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Cloud Telephony Can Substantially Improve Educational Institutions' Operations Information dissipation between students, parents and campuses can be eased and made substantially efficient by using some of the basic services that cloud telephony provides.

By Bipul Parua

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Education in the 21st century has transformed swiftly, like never before, and this can primarily be attributed to the Internet. While this has been mostly on pedagogical lines, there is also immense scope for educational institutions to reap benefits from Internet-based technologies. Of the many offerings from the Internet, Cloud telephony is a highly relevant solution that can improve operations of educational institutions to a great extent.

For instance, during admissions season, a great deal of manpower is invested in handling calls and queries about admissions, which in many cases results in a lot of valuable, but unorganized information. This entire process can be smoothly structured, and automated to some extent, yielding reports and analysis that can be insightful for the institution. Further, adopting Cloud telephony not only eases operations, but also has the desirable side-effect of improving the image of the educational institution, by projecting it to be an institution that endorses state-of-the-art technology.

Bulk SMS

One of the most important requirements for an academic institution is to be able to convey information regularly to all the patrons. Be it communicating schedules or changes in them to students, updating parents about the progress of their wards, coordinating between employees or connecting multiple campuses on the same platform – dispensing information is crucial. Naturally, a service like SMS fits the bill and is one of the widely sought after services by educational institutions.

Cloud telephony provides SMS services that not only make posting bulk SMSes easy and affordable, but also provide possibilities like content archival, automated analysis of responses and comprehensive report generation.

Call centre-like availability

Admissions season is one of the most active periods for an educational institution. The number of incoming and outgoing phone calls usually shoots up during these times. It is during these peak times that even an educational institution would find the services of a dedicated call centre invaluable. In most cases, this is not viable and the next best options are provided by Cloud telephony.

Cloud telephony services can handle calls professionally, with custom greetings and assort them to belong to different categories, and then divert them to the relevant departments. Another useful feature that is possible using Cloud telephony is automated response to common queries.

Routine questions, that are common during admissions time – details about programmes, start of academic year, institutional facilities, fees and other common questions can be addressed based on the responses given to the knowledge engine. Based on the questions, there are services that interact with the callers, giving them useful information without involving a real person.

This can be useful especially during the admissions season, when the busy tone might not be the nicest response to callers, who could be converted into prospective admissions. Further, as many Cloud telephony services are subscription-basis, the subscriptions to services can be modulated depending on the requirement, which is not easily possible when using conventional telephone services.

Hosted services

Cloud telephony provides all the services as hosted options. Meaning, there is no infrastructure that must be dedicated to access the services provided by Cloud telephony vendors. The only resource that must be allocated is Internet bandwidth, which one can assume is not a hassle these days. This hosted nature of the services makes Cloud telephony all the more attractive for academic institutions, as, there is no need to train and dedicate a technical support team to set up and maintain these services.

Maintenance and support

As there are no heavy back-end equipments that Cloud telephony services require within the premises of an educational institution, the overhead of maintenance is totally removed, which is in stark contrast with legacy telephony. Likewise, as the services are provided over the Internet, professional technical support is accessible at all times.

Overall, the gamut of features provided by Cloud telephony can improve the functioning of educational institutions remarkably; all these features can be adopted by institutions without the hassle of setting up dedicated infrastructure and without getting deep cuts on the pocket.

(The author is Bipul Parua, COO and Co-Founder, Knowlarity Communications. Knowlarity is India's leading cloud telephony company.)

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