Overcoming Fear of the Cloud

OvercomingFearsOfTheCloud

 

Fear.  It stops us in our tracks.  It holds us back.  It confines us to the box.  It keeps us safe.   In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) fear is referred to as False Evidence Appearing Real.  I’ve heard of another acronym for fear.  This one is from Andy Murphy, an NLP master.  You can read about him here:  http://mindsetbydesign.co/about-mindset-by-design.  His definition of FEAR is False Emotions Appearing Real.  When you’re afraid of something, the actual event hasn’t happened yet.  So it’s not an event or thing that you’re afraid of, it’s your belief about what WILL happen that’s creating this fear.   A belief is not real.  It’s something that gets created in the mind.  What are the mechanics of fear?  How does it work under the hood?  There is a part of your brain called the amygdala.  It’s purpose is to keep you safe.

Shannon Cutts, in her blog post, Yes Your Survival Instinct is Stronger Than You Are, discusses a book by Theodore George, M.D.  called Untangling the Mind: Why We Behave the Way We Do.  Shannon discusses the survival instinct and whether or not you can turn it off, circumvent it, or somehow fail to come pre-installed with it? And if it does somehow get turned off or goes missing, can it be reactivated or reinstalled later on?

She writes as follows:  ” According to Darwin, it is not possible to circumvent the survival instinct. Also, everyone has it – so no worries about some beings not getting one when they first arrive.

In the book, Dr. George describes an experiment where Darwin went to the London Zoo and went into the snake exhibit. He selected a particularly poisonous specimen (puff adder in case you are wondering) and put his face up very close to the snake’s clear glass-encased enclosure. Then he proceeded to annoy the snake to the point where it would strike at him.

Darwin knew the thick glass stood in between him and the puff adder. He also knew no way could the snake bust through it to bite him in the face. But when the snake finally struck, Darwin jumped back so fast he literally didn’t have time to consider otherwise.

Dr. George explains why: Darwin reacted as he did because there are two pathways in the brain – the pathway to the amygdala, which is the central “threat processing unit” for the brain, and the pathway to the cortex, which is the central “thought processing unit” for the brain.

Simply put, the amygdala is faster. Much faster. The amygdala can bypass thought (if there is any) and it doesn’t need thought to initiate a decision to act.

The amygdala has kept us safe throughout the ages.  Think of the caveman days.  If you stepped outside your cave, you may get eaten by a saber toothed tiger.  Anything familiar feels safe, anything new is dangerous.

 

Now that we’ve gone through the science of fear, what does it have to do with Cloud Communications?  Those terms are so far apart on the evolutionary scale, that the only way to use both terms in one sentence is to imagine Fred Flinstone with a cloud based phone!  On a more serious note, deploying a cloud based communications solution involves change.  Remember what was written in the previous paragraph?  Anything familiar feels safe, anything new is dangerous.  As soon as change is introduced into a routine, the amygdala picks up that stimulus first, before the brain can even process thought.  All of a sudden, warning bells go off.  Red alert!  Danger!  How will this solution affect my business?  What happens if it fails?  I will loose my business!  I will loose my job!  I will loose my reputation!  etc.  Fortunately, there is a way to deploy cloud based solutions so that even a caveman will consider it to be safe.

My favorite way to deploy any kind of disruptive solution is to employ a process called staging.  According to Wikipedia, “Staging, in cloud communications, is a processes used to assemble, test, and review a new solution before it is moved into production and the existing solution is decommissioned.”  (I actually published this definition to Wikipedia on 6/30/16).  The basic idea is as follows.  Don’t remove the old system until the new system has been fully tested in production.  Those last 2 words, in production, is key.  It’s easy to test a solution in a controlled environment.  However, what happens when you throw it into the fire?  Will it perform, or fold?  This is the fear that’s stopping the Business Owner, CFO or IT Manager from moving forward with this new solution.  You see, the business owner is concerned about one thing, and one thing only:  his business.  If your new communication solution fails, his business gets hurt.

My recommendation is to install the new phones in parallel to the existing ones.  Once everything is installed, start using the new phones as much as possible.  This will build confidence in the new system, while affording you the luxury of time to iron out any kinks with the new system, in a calm and relaxed manner.  Once a predetermined level of confidence has been reached, you can then forward your main number to the new cloud based service.  After another predetermined level of confidence has been reached, you can then port your main number to the new service and decommission your old communication solution.

