With cloud-calling, small businesses can engage customers digitally – Craig Decker Q&A
🕒 4 min read
✏️ James Hayes
Craig Decker is Cisco's Managing Director of Cloud Unified Communications (EMEAR), joining the company when BroadSoft became part of Cisco in February 2018. To mark Craig’s recent one year anniversary at Cisco, we sat down with him to get his take on latest developments in unified communications (UC), cloud collaboration, and what it means for small businesses. Here’s what he had to say.
What drives Cisco customers’ awareness of collaboration through cloud-calling? How can it optimise communications with customers and partners, as well as improve team performance?
Craig: Cloud-calling has certainly been a core driving force behind cloud-based UC becoming the product of choice for small businesses. It marks a paradigmatic shift from the days when small businesses relied on hardware PBXs [Private Branch Exchange] for phone calling, to one where their voice requirement is channelled and managed via a service-based solution in the cloud.
When they migrated to cloud from those PBXs and became more cloud-based for their communications, an air gap opened between how small businesses were connecting their employees, and how they were connecting with their suppliers and partners. As they move further into a digitally-transformed era, businesses are now also concerned about disconnection from their customers.
How is that happening?
Well, for one thing, they’re not seeing their customers walk through the door so often, so they want to know how to conduct a meaningful digital relationship with them: how do they engage with them in the digital marketplace? So now it’s about extending UC benefits like cloud calling to all of their communications via cloud-based multichannel UC.
A single cloud-based platform that provides multiple channels, from cloud calling to conferencing with Webex?
Right. Communicating and collaborating with your customers with the same digital facility that they have been connecting their internal work teams. Cisco small business customers started out on the ‘digital workplace’ journey, yes, but a lot of small businesses have realised that what they now want is to have the same rich communication with their customers.
Can you suggest an example of how that plays-out for a typical Cisco small-business customer?
Cisco's small-business customers look at cloud as a way to scale-up their capability.
With cloud-based UC, it’s a lot easier to look a lot bigger. Back in the PBX days, you defined your business by your service-specific extension numbers – ‘Please press one for sales, press two for customer accounts, three for product information’, and so on. An auto-attendant capability made small businesses appear bigger – even of it was the same person at the end of the call handling all the enquiries!
But, back then, it worked. Now, cloud UC helps small businesses come across as larger organisations because of the broader and more complex types of interaction the solution enables them to enter into with customers. At the same time, they are able to leverage the benefits of a solution that scales to their expenditure requirements.
The old model came with escalating costs – capital, operational, maintenance, and so on.
Cloud UC allows them to have escalating functionality with very predictable costs – this is vitally important to the small business business model going forward.
Has that cloud migration proved daunting for Cisco’s small-business customers?
Actually, migration to cloud has been easier for them than for larger enterprises, because they are able to effectively make the transition from on-premise to cloud-based systems much quicker, in one jump – so don’t have to go through a time-consuming transitional stage.
Read the second part of our Craig Decker interview where he discusses how a different approach to unified communications can help with small-business agility.