How Cloud UC Can Increase Profits for Small Businesses
Cloud computing has been an important and growing trend for fifteen years. But one important cloud service that some small and medium businesses (SMB) still overlook is cloud-based Unified Communications (UC).
Yet studies show that a good hosted UC system not only helps improve connections, it can have a direct impact on an SMB’s bottom line.
With the introduction of cell phones, followed by smartphones, the modern workforce has become more distributed and mobile than ever before. According to a recent article in Forbes, 43 percent of small business owners use a smartphone as the primary device to run their operations. The problem is that they don’t always connect. With a good UC system, “Always-on” communications does not have to mean “as long as you’re in the office.”
Ninety percent of American adults now own a cell phone. A Pew Internet study reveals that 63% of them use their phones to go online, 81% to send text messages 60% to access the internet, 52% to send email, and 21% to participate in video calls or video chats. Further, 41% of cell phone users have used their devices to coordinate a meeting or get-together in the previous 30 days. Plus, over 3 million American employees work primarily from their homes – not including the self-employed.
One big issue is to make sure individual smartphones can be integrated into the company UC system. With that, every employee can turn a personal smartphone into a business phone that can join in on company audio or video conferences, send instant messages, and send and receive corporate email. Importantly, this can all be done by routing calls through the company phone system, so the employees don’t have to use their personal phone number for business calls.
A good hosted UC system is also integrated with core business applications, including CRM, ERP and ATS, providing valuable information about marketing expenses, customer behavior, and employee performance. Employees can also make phone calls from a computer, website or application program, all with a single click.
All that can boost revenues. It helps with training and coaching and makes salespeople more productive. Collecting customer information alone can increase revenues by 10% to 15%, according to Harvard Business Review.
It’s no wonder that Forbes also predicts that 78% of U.S. small businesses will have fully adopted cloud computing by 2020, more than doubling the current number of 37% today.
With hosted UC services, a business can receive the communication technology it needs, but without having to install or maintain it. The system can be kept secure with advanced encryption technology and automatically updated when new advances are made or new features are needed. And it can be cheaper than you think. Another Forbes article estimates that a multi-location business with 55 employees would have to spend $60,000 to install traditional on-site hardware for communications, while cloud-based UC would cost less than $10,000.
And that in itself is a good boost to the bottom line.