The Small Business Guide to Cloud Communications

In comparison to an on-premises phone system, the right cloud communications solution—also known as VoIP or a hosted PBX— provides the flexibility and power that allows your employees to work smarter and be more productive. That’s a must for today’s modern workforce, which is more mobile and often works flexible hours from home or while on the road. At the same time, moving to cloud communications relieves small business owners and IT staff of the headaches of managing IT equipment, including upgrading systems and dealing with security issues. Not all cloud communication providers are equal, though. Many cobble together their products from other vendors and don’t guarantee service quality for your phone calls. Many cloud communication providers do not own their data centers and are not able to provide uptime and call quality guarantees. Here are five key considerations to keep in mind to make sure your company connects with a provider that will bring the future you want for your business to life: 1. COLLABORATE MORE FREELY. Manage critical collaborations with greater fluidity. You should be able to stay connected while you’re out of the office—allowing you to receive and make business calls on your mobile devices while still appearing as if you’re calling from the office. You also should be able to configure your desk phones and mobile phones to ring simultaneously when a call comes in. With email notifications of voicemails, your team can quickly respond to missed calls. Additionally, ring groups can effectively distribute calls throughout departments or work groups so incoming calls can quickly be picked up by the first available team member. No more missed calls. Be more productive across your on-the-go organization. Business texting, chats, instant messaging, availability status updates and virtual online conferencing with video can empower workers to collaborate and work more efficiently. These capabilities should be integrated into your cloud communications solution. Virtual meetings, which allow people to connect with each other from almost anywhere using video conferencing, help employees working in different offices or from their homes feel as if they’re in the same room. Put it all together and there’s no limit to your team’s ability to be united in working towards critical end goals, wherever individuals are located. Don’t overlook reliability. Many cloud communication providers do not own their data centers and are not able to provide uptime and call quality guarantees. Geographically redundant data T H E S M A L L B U S I N E S S G U I D E T O C L O U D C O M M U N I C AT I O N S 3 centers, encryption across your communications, and security compliance are also very important. With these capabilities in place, you can be sure that a snow storm or natural disaster won’t leave your business with a busy signal. 8x8 Virtual Office addresses all of these fronts. It offers the latest features to ensure that you can communicate and collaborate in multiple ways, including providing premium voice quality. And you’ll get it all without risking security or service availability. 8x8 delivers its solution via its own comprehensive platform using redundant data centers in multiple supported global regions. 2. EXPERIENCE EASY DEPLOYMENT AND MANAGEMENT. If you have limited IT staff or none at all, it’s important to choose a cloud communications system that’s easy to deploy, use and manage. Choose a cloud communications service that’s easy to use and administer. When you have limited IT staff or none at all, it’s important to choose a cloud communications system that’s easy to deploy, use and manage. Your provider should manage all the hardware, software and upgrades behind the scenes so you don’t have to. Also think about issues such as whether you’ll have easy access to a technical installation support specialist, to deal with challenges such as porting phone numbers from your legacy PBX or setting up call routing for an auto-attendant feature. Centralized management is essential. Make it as easy as possible for your office manager or other administrator to directly support changes without having to rely on technical staff. Of equal consideration is that no one should be burdened with separate systems to manage different offices or devices. It’s also valuable if potential providers offer a customer knowledge base to walk you through your help questions and requests, whether you’re in search of troubleshooting advice or how-to guidance. 8x8 Virtual Office makes it simple to get your phone system up and keep it running smoothly. 8x8 manages cloud communications for you in its own data center, takes all the responsibility for fixes and upgrades and puts a priority on providing customers with whatever technical support you need. 3. GET EVERYTHING YOU NEED COMPLETELY INTEGRATED FROM ONE PROVIDER. Be sure you know what you’re buying. Many companies sell cloud communications systems that are actually made up of other companies’ products. Perhaps they’re responsible for one part of the solution, such as the cloud PBX, but they bundle other capabilities—say, online meetings—from different vendors. T H E S M A L L B U S I N E S S G U I D E T O C L O U D C O M M U N I C AT I O N S 4
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