Growing numbers of companies are changing the way they communicate both internally and externally by switching to unified communications as a service (UCaaS), an approach to communications technology that involves combining many different communication methods into one platform. These methods can include voice over internet protocol (VoIP), video conferencing, instant messaging, email and more. The platform resides in the cloud and combines these technologies into a single interface accessible from any desk phone, smartphone, tablet or computer.
Optimized to support today’s mobile workforce, UCaaS offers independence and advanced integration that other communication technologies cannot.
Why Unified Communications?
UCaaS provides numerous benefits to businesses that adopt the technology. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of unified communications. First, what are the benefits of unified communications as a service?
1. Reduced Costs
Switching to UCaaS from older communications equipment can provide significant cost savings. The provider hosts the equipment at their facility and provides you with access to the service through the cloud. This means that you don’t have to purchase large amounts of hardware required to host the service at your own facility. You don’t need to do the work of administering the system, which can take a considerable amount of time and IT expertise, as well as finding storage space. With cloud-based services, there are almost no upfront costs. Instead, the service provider absorbs the initial equipment costs, and you pay as you consume the service. This setup ensures that you only pay for what you need and reduces your costs both in the short-term and long-term.
With UCaaS, updates and maintenance are also the responsibility of the service provider, which gives you the benefit of reliability and continual updates without the effort of completing the updates yourself.
Because your IT staff doesn’t need to worry about maintaining and upgrading your company’s communications technology, they’re free to focus on other projects that could have a more direct impact on your company’s growth. If your company doesn’t already have a large IT team, it could also save you from having to hire someone to manage your communications system.
With multiple clients and thousands of endpoints under management, UCaaS service providers can administer their systems more efficiently and cost-effectively than their clients could on their own. With cloud-based services, you will see a reduction in your monthly network-carrier services, because UCaaS only requires an internet connection to access the platform. What you do pay the provider for energy, hosting, maintenance, upgrades and the service itself can often be less than what you would pay if you hosted it yourself.
2. Advanced Functionality
Another one of the major benefits of unified communications technology is it enables advanced functionality that isn’t possible with other types of communications technology approaches. UCaaS allows you to interact through new channels, and enhance your communication in innovative ways.
Interaction can evolve, for example, by switching from voice to video. Instead of a simple voice call, you can collaborate via a video conference and share screens or documents. While a video conference is going on, employees can also communicate through other channels such as instant messaging, enhancing the experience of the conference call.
Some features of UCaaS platforms also make it easier to reach colleagues, partners and customers. With these platforms, you can easily check other users’ availability and communication capabilities so that you don’t waste time chasing people down and playing phone tag.
UCaaS also enables you to more effectively work remotely and reach people no matter where they are. You can, for instance, have one number where people can reach you both in the office and out in the field. Workers can also access their company’s communications tools from anywhere. These tools can expand a business’ reach and help employees to be more productive.
Cloud-based services also make it easier to keep up with the latest technologies. If you install your own equipment onsite, updating it can be timely and costly — or increase the chance you’ll fall behind on the most recent technological trends. With UCaaS, the provider updates their equipment, and you access the improved functionality through the cloud. This means you get the benefit of continuous updates without the costs and disruption associated with updating your own physical equipment.
3. More Flexibility
UCaaS gives your business much more flexibility in how it communicates. You can use more types of channels and devices from more locations, while seamlessly switching between them. This makes your business more agile and helps you adjust to changes more quickly.
When you have a UCaaS platform, you can choose between multiple communications methods, including voice, video, email, social and text, and use a variety of features that exist within these channels. This variety gives employees the ability to communicate in the ways they prefer and to reach out to customers using the methods that those customers prefer.
You can also access these channels on numerous types of devices, in addition to desktop, devices can also include computers, tablets and smartphones. This capability enables you to have a bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, policy — a rule that says that employees can use their own devices for work. As a recommended best practice, BYOD policies should also incorporate an acceptable use policy so employees understand what activities are appropriate in the workplace. Employees then have the ability to use whatever type of devices they’re most comfortable with, which can help make them be more productive.
UCaaS also gives you the ability to work from anywhere. Whether you’re in the office, in the field or on the road, you can access the same information and capabilities. This capability helps you to communicate with remote workers more effectively and enables you to build a workforce of people around the world, increasing your pool of potential employees and freelancers.
Cloud-based communications services are also extremely scalable. You can quickly add or remove users as well as functionality. This flexibility means you can quickly and cost-effectively expand your communications capabilities as your company grows or adjust your system according to seasonal changes in demand.
4. Superior Reliability
Your communications capabilities are crucial to your business, so you need them to work correctly at all times. If your communications channels are down, your employees can’t communicate effectively internally. If you miss a call because of downtime, you could lose a sale. It could also impact your reputation. If a customer knows your communications system isn’t reliable, they may also view your company as unreliable or unprofessional.
