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3 Ways COVID-19 is Changing How We Look at Cloud Calling
A couple of weeks back, I was invited to take part in a Cisco webinar to discuss the enterprise drivers for moving to cloud calling and away from on-premises telephony solutions. We started planning this webinar back in February, and the original plan was for me to go to the Cisco office and do the webinar in-person. Clearly, with California’s shelter-in-place order, that was not an option, so we did the webinar over Webex — and it went well.
With key members of the Cisco Cloud Calling and contact center team present, we discussed drivers for cloud migration, as well as the primary business considerations for that migration. What became evident in the discussion is how much the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the considerations of a premises to cloud migration. In thinking about a cloud migration for calling, I focused on three key enterprise drivers: business agility and resiliency, transformation and integration, and total cost of ownership. In each area, as I developed the content for the webinar, I realized that the COVID-19 crisis, and the expected aftermath, make the cloud option even more desirable.
Below, I explore the three areas in detail.
1. Keeping Business Going in Tough Times
First, COVID-19 has shown us that all those boring discussions of business continuity were actually very critical conversations. No one believed we would have a real continuity issue. For many years, one of the major selling points of cloud value was the ability to sustain your business operations through a disruption. The distributed nature of cloud service delivery, through redundant data centers and multi-route IP infrastructure, enables business continuity for all subscribers in the face of major disruption events. In the past, when discussing business continuity, the “disruption” aspect always felt like a hypothetical event. The concept that literally everyone in a company could not go to any office, virtually anywhere in the country, for six-eight weeks was beyond comprehension. But now, we know that these events can happen, and we should all be planning for business continuity. Clearly, cloud solutions have demonstrated their value over the last weeks for businesses using them to maintain their business velocity while protecting the health of their workforce and their customers.
2. Enabling Business Transformation
A second area where the cloud offers a compelling advantage is in how cloud communications and collaboration is enabling business transformation. While a clear part of this is the integration of advanced meetings and collaboration services into the cloud calling solution, I think the more interesting focus is on integration with other essential business applications and processes. In the post-COVID-19 world, where social distancing may continue, integrating distancing-capable communication solutions into your business processes will be critical.
We’ve seen a key transformation over the last few years, now accelerated by COVID-19, where the applications supporting business processes are increasingly run in the cloud. In the wake of this pandemic, companies will be investing in the transformation of business processes, especially new processes optimized and revised supply chains. These new paradigm processes will likely be implemented using cloud infrastructure. By moving to a cloud solution for calling, meetings, teams, and contact centers, these services can easily be integrated with other cloud applications to accelerate workflows and support processes for transformational advantage.
3. Rethinking What’s Included in the TCO
Finally, an examination of the total cost of ownership (TCO) shows the new reality. While most analyses look at vendor cost alone, in his book “Seven Clear Models of Cloud Computing,” Timothy Chou identified the cost of administration and operation as the largest overall component of TCO. This is reflected in recent Gartner analysis that shows 50% of the cost of a communications solution is administration and management. By including those costs into the cloud analysis, the business value becomes crystal clear. In an all-inclusive view, cloud calling costs much less than an on-premises system. In the past, these costs were generally not included in TCO calculations, as they would result in employee impacts. However, with COVID-19 driving huge demands for meetings, collaboration, video, CPaaS, remote call center agents, etc., freed from telephony administration, the telecom team can focus on delivering new and enhanced strategic business values.
After re-examining the value of the cloud with the experience of COVID-19 and a view to how business, business processes, and work-life will change as a result, I think this is a great time to consider the cloud for calling, meetings, collaboration, and teams. Regardless of whether you consider Cisco as a potential vendor for a cloud calling solution, the points covered in the webinar are important in analyzing a solution and making a decision.