and business information. This level of collaboration effectively leads to a dynamic workforce.
With a strategic, focused approach to cloud computing, it can power transformation within the digital and business worlds, and increase business value.
Cloud computing is a technology that uses a network of remote servers to store, manage, and process data, rather than the traditional local servers you might have on-site today. It is an Internet-based computing, so all of your business’s critical data and computing resources are stored securely in the remote location and delivered to authorized users and the organization through the Internet. You can think of the word “cloud” as a metaphor for “Internet.” Cloud computing provides businesses with growth opportunities, high performance, quality, affordable prices, easy collaboration, and simple data access. The cloud can improve your business in many ways. Here are some benefits of implementing cloud computing:
Stop purchasing expensive hardware and spending so much time on managing and maintaining your servers. Cloud computing not only cuts down hardware costs dramatically, but it maintains your data securely so that it can also minimize ongoing IT costs. Cloud doesn’t eliminate your IT team, but instead allows IT to focus on their more demanding and strategic tasks instead of worrying about maintenance and management.
65% of businesses move to the cloud to free IT to work on more strategic tasks.
Bring Your Own Device is a cloud trend that gives businesses and their employees the ability to utilize and have access to data from anywhere in the world, on any device. With the help of the Internet, you can make the world your office and use any personal computing devices you want, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones, to securely access company information and applications.
50% of companies will require employees to provide their own device by the year 2017.
Implementing BYOD allows your company to make real-time decisions and have real-time conversations. It keeps your clients and employees connected anywhere, at any time. Cloud applications can increase collaboration by creating shared storage and files for users, and allowing your company to talk virtually and share information in real time.
65% of businesses say that responding faster to business is a key driver for adopting the cloud.
64% of business execs say that initiatives are implemented faster when the business is using cloud collaboration tools.
Natural disasters or security breaches are nothing to be feared if you choose to implement cloud solutions. By choosing cloud computing, you remove the necessity to have your own on-site physical equipment. If you accidently spill coffee on your computer, or your laptop breaks down, you won’t lose all your files. Cloud solutions allow you to log into any Internet-capable device, whether it be a phone, tablet or laptop, and access all your files, which will be up and running in no time. Your data is protected in enterprise-grade data centers with multiple layers of security and disaster recovery technology.
57% of companies using cloud say it’s provided better data security.
Cloud solutions allow for simple scalability by making resources available whenever clients need them. This means no delays when you’re expanding or updating information. You can easily upscale or downscale your IT resources exactly when you need to. And with the cloud’s pay-as-you-go model, you’ll see your costs adjust accordingly.
Flexibility is another benefit of cloud solutions that saves both money and time for a business. Using mobile technology allows your employees to access files at their ease and have the ability to share documents over the Internet. This also helps support both internal and external collaboration, as mentioned previously.
This capability of having a secure, remote, accessible can reduce time-to-market and improve product development and customer service. The risks and burden of maintaining IT infrastructure in-house can be eliminated, therefore giving your IT team the ability to be productive with more crucial tasks.
93% of businesses move to the cloud to increase productivity outside of the office
Becoming knowledgeable about how cloud solutions can improve your business is the first step, but your second and most critical step would be choosing the right cloud solution! We ensure that customers’ cloud services to run efficiently and, better yet, have 100% uptime. We enable this through the most advanced and secure cloud infrastructure and platform available. Our “We Care” support gives customers a 24x7x365 reliable team to turn to with any questions. Work anywhere, at any time, remain secure, scale easily, and be productive! You can achieve all of this by implementing our cloud solutions.
The beauty of the cloud is in the copious options it offers a business. One of the most important options to consider is whether or not you want to control your own cloud infrastructure or have a provider like RapidScale manage it for you. It ultimately depends on your business and the goals you have set.
Here are some benefits that both managed and unmanaged cloud computing offer and how they differ from one another:
Managed Cloud (AKA Private)
It is estimated that the managed cloud market will grow from $17 billion in 2014 to $43 billion by 2018. (451 Research) It’s evolving at a quick rate, and the reason for its increased popularity is that providers, like RapidScale, take on a lot of the management and maintenance responsibilities and constantly ensure that everything is running smoothly. Having a managed cloud allows for redundancy and full support, as well as guidance. The operating system, control panel, server setup, added applications, ongoing maintenance and management, and more is all supported. RapidScale’s managed cloud offers the opportunity to work together to create a perfect, customized cloud solution. Businesses can reap the benefits of cloud computing while avoiding added responsibility and the added time it would take to manage a cloud solution alone.