Going about an implementation in this manner, has a twofold benefit.  It benefits the customer as it removes their fears, and it benefits the vendor as they don’t have to scramble when all hell breaks loose!  As a vendor, I can certainly appreciate doing things in a calm, controlled, and a relaxed manner.

 

A little bit about myself.  I am a telecommunications consultant and I am passionate about telephony.  I am focused on one thing, and one thing only.  Helping YOU get the most value out of your communications flow.  Not equipment, not infrastructure, but flow.  As a business owner, what matters the most to you is how your business is flowing.  I help customers like you optimize their communications environment so that communication is truly flowing.  To find out more about the services I offer, feel free to visit my website at http://www.simiplex.com.

 

Avrohom

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Are you SaaSy?

Cloud.

The official definition of SaaS, according to Wikipedia, is as follows:

Software as a service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser. SaaS has become a common delivery model for many business applications, including office and messaging software, payroll processing software, DBMS software, management software, CAD software, development software, gamification, virtualization, accounting, collaboration, customer relationship management (CRM), management information systems (MIS), enterprise resource planning (ERP), invoicing, human resource management (HRM), talent acquisition, content management (CM), antivirus software, and service desk management. SaaS has been incorporated into the strategy of nearly all leading enterprise software companies. One of the biggest selling points for these companies is the potential to reduce IT support costs by outsourcing hardware and software maintenance and support to the SaaS provider.

Although quite a mouthful, the paragraph above brings up several crucial points, and those are:

  1. SaaS has the attention of nearly all the leading enterprise software companies.
  2. This would not happen if there weren’t a demand for it. Therefore, if they’re all concerned about providing SaaS, we should pay attention and understand why that’s so.
  3. The final sentence states that the potential for reducing costs is one of the biggest selling points of SaaS. From here we can infer that people are looking for options to lower their IT support costs.
  4. Another point to take away is that people are concerned, not only with the ongoing maintenance costs, but also the fact that hardware gets outdated, and eventually breaks down. Software becomes outdated. In order to gain access to new features, upgrades must be performed and licenses need to be purchased.
  5. When equipment breaks down, the associated down time may translate into a loss of revenue, far greater than the cost of purchasing new equipment.
  6. Time spent tinkering with obsolete technology, is time lost from conducting business. This translates into a loss of revenue for the business.

 

 

I’d like to bring up another point that business owners may be concerned about.  Suppose a disaster strikes.  Your business is without power.  Or even worse, your office building just got destroyed.  What happens to your business?  Do you just shut down and call it a day?  What about everything you spent years building up?  Your dreams?  Just because some kind of disaster just eliminated the physical location of your business, does not mean you have to loose everything!  SaaS is the answer!  With SaaS, your provider is responsible to ensure business continuity.  If I were building a business (and I am), my greatest fears would be vulnerability, and how to mitigate, or eliminate, them.  With SaaS, your business operates in the Cloud.  You, therefore, aren’t tied to a single specific location.  If the location disappears, you can still continue to do business from somewhere else.  A few months ago, I was traveling somewhere by plane, and I had some critical time sensitive tasks to perform.  No problem.  With in-flight Wi-Fi, I was able to conduct business from 35,000 feet in the air!  Think about that!  Someone can drop an atom bomb on New York (hopefully not!) and you’re still doing business from a bunker under a mountain in Wyoming!

 

 

I was curious about what Google thought of SaaS, so I did a search on “advantages of SaaS”.  Here is what Google came back with:

 

  • Lower cost of entry.
  • Reduced time to benefit/rapid prototyping.
  • Pay as you go.
  • The SaaS vendor is responsible for upgrades, uptime and security.
  • Higher adoption rates.
  • Integration and scalability.
  • Work anywhere.

