Hybrid work continues to grow in popularity, which means businesses need to rethink and restructure their technology stacks to best support a distributed workforce. Central to the success of distributed teams is up-to-date, accurate, and accessible data. However, if a company doesn’t implement technology correctly, it risks creating IT silos.
An IT silo can be defined as information that is contained within an isolated framework. A framework in this context could be a specific application, department, or even one team member. For example, if a department deploys software to meet its unique needs, team members in other departments may not have access to that software or the data it generates. Another term for this approach is “shadow IT,” which occurs when groups deploy software or applications without approval of the IT department or decision maker.
Shadow IT creates IT silos and can lead to information sharing that is inaccurate or inconsistent. These instances can create problems such as duplicated efforts from employees that drive up costs and use of resources, inconsistent employee performance metrics that hinder effective reporting, and lack of unification and standardization processes that can impact progress on company goals.
IT silos not only hurt internal operations, but they also impact the customer experience (CX). This threat is highly common with only 33% of CX professionals saying that they can actively communicate and collaborate across teams to drive improved CX because of disconnected and inefficient systems. IT silos are often responsible for the worst types of customer service interactions: missing customer information, lost orders, long wait times, and endless transfers during support situations. A customer may be forced to repeat him/herself over and over when speaking with service representatives which leaves him/her with a bad CX and negatively impacts the company’s brand and reputation.
Cloud-Based Telecom Tools
Many businesses are turning to cloud-based telecom tools to eliminate and prevent IT silos and improve customer service. For background, cloud-based telecom can be defined as communication systems that are hosted in the cloud and don’t rely on traditional on-premises hardware. Two common cloud-based telecom tools include hosted PBX (Public Branch Exchange) and VolP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Hosted PBX systems rely on three channels to facilitate calls: The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), the internet, or both. VoIP combines traditional phone service with computer networks using packet-switch protocol.
So how can cloud-based telecom tools help businesses fight against IT silos? In short, connectivity.
Cloud-based telecom tools meet business needs for reliability, quality, and simplicity with increased accessibility and connectivity. With the enhanced scalability and flexibility that cloud-based solutions offer, business leaders can look to innovate offerings on a continuous basis as their needs evolve. Modern cloud-based telecom solutions can also power collaboration tools with carrier-grade services (e.g., chat features, virtual meetings, emails) through a single application. This configuration is often known as UCaaS (Unified Communications-as-a-Service).
UCaaS enables a company to streamline datapoints and its cloud-based telecom applications into one consecutive platform. UCaaS is found primarily in collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams (Teams). Teams provides an all-in-one approach to communication where individuals can access messaging, video calls, calendar functions, file sharing and more. By having multiple communications tools integrated in one application, employees can communicate efficiently no matter where they’re located, and businesses can drastically reduce silos and cut costs.
Another cloud-based telecom tool that enterprises can leverage to mitigate IT silos and improve CX is telecom Application Programming Interfaces (API). Telecom APIs make it easy for developers to add communications capabilities to existing software or products, such as a chat function in a mobile app. One essential way telecom APIs can mitigate IT silos is by helping businesses create contextual communication experiences for customers. Specifically, decision makers can utilize a Call Detail Record (CDR) API. This API attaches a CDR to a specific caller’s phone number. So, when a customer calls a contact center, the support agent can access the CDR to gain insight into the customer’s past interactions with the company. An agent that’s armed with visibility into past communications can shorten the length of the conversation, streamline support, and ultimately boost brand loyalty.
Telecom Tools in Insurance Industry
Let’s look at a real-life scenario. In the insurance sector, cloud-based telecom solutions facilitate smoother and quicker claims processes because team members can view policyholder information that has been collected by different departments. For example, an adjuster can see that the policy holder inquired about their deductible and overall coverage via an online chat bot. With that context, the adjuster is better equipped to review the claim and handle the policy holder’s questions or complaints. Adjusters, appraisers, engineers, or contractors who don’t have unified communications may end up delivering differing or inaccurate information to policyholders regarding coverage, repairs, or payments.
IT silos pose a severe threat to productivity, efficiency, and brand reputation in today’s modern work environment. As such, it’s imperative that software and IT decision makers communicate with internal groups to educate them about the threat of shadow IT. They can then evaluate existing systems and identify ways to unify communications and break down silos. Modern, cloud-based communications tools such as telecom APIs, VoIP, PBX and UCaaS can help companies combat barriers standing between open dialogue and strong customer service. With access to contextual communications and synchronized data, businesses can elevate the customer experience, enable scalability, boost brand loyalty, and add value to their bottom line.