Whatever the consequences or costs of downtime might be for your business, one of the benefits of UCaaS is enhanced reliability. UCaaS providers have geo-redundancy built into their systems, so if one piece of equipment goes down, another, located in a different data center, will kick in. Even if one channel of communication goes down entirely, you can seamlessly switch to another. For example, if your camera breaks during a conference call, you can simply switch to just a voice call.
In addition to redundancy, cloud providers have the ability to put more focus on maintaining and repairing their equipment than many companies could for onsite equipment. Because providing cloud-based services is their main business, they can dedicate significant amounts of time and resources to maintaining reliability.
5. Streamlined Processes
UCaaS can help you to streamline your communications processes, saving you and your customers time. It combines all of your communication channels into one platform, giving you one place where you can check all of your messages. It also enables you to quickly switch back and forth between communication methods. Having all communications in one location can save employees time.
Presence management, which provides information about each user’s availability, can also save you time. It enables you to avoid calling people who won’t pick up and playing phone tag, which wastes time and can last for days. Instead, you can ensure you only call people when they’re available by checking before you call.
With unified communications, you get everything you need from one supplier. All your communications needs are included in one monthly payment, which helps you manage your budget and simplifies things for your accounting department.
6. Enhanced Collaboration
Another one of the main benefits of unified communication technology in the workplace is it enables enhanced collaboration, which can boost productivity and bring about new ideas. Employees have numerous channels to engage through, plus advanced features such as screen sharing and voicemail messaging. You use multiple modes of communications at once, enabling you to collaborate in more sophisticated ways and work on more than one project at once.
Video is especially useful for collaboration. With video conferencing, meetings feel similar to face-to-face interactions from anywhere in the world. This enables better engagements with employees, clients and partners without the costs of travel.
7. Communications Continuity
With unified communications, all your employees have access to the same information and resources wherever they are. Everyone is connected to the same system, so you have continuity whether employees are in the office, on the road or remote. This enables them to seamlessly communicate and keep information organized. Improving communication continuity within your company will improve employee collaboration and productivity.
All your communications channels are connected, which eliminates information silos that can make your company less productive. The more integrated your systems are, the easier it is to manage them and to improve the efficiency of your processes.
8. Confidence in Security
Cybersecurity is a major concern for today’s businesses. Consolidating your communication channels into one platform can make their security aspects easier to manage. It also enables you to work with a vendor that has stringent security processes and technologies in place. Just as cloud vendors often have more time and resources to dedicate to keeping their equipment and services updates and reliable, they also have more time and resources to devote to security. This additional focus on security can help keep your information safer. When choosing a UCaaS vendor, look for one with security certifications and expertise.
Challenges Associated With UCaaS
It’s crucial to consider both the pros and cons of UCaaS before adopting a new communications platform. While switching to unified communications provides many benefits, it can also present challenges, most of which are associated with navigating the transition to new technology. Changing any business system can be difficult. You need to invest time to train employees on how to use the new system most effectively, which takes time out of the regular workday. There will be a learning curve to adopt the new technology that prevents employees from using it to its full potential in the initial weeks following the cutover. There may also be some workers who are resistant to the change, which can slow down the adoption process.
When considering unified communications advantages and disadvantages, remember that if you execute adoption effectively, the long-term benefits should outweigh the short-term disruptions. While training employees how to use the new system will take some time, and it will take you time to get used to the new technology, you can expect increased efficiency over the long term. Creating a deployment plan and working with a vendor that offers unlimited help desk support can help ensure you start reaping the benefits of your new unified communications platform more quickly. You should also communicate clearly how the new system will benefit users.
Choose the Right UCaaS Provider
UCaaS offers numerous benefits for today’s companies. Working with an experienced company that’s willing to help you throughout the process of choosing, deploying and using your UCaaS platform can help you ensure you get the most out of it. That’s exactly what you’ll get with UCaaS.
We’ve been a technology partner to Pennsylvania companies for more than 70 years, and we’d love to help your business use its technology to its full potential. We’ll talk with you about your needs and help you choose the right product for you. We’ll also work with you as you deploy your new technology, and we’ll be by your side with our team of project managers, network engineers and field technicians for years to come, helping to ensure that your business runs smoothly.
Our unified communications services can combine nearly every facet of your business’ communications into one highly advanced cloud-based platform that includes unified messaging, video collaboration, voicemail messaging, wireless mobility, web-based management, find-me/follow-me functionality, presence management and more. We also offer a range of other solutions, including computer networking, security solutions and 24/7 IT support, to provide an integrated user experience. Our managed IT services can save your company time and money and help you meet your business goals.
Now that you know some of the top reasons to go with UCaaS, are you interested in learning more about your options? To talk with one of our experts about how we can help you grow your business, contact us online or call us today at (717) 761-6170.