In the last few years we have seen the greatest shift in telecommunications in recent memory. Traditional voice usage has decreased, largely because of the pandemic. Now even the most seasoned voice user can competently jump on a video call. User expectations are changing, and that shift is being pushed by digital transformation.
The reasons for this are plentiful: cloud technology offers greater affordability and functionality than traditional communications systems. If that wasn’t enough incentive, the move away from traditional phone systems is only a few years away (With BT stopping the support of ISDN lines by 2025). The time to move your communications onto the Cloud has arrived.
It all starts with UC, or Unified Communications, which is the streamlining of a business’s communications channels (video, calls, messaging etc.) through one platform or interface, either hosted over the internet or using an in-house data centre.
UCaaS, or Unified Communications as a Service, follows the same principle but is delivered over the Cloud, following a subscription-based model, hence the ‘as a Service’ moniker.
UCaaS uses VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol, which is the practice of routing inbound and outbound calls over the internet. VoIP is one aspect of UCaaS, but UCaaS can encompass far more, including video calling, text and customer interaction.
Another popular term is CCaaS or Contact Centre as a Service, which is the delivery of an on-demand contact centre to interact with customers. This can include call recording, analytics, web chat and social media. CCaaS is also delivered as a service (following a cloud-hosted subscription model), but focuses more on customer interaction than UCaaS, which enables internal communication between colleagues through features, such as screen-sharing.
So now that we’ve clarified exactly what UCaaS is, why should you care?
UCaaS has the potential to cut costs in both the short and long term. By utilising a subscription-based model, companies can transition their communications estate away from the massive overhead costs associated with installing a business PBX. Cloud computing functions at a massive scale, and because of this, can provide the necessary power to run your communications at a much lower cost than traditional phone lines. This can also reduce long-term expenditure by eliminating maintenance fees and taking the pressure off internal IT support.
In our increasingly hybrid world, the strain on communication tools has never been greater. Teams need the ability to collaborate, share screens and information across a variety of platforms and locations, all instantaneously. This is essential to maintaining productivity and operational efficiency in any business during the digital age. By unifying communications into one interface, UCaaS can prevent data silos (gaps in data accessibility within organisations) and boost productivity by reducing the time staff spend navigating between different applications.
Part of the appeal of UCaaS is its ability to support businesses of all sizes and grow with the needs of any organisation. This is particularly attractive to SMBs, as they don’t need to invest in redundant capacity, improving efficiency and ensuring they only pay for what they use!
Further headaches are removed for smaller companies as UCaaS solutions can often integrate with your business’s applications, including CRMs, enabling your staff to easily record customer interactions in one place. Integrations with Teams are also common amongst the key UCaaS providers, giving you a ready to go solution, and saving your IT staff a significant amount of time in set-up.
Another attractive benefit of the subscription-based model is the offloading of security responsibilities (to some extent), away from the client and onto the UCaaS provider. The provider houses the data centres, and so ensures that their servers are both physically and virtually secure.
Security is something you’ll need to carefully weigh up when deciding on a UCaaS provider, but what else should you be thinking about?
So, what other areas should you consider when deciding on and implementing a UCaaS solution?
The first and most obvious is determining exactly what your business needs from its solution. Is videoconferencing essential? Do you need omni-channel engagement to interact with your clientele? If combining both is a priority, then a converged platform with both UCaaS and CCaaS may offer the most functionality. Support is another key aspect, as different UCaaS providers offer varying levels of technical support. Some vendors offer staff training, whilst others may just list FAQs on their website. This can be confusing – but fear not! As whatever provider you choose, Millgate will be on hand to help throughout implementation.
Circling back to security, it’s important to carry out due diligence on where your data is being held in a cloud communications solution. If you are bound by strict regulatory governance or you have the resource available to manage your own data, you may prefer an on-premise solution, whilst still utilising a software based communications platform.
The benefits of UCaaS to businesses of all sizes are clear, but as we discussed above, modern communications can encompass so much. Implementing truly Unified Communications is no small task, and this post highlights just some of the things you need to consider. If you’d like a no-obligation chat with one of our in-house UC specialists, speak to our communications team today!
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