There are many reasons to use a cloud communication and collaboration solution. A high-quality solution can help keep your teams mobile, reduce communication costs and streamline your operations. However, a bad communications platform can severely slow down the workflow of your teams. So, before you make a long-term commitment to a vendor, let’s take an in-depth look at the four things to consider when choosing an enterprise cloud communications platform.
1. What features and services does it provide?
Checking out the features and services of a cloud communications platform is the first thing you should do if you plan on subscribing to one. Before sealing the deal, evaluate the needs of your company and see if what the provider is offering can fulfill those needs. For a cloud communications platform, here are the features and services that you'll want to look into in particular:
Unified communications consolidate multiple communication channels into one app. Some providers offer all-in-one apps that allow users to video chat, send messages and make calls without having to switch between different applications. Large enterprise organizations often need all channels to communicate seamlessly, so having them all in one place can really optimize workplace collaboration. However, not all cloud communication providers have a unified platform, so be sure to check if this is one of the solutions they offer.
Partnerships and integrations
Most enterprise organizations transitioning to new cloud communication platforms already have existing tools and systems that their employees are familiar with. But sometimes, cloud communication providers have their own preferred partners that offer those same services. You don't want your tools to be redundant—this will cause confusion and unnecessary costs in your organization. So before you commit to a vendor, look at the partnerships and integrations they offer, find out if these offers would serve you better in the long run or, alternatively, if you can integrate your own system with the new platform.
When checking a solution’s offers, it's equally important to check for its limitations. You'll want an enterprise solution that has a wide variety of offered features and the ability to support a large number of users. For example, if you need cloud telephony, check if they also offer conferencing, how many call minutes they can support for a given price, etc. If they offer a video platform, find out how many users it can support in one meeting, or if it has recording features, cloud storage and other useful tools.
2. What quality of service do they provide?
Large enterprises are composed of many moving parts, and a slowdown in one department can compromise productivity in several others. As such, any solution worth considering should offer the highest quality of service and reliability. In particular, you'll want to look at the following details before committing to a vendor:
A 99% uptime is pretty much expected from any reputable cloud communication platform provider. If you're concerned about their ability to deliver, look up testimonials from a provider's past or current clients to see if they have a history of poor or intermittent service.
Service interruption policies
In relation to uptime reliability, what you’ll want to look at are the provider's emergency policies. For example, do they have emergency calling services or disaster recovery options? Check your service-level agreement (SLA) with your provider and discuss their policies before finalizing.
What your provider's obligations are in terms of client support should be laid out in your SLA as well. Are they responsible for hardware and software installation? Will they handle routine hardware maintenance or are they limited to cloud service maintenance? You should also clarify what to expect when it comes to customer support such as how to contact them, average response time, and additional support fees (if there are any).
3. Financial performance
One of the greatest advantages of cloud communication platforms is the overall reduced expenses for communications technology. Of course, not all providers can offer great value for your money. When it comes to financial performance, it helps to look at two main factors:
Total cost of ownership (TCO)
Aside from the main cost, which is the fee for the cloud services, businesses must also consider the additional expenses that come with installing and maintaining the new cloud infrastructure. Acquisition of new hardware and software, periodic maintenance and upgrades, potential labor costs, or purchasing new tools and integrations - these all need to be considered as part of the total cost of ownership. Evaluate the financial state of your business to make sure that the solution you're considering is within your budget.
Return on investment (ROI)
Getting a rough estimate of a cloud communication platform’s return on investment can help you visualize the solution’s value to your company in the long run. While you’ll only be able to see the actual ROI performance of a solution once it’s been deployed, you can get a prospective look by trying out the following options:
- ROI performance analyses based on existing client base: Financial analysis reports that detail how a solution has impacted a business during its deployment can sometimes be found published either on the client or provider’s websites. You can also try searching for comprehensive financial and performance analyses on a specific provider in tech or business review sites.
- ROI calculator: Some providers have value or ROI calculators directly on their sites. It’s a good resource to try out because you’ll be able to get an estimate based on your particular revenue and resources rather than a generalized idea based on the industry standards.
The last thing to consider before you get a cloud communications platform is their security. Communication platforms handle a lot of sensitive information, including private conversations, confidential files, logins, etc. Find out what security measures they have in place to protect your data and privacy. For example, do they offer data encryption and multi-factor authentication? Are their physical data centers secure?
You may also want to confirm if your provider is compliant with industry regulations if your organization operates in industries like healthcare, financing, etc.
Ultimately, an enterprise cloud communication platform should serve to benefit and streamline your business. So evaluate the needs of your business before sealing the deal because only by doing so can you determine whether a solution can offer any value to you. Another critical tip before committing is to read the SLA of your provider carefully and identify any red flags pertaining to any of the four factors listed above.