Business cloud services make it possible for your employees to get more done, wherever they are.

Business cloud services make it possible for your employees to get more done wherever they are.

Think business cloud services are only for big companies? Not so fast. The cloud can offer flexibility and speed that helps small businesses provide a higher level of service and response for their customers, too.

Want to take an impromptu ski vacation this weekend? Has your top sales associate been looking for plane tickets to an exotic island? Maybe another employee has a child with the flu and has no backup child care. However, there are major client deals in the works or big projects on the table that need to be attended to. As much as you want to accommodate both your employees and yourself, you just can’t afford to have people out of touch right now.

Instead of everyone being chained to their desks, you and your employees can have the best of both worlds. The cloud provides your team access to all the tools needed to stay in touch with colleagues and customers no matter where you choose to work.

Here are three ways that business cloud services can help you and your employees work from anywhere:

  1. Talk or text with customers using a business identity.

    You’re sitting on the beach with your favorite book when your biggest customer calls. You want them to think you’re sitting at your desk instead of warming your toes in the sand. With business cloud services, you can forward your calls to whatever device is in hand while ensuring that your customer sees the same business profile that’s displayed when you’re in the office — and hopefully the customer will believe that the sound of crashing waves is just your cubicle mate’s white-noise machine.

  2. Access a familiar desktop.

    You’re sitting in the ski lodge when a team member needs you to look at a document. Instead of having to fumble around to find what you need, you can log on to your virtual desktop on your tablet or whatever device you choose — even a computer in the hotel business center — and see exactly the same desktop as back in the office. You now have the tools needed to do your job in between ski runs.

  3. Use company tools or data.

    It used to be that your tools were installed on your hard drive, making it challenging to do your job from anywhere else. However, with cloud computing, your company can install all tools to the cloud, allowing any employee to access them with a simple login. Whether they are waiting for the cable company to come or sneaking in some work while their sick child naps, employees will no longer have to skip over any items on their to-do lists because they can’t access the necessary software.

It’s hard to balance work and personal life, but cloud communication makes it much easier to ensure that you get the relaxation you need, or the time to take care of your family, while still providing top-quality service to your customers.

Whether your team members are at home, on the road, or in the office, the cloud can provide the flexibility they need. Contact Vonage Business to learn how.

About Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a technology freelance writer specializing in B2B and telecommunications topics. She has written for national brands including IBM, Samsung, ADTRAN, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Verizon, Costco and American Express. One of her superpowers is being able to translate technical speak from the experts that make products work into language everyone else can understand. Jennifer has a master’s degree in technical communication and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

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Two men and a woman using a tablet.

Cloud integration will make your IT infrastructure flexible and future-proof.

When someone mentions cloud integration, it conjures up different images in the minds of different people. Some might instantly think of massive environment retooling and the nightmares that come with it. Others may have a more optimistic outlook as they dream of turnkey virtual environments with near-limitless scalability. The truth lies somewhere in between.

The Best of Both Worlds

Establishing a comprehensive cloud integration strategy is more important than some would think. The reason for this is quite simple: The cloud is the future, and in many ways, the present — at least in terms of IT. You probably don’t need to be evangelized to believe in the benefits of a cloud infrastructure. In fact, even the most cloud-averse likely dabble in some form of cloud technology without even knowing it.

Due to the scalability, low hardware investment, and robust nature of cloud infrastructure, companies are searching for ways to assimilate cloud technologies in greater numbers than ever before. A recent MarketWatch integration report helps paint a picture of just how important this integration is to modern business.

According to the detailed report — 129 pages if you’re looking for your next novel — system integration is expected to balloon into a $387 billion market by 2021, up from the $270 billion market it is today. Digging a little deeper, the study discovered that integration with the cloud specifically would have the highest compound annual growth rate over that same period.

Coincidence? Not likely. Instead, this impressive growth is fueled by the need for modern business to find a truly flexible infrastructure that can accommodate the deluge of modern technological innovation.

Riding the Wave of Cloud Integration

This predicted surge in cloud integration over the coming years begs the question: How exactly does one marry cloud services with traditional infrastructure? The key is to take things one step at a time. The following are some tips for taking full advantage of your integration without getting in over your head:

  • Stay in Scope: As you begin to shift focus from a traditional communications system (the present) to cloud-based systems (the future), be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. The end goal is an infrastructure that will more easily adapt to the ebb and flow of IT technology, not to overhaul existing systems that already work.
  • Start Small: It’s a good idea to shoot for some manageable, low-hanging fruit for your first integration. Things such as office communication and collaboration are often good test beds for cloud integration. As you continue to add each of these building blocks of cloud services, be sure to keep the goal of agility and flexibility in mind. If a block doesn’t directly contribute to your goal, it should raise a red flag.
  • Practice Smart Spending: Another equally important gem of wisdom to keep in mind is the concept of manageability. With so many aspects of cloud infrastructure available today, you’ll need to resist the urge to splurge, so to speak. Settle on a single vendor or platform as you begin to marry traditional infrastructure with cloud services. This will prevent the need to manage an unnecessary amount of disparate services while also protecting you from wasted resources in service overlap.

