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Why it’s time to call on the cloud

How to enable effective communication and collaboration as the business world evolves

A cartoon phone handset surrounded by the outline of a cloud

Ensuring everyone can communicate effectively, wherever they are, has never been more crucial than in 2020. From a shift to long-term flexible ways of working to the increasing importance of delivering a premium customer experience, the world of business is changing, and maintaining effective communication and collaboration alongside that is vital.

To keep up, organizations must ensure they have the right tools to support these changes. It's not just about supporting internal collaboration – communication with everyone connected to your organization should be smooth and effective, including customers, clients and stakeholders.

This is where cloud services can come into their own. The cloud offers flexibility and agility in a way that's difficult to replicate with onsite infrastructure. Cloud communications solutions, such as Microsoft Teams, have seen rapid growth during the pandemic, but they are currently mainly used for internal collaboration. Most businesses deploy Microsoft Teams internally to use chat, file sharing and video conferencing across their organization. What many don’t know is that Teams can also be used as a full enterprise telephony solution. Users can make and receive external phone calls from Teams on any compatible internet-connected device, from anywhere in the world. By adding cloud telephony to Teams, organizations can ensure effortless communication both internally and externally.

Boosting employee collaboration

Almost every business has been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. For those with the option to do so, remote working has become the norm this year. Many organizations are planning to continue this model or a combination of onsite and offsite working long after the current crisis.

This means organizations will no longer be able to make do with short-term set-ups or solutions to remote working challenges, especially when it comes to ensuring all staff can communicate and collaborate effectively. Organizations will need to evaluate their business operations and learn from hindsight what has and hasn’t worked to find real long-term solutions to support new ways of working.

Cloud collaboration tools have been a crucial support for businesses during these difficult times, and one of the shining stars of the last year has been Microsoft Teams. The collaboration platform has been a hit largely because of its flexibility and ability to bring almost everything you need for a day’s work – file sharing, video conference calls, group conversations and individual chats – into one easy-to-manage application.

Making the most of cloud telephony

Many companies are making good use of cloud collaboration platforms for internal communications, but what about customers and clients? For those companies using Microsoft Teams as their main collaboration tool, there is an easy solution to boosting customer communications. Teams can also be used as a cloud-based telephony solution. This allows employees to make or receive telephone calls using Teams on any compatible internet-connected device, anywhere in the world.

Not only does cloud telephony make communication smoother and easier, but it can also save businesses time, space and money by eliminating the need for on-premises Private Branch Exchange (PBX) equipment, which can be complex to manage, outdated and expensive. Organizations generally have a PBX at each building so, for organizations that regularly open new offices and close down others, a cloud telephony solution offers far more flexibility than on-premises solutions. And in a world where an increasing number of employees work remotely, or move between offices, it doesn’t make sense to tether their business number to a physical location. Teams telephony offers more freedom both in terms of location and device.

While Microsoft has Calling Plans, which offer a quick and easy way for smaller companies to connect to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) network, but larger organizations typically use a third-party managed service provider for connectivity. This approach, called ‘Direct Routing’, offers greater flexibility, wider geographic coverage, lower rates and increased levels of support. Cloud communications provider LoopUp uses ‘Direct Routing’ to connect Teams users to their global voice network.

Rolling out cloud telephony across large enterprises can be a complex process because telephony is business-critical and organizations need to migrate from a disparate mix of legacy solutions. Using a managed service provider, with deep expertise in Microsoft voice solutions and the global reach to support a multinational organization, typically means the transition can happen faster, with less risk, and with a lower resource requirement on the IT team.

Whatever your industry or business offering, keeping up good lines of communication – both internally and externally – is crucial to success. With the right tools in place, you can ensure you remain competitive and at the top of your game.

To learn more, read LoopUp’s whitepaper “Adding cloud telephony to Microsoft Teams”

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