VoIP vs SIP: Which Communication Solution is Right for Your Business?
What Cloud-Native Platforms Can Do for Your Business
The future of business communications has arrived in the form of cloud-native platforms. So what exactly does “cloud native” mean, which companies offer cloud-native solutions, and how can all of this benefit your company?
What is a Cloud-Native Platform?
The terms cloud-native platform or Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) refer to platforms developed specially for cloud applications that are not reliant on any physical resource or infrastructure. Cloud-native platforms offer easy scale-out and hardware decoupling, allowing them to stay online at all times and providing their operators with greater agility and maintainability of applications. They are especially helpful for small businesses looking to expand their VoIP services.
Vonage Business is a leader in the communications industry and recently launched what it claims will be the next generation of cloud-native platforms. A pioneer in cloud-native platforms, Vonage Business uses unified communications and communications APIs to enable faster innovation and global expansion.
With a cloud-native platform, businesses can integrate any number of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, such as G Suite, Salesforce, and Microsoft Office 365 into one interface, and can make these tools available to an infinite number of employees in an infinite number of locations.
Best Cloud-Native Platforms
Vonage: Seamless Integration
Vonage launched its new cloud-native platform, Vonage Business Cloud, in early 2018. Vonage Business Cloud is designed to cater to the needs of mid-market businesses, enable them to enjoy unlimited customer growth, and give them the ability to scale on-demand to address unforeseen traffic spikes. It integrates with numerous SaaS applications including Salesforce, G Suite, Zoho CRM, Clio, Connectwise, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle NetSuite, Bullhorn, Zendesk, and JobDiva.
It also offers a number of its own applications, including SpamShield, which automatically detects and warns users of phone spam, and Business Inbox to send and receive text messages from a main company number via a virtual receptionist.
RingCentral: Simple Collaboration
RingCentral Office for Enterprise enables mid-market and large businesses to integrate phone, video, meeting, and messaging in one reliable interface. This cloud-native platform integrates with Outlook, Oracle, Zendesk, Salesforce, Okta, and Google’s SaaS applications. One of the benefits to using RingCentral is that it packs a lot of applications into its basic package.
These include a virtual receptionist, hold music, message alerts, away messaging, directories, call trees, forwarding to mobile and mobile integration, call groups, call escalation, call queues, fax integration, conference call bridging, SMS, call logs, video conferencing, and recording.
8x8: Contact Center Solution
In March 2018, 8x8 announced a new version of its Virtual Contact Center (VCC), a cloud-native management solution designed for businesses of any size. It provides value by helping smaller sales and help desk teams, and has a range of monitoring capabilities for high-touch interactions.
With a powerful multimedia timeline interface, managers can listen to voice recordings or watch screen captures, and create an easy-to-use scoring form builder to help keep sales agents consistent. There are also a host of CRM integrations and customer journey analytics to review for website optimization.
How Cloud-Native Platforms Help Businesses in Different Industries
Prompt, responsive customer service is the one thing all retailers need, no matter what industry they operate in. Cloud-native platforms offer the ability to integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) tools like Salesforce, ZenDesk, Zoho CRM, and Microsoft Dynamics.
Whether you need outbound or inbound call capabilities, have call centers in multiple locations that you wish to integrate onto one platform, or want to offer your customers the option of initiating live chat from a social media account—cloud-native platforms can do all these things and more.
Cloud-native solutions will become increasingly important to law firms as they move away from face-to-face contact and toward virtual communications. Cloud-native platforms can integrate any number of useful functions. For example, with a virtual receptionist, firms can direct callers to the correct extension, can customize the on-hold music, and can even apply different rules for different times of the day or week—such as call redirection during office hours and an automated message after hours. Clio, MyCase, and Zola are among the practice-management software tools that can be integrated into cloud-native platforms.
The cloud offers healthcare organizations the chance to continue providing patients with high levels of support while also cutting overhead costs. Cloud-native platforms offer countless useful functions to help hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, nursing homes, and other health organizations improve. For example, they can be used to remind patients of appointments by SMS, email, and other communications channels.
They offer the chance to tap into new technologies such as “geofencing,” in which patients or customers receive an SMS or call when they are in a specific geographic location, such as a hospital or nursing home. And they are also useful for caregivers who are constantly on the go, as they can be used to transfer calls from office to smartphone or to access documents via smartphone.
Logistics and delivery companies are incredibly reliant on tools that enable them to operate from any location, making cloud-native platforms a necessity. Through the cloud, employees of logistics companies can collaborate from multiple locations via web, video, or audio conferencing. They can sync their phones to all the company’s business applications to ensure they receive all communication in real-time.
And some PaaS providers, such as Vonage, offer protection against call drop-out, with a special function that reroutes calls to a backup phone number in the event that the connection drops on the first device.
The British government and various branches of the United States government have recognized the power of going cloud native. The British government created the G-Cloud, comprising an online store that allows public sector bodies to purchase products and services straight from the cloud. In the U.S., the new cloud.gov portal offers a quick way for federal agencies to host and update websites, APIs, and other applications.
Each agency is responsible for its own code, but the cloud.gov platform (which runs on top of infrastructure provided by Amazon Web Services) handles the security and maintenance of everything underneath.
Cloud-native solutions enable realtors to get out into the field without worrying about missing a call or being left without a document just when they need one. If they have a chance to close a deal right after a property viewing, they can grab the right documents straight from their phone with SaaS tools like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.
If someone calls the office, they can have the call sync to their smartphone. And if they can’t take an important call because they’re with an important client, they can have the call transcribed and messaged straight to their phone.
The more a financial services firm knows about its customers, the more easily it can tailor solutions to its customers’ needs. With a cloud-native platform, banks and financial services firms can let their employees automatically document their calls, view real-time information about recent interactions with a customer, and even pull in real-time intelligence on that customer.
These days customers expect their banks to constantly offer new applications, and the only way for a bank to keep up with this demand is through a cloud-native platform. According to a recent survey by global business consultancy Capegemini, 84% of banks that have deployed cloud-native applications say their revenues have increased as a result, 88% say it has improved their business agility, and 87% say it has enabled them to improve the customer experience.
American Airlines and Qantas are just 2 of the international airlines that have recognized the power of the cloud, with American migrating many of its functions to the IBM Cloud and Qantas forming a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Prior to migration, Qantas had more than 2,500 applications and 3 data centers and suffered from low levels of automation and regular platform outages. Together with AWS, it devised a strategy to develop and deploy more than one thousand cloud-native applications and to train employees in how to use the platform.
Any marketing or consumer-facing company can improve their customer experience with cloud-native applications. For example, the cloud can be used to deliver a personalized user experience across brands and channels, including features such as delivering coupons directly to customers’ phones. The key here is speed: according to Capegemini, 73% of consumer-facing companies said that since going cloud native, it takes them less than 14 days to develop and deploy new web applications that improve their business.
A cloud-native platform allows users to launch and manage applications without the traditional hurdles of building and maintaining office infrastructure. It offers easy scale-out and hardware decoupling, allowing them to stay online at all times and providing their operators with greater agility and maintainability of applications. These platforms also easily integrate with Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, and can make these tools available to an infinite number of employees in an infinite number of locations.