Focus On

For sustainable telecoms solutions, embrace the cloud

Cloud-based telephony adds flexibility to business and in doing so can help them meet green targets, says Thomas Dalton of Augmented Telecoms

Thomas Dalton, chief executive, Augmented Telecoms: ‘The fact is that, today, businesses are being incentivised, and pressured, to be more sustainable’

As ICT has become more and more central to business there has been a natural evolution toward using it to expand capabilities while, at the same time, seeking to reduce complexity.

In many cases, this has driven businesses to the cloud, said Thomas Dalton, chief executive of Augmented Telecoms, as it allows businesses to operate in a ‘distributed’ manner with employees working from a variety of locations.

And while the cloud has been a component of business IT for a decade now, we all know what drove businesses toward it with such alacrity in more recent times.

“Cloud-based applications have become very advanced, as has their adoption. The pandemic accelerated the need for it,” he said.

In this context, the key with the cloud, in telecommunications as with other applications, is that it allows remote work while ensuring that people are still able to work together as a unit or group. In other words, people can work from anywhere as though they were in the office.

“That business cohesion is essential, frankly,” said Dalton.

When it comes to telecommunications, by moving away from hardware-based private branch exchanges (PBXes) to the cloud, businesses can not only have a fully-featured telecoms system, they can easily scale it up and down according to need.

“The application itself has been made to accommodate large businesses, meaning it can scale up or grow instantly.

Whether calling an office or into a call centre, or indeed receiving a call, complex call routing is simplified and people can be put through to the right person even if they are at the other end of the country or, indeed, working from home.

“Once they log in they're on the system – the customer would have no idea they're being passed around from Cork to Donegal,” he said.

Sustaining businesses and communities

For businesses, the advantages are obvious. The first is cost-saving, and Dalton said he knows of one company that reduced its rent by €20,000 per annum by reducing its office space.

Other benefits can have a wider social effect, however.

‘It can also tackle rural unemployment. A person doesn't have to move to Dublin or commute to Dublin. Also, I often think that if remote working was widely adopted we could, potentially, have office space that could be converted into housing,” he said.

Reducing commuting, too, can help businesses with their environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets and, in turn, Ireland’s carbon reduction targets. Dalton said that, in his experience, businesses are increasingly adding sustainability to their agendas.

“I find during conversations with businesses that the people who are interested in switching are conscious of the green effect. The fact is that, today, businesses are being incentivised, and pressured, to be more sustainable.”

Truly going nationwide

Of course, moving to remote work during the pandemic was one thing – grab a laptop and try your best – but doing it in a programmatic and efficient manner is another.

The first thing is connectivity, which has improved significantly, but is still not 100 per cent universal. Dalton said that he was pleased that real progress was being made on this.

“There are black spots. They still exist, though they are getting smaller and the National Broadband scheme is getting there. The super-fast gigabit internet has prioritised rural Ireland first, which was the best decision,” he said.

In fact, ultra-fast broadband is not required to carry voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls.

“There's a bit of an unfair stigma with VoIP; people in SMEs have been told it's unreliable. The thing is, as a mainstream business technology, VoIP has been around since 2013 or 2014, but of course internet technology back then, average speed was much lower,” said Dalton.

Indeed, the transformative potential of the internet for calls was demonstrated earlier still, particularly with Skype becoming mainstream in the 2000s. However, Dalton said that business communications, whether running distributed call centres or connecting remote staff, did need more care and attention.

“A VoIP line is one thing but an entirely VoIP-based system that can run a call centre or entire business is another,” he said.

However, this is precisely what Augmented Telecoms enables for its customers, centred around cloud software Yeastar Linkus, which allows for simple control of sophisticated telecommunications.

This, Dalton said, was what really mattered, as the marriage of simplicity with flexibility and scalability in enterprise telecommunications changed remote work from a nerve-wracking prospect to a simple choice. This, in turn, allowed businesses to advance toward their targets, whether those are financial or environmental.

“If businesses were to get more confidence with these systems, not only can large organisations release themselves from that office space and save on rent, but you have staff no longer commuting, so you're saving on emissions,” he said.