If you don’t want to worry about the cost, stress or time it takes to manage your cloud environment, a managed cloud is for you. It’s perfect for organizations that don’t necessarily have the technical expertise in-house, or those that simply want to focus on strategic business initiatives rather than maintaining infrastructure.
RapidSale’s managed solutions offer the following:
End-use troubleshooting and device setup
Operating system management
100% uptime SLA
Patches and upgrades to server
Unmanaged Cloud (AKA Public)
Unmanaged cloud still provides the core cloud computing services, but with a “do it yourself” method. It allows you to access the cloud solutions and their benefits, but with minimal support, unlike a managed cloud. The default solution configuration is supported, but beyond that, overall solution management becomes the organization’s responsibility. An unmanaged cloud is great for businesses that have a strong IT team in place already and need little to no assistance. It’s a great way to maintain granular control of your cloud environment, as you receive unrestricted access to your infrastructure.
However, unmanaged cloud does not offer support for customizations or third-party software a business wants to install. If a business wants to make changes or encounters an issue, this would largely be solved by the business alone, with its own personnel, money, and time.
If having sole freedom and control over your business’ cloud environment is important to your business, then unmanaged cloud is for you:
RapidScale’s unmanaged cloud offers:
Support for operating system and default solution configuration
Free setup and provisioning
Organizational control over implementation and overall solution management
Making a decision between managed and unmanaged cloud is critical for any business transitioning into this new environment. A managed cloud results in far less work and requires little to no expertise, but if being in control of all aspects of your business is your preference then it’s important to consider unmanaged cloud. RapidScale offers both options, but its key differentiator is managed cloud. Managed cloud computing allows RapidScale to do what it’s best at, while freeing up your business to focus on what you’re best at!
One of the most common considerations about cloud solutions is their ability to secure critical data. Those who are still on the fence about implementing the cloud due to fear of data security can rest assured knowing that cloud solutions will actually improve security. 94% of businesses say they saw an improvement in security after implementing cloud solutions.While it’s clear that cloud security has improved in general, the specifics rely on the cloud provider that is chosen.
Let’s take a look at the great security benefits that cloud computing offers, as well as what RapidScale can offer.
Security Against All Odds
Cloud solutions remove your on-site physical equipment, making natural disasters and security breaches last year’s concerns. Making mistakes, overlooking, or even misplacing things are actions that are inevitable as humans. Imagine spilling coffee on your computer, losing it at an airport, or even dropping and breaking it. Having cloud solutions in place means these situations, while still unfortunate, are not detrimental. That’s because the data isn’t locally stored on the device itself. The virtual world secures data in a location where it cannot be physically harmed. By having infrastructure running out of data centers that a cloud provider owns and manages, businesses don’t fall captive to the integrity of their physical location. Data won’t be vulnerable on-site, and that’s a major perk of the cloud.
A huge misconception surrounding the cloud is that anyone can access the Internet, so anyone can access data stored in the cloud. This is not the case – if it was, cloud wouldn’t be the huge force it is today. RapidScale has multiple layers of physical and network security in place that allow businesses to experience enterprise-grade security, regardless of their size. The cloud solutions include in-flight and at-rest encryption, strong firewalls, password protection, around-the-clock monitoring, exterior security systems and more. Full redundancy and multiple data center locations also eliminate the fear of ever losing your data. A business gains secure yet constant access to its critical data, no matter where users are, while outside eyes remain outside.
RapidScale’s Tier 3 Class 1 data center facilities include full credential-limited access, key card protocols, biometric scanning systems, exterior security systems, on-premises security guards, digital surveillance and recording, secured cages, around-the-clock monitoring, redundant HVAC systems, and much more. This cloud security is stronger than what you can provide for yourself, and that’s because RapidScale has the team and budget in place to make this happen. Don’t allow security stand in the way of taking advantage of cloud computing.
These security benefits are what make it possible to have a secure experience in the cloud. With the issue of cloud security out of the way, cloud becomes much more difficult to ignore. The only thing to consider now is exactly how it can work for you. Reach out to us today to learn more!
With thousands of customers across the globe, Amazon Web Services serves some of the highest-profile companies. It’s easy to trust that a big corporation like Amazon will be the most secure, reliable provider for switching to the cloud, but this isn’t necessarily the best mindset to have. In recent years, there have been multiple Amazon incidents that might make you think twice about trusting AWS with your critical data and cloud transition.
