When considering cloud telephony for public sector applications, there are a number of factors to weigh up. While this technology is increasingly popular and applicable for most public organisations, there are some challenges in the move. Today, we’ll look at the drivers behind the switch, the benefits it offers, issues that might arise, how to pick the right partner and more in this 10-minute read.
The state of play
The pandemic jump-started the adoption of a lot of IT and telephony advancements. It was necessary to help municipalities and services keep up with the changing landscape. Many public sector bodies proved how well they can deploy and apply these new technologies and be strategic about investing taxpayer funds to help communities adapt to the new normal. And that same sentiment is echoed across borders and oceans too. The main factors impacting a move to advanced technology are:
Budgets are tighter than ever before with many operations making do with less following two years of increased government spending on medical innovations and infrastructure. Finding and implementing IT and telephony services that will reduce overheads is a critical concern for most public sector organisations now.
According to the BBC that something unexpected is happening now. Even with Covid restrictions mostly lifted and the pandemic waning in many countries, the resignation letters are still piling up. Despite widespread predictions of a slowdown, data shows not only are people still leaving positions in spades, but many workers who haven’t resigned yet plan to do so in coming months. So, organisations are planning to have to do more with fewer employees.
A knock-on effect of the last two years sees increasing numbers of team members working hybrid or remotely. Many organisations may have switched to seasonal patterns to flex their teams around peak demand. As such, IT and telephony must easily adapt to the new ways of working.
Lastly, there is an expectation that every system in place will benefit from and enable high levels of customer service – both from the supplier and the product. Cloud telephony and high-speed WiFi providers need to be available on-demand. Plus, their services need to support instant and reliable customer/user communication that meets, and indeed exceeds expectations.
One place these advancements are being made is with cloud telephony.
Growth in cloud telephony
You can see many examples of this growth across all sectors, including the public sector. As LoopUp reports that the UK government has signed a new three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Microsoft. Running until April 2024, the MOU with the tech giant is aimed squarely at empowering the adoption of new technologies; supporting the management of hybrid working and advancing the transition from legacy IT to cloud solutions. The NHS recently announced their digital-first plans too.
In general, the market is expected to more than double within the next ten years. Mission Critical reports that the global cloud telephony services industry is poised to expand 2.5 times from 2022-2032, expected to reach a market value of $51.5 billion, according to a study published by Fact.MR. The market is expected to yield absolute dollar growth worth $30.8 billion. As of 2022, demand for cloud telephony services is forecast to accrue $20.7 billion. Growth is attributed to a shift toward more efficient telecommunications technologies. So, it’s a good idea to start scoping out the benefits of this technology for your organisation. Ideally, you’ll want to be at the forefront of the wave to embed the core benefits more rapidly.
Core benefits of cloud telephony
Across all operations – public or private – introducing cloud telephony has some distinct benefits.
It’s not just about protecting from hackers anymore. While you want top encryption, look for soft security benefits too. You should value a comprehensive set of administrative controls across video, message and phone at your fingertips, such as requiring your meeting attendees to authenticate, limiting who can enable screen sharing, and requiring waiting rooms for your users to approve attendees who can join.
Most employees will not return to the office. And many organisations beefed up their ranks over the last two years and may need the flexibility to downsize as demand shifts. Public sector operations are offering more digital services than ever before. Cloud telephony for public sector applications allows you to scale up and down as you need to. You can maintain the same policies for remote workers and still offer all the great digital programmes that citizens love.
IP telephony saves you money. With cost reductions always a challenge facing public sector organisations IP telephony should be a key consideration. With no need for expensive hardware, and the ability to scale on demand it’s easy to have visibility of expenditure. Billing will often be as one service rather than multiple resources and with one point of contact.” And that makes the whole provision just that much easier.
Any system that you launch needs to be easy to use. Interestingly, frustration with existing poor technology is often a large driver of dissatisfaction and resignations. Your telephony partner will help you select the easiest implementation for your infrastructure. And they should help you onboard your teams to give them the smoothest transition into cloud telephony possible.
Challenges in the public sector
There are a few challenges you’ll need to overcome to deploy cloud telephony for public sector use. First, you’ll need to decide between hard phones or soft phones. Hard phones are probably what your team is used to – a physical handset. But you can cut more costs by eliminating handsets altogether and dialling through a PC interface or app instead. Then, you’ll need to understand how many domestic, international and mobile calls your teams are making. This is because the call costs are usually packaged in. So, run the numbers on your historical data to make sure the costs wash.
Next, you’ll need to choose the right tech and line. There are a lot of options from EFM (Ethernet First Mile) to FTTP (Fibre to the Premises); the latter being the fastest. When you move to the cloud, you’ll need a quick and reliable internet connection. This is because telephony data will now be passing through as part of your bandwidth usage. Following that, make sure you understand how and what support your provider offers. If you don’t have hard phones, you’ll not need a callout service. But you’ll still want to know how to get help should you need it. Lastly, ensure you’re charged on a per-extension basis. This will let you estimate costs per line, connect even remote employees seamlessly and ensure you’re only ever paying for what you’re using.
Key considerations in choosing a partner
When choosing a partner for cloud telephony in the public sector, start with your needs. Can they offer a service that meets your requirements? Will they do the proper scoping and analysis to determine the cost savings to your organisation with the deployment? And are they sure your internet connectivity is up to the task? There is a range of VoIP providers out there, so make sure your expert partner has evaluated their strengths against your business case. Also, look at their track record and case studies for prior public sector deployments. How have they made efficiencies in similar organisations? Can you speak to references directly? Lastly, what support can they offer you to deploy, train and troubleshoot the cloud telephony system? Make sure you won’t be left on your own to onboard your teams.
There are two main procurement routes with FourNet for cloud telephony for public sector use:
Designed for government cloud computing adoption, this 2012 framework is supported by a Digital Marketplace. Here, you can start a search, export a list of suppliers, vet them, award contracts and then upload your Customer Benefits Record. The Digital Marketplace is a great tool for public sector organisations to find a range of suppliers for digital transformation projects.
Everything ITC for Education
Everything ICT is a fully compliant procurement framework for the Public Sector.
It is a DfE-Approved Frameworks for Schools.
Although it was originally created for Education, it can be used by any Public Sector organisation. It has become popular with areas such as Health because of the ease of use, the wide range of trusted suppliers, and compliance with procurement regulations.
If you’d like to discuss your transition from traditional to cloud telephony for public sector organisations, our team is standing by to help you begin your procurement journey.