Ultimately, people don’t (and shouldn’t) look to cloud services as the be-all and end-all of an IT strategy. Instead, cloud technology is simply a means to an end, with that end being an effectively flexible and robust environment capable of assimilating to the future of IT while maintaining the past.

If you envision your ideal IT strategy as flexible and robust, contact a Vonage Business representative to get started.

Typing on a laptop, next to a smartphone and business phone.

The office of the future will still need human brains, no matter how prevalent IT trends in artificial intelligence become.

It’s happened — robots are taking over the world. According to MIT Technology Review, recent studies of IT trends suggest that 45 percent of American occupations will be automated within the next 20 years. It’s no surprise, then, that many IT pros are caught in the throes of Isaac Asimov’s “Frankenstein Complex” — the belief that as robots become increasingly sophisticated, they will eventually make humans obsolete. Recent advancements in both automation and artificial intelligence (AI) seem to suggest this isn’t so far-fetched, so how do companies light a fire to foil the Frankenstein Complex?

Pink Slip Paranoia

A century ago, John Maynard Keynes described current IT trends in two words: Technological unemployment. In other words, it’s the replacement of multiskilled laborers with machines designed to perform a specific set of tasks. According to MarketWatch, the “de-skilling” of many professionals may lead to a world that sees workers simply trying to make a living rather than prosper as autonomous robots take on more and more corporate responsibility.

This is already happening in many factories, with semi-intelligent machines performing particularly dangerous, monotonous, or detail-oriented jobs. From a business perspective, there’s some solid logic here: workers enjoy reduced risk, tasks are completed with fewer errors, and total revenues go up. The next step? Kicking IT pros to the curb. As technological advancements produce “thinking” machines capable of referencing historical and current data to make quick decisions, the need for human expertise will dwindle. Already, IT pros are adapting to the presence of big data software systems, intelligent security monitoring tools, and devices capable of extremely accurate voice recognition and response.

Think about the role of a front-line IT admin. If robotics companies can produce a bot capable of monitoring network performance, predicting user issues, and resolving IT tickets autonomously — all without the need for a salary or benefits — what happens to the hardworking IT pro who earns a six-figure salary? Even if staff members stay on after the robot revolution, no one wants their boss to be a cold, unfeeling machine (any more than the existing human counterpart, at any rate). Plus, it’s not quite as much fun to spite the boss with the occasional under-the-breath expression of subordinate fury if all you’ll get back is a polite, robotic reply should the snark be overheard. Automated managers just aren’t any fun.

The New Market

Fortunately, the reality doesn’t favor Frankenstein. Here’s why:

  • Substitution vs. Complementation: As noted by The Wall Street Journal, one reason the rise of robot workers hasn’t killed the labor force — and never will — is the balance between substitution and complementation. Substitution occurs when a technological process completely eliminates the need for a human worker. Good examples here include attaching car doors, inputting rows of data, or monitoring network traffic. However, most jobs encompass more than a single function, and many require human oversight to make key decisions at critical points. In the majority of cases, technology complements the position rather than replaces it outright. Consider the rise of cloud infrastructure. While offsite hardware and support lessens the burden on IT pros, it doesn’t replace the need for human oversight when it comes to purchasing decisions, implementation timelines, or access requirements.
  • The Social Safety Net: It’s also worth noting that there are some positions robots are uniquely unsuited to fill, specifically those that revolve around sociability and creativity. While it’s possible to mimic the bare-bones processes of social interaction or creation, the randomness and subtlety required make machines a hard sell here. Meanwhile, for IT pros, this means tech skills alone may not be enough to guarantee future employment.
  • Mind the AI Gap: Hollywood informs the ideal of AI with machines that walk, talk, and think like human beings. In reality, this isn’t cost-effective. Instead, companies are investing time and money to develop project-specific AI that excels at certain tasks or when bounded by specific parameters. This type of broad-spectrum Lt. Cmdr. Data- or Terminator-type AI is often used as a scare tactic and is nothing more than sci-fi fantasy.

All Hail the Robot Executive?

Not quite yet. New IT trends mean that robots are great at menial, repetitive tasks and are starting to excel at more complex thinking challenges. However, a combination of complementation, a lack of programmable social skills, and the AI gap means IT pros aren’t in danger of pink slips anytime soon, and they’re better served making friends with rather than fighting with Frankenstein’s monster.

Want to know more about how to empower IT? Talk to a Vonage enterprise specialist today.

About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies.

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