Unified communications has been a focus of businesses for quite some time. Dubbed as “UC,” it is simply the integration of real time communications (e.g., voice, video, etc.) with non-real time communications (e.g., voicemail, email, etc.). As companies continue their never-ending search to “do more with less,” unified communications has become a prime target to do just that. Furthermore, cloud computing and UC are intersecting head-on. This hosted cloud model is being looked at more and more, generally called UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS). A recent study by Transparency Market Research puts the annual growth at over 20 percent for the next seven years, with a market totaling almost $38 billion by the year 2022.
One of the main reasons that organizations are looking to UCaaS can be summed up in one word: simplicity. Over time, organizations buy new hardware and software to deliver services – like voice – in their organizations. The problem is that each of these platforms is not the same – and most times they don’t integrate. Most organizations have a phone system, an email platform, some videoconferencing, and an instant messaging or a chat tool. What they don’t have is a single platform where all of this data works together. It’s not a simple solution – it’s messy and complicated. It is a great source of time and ongoing “soft costs” that continue to drive costs up – not down.
There are many benefits to the UC-as-a-Service model, so let’s take a look at just a few of the advantages:
As I said, this is a single platform. No longer do you need to buy, install, maintain and migrate four-plus different communication platforms. Now it is all under one umbrella. Also, most include support features for end users, like a 24/7 help desk, as well as training videos on-demand.
With UCaaS, not only do you have the simplicity of use, but it is also someone else’s burden to take care of it for you! Since these are hosted from enterprise service providers, they not only build out these systems for you, but also manage them.
These offerings allow an organization to go from a handful of users to thousands in a short period of time. No longer do you need to build large infrastructure at every location and in every country where you want a unified communications experience.
UCaaS generally utilize Tier 3 & Tier 4 data centers, which cover two of the main reasons for downtime at organizations: power and connectivity.
No longer do you need to bring in an expensive consultant to write custom code across systems or as a result of migrating or upgrading one of the platforms. Many UCaaS providers offer the ability to do custom integrations with the systems if needed, and work with you as a total solution provider. Also, with the upward trend of BYOD, this service model provides added flexibility to tie mobility into your platform.
I’ve already mentioned soft costs, which are usually the driving factor in major systems, but the other side of this conversation is upfront costs. With UCaaS, many of the planning costs, procurement, installation, application management, system maintenance, training, migration and monitoring costs are covered. Many organizations avoid migration of systems like this because they involve a large sum of upfront capital expense. UCaaS allows for these scalable, flexible and consolidated offerings to be swallowed in cost per month. So, no more need to fight for years to get a budget to replace one system.
While these are just a few of the benefits, here is the key takeaway: If you haven’t explored UCaaS as part of your UC offering, you should. No single offering is a silver bullet, but failing to consider all of the options is a disservice. Take back some of that time your IT group needs and help drive the business – rather than just keep the phones on.
Curious to learn more about how you can create frictionless collaboration among unified communications and cloud computing? Check out this feature or take a look at this case study to see how B2B distributor W.W. Grainger, Inc. did just that.