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Top 3 Challenges Growing Businesses Face and How the Cloud Can Help

By Ken Shulman, CIO and CTO, Broadview Networks

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Ken Shulman, CIO and CTO, Broadview Networks

 Whether a small-or-medium sized business or a large enterprise,   growth presents a host of challenges that necessitate proactive   planning. While companies experience growth in various   capacities, CIOs and CTOs must take the scaling ability of their   business-enabling technology into consideration when catering to expanding   company needs.

“Cloud computing and UCaaS solutions  particularly shine in addressing the needs for resiliency and business continuity”

 Servicing an increasing headcount, ensuring IT resiliency while adding   back-office and network capacity, and avoiding a ballooning IT budget, are key   factors to consider when reevaluating technology structure to accommodate   growth. What are seemingly simple and mundane challenges to address, are   actually interconnected and must be examined holistically when developing a   comprehensive, functional solution to business growth.

 Handling Growth in Headcount 

 Managing physical growth and employee headcount can be challenging without   the right technological support. When applying traditional approaches to IT,   hiring new employees can trigger a substantial increase in direct infrastructure   complexity and investment, whereas an effective use o f   new cloud technology alternatives can make   scaling quick, easy, and cost efficient.

In a traditional IT environment, adding   workers can trigger multiple direct   investment requirements, such as:

1) Private Branch Exchange (PBX)   expansion to add more phones to   a capacity limited phone system   which can result in the need for   full scale “fork-lift” upgrades (i.e.,PBX replacement) costing several   thousands of dollars if the ultimate   capacity of the existing PBX is reached .

 2) Additional office or cubicle space  to accommodate the new employees   which can result in the need to rent   more space

 3) Purchase of additional desktop   equipment, including phones,   PCs, software, switching, routing   and wiring, which can easily cost   thousands of dollars per new  employee          On the other hand, cloud   technology alternatives can offer   significant opportunity to avoid   many, if not all, of these challenges   to employee growth. In particular:

 1) Unified Communications as a   Service (UCaaS) solutions, which   are cloud-based alternatives to the   traditional premise-based PBX,   offer virtually unlimited phone   system scalability, supporting   both expansion and contraction as   needed generally with no limits on   the number of employees served   and limited or no up-front capital   investment by the business

 2) UCaaS solutions, with remote   worker and shared “hot-desking”  technologies, provide companieswith the option of sharing office   space among employees or flexible   work locations while providing all the   functionality and benefits of in-office  phone systems, thus avoiding the need   and cost of adding new office space .

 3) By leveraging cloudbased   virtual desktop technology,  PC softphones, shared “hot-desked”  office space and optional desk phone   equipment rental, companies can   reduce or avoid the high cost of   desktop equipment purchases to enable   new employees. Cloud computing and   UCaaS technologies can also enable   Bring Your Own Device (BYOD),   allowing new employees to use their  own smart phones and/or laptops to   work with company technology, a   particularly powerful approach to   hiring millennials.

  Maintaining Resiliency while Adding Back-Office and Network Capacity

  Beyond additional staff, growing   businesses must also manage customer   growth and may need to reevaluate the   approach to customer service. Beyond   adding storage capacity, growthoriented   businesses may also need to add   processing power and compute power   to ensure employees, both existing and   new, are experiencing adequate back   office systems performance, while   customers are receiving the products   and customer service they need to run   their own businesses.   Among other things, CIOs may   need to expand server hardware,   including storage, CPU capacity, and   network ports, to serve the additional   back-office load, as well as expand   the company datacenters to house the   additional server and storage hardware   while also maintaining proper cooling   and power requirements. Furthermore   they need to add PBX trunk capacity   to handle the growth in voice traffic,   as well as add inter-location data   network capacity to handle more   traffic and expand internet access   bandwidth. 

 Alternatively, cloud computing   and UCaaS solutions can substantially   reduce these needs and simplify the   CIO’s challenges by: 

 1) Eliminating the need for companypurchased   server, storage or CPUcapacity.
 2) Eliminating the need for company   owned datacenter expansion.
 3) Eliminating the need for PBX   trunking by eliminating the PBX and   its support contracts.
4) Simplifying the data networking  requirements. 
5) Providing a pathway to eliminating  existing company datacenters entirely.

 Once core resource requirements have been addressed, businesses must   invest in disaster recovery, resiliency,   back-up storage and overall network   support to ensure business continuity   during a time of disaster or disruption.  Investing in a resilient technology   infrastructure ultimately allows   businesses minimal downtime through   continued access to the network,   communication among staff, and a  back-up strategy for potentially lost or   corrupted files. Cloud computing and   UCaaS solutions particularly shine in   addressing the needs for resiliency   and business continuity.

  Budget Management

 Beyond managing headcount and  network capabilities, growth oriented   businesses must also consider the   financial investment needed to ensure  continued growth from a point of   fiscal responsibility.

 Cloud technology is exceptionally   easy and cost-effective to install   considering it only requires internet   connectivity and installation which is   a one-time expense. Once the cloudbased   infrastructure is put in place, IT   support is minimally required and is   often provided at no or low additional   cost by the provider, allowing the   budget that would be dedicated to   hiring an IT director to be invested   elsewhere. In addition, company   leadership and management generally   has access to a user-friendly and   intuitive central dashboard where   changes can easily be made.

 Growth is a shared objective of all   businesses. But with growth comes   many challenges, particularly for the   CIO, or those sitting in the shoes of the  CIO whether by choice or necessity.   In today’s technology-heavy business   world, the platform choices made   can have a disproportionate impact   on the costs, complexity, flexibility and sustainability of business growth,  both now and in the future. Cloud   computing and UCaaS offer substantial   benefits over traditional IT solutions,  dramatically improving the scalability   and cost efficiency of a business,   whether for phone services, desktop   equipment, space requirements,   back-office systems, or business  continuity.   

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