Cloud technologies changing the way you work
The cloud has transformed our working lives. You no longer have to be in the same building as a colleague to collaborate, nor do you have to be chained to your computer to get things done. But the changes we have seen over the past few years are just the start. Cloud communication is constantly improving. Here, we look at three emerging technologies that will once again improve the way we work.
1. Improved mobile integration
You don’t have to be Nostradamus to realise that the future is mobile. People want to use their mobiles to do their job and expect it to integrate effortlessly as if they were sitting at their desk.
Voice over long term evolution networks (VoLTE) allow voice to be transmitted over an IP network. In the past, voice calls and data have been communicated over separate, dedicated channels. VoLTE allows voice and data to move over the LTE band.
Soon all LTE connections, both voice and data, will be IP-based. This will improve the quality of calls and reduce call costs, as voice calls will be made over the internet rather than connecting through cell towers. It will also allow business calls to be made on a mobile and seamlessly transfers calls between a mobile and office phone.
The next logical step is also coming; intelligent reachability. This will allow employees to be reached on any device (office phone, mobile, tablet) through a single phone number using location data, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to send the call to the most relevant device. This will make a pleasant change from having all devices ring at the same time and scrabbling to silence them.
2. Improved workstream
Instant messaging (IM) apps such as WhatsApp are the go-to means of communication for many teams. As WhatsApp is instant, free and easy to use it has become a no-brainer way for team members to stay in touch, even though shadow apps are (usually) frowned upon by IT departments.
The latest type of messaging, workstream messaging, is more suitable for businesses than consumer IM apps. It is a cloud-based collaboration tool allowing users to share messages, documents and other files as well as providing a hub for voice and video communication. It also integrates with other enterprise applications such as CRM systems.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is that it doesn’t clog up email. It retains the key benefit of IM in that it is informal but at the same time organises workstreams in a way that email and IM cannot.
Key benefits include:
- improved security compared to consumer IM systems
- integration with enterprise applications such as CRM
- easier to share project history with new team members
- improved organisation by providing a central location for messages, documents, tasks, etc. rather than information being spread among numerous inboxes
Most organisations connect to the internet in one of two ways: a multi protocol label switching (MPLS) wide-area network or an over the top (OTT) internet connection. Typically, smaller businesses use OTT as it is cheaper, though it can have drawbacks in terms of the quality of connection and the fact that there is no service guarantee.
MPLS offers better quality but can be more expensive. It usually suits larger organisations. Having said that, most organisations using MPLS will rely to some extent on OTT, for example when employees work remotely from home or on the road in hotels, coffee shops, etc.
SD-WAN is a new technology that offers the best of both worlds: high performance at a lower cost. It does this by using multiple connections – some OTT combined with some MPLS. It automatically selects the best links and most optimal paths based on performance metrics, link costs and application requirements.