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Cloud Communications Adoption Rising


By Hyoun Park

Cloud is quickly gaining importance for enterprise communications from multiple perspectives. In the benchmark report “Business Optimization through Integrated Communications: In the SoMoClo (Social, Mobile, Cloud) Era,” Aberdeen found that 20 percent of respondents considered a cloud-based implementation of communications, typically from a hosted or virtual private cloud, to be strategic to their organization. This percentage skyrocketed to 33 percent for respondents that had integrated mobility into their organizations.

Respondents typically are not pursuing a full rip-and-replace approach from a legacy system to a fully converged social, mobile and cloud-based communications environment. Rather, they start by incorporating mobility at the edge of interaction, and then use the cloud to provide both scalability and greater parity of services for remote employees. Because of this, mobility adoption tends to be a strong indicator for a companys willingness and ability to consider cloud-based solutions.

In comparison, 22 percent of respondents seek to embed communications within enterprise applications, which increasingly are becoming cloud-enabled. As cloud becomes both the processing hardware for communications and a key source of information, integrated communications platforms must have a roadmap for becoming more cloud-enabled. To understand which cloud-based applications were affecting the communications environment to the greatest extend, Aberdeen also asked these organizations about the adoption of cloud or software as a service (SaaS) solutions for a number of different technologies associated with integrated communications.

Core communications technologies, such as voice, email, voice mail, presence and fax, were adopted by less than 20 percent of respondents. However, web conferencing, social media and content management technologies in the cloud were more likely to be utilized and potentially could be a point of entry to provide cloud-based communications solutions to the business. Most cloud-based technologies evaluated for this study exhibit adoption rates consistent with early adopters, but Aberdeen found that services such as content management, virtual meetings and social technologies have crossed the chasm into general market adoption.

It is not a coincidence that technologies adopted most often tend to be considered line-of-business applications that are often purchased outside of the traditional IT procurement process. Aberdeen found that only 20 percent of cloud-based communications technologies initially were purchased by the IT managers; more than half were initiated by line-of-business departments. These purchases often occurred either as trials or departmental purchases to meet a specific need. However, these technologies required IT support and interaction to crossover from niche usage into the enterprise at large.

To optimize enterprise communications on an ongoing basis, Aberdeen recommends the ongoing use of cloud on an as-needed basis to host, support or supplement the  communications environment. There are many different levels of adoption associated with communications technologies based on ease of implementation, perceived need or defined business value.

Applications ranging from secure file transfer to contact center platforms to email now are available as cloud-based augmentations available for corporate usage. Depending on the end-user organization’s perspective, cloud may represent an opportunity for improved business continuity, a cheap way to try out new integration, or a scalable resource for peak seasonal traffic.

Regardless of the organizations perspective, there are two key aspects that the channel must consider to successfully deploy cloud communications.

  • First is the realization that the majority of these technologies are being introduced to the business through non-IT channels. Learn to speak the language of business in introducing these technologies to line-of-business buyers rather than simply providing technical capabilities.
  • Second, understand that IT cannot abdicate its role in supporting the business. If this technology is scalable and secure, run an appropriate Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) or Return on Investment (ROI) analysis to see how cloud technologies compare to current solutions. If it is not scalable and secure, find an option that is more appropriate.

Hyoun Park is lead analyst in collaboration and integrated communications for

Aberdeen Group

. Over the past four years, Park has surveyed the best practices of more than 2,500 organizations seeking to optimize their collaborative environments. Prior to Aberdeen, Park managed telecom environments at Bose Corp. and Teradyne and was responsible for billing and training operations at multiple CLEC organizations.


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Download the Channel Partners Digital Issue, “Evaluating Cloud Communications.”


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