Evaluating Future of Cloud Communication Services in Hybrid

By Joyjeet Bose, Senior Vice- President, Tata Teleservices

Amongst the various operational, technical, and organizational challenges marked by the global COVID-19 pandemic, challenges in managing business resiliency have surfaced followed by an increase in hybrid work culture. The new normal of remote workforce has created challenges for almost every small and medium-sized organization as they have not been adequately equipped with a solid business continuity plan.

Therefore, it is realised that a robust business continuity plan for remote workforce is the need of the hour to ensure strategic business objectives continues to be met so the organization can stay afloat

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation of organisations and they are leveraging the tremendous benefits of cloud communications in their operations to perform better and deliver faster. Banking on the opportunities, cloud communication service has expanded itself beyond the ambit of big industries in metros to smaller organisations in rural or non-central locations as well. For example, a coaching institute is utilising it to offer round the clock counselling to students, manage online campaigns, send reminders, answer queries and boost performance. Similarly, a dairy in Gujarat’s Mehsana has digitally transformed itself to maintain healthy livestock.

With cloud communication suite, the farmers can now easily get information related to test bookings, health reports, veterinary services, centralized monitoring system and 24X7 service availability of vets for ailing animals via simple phone calls.

Today, the hybrid work culture has become the guiding norm around which companies are reinventing their strategies for seamless operations. They are fast changing their approach and adopting cloud communication services to work from anywhere, anytime and ensure flexibility to the workforce. These services are enabling businesses to efficiently build an ecosystem where essential tools and applications are easily accessible from remote locations and devices. Breaking away from the conventional models, cloud services are providing access to critical tools for analysis, messaging, instant sharing of files, video calling and conferencing options, scheduling calendar events to result in better productivity and smoother operations.

Advancements in technology in the areas of broadband and cellular connectivity, cloud services, and software-based communications and collaboration solutions have enabled many desk-based employees to work remotely – occasionally, part-time or full-time – over the years. With the current mindset to consciously shift to hybrid-work models, adoption of flexible, cloud-based collaboration services is rising among organizations of varying sizes, industries, and world regions.

How is cloud communication evolving in the hybrid work mode?
Ever since the pandemic hit, businesses were quick to switch to digital modes of working. Digitalisation was critical for them to run business operations and build an agile workforce that was ready to cope with future disruptions. Here, cloud communication enabled them to strengthen their engagement with workers and customers through seamless communication—anytime, anywhere. Since no additional investments were required, a majority of businesses across industry verticals like BFSI, IT/ITES, manufacturing, education, fintech, logistics, e-commerce and even conventional businesses adopted it fast. Cloud communications services have enabled organisations to make communication more interactive and engaging. The cloud-central approach has also helped them to be innovative, add new paths of revenue and adopt new age technologies like AI, ML, blockchain, IoT and others.

Business leaders and other technology investment decision makers are re-evaluating their companies’ current technology capabilities and future roadmaps. Disparate, non-integrated, and often cloud based communications solutions, whether deployed over many years or throughout the pandemic, are ripe for upgrades, consolidation, and better alignment with future business goals.

The continuous technological interventions have been the key driver which has encouraged companies for large scale cloud adoption for better resiliency in their operations. Even the small and medium businesses which have adopted hybrid work model are investing in cloud for remote functioning, data storage, security, communication, etc. Another reason why cloud-based communication services make the best fit for hybrid work model needs is versatility.

The various applications are helping companies across sectors to transform completely, backed by strong digital infrastructure, and protecting them from future disruptions and crisis. According to an industry estimate the Indian cloud services market is expected to reach $10.8 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 24.1% for 2020-25.

Enabling smooth transitions: Today, companies operating in hybrid work model are finding cloud communication services profitable and viable in the long run for better employee retention, seamless operations, better communications and lower operational costs. With this, the companies can leverage their on-site technology in combination with cloud-based services for various applications.Additionally, these services help companies in transforming to new technology in a staggered fashion which makes the transition process very smooth. By enabling a combination of existing infrastructure and advanced technologies, they also eliminate the need for investing in extra infrastructure. They are capable of amalgamating existing on-site technology to provide seamless communication facilities for the hybrid workforce. Organisation can choose public or private cloud migration basis criticality & security norms or connecting hub to the cloud platform by secured Point to Point or SD-WAN

Lower operational costs and data security: Since the pandemic and lockdown disruptions, the companies have become alert and are cautiously treading to avoid future hassles. They are carefully evaluating their operational costs and here, cloud-based communication benefits them to increase or decrease their costs in their communications operations. These services eliminate the need of spending on extra infrastructure as the cloud technology works with the systems that are already in place in the organisation. As working from home involves exchange and access of confidential data from various unidentified locations, cloud-based communication protects companies against threats in a highly secured digital ecosystem. The business processes involve chats and video-conferencing and cloud services allow handling of sensitive and confidential data more safely. Secure connect solution on hosted platform to address collaboration services in secured way is preferred solution to deploy.

Staying ahead in the race: Cloud communication services help businesses to stay ahead in the race and gain competitive edge in hybrid work models as well. With rapid advancements in technology, this allows them to integrate cloud communication services with advanced technologies like machine learning, AI, bots for better digital work and engagements. Cloud services offer enormous data carrying potential which is another reason organisations working in hybrid model are investing in cloud infrastructure and platforms. They are also realizing that cloud communication services are more efficient in providing better access to technologies and new functionalities, leading to fast adoption. With limitless possibilities, cloud communication services can help companies operating in a hybrid work model providing the staff with a choice of essential tools and applications on one platform from any location and device.

Cloud service providers taking care of IT woes: The cloud service providers are helping the companies by supporting them with managed IT services for hassle-free operations. As a part of their service licensing agreements (SLAs), they enable 24×7 availability for clients to maintain and support entire cloud operations and infrastructure. Financially, it involves moving from CAPEX to OPEX model and helps companies to drastically reduce their IT expenses. The service providers are capable of identifying problems and are available for remote support. With this, the companies can have a dedicated support team without the need of any extra investments. Classic example is cloud telephony managed by service provider on OPEX model & API with exiting business CRM & other biz critical application

The opportunities around cloud communication services are huge and businesses which are integrating these with hybrid work model operations will definitely gain edge along with better flexibility and scalability.

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