The tools, including cloud telephony, SaaS, video calls, etc. have been existent for a while, but businesses were still slow in adoption and COVID-19 pushed everyone to the edge

The compulsive scale-up of cloud telephony application in times of COVID-19 pandemic

There is great regard for Cloud telephony as, today, it is the smartest tech way to manage business calls without compromising on quality and cost. Software developers bet on its simplicity just for its ability to provide a full phone-system functionality over an internet connection. And with the COVID-19 pandemic changing work dynamics of the world, cloud telephony served as a timely boon for contact centers to maintain business continuity while working remotely from home locations.

Work from home brought in several serendipitous digital transformative changes. “While these changes were happening, the customer care industry was the one that changed cloud telephony too. While so many companies were relying on hard call centers with big infrastructure, the pandemic changed all that. Companies are now focusing on keeping their employees home while making the workflow same as before and that is where cloud telephony enabled the continuity,” comments Ramesh C Sarv, Founder & Director of Sarv.com, a company that has the right expertise in cloud telephony.

Companies are now focusing on keeping their employees home while making the workflow same as before and that is where cloud telephony enabled the continuity

“This change was natural but the surprising thing was the size of this change. No one expected how big this is going to be. Every business wanted to survive this pandemic period while keeping everyone safe. So cloud telephony was one of the solutions that they adapted in this period,” Sarv projects in the most realistic way.

The tools, including cloud telephony, SaaS, video calls, etc. have been existent for a while, but businesses were still slow in adoption and COVID-19 pushed everyone to the edge

Giving a similar take to it, Ankit Jain, CEO, MyOperator, VoiceTree Technologies, says, “Most of the changes in businesses we relate COVID-19 to have just been accelerated by it, as pre-existing offline processes got hindered. The tools, including cloud telephony, SaaS, video calls, etc. have been existent for a while, but businesses were still slow in adoption and COVID-19 pushed everyone to the edge of no other option but to adopt. We have been telling our clients for years that hardware systems are not flexible enough, and through cloud telephony, you can manage your business calls from anywhere in the world and scale up and down on the go. Cloud is more relevant now than ever.”

We have been telling our clients for years that hardware systems are not flexible enough, and through cloud telephony, you can manage your business calls from anywhere in the world and scale up and down on the go.

Covid’s big push to cloud telephony

It is a known fact that cloud telephony systems have been around for a long time to align customer interactions with customer support and business operations. But, the onset of the pandemic caused by Coronavirus gave the technology an accelerated need for its uses. COVID-19 created several new normal practices, transforming the digital world completely. Not sparing cloud telephony applications, the accelerated adoption to cope with work from home was the need of the hour.

Ozonetel was committed to ensuring that its clients’ workforce could operate out of their homes whenever, wherever possible, in a way, that keeps the customer experience seamlessly going.

Leading cloud communications service provider Ozonetel’s sales teams witnessed a 30% increase in demand for cloud telephony as a direct result of COVID-19. The company’s inbound leads had increased by 15% as well. Ozonetel was committed to ensuring that its clients’ workforce could operate out of their homes whenever, wherever possible, in a way, that keeps the customer experience seamlessly going. This definitely eased the pressure on businesses to call staff to their offices and it directly cut down the risk of employees contracting the virus during office hours or while commuting to work.

Chaitanya Chokkareddy, CIO, Ozonetel, says COVID-19 has had a definite impact on cloud telephony. “While cloud telephony usage was already on the rise, the pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated adoption. Already, cloud telephony was the preferred choice due to its low setup costs and promise of high agility. Even enterprise players who already had on-premise, legacy systems knew that they had to switch to the cloud in order to keep up with technology’s latest offerings. What the current crisis did, however, was to really shake these businesses into acting now.

I can say with pride that our company was very well placed during the crisis. Ozonetel was able to help all existing clients switch to work-from-home, and also the company signed on new customers and ensured on-time deliveries for all. Besides this, our call center solution ensured business continuity for many essential services such as medicine and grocery supplies. Most importantly we have played a key role in promoting essential telemedicine services. Along with Project StepOne, we created helpline services in Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttarakhand to connect callers with medical professionals. These callers could consult on COVID-19 symptoms, as well as for mental health counseling. Apart from this Ozonetel has also offered free cloud PBX service for individual medical practitioners who wish to teleconsult their patients,” says Chokkareddy.

MyOperator’s Ankit Jain also owes the acceleration of cloud telephony adoption to Covid-19. He says, “The tools, including cloud telephony, SaaS, video calls, etc. have been existent for a while, but businesses were still slow in adoption and Covid-19 pushed everyone to the edge of no other option but to adopt. We have been telling our clients for years that hardware systems are not flexible enough, and through cloud telephony, you can manage your business calls from anywhere in the world and scale up and down on the go. Cloud is more relevant now than ever.”

