Benefits of adopting cloud services in the public sector
Government organisations at all levels are moving rapidly to cloud computing. Most state governments have adopted a cloud-first strategy, with the NSW Government, for example, setting a goal for all its agencies to be using public cloud for a minimum of 25% of their ICT services by 2023.
The benefits of cloud are pretty clear. Cloud reduces capital expenditure and ongoing operational costs, increases organisational agility, and offers the opportunity for greater business resiliency by providing more cost-effective and efficient redundancy and business continuity options. For the Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Agency, cloud means “a faster pace of delivery, continuous improvement cycles and broad access to services. It can reduce the amount of maintenance effort required to ‘keep the lights on’ and refocus that effort into improving service delivery.”
Despite the advantages of moving to the cloud, for many public sector organisations the infrastructure for telephony – or voice – has been one of the last areas of ICT to consider for cloud migration. Most are still operating with an on-premise or hosted VoIP service, or with ‘big iron’ — traditional PABX systems — that are becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to manage. The primary reason for this is that the key requirements for voice services have been difficult to meet in a pure cloud environment. These include reliability, security and privacy, and functionality.
In the past, it’s been difficult for cloud providers to deliver telephony with the ‘five nines’: 99.999% availability of voice service that most public sector organisations need to support the critical services they deliver to the community. Recent high-profile outages are a clear illustration of the difficulty in achieving this availability figure.
Security and privacy are also critical to the areas in which public sector organisations operate, owing to the potential sensitivity of citizens’ personal information and the content of the interactions they are having with government agencies. It’s important that the conversations being conducted, the calls recorded and the associated data are being processed through fully-compliant cloud data centres and servers residing here in Australia.
The final point to make on key requirements is functionality. There must be a clear functional advantage in moving from an existing telephony or unified communications solution to a cloud-based one. Public sector organisations now need a fully integrated, digital customer service capability. A stand-alone voice or unified communications solution is no longer enough.
The expectations from today’s citizens on the way they interact with organisations has radically changed. Most are not only comfortable with technology but view it as the simplest and most convenient way to interact with friends, businesses, and public services. This is translating into citizens expecting government agencies to provide more joined-up services available through any device.
A recent survey from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Salesforce found that 64% of customers in Australia and New Zealand expect governments to use data to personalise services and interactions to their specific needs. A paradigm shift is required for the way most public sector organisations currently interact with their customers, as well as being an opportunity for delivering efficiencies. A cloud-based communications platform enables the integration not just of video, voice, messaging and screen sharing, but also with other business applications and services to deliver the connected, omnichannel contact centre and customer experience (CX) capabilities that are now expected by the public.
In their research paper, BCG and Salesforce make the point that providing this digital first, omnichannel customer experience translates into increased trust from the public in government. However, what can’t be forgotten about in this trust equation is the important role that voice continues to play in the delivery of public services. Most citizens prefer a human connection when the stakes are high. The benefits to government agencies in continuing to use voice communications when data privacy, customer satisfaction and other implications far outweigh the perceived efficiencies of digital channels. However, that voice channel needs to be integrated and provide seamless transition between the digital and physical.
Government agencies need to ensure that communication strategies are not operated in silos for each channel but through a unified campaign orchestration across channels to engage with citizens. The good news is that there are now reliable, trusted cloud-based communications platforms available to deliver on these omnichannel communications strategies, keeping voice connected front and centre.
RingCentral’s cloud unified communications and contact centre platform enables employees to collaborate internally or with external stakeholders from anywhere on any device. The solution is delivered from highly-secure, cloud data centres here in Australia and RingCentral’s open platform streamlines interactions by integrating with hundreds of commonly used applications and systems such as email (Microsoft Office, Outlook and Teams direct routing), file sharing (Box, Google Drive), virtual classroom technology, workflow, CRM and more.
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