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Lessons About Cloud Unified Communications: the New Car Experience

The lessons my wife’s new car and our child are teaching me about Cloud Unified Communications

About a year ago when my (then about to be) wife and I decided we would start a family I tried something new, for me. I took a view of needs outside of my own. As an expecting father, I decided to sell my sports car to make way for a modest car for myself and a brand new family car for my wife.

It’s been an interesting journey and one of buyer behaviour that I am sure many have gone through. I took into account all of the factors requiring consideration based on our needs at the time. My wife had never needed Satellite Navigation, only driving to local destinations and in fact, thought it was technology for technologies sake.

So… The new car arrives, the beautiful baby girl arrives and one of the lessons to new parents is that mums need to drive to a lot of new places, and they need directions! Suddenly it was clear; we had made a buying decision for our needs at the time. What I didn’t take into account was that we had just made an investment into a fixed item that didn’t have features [at the time] we thought we would never need.

Not satisfied that an iPhone is sufficient, safe or even legal, I enter husband mode, fix the issue. $1000 later I have very proudly fixed the issue. I have bought an aftermarket solution that I now need to spend more money to install. Clearly, the unit is not designed for the car natively, or the car for it and issues start to appear.

Eventually, the system is creating so many issues that it needs to be removed and the factory unit reinstalled. So we have is a car that whilst great, does not meet all our new requirements, some we didn’t even know we needed at the time.

This journey raises the question, how often have we bought something with only our current needs in mind? How can you possibly foresee needs that were not existent yet?

This journey is like buying a phone system for a lot of companies. More often than not you are buying what you need today. Think about most of the buying decisions and processes. They gather requirements, build a scope and seek to fulfil these requirements at the least cost possible. The challenge is businesses change (as our life did). The car was not flexible nor could additional features be simply added to it.

For most phone systems bought and installed on premises, they are a fixed physical item. With some, you can you can add services, however; these often come at a significant additional cost. Growth is often a challenge. A number of phone systems have limits on their size and to grow you need to upgrade to a “New Chassis” or “Bigger CPU” or some other questionable technical reason. Some vendors just place user limits on a product!

Imagine you could buy your hatchback car, and as your life changed you could just make the car bigger, or faster?

Even harder to predict are features that don’t exist today which nobody knows they need. How many ancillary systems do you have in your business? How many times have you bought an add-on product to protect a “Sunk Investment” only to exacerbate the issue?

Imagine if I could have simply logged onto my user portal, added Satellite Navigation and it would be provisioned in real time. Imagine as my car manufacturer releases new technologies in safety that I could easily gain access to them.

Companies end up with multiple applications for staff just to be able to offer services that now are commonplace and required to attract the best staff. As “Digital Natives” continue to grow as a percentage of the workforce, businesses need to be able to adopt new technologies to maintain Employee Value Propositions that are meaningful to this generation.

Questions to ask are:

  • Your presence, chat or video conferencing systems; are they integrated seamlessly into your phone system?
  • Is your messaging organisational wide, or only select groups gain access?
  • Can a user move easily from a chat to a call with the click of a button?
  • Are these discreet applications or connected through middleware or APIs to get them to work?
  • Do your users need to use different applications for internal collaboration and external customer collaboration?
  • Are your customers required to download applets or software not part of their systems in order to see your collaboration space?
  • What happens when you update software and break these links that are keeping your business competitive?
  • Can your users be on the phone and decide they need video and content sharing to be effective and then seamlessly introduce these without having to log in to a different application?

Moving to the cloud for your phone system is not just about the cloud story and cost savings. It is about giving you abilities that you don’t know your business will need in the future. With the right unified communications solution it is about being able to buy what you need now, and add functions such as Chat or Presence as your business needs them and for the users that require them.

Moving to the cloud should do just as much for your risk management as it does for the technology zealots in your business.

For now, my wife has a car without Satellite Navigation and unfortunately (for me) it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Ruy Franco, Director of Sales and Marketing

Design + code by Jalapeno Creative.

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