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What Does "Cloud Communications" Mean, Anyway?


Enterprise businesses are too big to rely on copper-wire telephone service anymore, so they use the cloud as a platform for their voice systems. Cloud, however, seems to still be regarded as an amorphous term in 2016, so let’s provide some simplified definitions around key terms regarding cloud communications and clear the air. Before that, though, it’s important to realize why cloud has to be part of your expertise.

Why It’s Important to be the Cloud Communications Expert

Although voice evolves quickly and is repeatedly improved upon, it’s important to stay on top of its capabilities because businesses need cloud communications. The success of a business often depends on its ability to keep up with competitors, keep up with customer demands, and keep up with the best internal management practices possible. Cloud communications helps businesses stay flexible while meeting those needs.

The Cloud

Work that would normally done by onsite computer hardware, like data storage and computations, is instead performed using hardware offsite, and commands to perform that work are facilitated via the internet. In many cases, a business works with a cloud provider that actually owns the hardware being used off-site.

Voice Over IP (VoIP)

Instead of transmitting electrical signals on old telephone lines, VoIP phone systems transmit “packets” of audio data back and forth through the internet. Depending on the network you’re on, VoIP can provide a significantly clearer signal for the end user.

Cloud Communications

When a business uses cloud communications, they’re taking all of the responsibility of systems management - switching and provisioning, data storage (think voicemail), and so on - and outsourcing it to cloud providers. These providers grant users limited access to their infrastructure through online portals, where business administrators can easily provision new employees, change settings, and monitor line usage. Beyond that, the end users also can access features from their VoIP-connected phones like call forwarding, voicemail, and other features useful for business.

Unified Communications

In the same vein as cloud communications, but a step beyond. Unified communications provides an internet-accessible means of voice delivery and management, but adds in tools like instant messaging and email to give business users complete visibility into customer and team interactions.

Now with some idea of what the big infrastructure terms mean, let’s dive into some apps that are typically found in the most versatile cloud communications platforms:

Smart PBX

A digital version of old PBX hardware, the Smart PBX can be set up entirely through a portal by way of a beautiful and user-friendly interface. Instead of manually pulling and plugging in ethernet cables to different outlets to rearrange a business's user organization, all of that activity is performed online by matching the VoIP receiver to the appropriate network address. This provisioning can be performed remotely, as long as users have their MAC & IP addresses handy. Administrators can review their entire network afterward through a central dashboard with a view of the users and their corresponding devices.

Smart PBX is also packed with features; users can set up fax-to-email inboxes, call forwarding, and conference bridges through the interface. Administrators are also able to set and manage a built-in Virtual Receptionist that can handle inbound calls to a business's main phone number prior to routing calls out to individuals. Greetings and call routes can all be customized within the Virtual Receptionist to ensure customer experience matches company standards.

Callflow Editor

Mapping out how phone lines would interact with one another and establishing ring priority can be difficult, even through an online interface. The best cloud communications platforms will have visual editors for this activity, making setup and arrangement changes faster and easier to understand. There are no limits to the callflow an administrator can set up, either - the callflow process can match any business need and isn't limited by typical ring settings like sequential or simultaneous. If calls should jump from one end of the number list to the other and back, that process can be quickly put in place using the editor.

Account Manager

Cloud communications gives businesses the ability to scale at will, not only due to the unlimited capacity of the cloud, but because of the built-in tools that allow for fast setup and adaptation. In a central account manager, administrators will find a directory that lists every user, information about their current voice settings, and the ability to edit those settings. It also allows for central management of customer access credentials.

Some account manager apps can help administrators manage multiple accounts simultaneously due to its multi-tenant format. Each account can have up to 7 sub-levels nested beneath it, and those sub-accounts can be customized with full or limited permissions depending on customer needs. Since managing a population of users is an entirely different experience than actually using the system, the Account Manager allows administrators to enter "customer view," where they can tweak and tailor the system from their users' perspective to deliver the best end experience.

Number Manager

With direct inward dialing (DID) resources labeled and organized, things like call transfers are no longer a roadblock to efficiency, they’re a boon. Setting up a DID system is usually a complicated and lengthy process, but platforms with the Number Manager feature allow users to purchase a set of phone numbers, assign them to specific users, then reclaim and reassign them if a user is removed from the account. These numbers can also be set up in blocks for simplicity, with unused numbers being clearly marked as such for rapid assignment when the time is right. Existing numbers can also be incorporated onto the platform by way of a porting tool.

Are you equipped to deliver the best voice services to businesses that need it? To resell cloud-based voice for enterprise, you need to be armed with the knowledge and platforms tools that will best serve those businesses. Click here to contact us and make sure you’re prepared with a versatile call platform that will address your customers’ needs..

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Tagged: business