Article written by 8x8 APAC vice president Brendan Maree.
Of all the challenges facing companies with global aspirations, one of hardest to solve can be deploying an effective communications infrastructure. Linking staff and customers across multiple countries and time zones can quickly become a complex and costly exercise.
Many companies find that strategies that have worked domestically often don't scale across borders. The traditional approach of installing an on-premise PBX and signing a service agreement with a single carrier is no longer an effective option.
If international expansion has come about by way of acquisitions, the task can be even more challenging. Different locations are likely to have different equipment in place which will need to be locally managed and maintained. Linking each site together and ensuring a consistent experience for staff and customers can seem like an impossible pipe dream.
An existing infrastructure might also lack the ability to scale as business requirements grow. Adding more users or additional functionality such as mobility might require expensive upgrades or wholesale replacements.
The growing business might also strike problems when trying to integrate telephony systems with CRM platforms. Connections may have to be created on an ad-hoc basis and require ongoing management to ensure their stability and reliability.
Another challenge is establishing points of presence in each country in which the business is operating. These will be needed to allow customers to call in on toll-free numbers and staff to communicate both within the country and with their colleagues around the world.
There could also be challenges around the costs associated with international calling and the quality of connections in some locations.
A cloud-based solution
Faced with these challenges, increasing numbers of companies operating in multiple geographic locations are turning to cloud-based communication platforms. Rather than purchasing, installing and managing on-premise equipment, they instead are opting to secure their communications infrastructure as a service from a chosen provider.
Opting for a cloud platform to support a company's global communications requirements brings a range of benefits. These include:
- Flexible scalability: A cloud-based communications infrastructure can be readily scaled up and down as business needs change. New users can be quickly added and additional features turned on quickly when needed. As well as telephony, a cloud platform can also provide unified communications capabilities if required.
- Unification across borders: Shifting from a range of different on-premise PBXs to a cloud platform will ensure that features and performance will be consistent for users in all locations. A single, cross-border platform will also remove the need to manage separate systems, saving both time and money.
- International reach: A cloud communications infrastructure will provide access to points of presence in each country where the business is operating, allowing international toll-free services and local dial-in numbers to be provided for customers. Staff will also be able to be provided with a single phone number through which they can be reached regardless of their location.
- Risk reduction: Being cloud rather than on-premise based means the communications infrastructure is resilient in times of natural disasters or emergencies. Staff can be quickly shifted to an alternative location and have immediate access to their services. A cloud platform also avoids the risk of technology obsolescence as there is no investment required in equipment such as PBXs and networking equipment. Everything is provided as a service.
- Increased efficiency: A cloud-based platform provides a business with improved control over its communications links as well as visibility of global call quality. The IT team will be able to see every endpoint on the network and easily spot and respond to outages if they occur. They will also be able to readily integrate the communications platform with other applications such as a CRM system.
Choosing a cloud-based communications platform will provide the levels of service, scalability and cost-effectiveness required by a growing business. By leveraging this effective platform, businesses can ensure they will possess the infrastructure that is required to provide adequate support for staff and customers, regardless of where in the world they are located.