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Why supply chain companies should adopt cloud-based communications

By Contributor
Wed 13 Nov 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by 8x8 Asia Pacific vice president Brendan Maree

Have you begun migrating your organisation’s communication applications to the cloud yet? If not, it’s likely you’re thinking about it.

Australia’s $97 billion supply chain industry is undergoing a major transformation, as transport and logistics providers race to embrace technologies and innovations that will drive efficiencies in what’s historically been a ferociously competitive market.

Research by Australian Industry Standards in 2018 notes omnichannel logistics are fast becoming the norm across the sector, as customers increasingly expect to be able to buy products 24/7 and have them delivered at their convenience, not that of the seller.

A recent survey of global telecoms providers by Broadcom found more than half of the businesses they service were expected to have adopted cloud communications by 2020.

In Australia, it’s a trend that’s been gathering pace for several years.

Back in 2015, telecommunications research consultancy Telsyte predicted the Australian market for cloud communications would exceed $650 million by 2020, as businesses swapped inhouse Private Branch Exchange (PBX) equipment for softphones, cloud and mobile apps.

Helping drive uptake was the expanding range of options from traditional telcos and non-telco service providers, along with the emerging perception communications should be viewed as a productivity platform rather than a cost centre, according to Telsyte.

Wondering if it should be a priority?

Here are five reasons cloud-based communications applications will improve productivity and support growth for Australian transport and logistics businesses.

Spend less, do more

For decades, the PBX phone system has been the communications backbone in the average Australian supply chain enterprise.

It’s technology that’s generally robust, reliable – and basic.

Voice mail and call forwarding represented the extent of the ‘bells and whistles’, with advanced features such as mobile apps and auto attendant capabilities out of reach for all but the largest of operators.

Move to the cloud and it’s a very different story.

The model affords supply chain companies of modest dimensions access to advanced features, such as remote access, which can have a significant impact on productivity. 

Making the switch means spending less and getting more: a compelling value proposition for transport and logistics players that are racing to keep pace with the competition.

Maintenance-free communication

Not having to purchase and maintain infrastructure is one of the cloud computing model’s key selling points.

Supply chain firms can ditch the in-house data center, with its high upfront and ongoing costs, in favour of a subscription-based setup with monthly fees that can be treated as operational expenses.

It’s the same situation when it comes to PBX equipment versus cloud communications applications.

The PBX server, with its attendant maintenance expenses, is replaced by a consistent monthly fee for service, with upgrades and maintenance included in the package.

It’s a vastly simpler way of doing things which can free IT staff up to work on high-tech initiatives which add genuine business value, rather than having to troubleshoot the phones.

Stronger relationships with customers

Major repeat customers provide the bread and butter work for most transport and logistics firms and, historically, communication with them was a siloed affair.

Account managers formed links with key individuals, dealt with them primarily via mobile telephone and, more often than not, took the substance of the relationship with them when they moved on.

Cloud communications solutions allow supply chain operations to take control of these relationships and ensure they’re nurtured and maintained for the benefit of the business.

They can provide improved visibility of communications inside and outside the enterprise; making it possible for replacement employees to slip seamlessly into the role when client-facing staff leave or are reassigned.

Scaling to suit

Successful transport and logistics companies are rarely static in size.

More often than not, they’re in growth mode, chasing new contracts, expanding their warehousing facilities and augmenting their fleets.

They need infrastructure which can expand apace.

That’s just what traditional on-premises telecoms systems can’t do.

Their capacity is finite and supply chain firms which anticipate future growth are required to invest in excess capacity upfront or face the expensive and disruptive prospect of replacing relatively new systems when they outgrow them.

This issue disappears when companies invest in cloud communications solutions.

They only pay for the capacity they need and systems can be altered and expanded with ease – some providers even offer self-service models to speed the process.

Unified communications across the enterprise

Back in the day, communication came in two forms – the phone call and the written word. It’s much more complex in 2019, with video conferencing, SMS and group messaging thrown into the mix.

Migrating to the cloud allows transport and logistics operators to draw these disparate channels together to create a unified communications experience which delivers significant value.

One way this value can be realised is through the use of analytics software to consolidate shared knowledge about customers.

In an era when ‘customer experience is king’, using this data to help develop higher quality, more responsive services can provide an edge over competitors who are less attuned to the demands of the market. 

Time to act

What was a pioneering move a few short years ago, has fast become unremarkable, as Australian companies collectively adopt cloud computing and communications applications across the enterprise.

The business benefits of doing so are manifest and supply chain businesses which are slow to the party may find themselves struggling to compete.

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