 

Let’s review them one by one:

 

Lower Cost of Entry – This one is huge!  Let’s close our eyes for a moment and try to remember what life was like before SaaS.  It was so primitive!  Imagine a small business, say a startup, wanting to take advantage of the rich feature set of Microsoft Exchange.  Or, perhaps, they would like a world class CRM solution like Salesforce or ConnectWise.  How about access to an industry standard database like Microsoft SQL Server?  Or, perhaps, they would like their data automatically backed up nightly and accessible on demand?  In the “olden day” before SaaS, this was not an option, because they would be priced out of the game.  These solutions are enterprise class software packages and were not accessible to the average startup or small business.  Today, every small business has easy access to Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce.com, ConnectWise, and a suite of other enterprise grade business applications.  Microsoft is making the full power of a cloud datacenter available to small businesses with their Azure platform!  If you do a Google search on “IBM SaaS”, and click on the first (non-ad) link, you get to IBM’s cloud page.  They sum it up for you:  “With SaaS, everyone is an IT buyer.”  With over 150 SaaS applications available via their website, the power of the world is in your hands!  Cost is no longer a limiting factor.

 

Reduced time to benefit/rapid prototyping – Let’s revisit a Microsoft Exchange deployment.  For those of you who have installed a Microsoft Exchange Server in the past, you’ll remember how it took some time.  It’s not like “Hey, I need email, let me install this software package and then I have email.”  There was a lot of configuration that had to be done.   With a SaaS email server solution, like Microsoft Office 365, you basically have access to an Exchange Server without having to install Exchange!  You want email?  Just sign up for the service, select the number of email accounts you want, enter the names and email addresses (oh yes, provide your credit card information), and you’re up and running!  That’s about all the time it takes.  In about 15 minutes, your startup is operational with Microsoft’s latest enterprise class Exchange solution!

 

Pay as you go – As a small business owner, this one is really important to me.  If I have 20 employees, I don’t want to pay for 50; yet, I still want the ability to scale my service to meet the needs of my growing business.  I don’t want to have to think about upgrades or fork lifts.  With SaaS, you pay per seat.  If your business shrinks (hopefully not) or grows, the service scales to meet your needs.

 

The SaaS vendor is responsible for upgrades, uptime and security – This one is also pretty important.  As a small business owner, I don’t have the resources to deal with upgrading servers, outages, disaster recovery, and data security.  Yet, I require those attributes to be in place in order to ensure the continuation of my business.  This is why I choose SaaS.  The provider takes all these concerns off my shoulders, leaving me free to do what I should be doing, running my business.

 

Higher adoption rates – This one is pretty straightforward.  Since many SaaS applications are accessible via a standard web browser (i.e. Google Drive, Office 365, etc.), as opposed to requiring software packing installations, people are quicker to start using them.  Since the web browser is familiar to them, there is less resistance to trying something new.

 

Integration and scalability – Many SaaS based apps are built with API hooks that enable them to integrate to other apps.  For example, a SaaS based phone system may integrate to a SaaS based CRM package, like Salesforce.  Using the pay per use model, the solution can easily scale to meet your growing business needs.

 

Work anywhere – This one is my favorite (remember working from a plane?).  I will sum it up in one word:  ubiquitous.  This is the true power of SaaS:  it enables you to conduct business wherever you are, whenever you want, and whichever device you want to use.  You are not locked into anything!  This gives you true freedom!

 

 

Cloud Based Telephony and SaaS

Having gone over the benefits of SaaS for your business, one very important business application is telephony.  In fact, for many businesses, telephony is their life blood!  Taking this newfound knowledge of the SaaS rapid deployment model, we can also apply this model to telephony.  Think back to the last time you lived through a PBX fork lift upgrade.  I bet it involved a bit of stress!  (And for those of you who haven’t gone through one yet, try to imagine what it’s like.)  All those concerns mentioned above apply to telephony as well, if not, more so than with data applications!  What happens if your phone system stops working?  What happens if your business grows, what’s it going to cost, how big of a upgrade do I need?  When a new feature becomes available, how much is it going to cost me to take advantage of it?  What happens if someone drops an atom bomb?  With a SaaS based model, your telephony provider is responsible for all these concerns.

When you sign up for a SaaS based telephony service, it’s as simple as setting up a new email account in Office 365.  You select the number of phones you want, enter the names for each extension, provide your credit card information, and you’re done.  The telephony provider ships you the phones, you plug them in, and they work!  With many SaaS providers, the phones are included with your monthly service, so there is little to no upfront cost.  I have a client who is 100% SaaS based.  They don’t even own a telephone!  All of their telephony is provided via a softphone app on a laptop or mobile phone!  Talk about rapid deployment!  Talk about work from anywhere!  SaaS completely revolutionizes the way we think about telephony!  Now, isn’t that exciting?