AWS has recently had numerous high-profile outages (56 to be exact) despite its 99.9% uptime SLA. (CloudHarmony) It faced a major cloud service glitch that disrupted several major websites, and Bloomberg Businessweek reported that a hacker set up a cloud account with Amazon and used its servers to attack a 100 million user account, the Playstation Network. IT author, George Reese, has even stated that there could be a severe security risk by handing over control of data to Amazon. Since Amazon’s services include more than just cloud solutions, there are more ways for data to be exposed. Most companies have regulations or corporate standards governing their data security, and these organizations just can’t afford to risk it.
And if you’re looking for cloud computing guidance, management and support, you won’t find it with AWS. Unlike our white-glove service and full management options, AWS has a “Do It Yourself” mentality and lacks enterprise-grade support for all customers. Instead, customers are forced to upgrade their plan to receive support. There is little help given to those who are just entering the cloud world and very little attention given to small to mid-size organizations. So unless you’re one of the big guys, AWS probably isn’t the best fit.
At first, it might seem like the obvious choice to trust a big corporation like Amazon for your move to the cloud. But unless you’re ready to face the cloud by yourself with minimal guidance and likely outages, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
With our cloud solutions, your company can take advantage of full management, white-glove service and enterprise-grade support around the clock, and a 100% uptime SLA guarantee. We don’t share the same mentality that Amazon has. Instead, we take our “We Care” service and customer-focused approach very seriously, for companies of all sizes. We can work with you from the planning phase onward so you’re receiving the perfect cloud solution for your business needs.
You can’t research business phones without reading that Hosted VoIP is cheaper than its on-premises cousin. But while Googling you might ask yourself: what would it really cost your business to stay with an on-premises solution? Perhaps you’re skeptical that Hosted VoIP could revolutionize both your phone bill and your company’s image, and rightly so.
So let’s take a look at some of the key points, and see how the costs can add up when you get behind on phone service.
For the traditional option, you’ll need on-premises analog PBX hardware, which is used to manage your call flow and extensions. It may seem like the perfect opportunity for rolling up your sleeves to DIY. But according to an estimate by PCG Telecom & Data Network, running an on-premises PBX for 75 extensions costs about $75,000 upfront. You’ll probably also need an in-house IT staff member to maintain it, again adding to the upfront cost.
With Hosted VoIP, the whole point is that someone else is running your servers—which means no additional hardware is required. That same estimate by PCG Telecom noted that a Hosted VoIP system with 75 extensions costs $22,500 or less, even with all new phone hardware. The main requirements are high speed internet service and a business-grade router, which are staples in many workplaces. And since you can often configure your own line directly from your computer, there’s no need to acquire new staff.
Minutes are the most expensive part of an on-premises bill, primarily for long distance calling at an average of 6 cents a minute. Calls to toll-free numbers and international dials can have an accumulated effect, too.
This is where Hosted VoIP shines, precisely because it treats sounds as data packets traveling through the Internet rather than as minutes. Analysis shows that you save as much as $1,200 per phone line over 2 years with VoIP, as compared to a traditional line. With Hosted VoIP you generally pay a flat rate per month for typical business traffic, including long distance calls. Even the international and toll-free calls are cheaper!
Some have claimed that the age of the call center is over, since call center packages are more costly and unwieldy than smartphone apps. It’s true that on-premises call centers can cost a whopping $1,500 per agent, not including the additional fees for setup and installation. But with Hosted VoIP, you pay a monthly flat rate for agent, making it nearly 70% more cost-effective than the traditional call center. If you’re one of the many businesses that rely on contact centers for customer outreach, Hosted VoIP can be a great alternative.
In Hosted VoIP, these enterprise-grade features usually come included, so there’s no need to worry about paying for more. As OnPoint co-founder and CEO Brian Clark said, “Standing still is falling behind. Either you implement new technologies or you risk getting passed by your competitors.”
The Pew Research Center found that Millennials now constitute the largest generation in the workforce, at 34% and rising. An Intel study also found that these Millennial employees have a strong understanding of technology and demand much more from it. They also prefer to use their smartphones and have greater job flexibility, something that can only be achieved with the mobile apps and gadgets that Hosted VoIP can provide. If you stay with on-premises phones that are stuck at a single location, you risk alienating that base of candidates, or causing your tech-savvy employees to flock elsewhere.
Choosing a phone system may not be easy. But when it comes to immediate costs, it’s clear that Hosted VoIP is indeed cheaper than an on-premises equivalent. And as a long term solution, Hosted VoIP can strengthen your public image and keep your employees happier for longer.