Why international teams should keep their heads in the cloud
Chris Martin, CTO of Powwownow and co-founder of the Smarter Working Initiative examines the business benefits of the cloud for international teams, and the opportunities the cloud offers for wholesale telecoms businesses.
The last decade has seen the number of international teams grow exponentially, with faster, more reliable connectivity and a plethora of new communication tools making it easier than ever for employees to work productively across multiple time zones.
Possibly the most important new technology enterprise has seen in this period is the advent of software-as-a-service; enabling agile, remote working and providing the necessary security for personal and sensitive data. According to research house Gartner, by 2020 a corporate ‘no cloud’ policy’ will be as rare as a ‘no internet policy’ is today. However, with the threat of sophisticated cyber-attacks growing and new GDPR regulations coming into play, there is a concern that cloud technology will not be up to the task required of it.
As a long-standing supporter of harnessing technology to enable people to be smarter, not harder workers, cloud technology is an essential part of productive business’ toolkits. While it’s true that with any technology there are security risks and the need for proper training, these are surmountable and the overall benefits of enabling the cloud far outweigh the negatives.
Shared access regardless of borders
One of the biggest obstacles for international teams is being spread across multiple time zones and locations. This can mean that important documents are lost on email, communication breaks down and half the team is asleep when crucial, time sensitive decisions need to be made; ultimately causing projects to be unproductive and inefficient. Through harnessing cloud-enabled technologies, all members of the team have access to the data, programs and essential information needed to complete tasks from any web-enabled device at any time, in any location.
With the ability to update documents in real-time while colleagues based on another continent do the same, essential collaboration is supported and encouraged, highlighting that cloud technology is a fundamental part of a unified communications strategy for businesses. Whether working in the main office, at home or working remotely from a supplier or client’s base, cloud technology enables shared access of data which is essential for keeping teams moving forwards and helping them stay on track when there are multiple moving parts of a project around the globe. The mobile workers of today rely on 4G networks and VoLTE to stay connected from anywhere.
Beyond global team working, the advent of Internet of Things (IoT) devices relies on seamless global connectivity and distributed cloud-based processing. Already, utilities, manufacturing, agriculture and retail businesses are experimenting and rolling out IoT devices across their enterprises to improve efficiencies of business operations. Internationally dispersed devices with sensor data processing in the cloud is akin to the global team-working discussed above.
Driving innovation and cost efficiencies across enterprise
In todays’ rapidly moving landscape, businesses have the opportunity to utilise cloud services to bring new products and offerings to market without the large investment, set-up and maintenance cost in capital equipment. The nature of cloud services being a pay-as-you-go model also helps to decrease the time to market while allowing businesses to experiment with new products that can scale to meet increased demand or be de-commissioned and be replaced with new offerings.
As international businesses are subject to varying different taxes and overheads depending on the territories they operate in, having a tech infrastructure at reduced cost as well as driving efficiencies is crucial for being able to invest much-needed capital back into the business.
Increasing security around personal and sensitive data
With the number of cyber-attacks on servers and companies increasing on what seems to be a weekly basis, and the new GDPR laws coming into effect, business leaders are rightly concerned with how to protect both customer and internal data. One of the major benefits of cloud technology is the responsibility and strict adherence by service providers to high-level security protocols for data protection. Data encryption, key management, security intelligence and robust access control measures are mandatory for cloud providers along with regular security audits both online and of the physical data centres.
What opportunities does this create for wholesale telecoms providers?
The wholesale telecoms business is transforming into one that provides connectivity way beyond the traditional telephone calls. The current OTT apps (Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat) rely on IP networks with VoLTE and VoIP and represent new opportunities for telecoms businesses. Investment in extending VoLTE services and peering globally enables traditional carriers to extend their current portfolio.
The current generation of cloud based personal web conferencing products extending into UCaaS provide wholesale telecoms businesses the opportunity to facilitate international team working by offering these cloud based communications solutions to businesses and generate new per-user/per-month revenue streams.
Finally, the mass roll-out of IoT devices will demand global connectivity and additionally cloud services for the set-up, management and control of remote systems. The security of IoT messaging and cloud processing will create opportunities for telecoms businesses to work together and establish secure peer “clouds” that devices connect into.
Enabling smarter, agile working
In today’s economy, the most successful companies are the ones who can innovate and scale the quickest and most efficiently. Harnessing “the cloud” to provide global connectivity and processing capability results in a low IT infrastructure cost and the ability to scale at the speed of the company. The cloud makes it simpler for companies, regardless of location or time zone to be agile and the most productive they can be. Today’s wholesale telecoms providers need to work at speed to transform their business to be part of this.