 

A little bit about myself.  I am a telecommunications consultant and I am passionate about telephony.  I am focused on one thing, and one thing only.  Helping YOU get the most value out of your communications flow.  Not equipment, not infrastructure, but flow.  As a business owner, what matters the most to you is how your business is flowing.  I help customers like you optimize their communications environment so that communication is truly flowing.  To find out more about the services I offer, feel free to visit my website at http://www.simiplex.com.

 

 

Avrohom

 

 

 

Top 3 reasons for choosing Cloud vs Premise Based PBX

CloudBasedTelephonyTop3ThumbnailTwitter

Last week I was interviewed, by my marketing manager, on the benefits of choosing a cloud based communications solutions over a premise based PBX.  If you would like to watch the video of the interview, you can access it here: https://youtu.be/4jRdXBld3Dc

 

Q: I’ve been involved with our premise based solution, the Avaya IP Office, and I’ve noticed how our business has evolved into a cloud based service model. I was wondering if I can ask you a couple of questions with regards to the benefits of a cloud based versus premise based solution.  What are the benefits of deploying a cloud based solution? Why would a customer choose to deploy a cloud based solution rather than stick with the tried and true PBX?

 

A: That’s a great question, and I’m sure many people are wondering the same thing. There are many benefits to deploying a cloud based solution. Let’s talk about what I think are the top three:

  • Cost: with a premise based system, there is a large up-front cost that you have to pay. You have a down payment, then you have the monthly lease payment, and if you choose to not go with a lease, and pay for the system upfront, you end up tying up a lot of money into your phone system. Many businesses either don’t have the resources to do that, or prefer to make the monthly payments and preserve their cash flow. In addition to the upfront costs and monthly payments, you still have the monthly phone bill to pay. With a cloud based solution, the upfront costs are extremely minimal, and you only have a single, low, monthly payment for your service.
  • Ease of Deployment: With a premise based solution you have a lot of equipment to install, you have to program the system, upload firmware, connect the phones, and coordinate phone line installation with your carrier. With a cloud based solution, all you’re installing is a router. Then you take your phones, plug them in, and they just work! Just like that!
  • Vulnerability: When thinking about how your business needs to function, your phone service is a pretty important part of the picture. You just can’t tolerate your phone service going down for any length of time. In order to ensure availability, with a premise based PBX, you have to think about redundancy. What if the power goes out or the equipment fails? This all becomes your responsibility. Depending on the level of service you want, this also brings up the cost of your equipment. With a cloud based solution, your provider is responsible for redundancy and resilience. The net result is that you, the customer, enjoy all the benefits of a robust resilient service at a low monthly cost. You just cant beat this.

Q:  Wow, these are all great points! Now let’s focus on the cost benefit for a moment. You mentioned that it’s more cost effective to deploy cloud based telephony. What about the following scenario: suppose you lease a premise based solution for a five year period. However, you intend to keep this solution for ten years. While it’s true that with a premise based solution, your upfront costs and monthly lease payments are higher than a cloud based solution; however, after the 5 year lease is up, your payments drop down to zero.  Therefore, over the course of ten years, it is not true that the net cost ends up being lower for premised based, since with cloud based you would still be paying during the remaining five years?

 

A:  You bring up a very important point, which I’m sure many businesses are concerned about. I’d like to suggest that we consider the following: While it’s true that after your lease is over you’re no longer making those monthly payments, there is still a cost associated with keeping the PBX for that length of time. As with any equipment, after several years, things start to break down. At this point, you may want to think about getting a maintenance contract, which comes with a monthly cost, or wait until something breaks and then deal with the cost of repairs and the associated downtime. At the end of the day, you’re not really saving any money by holding onto an out dated system .

 

Talking about an out dated system, with a cloud based solution, you always have instant access to all the new features and benefits the moment they become available. Not so with a premise based system that becomes out dated and requires additional license fees to obtain new features.

 

A little bit about myself.  I am a telecommunications consultant and I am passionate about telephony.  I am focused on one thing, and one thing only.  Helping YOU get the most value out of your communications flow.  Not equipment, not infrastructure, but flow.  As a business owner, what matters the most to you is how your business is flowing.  I help customers like you optimize their communications environment so that communication is truly flowing.  To find out more about the services I offer, feel free to visit my website at http://www.simiplex.com.

 

Avrohom