Hybrid Communications: What It Means for Your Business
To stay competitive in today’s fast-moving business environment, companies must be both agile and flexible. Although technology has made it easier to be nimble, selecting the best IT solutions isn’t always simple. When it comes to the cloud, for example, many organizations are still debating the best way to proceed.
Cloud deployments offer a number of benefits, but many mid-market and enterprise-sized businesses are still hesitant about just what data and capabilities should move online. The good news is they have an increasing number of options. For our part, in 2016 we believe more will consider using a hybrid approach to implementing their communications systems. In other words, they’ll combine onsite and cloud communications solutions in ways that address their unique business models and growth strategies.
Why? Because hybrid communications combines the best of two delivery methods: the resiliency, control and availability of onsite phone systems with the immediacy, ease and flexibility of cloud communications.
Hybrid solutions give businesses greater flexibility and scalability at a lower cost. For example, when Ronald McDonald House New York needed a reliable, cost-effective telephone system for internal communications, fundraising and event planning, it chose a ShoreTel on-premises PBX combined with ShoreTel Fax and Scribe applications served from the cloud – a common hybrid deployment. The nonprofit gained an easy-to-use software interface and affordable cloud-based functionality that was billed by user on a monthly basis and therefore, easier to manage.
Another type of hybrid communications deployment is where a company may choose to put the call control itself into the cloud in order to manage remote offices where there is no local IT staff. ShoreTel Connect HYBRID enables cloud-based sites to be mixed with onsite deployments at larger or headquarters offices all from a common platform with a common dial plan, directory and four-digit extensions. That common platform means that the same features are available whether served from the cloud or onsite, the same intuitive interface is available to employees whether they are remote or in the office, and companies can determine the pace at which they will move some or all of their communications to the cloud.
4 Ways Hybrid Communications Benefit Your Business
1. Faster Deployment. A HYBRID Sites deployment enables organization to gain access to productivity apps that are less expensive, easier to update and deploy when they are in the cloud. For example, the Ronald McDonald House New York was able to begin using the Fax and Scribe hybrid applications, which enabled online faxing and voicemail to email transcriptions by simply inserting a token for specific individuals who were to receive the cloud apps into the ShoreTel solution as part of the management suite for their on-premises ShoreTel equipment. The entire process was completed in less than five minutes and eliminated the need to purchase and install additional hardware. The applications were managed on a month-by-month subscription basis. Users were able to access the apps immediately.
2. Flexibility. Not only can organizations add and remove services quickly, but with a hybrid solution they also gain financial flexibility. Businesses can choose what to manage as CapEx and OpEx expenses, those functions they wish to control themselves as a hardware license amortized and depreciated over time, and those they choose to outsource to the data center which are managed and updated for them as a monthly expense.
3. Scalability. Hybrid solutions enable businesses to scale as needed, adding new users without the cumbersome process and considerable expense of adding switches. For instance, a group may need mobility or you may have a retail or construction business where the number of workers may change due to seasonal demands. A cloud and onsite combination offers the scalability you need, where and when you need it while you control costs.
4. Productivity. With hybrid communications, businesses create workflow efficiency by deploying cloud services while maintaining local control. When Ronald McDonald House New York launched its ShoreTel Scribe and Fax, its employees began saving time responding to messages, thus increasing productivity.
“We have used the ShoreTel Scribe service, which has helped employees receive transcribed voice messages directly on their phones,” said Natalie Greaves, Ronald McDonald House New York’s director of communications. “They can now respond to a voicemail without having to dial in or disrupt a meeting.”
While businesses that embrace hybrid communications from the cloud are likely to see gains in productivity, agility and flexibility, they may also find themselves at the cutting edge of the cloud revolution. Some may decide there will always be good business reasons for maintaining a long-term mixed onsite and cloud hybrid communications environment rather than porting over every function to an all-cloud deployment.
“Hybrid cloud is slated to be the ultimate end-state for the enterprise as it provides maximum benefits for minimal costs and can be integrated with current cloud environments used by businesses,” writes Margaret Franco in the UK tech website, ITProPortal. “In fact, nearly half of IT decision makers in the UK already believe that this is the optimal solution for their enterprise, and this is partly down to how it fits with the current mind-set of businesses.”
For businesses with a competitive mindset, adopting a hybrid communications strategy might be one of the smartest moves to make in 2016.