Cloud and telecom technology (unified communications) are the driving force behind the way in which SME’s are restructuring their business processes to help them save money, improve productivity and the efficiencies of their workforce to cope better in the current economic downturn. The latest statistics and trends reveal the impact this has had over the last couple of years and will continue to do so as convergence mobile technology, VoIP telecoms and cloud software begin to dominate the market place.
For a start, there has been a upsurge in the number of flexible workers so much so that it has taken on a whole new dimension with telecommuting, telepresence, telework, e-commuting, e-work, working from home (WFH) or working at home (WAH) the list goes on.
Businesses are able to support this flexible working as IT Departments are now outsourcing technology, i.e. hosted storage and ‘online work environments’ are replacing the antiquated in-house network systems and traditional back-up systems, now teams or workers can share and store files/documents online allowing them to work from anywhere. Cloud computing software supports many platforms other than Mac and PC’s. So many people are working and accessing information from new tablet techology or mobile devices and Wifi hotspots, coffee shops, bars and cafes are just a few places that enable this to happen on-the-go.
Enterprise Nation and BT released their annual Home Business report showing a 16% rise in the number of Britons choosing to setup businesses at home. The number of UK home workers now stands at 2.5 million. The cloud-based technology has now opened up so much opportunity to the small business owner by providing big business tools that they could only dream of affording in the past.
SME’s are continually looking at cutting call costs and many have abandoned using traditional landline suppliers such as BT in favour of VoIP systems and as a result have also benefited from additional functionality i.e. voicemail in email, easy call diversion, call recording, conference calls, video conference calls and SMS via keyboard.
Many Managers are embracing VoIP technology in helping them to track their in-house or remote telesales teams. They can monitor and improve productivity through real-time call activity logs and click2call functionality as well as quality control through call recording analysis.
The future is likely to be the age of virtual businesses. Start-ups and small businesses are likely to be predominantly home based hiring virtual offices on an adhoc basis. Established organisations will be run predominately by flexible workers. The outcome – more freedom for workers perhaps – surely a happier prospect for all?