We take a rather complex term and break it down into its feature components using the example of the Virtual Office.
As we mentioned in an earlier post, the term “cloud computing” is tough to define neatly. So let’s use the example of how cloud computing has allowed for the “Virtual Office.”
Cloud computing, at its core, is the ability for someone to take a service like a business phone system and “rent” its usage to a wide variety of customers. Because it’s cheaper and more resource-efficient for a single vendor to offer services this way, it means that end-users have to pay far less than they would for traditional, non-cloud-based services of a similar nature.
RingCentral Office is a perfect example. Let’s say a 20-employee company is growing and wants to expand in a new location and add satellite offices where employees will work from home.
Traditionally, this would mean that this company has to:
- Order a new punch-key PBX (phone system) from a traditional hardware vendor who would charge about $1,000 per phone/desk.
- Call the local telecommunications company to install a T1 line which contains 24 working phone lines. While the cost of this T1 could range from $300 to $700 per month, the real pain is the installation time.
- After the hardware has been configured and installed, the same vendor that sold the phone system offers training to the company employees (for additional training fees).
- After the phone system is bought, the T1 lines from the phone company have been installed and the employees trained on the new phone system, then it’s time for the remote offices and on-the-road sales staff to “integrate” into the new office phone system. And how do they do that? By learning how to forward phone calls on their new office desk phones, of course!
- Any new moves, adds or changes (known as MACs) to the phone system often require that the vendor who initially sold the phone system come out (referred to in the industry as “the white van”) and make the changes to the phone system itself.
If this company subscribed to a Business Phone System that runs in the cloud, the benefits are compelling:
- Since the hardware and software that controls a business-class phone system is now delivered over the internet as a service, this company gets fully configured VoIP phones delivered without having to buy anything else. The only thing left to do is connect the phones to the internet.
- Since the VoIP phones also have a web interface that controls the phone and call-flow, no training is required. It’s very easy to master a VoIP phone. One can even take an interactive demo to see just how easy it is.
- These business phone systems can be added to smartphones, as well. Remote office workers and road warriors can now truly “integrate” with their office desk phones. Apps like RingCentral for iPhone can be downloaded and set to show the business’ caller ID, even from a personal phone.
Now that’s a simple example of how cloud computing is allowing the virtual office to be “virtual.” Because with cloud computing for business phones, every phone – whether it’s in a firm’s headquarters or a smartphone – is part of the same system.
The revolution has begun!
Originally published Mar 01, 2010, updated Aug 12, 2020