How Cloud Telephony  Has Evolved Over the Years

by August 5, 2016 0 comments

Cloud telephony has been around for over half a decade in India and the market has accepted it in a much better fashion than what was originally anticipated

– Shivakumar Ganesan, CEO & Co-Founder, Exotel

Circa 2010, “Cloud Telephony” was an alien term. The most common response at the mention of cloud telephony was “Oh, is it like cloud computing?” Invariably, it had to be followed up with an animated 5 min explanation of the what, how and where of cloud telephony. So, in order to take the most easy way out, one figured an alternate explanation – “it’s like an IVR system.”

This was the answer that almost everyone understood immediately. Simply because, the only “technology” associated with phone calls was IVR. Press 1 to talk to sales, 2 to talk to support kind of thing, you know. After all, who hasn’t called a telco or a bank.

This is also because cloud telephony was thought of primarily as a “Cloud PBX” system — something that would replace an EPABX box in the office. Since the business requirements were simple, there was no reason to think beyond the simple “call center” usecase.

Phase 1: The Cloud Call Centre

A call center for support was the most common usecase for cloud telephony. No surprises there. Phone calls are the most popular medium for customer support in India. For a new business the requirements while setting up a phone support channel are very simple.

Shivakumar Ganesan

Shivakumar Ganesan

  1. No missing calls
  2. Anyone should be able to sign up and start making calls on the go
  3. Track calls to ensure that the customer conversations were of an acceptable standard
  4. Something that was cost efficient

Startups, unsurprisingly, were the early adopters of this technology. Cloud telephony, in addition to being tech friendly, was also pocket friendly and was an ideal solution for startups to use.

Simplistic needs, simplistic setup — job done.

This was stereotype of customers that adopted cloud telephony in the early days.

Phase 2: Support Evolving Business Models

With time, the services that these startups offered moved beyond the four walls of the office. Now, with a click of a button, you could hail a cab, get a plumber to fix your taps, order a meal, buy books, buy some clothes, electronics and even groceries.

When the services offered by these startups moved outside the offices, so did the customer conversations.

These startups now needed to connect people who were on the move. Their only means of communication was a simple mobile phone. When connecting people became the business model, it was important for these businesses to have more control on the conversation that was carried on by the people involved.

The requirements became a little more complicated

  1. Connect people who were on the move
  2. Track and analyze conversations that were happening on these mobile phones
  3. Improve efficiency of customer conversations
  4. Integrate with other tools – CRM, Helpdesk etc.

Since traditional systems couldn’t even begin to fathom these challenges, cloud was the way to go. In fact, as “uberisation” of businesses happened, tracking voice communication, to a large extent, became a sure shot way for dispute-free monetization of businesses.

When the phone calls moved to the cloud, it no more had to be a standalone way of communication. It could integrate with all the other systems that a business was using to provide a seamless customer experience.

Phase 3: Supporting innovation

If you look at people using cloud telephony in the most innovative way, it’s interesting to note that they’re at the two ends of the spectrum. We have one set of people who are pushing the boundaries of cloud telephony by using it with cutting-edge technology. Think, Internet of Things (IoT).

The easiest way to “talk” to your devices and to build a great user experience is through cloud telephony. Using calls and SMS can reduce the number of touch points you need to make something work. At the same time, these calls and SMSes can also be tracked and measured to innovate consistently.

While IoT is at one end of the spectrum of innovation, cloud telephony can also be used as a “carrier” medium. Calls and SMS are the easiest way to reach out to people to a vast sect of people who are untouched by any other type of technology. Publishing houses can use a simple phone call to deliver a story to a child. This child doesn’t have access to books or to parents who have the luxury of taking the time out to read a story to this child. A phone call like this is almost able to replace a grandma’s tale. (only almost).

Something that started out as a simple technology to empower businesses and power customer communication has come a long way. Technology is only as powerful as what it is used for. Cloud telephony, with its innovative and powerful adoptions, has evolved far beyond its expectations. We are now in the phase three of the growth story and with the rise of IoT, we are definitely going to see new dimensions of the beast be unleashed.

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