Since I was a kid, I have enjoyed medical-related TV shows starting with Emergency. In the 1980s, I would sit with my mom to watch St. Elsewhere. ER came along and its progeny are flourishing today.

A common trope in these shows is a situation where a patient has a brain tumor. The drama comes from the decision of whether and how to remove the tumor. Removal could give the patient a new lease on life. It could also kill them. I imagine some IT leaders feel the same way about extricating their organization from a premises-based PBX solution. Technology advances and new risks combined with an uncertain economy are making the removal an imperative.

So why then isn’t cloud communications adoption at 100 percent right now if, unlike Marvel Comics’ Thanos, adoption is inevitable? Jon Marley, director, technical solutions at Simplify, Inc., a Texas-based telecommunications solutions provider, says the main reason is that “they don’t know how.” Bringing in a cloud solution is relatively easy, compared to getting out from under a premises-based PBX solution.

Marley and his team provide high-end consulting services around communications and contact centers for large enterprise customers. He says that his company still works with several clients that use premises-based communications, but over the last six months, the need to quickly enable a mobile workforce has put cloud communications for workers and contact center agents on the top of many corporate IT agendas. “We have been spending a lot of time helping clients unwind their legacy solutions to support remote work and help them transition to cloud.” He says that collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and 8x8 Work are also getting organizations past that cloud tipping point.

Indeed, IT asset management firm Snow Software polled 250 IT leaders from around the world (as reported in Computer Weekly) and found that “82% of respondents said they had ramped up their use of cloud in direct response to the pandemic and the shift to remote working patterns this had ushered in, with 60% saying their use of off-premise technologies had continued to grow since then.”

There isn’t any doubt that the past six months have made a lot of organizations reevaluate their cloud strategies for business applications, data backup as well as for communications and collaboration.

There isn’t any doubt that the past six months have made a lot of organizations reevaluate their cloud strategies for business applications, data backup as well as for communications and collaboration. Naturally, they want to be prepared to adapt to new competitive and environmental threats. To me, it is kind of like rebalancing your investment portfolio where you have a mix of fixed and liquid assets. Liquidity lets you be more nimble which is one reason why so many companies want to shift costs from CapEx to OpEx. The cloud was made for agility and resilience.

In an article about cloud communications adoption, Katherine Finnell, site editor for, writes that “Many organizations are considering cloud-based UC after their on-premises communications infrastructure failed to adequately support remote workers during the pandemic.”

That matches what we hear from prospective customers. On the flip side, we have customers that early on implemented 8x8 Work and have told us it enabled them to prevent layoffs and furloughs throughout the pandemic so far. Lots of cloud communications tools are fairly mature. They work well but are just now getting the high profile visibility because of the pandemic. Potentially saving your business is a good inducement to at least evaluate cloud communications. The good news is that we are seeing the last of the holdouts start asking good questions.

Helping Clients Make the Switch

As part of helping clients advise their senior management about cloud return on investment (ROI) and benefits, Marley reminds them to consider the expenses that go away when you use cloud communications. “While clients are excited about ending expensive maintenance and upgrade fees, we help them understand how the cloud gives them new capabilities and fewer dependencies on telco carriers,” Marley said. He also explained how the cloud offers users better economies of scale that can distribute OpEx more evenly and reduce or eliminate duplicative costs. He believes that Simplify’s clients have moved beyond trying to understand ROI and benefits of cloud communications and now just want to know, “How can we make the move?”

In a TechTarget column, Jon Arnold, a cloud communications expert, says about making the cloud business case: “UC [unified communications] is an integrated approach that affects everyone in the organization, and that's quite different from buying point products, like phone systems. Consequently, IT decision-makers must view UC as more than a transactional purchase. UC's productivity value is just one consideration; the business case must also reflect IT's understanding of how UC will affect various stakeholders, including top management and end-users across the organization. In the same column, he shares his tips for building cloud communications business cases.

Calculating ROI is Still Important

Even though cloud computing benefits are overwhelming, getting C-suite signoff is likely going to require ROI numbers. Marley notes that ROI calculations can be tricky especially if you are trying to compare cloud communications with a premises-based solution. There are lots of variables. Anecdotally, 8x8 has seen lots of examples where customers start realizing positive ROI in three months or less. Every case is different. We offer a ROI calculator to help customers generate ROI information. Using this data in your vendor conversations is a great way to communicate your requirements and SLA expectations. For more ROI information, check out chapter 4 of our Operate-From-Anywhere eBook.

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