Have you begun migrating your firm’s communication applications to the cloud yet? If not, it’s likely you’re thinking about it.
The Australian financial services sector has been through a tumultuous time of late; buffeted by the damaging revelations from last year’s banking royal commission. An array of changes to policy and practice have followed in its wake and a stringent new regulatory regime has compelled financial advisers to upskill and reassess their business models.
Meanwhile, all players in the sector must continue to address the dramatic changes digital disruption is making to the competitive landscape.
A recent survey of global telecoms providers by Broadcom found more than half of the businesses they serviced 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 in-house Private Branch Exchange (PBX) equipment for softphones, cloud and mobile apps.
The perception communications should be viewed as a productivity platform, rather than a cost centre, was helping drive uptake, according to Telsyte.
Not convinced it’s worthwhile making the switch? Here are five reasons cloud-based communications applications are good for Australian financial services firms looking to contain costs and engage more effectively with their clients.
Spend less, do more
For decades, the PBX phone system was the communications backbone in hundreds of Australian financial services firms. It’s technology that’s generally robust, reliable and basic. Voice mail and call forwarding represent the extent of the “bells and whistles”, with advanced features such as mobile apps and auto-attendant capabilities out of reach for the majority.
Move to the cloud and it’s a very different story. The model affords financial services firms 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 any business with an eye for the numbers.
Not having to purchase and maintain infrastructure is one of the cloud computing model’s key selling points. Firms can ditch the in-house data centre, with its high upfront and ongoing costs, in favour of a subscription-based set-up 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 reduce the IT support bill or free tech staff up to work on value-adding business initiatives, rather than having to troubleshoot the phones.
Stronger relationships with customers
In many financial services firms, communication with customers was a siloed affair, historically. Managers and advisers have established relationships with clients, communicated with them primarily via mobile telephone, built up ties over time and, more often than not, took the substance of the relationship with them when they moved on.
Cloud communications solutions allow financial services firms to take control of these relationships and ensure they’re nurtured and maintained, independently of the individuals who initiated them. They can provide improved visibility of communications, inside and outside the firm; making it possible for replacement employees to slip seamlessly into the role when staff leave or are reassigned.
Scaling to suit
Successful financial services firms are rarely static in size. If they’re in growth mode, they need infrastructure and facilities which can expand concurrently. That’s just what traditional on-premises telecoms systems can’t do. Their capacity is finite and 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 firms invest in cloud communication solutions. Subscribers 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 financial services firms 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 develop “pools” of shared knowledge about clients which can be exploited to enhance the customer experience, boost trust and bolster the long-term relationship.
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 financial services firms which embrace the trend may find it serves them well in their quest to rebuild customer trust and develop a sustainable business model for the digital era.
Brendan Maree, vice-president Asia Pacific, 8x8
Eliot Hastie is a journalist on the wealth titles at Momentum Media.
Eliot joined the team in 2018 having previously written on Real Estate Business with Momentum Media as well.
Eliot graduated from the University of Westminster, UK with a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism).