What Is Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)?
What is UCaaS?
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) has been receiving an inordinate amount of attention recently in light of recent events.
As businesses scramble to get to grips with what it means to organize a remote workforce, many are left unprepared.
63% of company departments have at least one person who works remotely for a significant amount of time, but 57% of businesses have no formal work-from-home policies
The global market for UCaaS was already surging as cloud computing becomes more ubiquitous in the business world, but now there is an even greater need for UCaaS services.
UCaaS is a technology that harnesses cloud-based services to streamline enterprise communications.
The “unified communications” refer to the vast number of channels businesses use to exchange information, such as:
- Web, audio, and video conferencing
The “as a service” part denotes the unique software that eliminates the need for full IT staff or intricate IT infrastructure, by allowing enterprises to run their businesses from anywhere in the world at all times.
But UCaaS is more than an exchange of information.
Among other things, it’s a way to increase efficiency by increasing your ability to utilize instant communication in your business processes.
It improves mobility across departments and satellite locations, and it helps to integrate external software in a smooth and consistent manner.
And that’s just the beginning of what UCaaS can help your enterprise achieve.
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) Versus Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)
There’s no simple answer when comparing these two technologies, since each may help businesses unlock specific benefits depending upon their needs and goals.
VOIP helps organizations increase cost savings on voice communications by providing an inexpensive alternative to traditional, landline phone services.
It is implemented through your internet service provider (ISP) using a special adaptor.
Staff then use headsets or softphones to make calls and access features such as caller ID, call waiting, forwarding, blocking, and voicemail.
UCaaS, however, delivers collaboration tools such as instant messaging, video conferencing, file sharing, and more through an agreement with a United Communications enterprise.
This vendor will install relevant infrastructure and/or cloud resources, depending on the tools you need.
Features of UCaaS
With a variety of collaboration services available to facilitate communication using a cloud-based delivery model, UCaaS offers decision-makers a variety of capabilities to enhance intra- and inter-business communication.
- VoIP for telephony
- Video conferencing to facilitate remote workers and off-site teams
- Enterprise mobility through mobile accessibility
- Instant messaging for real-time communication
- Communications platform as a services (CPaaS) for real-time cloud-based communications
- Customer relationship management to analyze data and improve customer relationships and interactions
- Contact center features that allow customers to access assistance through chat, messaging, email, etc.
Why Are More SMBs using UCaaS?
Traditional office spaces are being disrupted by an increase in mobile and remote workers and trends toward bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies in the workplace.
31% of businesses are looking to shed technical debt in the form of legacy systems and adopt flexible cloud-based systems and applications—expect this figure to increase drastically in the near future
These two factors alone require that an enterprise’s communications system function across a wide variety of platforms while ensuring data is safe and secure—a primary reason more SMBs are shifting toward this technology.
In addition to the improved efficiency that can result from streamlining communications systems into one platform, UCaaS provides a way for businesses to achieve a high level of cost savings.
Communication barriers cost the average organization $62.4 million per year in lost productivity
As an advanced technology, UCaaS systems operate more efficiently—and cost effectively—than more traditional communications models, saving money and increasing productivity.
Of course, that increased productivity means employees are getting more work done faster, and that can lead to significant increases in revenue.
Finally, smoother communications translate into a better customer service experience, giving your organization the ability to meet or exceed consumer demands for a competitive advantage.
UCaaS: Security & Compliance
There’s no doubt that cybersecurity is a major concern for SMBs.
With nearly half of all cyberattacks aimed at them, savvy small businesses are always looking for ways to tighten security and increase data protection.
However, now that more data is being kept in cloud-based systems, there’s been an increase in technological development of security protections specifically designed to minimize the risks of hacking, DDoS attacks, malware and more as they relate to data in the cloud.
Things to look for in a good UCaaS system include:
- A secure data center for strong physical security, power redundancy, and disaster recovery
- Data encryption to prevent eavesdropping and hacking
- Encryption or protection of communications in the form of calls and messages
- Robust network security
- Controllable and monitored account access and administration
- Periodic updates, upgrades, and patches
As an example, Microsoft Teams provides a framework that allows enterprises to allow first- and third-party services into the team environment for a full-features collaborative experience.
However, they also provide data encryption along the entire communication route, as well as supporting key compliance standards for both North America and the European Union.
Why is it Important for Modern Businesses to Have Good Communication?
When interdepartmental communications break down, information, processes, priorities, and tools aren’t shared among departments—a process known as “siloing.”
This process has a measurable impact on operations, reduces morale, and can have a negative impact on culture and revenue.
Healthy cross-department communication is essential for businesses looking to undergo a culture shift through successful digital transformation.
Unifying connections among departments can keep everyone on the same page, increase efficiency and productivity, encourage collaboration, and improve morale.
Communications such as email newsletters, accessible and modifiable meeting schedules, employee feedback, and team-monitoring solutions like Microsoft Teams all assist in building a strong, unified working culture.
UCaaS is for Every Level in Your Organization
Everyone in your office can benefit from having a universal communications system that isn’t constrained to one department.
Support and call center staff can leverage reporting and analytics to improve response time and quality.
Outside sales will appreciate the ability to have real-time information at their fingertips to close deals more effectively and stay in close contact with leads and other team members.
Onsite staff can easily transition from a mobile phone to a desktop computer with the press of a button.
The ability to organize call groups and paging groups, chat with teammates through a web portal, or set up dedicated number-based conference calls makes collaboration simple.
Benefits of Utilizing a UCaaS Solution
UCaaS assists companies in overcoming communications challenges by streamlining processes, both internally and externally.
Distilled down to the three most obvious benefits for the stakeholders—businesses, their employees, and their customers—the principal benefits of a UCaaS solutions include:
UCaaS allows employees to work in any location—in the office or remotely—and have access to all pertinent data they need to do their job 24/7.
Not only does this increase the agility of your enterprise, but it boosts productivity and morale.
Productivity is amplified when UCaaS is engaged to increase the speed and effectiveness of communication among departments, between individuals, and with customers.
Objectives are accomplished more efficiently through enhanced communications that keep data within reach at all times.
Finally, robust communication tools help employees collaborate more effectively, resulting in a positive and collaborative culture and, ultimately, a better experience for your customers as well.
- UCaaS offers significant benefits to SMBs looking for way to improve their communication structures
- As an advanced technology, UCaaS systems operate more efficiently—and cost effectively—than more traditional communications models, saving money and increasing productivity
- There are benefits from UCaaS at every level of business, including cross-departmental communications
- UCaaS increases productivity, flexibility, and collaboration for enhanced corporate culture, better customer relationships, and increased revenue while keeping costs to a minimum
In light of recent events, many organizations have found themselves playing catchup, trying to implement makeshift digital solutions to make up lost ground while their workforces transition to remote work for the immediate future.
Impact Networking has been in the business of helping SMBs for over 20 years, and our solutions for remote work are used successfully by our customers every day. Learn more about UCaaS by checking out our Productivity Suite offerings.