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Does Cloud Communications Make Business Sense Post-COVID?

Now that many companies are making plans to return workers to the office, the question is, does it still make sense to invest in cloud-based communications solutions? Is a cloud-first communications model a smart business move? Let’s look at the role cloud communications are likely to play in our post-COVID business world.

The Impact of COVID on the Cloud Market

The overall impact of COVID on cloud usage was huge. For 2019, the estimated size of the global cloud market was $233 billion. In 2021, it’s predicted to hit $295 billion – which translates to a 12.5 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over this two-year period. A lot of this increase is due to companies adopting software as a service (SaaS) solutions to help them with business continuity during the pandemic.

Cloud Communications Was at the Core of This Business Technology Shift

Once the pandemic hit, remote work skyrocketed because employers needed to get their employees out of the office to meet social distancing requirements. Before the health authorities announced the crisis, only 17 percent of U.S. employees worked remotely for five days or more. During the pandemic, this number jumped to 44 percent.

This necessary adaption turned out to be a worldwide test of resilience for companies of all sizes. Business leaders had to figure out a way to keep operations flowing smoothly and to support productivity, all while quickly switching to a work-from-wherever model. For many companies, the solution was to rely on cloud-based communications solutions instead of on-premises systems.

Some already had cloud-based tools in place. Others lived up to the challenge by turning to cloud solutions such as VoIP phones and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) for the first time.

What About Now?

2021 isn’t turning out to be a return to normal or a clean break from the pandemic. What it is becoming is a year of transition colored by emerging trends that will likely set the foundation for the new normal in business.

Here’s a look at some of those trends and what role cloud communications will play as a result:

Resilience is a business priority

Business leaders are focused on building resilience in 2021. The pandemic really drove home one key point for all of us – change is constant, so if you want to thrive, you have to be ready to adapt.

Prioritizing resilience is nothing new. It’s just now we’ve all learned first-hand what happens if you drag your feet on taking steps toward this ideal. For example, organizations already using cloud-based communications pre-COVID had an easier time shifting to remote work during the pandemic. Those who hadn’t adopted cloud tools had to pivot fast, find the right cloud providers, and teach their employees how to work with new software.

To be more resilient, companies will accelerate digital transformation and focus more on cloud-based technology. Cloud communications solutions will be at the heart of this movement. They are critical for connecting teams, and the best solutions can easily integrate with leading cloud business applications such as Office 365, Oracle, and Slack.

Hybrid work models are expected to persist

Working from home was popular with both employees and employers during the pandemic, and there are plenty of indicators pointing to remote and hybrid work being a core part of the post-COVID world.

According to a recent survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 83 percent of employers say the shift to remote work has been a success for their company. Also, over three-quarters of office workers said they want to continue working from home post-COVID.

Business leaders are looking at remote flexibility as a way to empower their teams. Aaron Spiegel, Director of Information Technology at Center for Congregations, says, “Going back to a pre-pandemic ‘normal’ is a fantasy. Enabling tech staff to work remotely and facilitating news ways for them to interact with non-tech is my No.1 priority.”

While there will be a return to the office, that doesn’t mean businesses have to say goodbye to all the positives of allowing employees to work from wherever – more flexibility and employee autonomy, reduced costs, a boost to workplace satisfaction, and consistent productivity.

The solution is hybrid work models that balance remote and in-office work. In a hybrid business world, organizations will take a work-from-wherever approach by empowering employees to work effectively from any location. The only way to do this is with cloud-based communications solutions. Cloud communications allow teams to connect, collaborate, and get work done, no matter where they are located.

Demand for user-friendly, cost-effective tools is on the rise

Demand is up for cost-effective cloud solutions that enable businesses to deliver better customer experiences. Also, because SaaS solutions are generally subscription-based, even small-budget businesses can access state-of-the-art software with the cloud.

During the pandemic, many businesses experienced the cost-efficiency and sheer practicality of cloud-based tools for the first time. Easy onboarding that requires zero downtime, reduced IT costs, near-flawless reliability, user-friendliness – why go back to expensive on-premises software that requires a large time, resource, and hardware investment to operate when you’ve experienced the benefits of the cloud?

Cloud Communications in the Post-COVID Business World

The pandemic was an era that saw more cloud adoption and many businesses relying solely on cloud-based communications technology to run day-to-day operations. Post-COVID, we’re going to see more work-from-wherever organizations. The concept of using a fully on-premises workforce and on-premises technology will no longer make sense now that so many businesses have started using cloud communications, and with so many providers offering highly competitive products to meet demand.

What’s coming is a more flexible, resilient, efficient, and empowered work model that relies on cloud communications. Discover the tools that could enable your business to thrive in the new business normal at Intermedia: Intermedia Unite, Contact Center, and AnyMeeting.

About Kirsten Barta

Kirsten Barta is Program Manager of Digital Content and Strategy at Intermedia