Grow your global footprint by moving comms to the cloud by Divya Wakankar

This week's opinion piece is by Divya Wakankar, who is the Head of Cloud Communications Product Management & Innovation at BICS. Divya is a technology and business leader with 20 years of experience in Communications and Wireless.

Divya Wankankar

Earlier this year, Amazon and Microsoft reported significant growth, driven by the success of their cloud offerings. With Microsoft’s Azure’s revenue increasing by 76% year-on-year and Amazon’s AWS’ by 45% in Q4 (reaching $7.4 billion), it’s clear that the enterprise cloud market is huge, and growing. In order to support this, so too are the number of massive data centres; the number operated by hyperscale providers rose by 11% in 2018 to reach 430 worldwide.

Migrating data storage and business-critical processes to the cloud is now a rite of passage for any business going through digital transformation. According to the 2019 edition of the State of the Cloud Survey, 94% of businesses now use the cloud, and 84% have adopted a multi-cloud strategy. Cost, security, scalability, flexibility, better data analytics, and faster deployment times are just a few of the benefits of adopting or growing a cloud-based infrastructure.

However, whilst many companies have realised these benefits in terms of moving applications and data storage to the cloud, fewer are aware of the benefits (or have any plans in place) to move communications to the cloud. Yet despite this, 87% of business leaders believe their company’s success depends on their ability to connect with customers via cloud communications. To support business growth and improve customer experience, enterprises must extend their digital transformation strategy to encompass cloud communications.

International expansion: the challenge

When a company is looking to expand its international footprint, opening new offices or customer contact centres in other regions, it must also expand its communications infrastructure. Effective, high-quality communication and collaboration between colleagues and customers is key. Many companies are used to the status quo and assume that their telecoms services should be provided by their incumbent provider. Moving such a crucial part of a business to a lesser-known cloud environment is therefore viewed by some organisations as a daunting prospect.

In addition, businesses must navigate the complex regulatory environments of every region in which they’re looking to expand. They need to establish multiple relationships with multiple vendors in multiple geographies and effectively manage all of these whilst also remaining focussed on the bigger picture: international growth.

It’s not only the business that will come up against complexities and costs; their employees and customers will too. If a British company wants to break into the US market and grow its customer base in this region, for example, it must have a local presence, sales channel and easy means of customer engagement. Building multiple customer care centres across the US is expensive for the business, but calling a UK number from the US is expensive for the customer. Similarly, opening new offices in new territories traditionally meant significant costs would be incurred when colleagues wanted to communicate and collaborate.

Change is needed, and cloud comms will deliver.

International expansion: the solution

Accessing new markets or supporting colleagues in multiple global regions needn’t always entail costly, slow, physical expansion. Or, if new customer care centres and new offices are opened abroad, this needn’t entail costly, slow, integration of traditional communications infrastructure.

Migrating communications to the cloud presents a low-cost, flexible, straightforward, and virtualised approach to communication and collaboration, on a global scale. At the heart of this approach are cloud numbers: local, mobile or toll-free number ranges for specific countries that international businesses can assign for particular objectives.

Remember the aforementioned British business looking at US expansion? Adopting a cloud-based approach would allow this business to offer pre-/post-sales customer support by providing local or toll-free numbers for customers in each different state. It could then benefit from effective and affordable global communication.

A new world of opportunity

Cloud communications can also open up whole new methods of engagement between customers and businesses. Take a retail enterprise, for example, which employs a mobile workforce, comprising staff who are always on-the-go and rely on mobile (rather than desktop PC) to communicate. The enterprise would benefit from adopting cloud-based voice and SMS-enabled mobile numbers in multiple global regions. These could then be integrated into its mobile app, platform, or enterprise application, thereby providing unified communications for employees on the move all day. Businesses can also use mobile numbers for mobile marketing campaigns – sending alerts, reminders and notification messages to consumers, in whichever geography they’re hoping to grow their footprint. Offering innovative, rich engagement options also benefits customers: 93% of cloud communications users report that embedding communications into their web and mobile apps led to higher customer satisfaction.

As with other cloud-based applications, cloud comms solutions which have global SIP Trunking (allowing businesses to manage their communications over IP) support voice connectivity across geographies, can be trialled on a try-before-you-buy basis, and are then available via a pay-as-you-go model. This enables an organisation to scale quickly, flexibly and effectively.

They also needn’t waste time and resources trying to navigate regulatory and license requirements and ensuring the backward integration required to make these numbers work. Instead, business leaders can now partner with cloud communications and connectivity specialists, which have long-established relationships and network infrastructure across the world.

Finally, cloud-based communications solutions can improve interactions between colleagues, no matter where they’re located. Therefore, delivering enhanced services such as HD voice and video conferencing and collaborative platforms with data reporting and analytics.

Many businesses have already been reaping the benefits of moving data and applications to the cloud, powering the growth of major cloud providers. Now, both SMEs and major corporations should consider moving communications capabilities to the cloud, in order to extend their own reach, boost customer satisfaction, and enhance workforce collaboration.