As the saying goes, the only constant in our lives is change. The last two years have certainly proven that true. We’ve seen a dramatic change in the global workforce, which has accelerated adoption of cloud-based collaboration solutions. As small business owners embrace cloud solutions, what benefits can they deliver? And can the shift to the cloud truly help small businesses thrive in this world of hybrid work?

What is cloud-based collaboration and calling?

To put it simply, cloud-based collaboration solutions enable employees to work together on documents and other data types. This information is stored and accessed off-premises (in the “cloud”) and outside of a company firewall, as opposed to on-premises, in a physical server. Employees use a cloud-based collaboration platform to share, edit, communicate, and work together on projects.

As many small businesses are embracing hybrid work environments – meaning employees work both in the office or remotely, it’s created a permanent need for cloud-based collaboration solutions. Similar to the shift of email from a physical server to a cloud service, products like Cisco’s Webex – with its meetings, messaging, and calling capabilities – allow users to securely collaborate via video, audio, screen sharing, or messaging in a single application.

Users can expect a number of benefits, including:

  • Improved business continuity
  • Immediate product updates
  • Mobility for all team members
  • Operational efficiency

Can cloud-based collaboration work for small businesses?

Absolutely! Cloud-based solutions are perfect for businesses of any size for numerous reasons. These solutions provide a cost-effective way to collaborate as a team, give employees flexibility, and enable employers to expand their talent pool by allowing full-time remote work.

The benefits that larger companies see from cloud-based collaboration can also be reaped by small businesses. By integrating cloud-based applications, small businesses can offer a more flexible work environment for current and future employees. You can also streamline updates and minimize the need for (and cost of) third-party IT services, enhance team collaboration, and increase data security with 24/7 monitoring from your provider, among other benefits.

When switching to cloud-based collaboration solutions, small businesses have reported seeing an ROI within the first year. Here’s how that ROI can be realized:

  • Transition from up-front costs to a monthly fee
  • Less employee bandwidth needed for cloud-based solutions
  • Lower overall support costs
  • Solutions scale with your company needs

What about desk phones?

Get ready to say goodbye to your desk phones, because they probably won’t be around for much longer, similar to how fax machines have been phased out. With cloud collaboration solutions, desk phones just aren’t necessary anymore, except maybe in a conference room or an office’s common area for emergency purposes. While “breaking up” with your desk phone may be hard to do, it’ll be beneficial in the long run.

While meetings might rule our workdays, the effectiveness of a simple phone call shouldn’t be discounted. According to the Cisco Hybrid Work Index, calling remains the backbone of countless business-critical workflows across many industries. Many organizations have accelerated their move to cloud calling to reap advantages such as fast feature deployment, centralized management, and solution scalability.

How will the transition to cloud-based collaboration affect employees?

Making the switch to a cloud-based system will affect your employees – but in a positive way. Solutions that integrate multiple applications help facilitate user adoption and tend to be easier for users to understand, minimizing the need for external IT.

Cloud-based solutions also allow for more flexibility, meaning that users are no longer tied to their desks when on a business call. Now, more than ever, we are seeing people intermix their personal and professional time – and it’s working. This allows employees to prioritize their work and their families, which has become an important factor in work-life balance during the past two years.

But the conversation on cloud collaboration doesn’t stop there. Ben Rife, CEO at Cisco Partner Bullfrog Group, joined our “Small Business, Big Solutions” podcast to further discuss the adoption of cloud-based collaboration and share his insights. Listen to the episode, “It’s Time to Ditch the Desk Phone,” on your favorite podcast platform.

If you want to learn more about our cloud collaboration solutions, contact a Cisco small business expert.


Erin Hatfield

Global Industries Integrated Marketing Manager

Cisco Meraki