NFON Cloud Telephony – How Innovation and Maturity Go Hand in Hand

NFON Cloud Telephony – How Innovation and Maturity Go Hand in Hand

08. November 2016

It would be a mistake to assume that old, established technologies cannot still throw up surprises. My name is Jan-Peter Koopman, and as an engineer by heart, I know telecoms engineers whose experience of working on stable, widely-deployed, 20-year-old PBX systems is that they behave themselves 95 percent of the time, and then do something unpredictable for the remainder. At NFON, we don’t make PBXs – we deliver a service. It’s a process of continual improvement; adding new capabilities, listening to feedback from customers and partners, and responding to little surprises when they arise. Our service is better because of it, and so is our knowledge.

Cloud telephony is an exciting place to be right now, but it is no longer a futuristic concept. I joined NFON as CTO in 2009, by which time my colleagues had already begun perfecting our offering and delivering a revolutionary impact upon business communications.

Why our innovation will never end

Cloud telephony has matured and, like a bottle of good wine, it will improve with age. This improvement is only possible through care, diligence and innovation. Unlike traditional PBXs, we do not ‘produce’ technology and then leave it to stagnate. There is always another new feature or a performance optimisation to carry out, as well as the proactive maintainance that businesses expect from their cloud service providers.

NFON was there at the birth of cloud telephony, so we are used to how it works. There have been lots of achievements in that time, but we have also encountered many problems that have driven us to find new solutions. I believe we have done this better than anyone else.

We aren’t perfect, but I challenge any other operator to demonstrate our depth of understanding about real-world cloud telephony deployments and how to make them work.

Disruptive – in a good way

What you tend to find with innovative technologies is that early adopters are those happy to embrace the potential friction of disruptive new solutions, in exchange for their extra benefits. These were our first-ever customers. Today, cloud telephony is increasingly the choice of conservative, risk-averse businesses and public sector organisations; the kind who prefer their technology to be as safe, predictable and uneventful as possible.

It’s funny that, in some quarters, cloud telephony is judged against a higher standard than traditional telephony services. In Germany, there have been numerous high-profile PSTN and cellular telecoms outages that have affected hundreds of thousands of customers for days or weeks at a time. People don’t like this, but they accept it, just like they accept it when a mobile call drops out as they travel through poor network coverage areas. But if a cloud service failure ever occurs, even for five minutes or just five seconds, those traditional old telecoms guys creep out of the woodwork to call it a disaster!

When I meet someone like this who struggles to accept that cloud telephony is mature, I show them our conservative-minded customers who think it’s all a fuss about nothing. I show them our very low customer churn over the last three, four, five, six years. I ask them to subtract the churned customers who were bought out, or who went out of business, and consider the fact that we offer a 30-day rolling contract that customers can end whenever they choose. Only a small number ever do. Using innovation to make customers happy is important to us.

Real-time proactive visibility of service status

One of our latest innovations is how we communicate with customers about service status. We’ve enhanced our web resources and brought in a rich alerting system to provide timely notifications. Not only does it provide announcements about any new service problems, it also maintains a running commentary on the resolution so that customers and partners never feel they are left in the dark. The system sends scheduled maintenance reminders too, satisfying the change control processes that drive many of our customers’ compliance procedures.

The NFON System Status page has also been improved to provide better visibility of individual system components and affected geographic areas. In the first few hours of launching the notification system, more than 200 customers subscribed to receive automated alerts by email, SMS, webhook, RSS, and iCalendar. If that sounds like too much information for you, my advice is to sign up and then manage your subscription options to receive exactly what you need.

As ever, we look forward to hearing the latest feedback from our customers to keep improving our service.

New cloud telephony opportunities and applications are emerging all the time, which makes the job of a technologist like me very rewarding. When NFON onboards another banking customer or major public sector body to cloud telephony, our focus is on the benefits that only mature and innovative business communications can deliver.

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