Sarv, in fact, saw many businesses cut off their customer care division as a cost-cutting way during the initial Covid-19 lockdown days.

Sarv is in the opinion that call centers and other business process service companies could not give up on customer care services. The COVID-19 lockdown was the time when customers had numerous queries to be resolved. Working out of home, cloud telephony integration in the customer care services could be done from anywhere with just internet connection as a requisite. Sarv, in fact, saw many businesses cut off their customer care division as a cost-cutting way during the initial Covid-19 lockdown days. He says that should not have been the right move as ultimately the customers, who are the main assets for an organization, will be the end sufferers and that in turn will affect the business outcome and revenues. Cloud telephony, by virtue of being a cloud-based solution, requires just a laptop/desktop, internet, mobile to work. Simple setup, productive performances & safety. All come in one single package.

Ankit Jain, substantiating his support for cloud telephony, further says, “MyOperator has over 6000 SMBs using our cloud telephony systems and we are onboarding 300 new every month. Businesses who have been using MyOperator for some time have found it easier to move to work from home, as the process of handling calls was the same. They could see their sales and service team’s performance and gaps without any lag. They could track the ups and downs of the businesses by analyzing calls. We are happy that cloud telephony helped businesses continue their customer communication even during the crisis. Also, cloud telephony is powering a number of helpline services during this time of crisis.”

Kicking out traditional PBX systems

According to Sarv, ISDN and PBX have now become old parts of the telecom industry. “Both of them belong to the era when we were highly dependent on hardware. But as we brought software evolution in our technology the hardware systems have lost steam. Indian telecom operators found the fast and less bulky counterparts of ISDN in cloud applications. It is just like how 3G was replaced by 4G/5G and in the next 5 years, we will see ISDN phasing out all,” believes Sarv.

The tools, including cloud telephony, SaaS, video calls, etc. have been existent for a while, but businesses were still slow in adoption and COVID-19 pushed everyone to the edge

Maintenance of those old hardware communication systems like PBX is another aspect that has urged communication service providers to evolve and adopt cloud-based applications. SMBs/SMEs having limited business budgets are now the largest consumers of this technology observes Sarv.

Chokkareddy too has made similar observations in cloud telephony adoption. He says, “I would place India on par with the developed countries including the US on cloud telephony adoption. Ozonetel is the first company to launch a pure cloud contact center in India. And since then adoption has been pretty high. It started with startups and SMEs and now enterprises have also adopted the cloud. More than the telecom operators, the businesses have phased out ISDN and PBX.

Ankit Jain observes that there is an increased inclination of enterprises towards call data analytics that is pushing the boundaries of cloud telephony. Jain observes that earlier, enterprises preferred the traditional PBX system over hosted PBX. The reason for this was their capability to make a one-time heavy investment and their fear of data security. Now, with the advancement in technology and more awareness, enterprises are sure that their data will be perfectly secure even on cloud. They are aware that they can get a full-fledged call management system in very less investment as compared to what they incurred on traditional PBX.

Cloud telephony on an uphill ride

The biggest advantage of cloud telephony is that customers can reach companies using any channel they prefer – be it voice, chat, mail, social media or more, and companies too, get a real-time picture of customer-agent interactions.

Factors that are attracting enterprises more is the availability of call data analytics and enhanced customer experience with cloud telephony. With this year seeing demand for the technology, because of COVID, the coming year will note more demand from enterprises as the taste of this technology’s prowess would have been felt.

Factors that are attracting enterprises more is the availability of call data analytics and enhanced customer experience with cloud telephony.

Citing a research analysis, Ankit Jain indicates that the 2020 edition of Private Equity report by Bain & Company suggests that the Indian SaaS market will grow at 50% annually to cover $20 billion in 2022, up from $6 billion in 2019. Jain predicts that this number would be further be skewed towards cloud telephony as it was already seeing better adoption in India and is addressing the fundamental communication needs of businesses of all sizes.

The cloud telephony in India is certainly about to witness a great shift driving the adoption. For a lot of early movers SMBs and enterprises, this is already the way they communicate with their customers. And soon this will become a basic unsaid standard among businesses. The kind of jump Indian market has seen in mobile adoption, a similar trend would follow in cloud telephony among businesses, mapping India as a new leader in cloud telephony adoption.

Department of Telecommunications in India is already doing a lot of progressive policymaking initiatives. The SaaS players are expecting some cloud telephony focused policies designed to drive innovation in this burgeoning sector. The companies active in this field are hoping that DoT will make provisions in the policy to bring innovation and also relax entry protocols and adoption so that more startups can join the innovation bandwagon.

(Anusha Ashwin – x-anushaa@cybermedia.co.in)

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