Sep 8, 2021
These days, given uncertainty around in-person life and the ever-growing accessibility of the internet, more businesses and organizations provide more goods and services virtually than ever before. Across business sectors, clients and customers now often have the option of receiving goods, information, and services without ever stepping foot in a store or an office. Healthcare providers are expanding capabilities for on-demand and virtual care. Students learn and attend office hours virtually. Teams continue to work in remote and hybrid models.
With these shifts, being able to reliably “stay in touch” is as important as ever—as is the business imperative to reduce overhead costs. This is why more and more businesses and teams continue to adopt more unified communication, or UCaaS, solutions. In fact, according to data compiled by GM Insights, as reported by B2C, adoption of UCaaS models has grown exponentially over the last decade—but especially in the past year. By the year 2022, in the U.S. alone, the market for UCaaS is projected to be more than $20 billion.
These business communications systems are popular because they allow for integration of voice over IP (VoIP) calling and other modes of communication, like chat, video, and text, with other applications that your teams may already use. In comparison to an exclusive reliance on traditional, on-premise PBX phone systems, that most often require more maintenance and infrastructure investment, UCaaS solutions can offer businesses more flexibility in the way they communicate both internally and with external clients and customers—without the same costly investment in phone system equipment and infrastructure. UCaaS integration also means that multiple modes of communication can happen within a single platform, simplifying communication across the board and allowing instant communication, even when a phone call is not possible.
Trying to decide whether or not it makes sense for your company to adopt UCaaS? Primary benefits of adopting UCaaS include:
Ease and convenience: Today, communicating primarily via video, text, and chat is becoming a more common preference for both consumers and employees. Being able to easily relay information without having to always pick up the phone also allows for more instantaneous diffusion of information and response times to customers.
Cost savings and predictability: Cloud-based communications solutions are managed via monthly subscription, as opposed to the up-front expense required to purchase a new software solution or phone equipment. Traditional phone systems can require more hardware repair, equipment upgrades and other unexpected expenses. UCaaS comes with a lower, consistent invoice from month-to-month.
Expanded security capability: Cloud communications services should be expected to include security features like encryption, service monitoring, and security protocols.
Mobility and virtual capability: Now more than ever, organizations need communications systems that eliminate geographical considerations from both the service operations and the hiring process. Virtual teams can enjoy mobility and operate more productively using video conferencing and other modes of communication to instantly share ideas and access shared work spaces.
Still, when looking at cloud-based, hosted phone services, it is important to distinguish UCaaS systems from hosted PBX, or VoIP, phone systems. Hosted PBX systems also offer flexibility, don’t rely on on-premise cables and infrastructure, and allow employees to route calls to mobile, tablets, and desktops. However, UCaaS systems take VoIP a step further by integrating internet-hosted calling with other applications, across a single platform. If your company primarily relies on phones, and not so much on integrated chats, video, and text, but you still need more flexibility, cost savings, or call forwarding options for your phone system, you might also consider investing in a VoIP provider.
There are, of course, still many instances when retaining at least some form of premise-based phone access still makes sense for a business, even if you might expand your communications systems to take advantage of the benefits of UCaaS. The most obvious potential limitation of exclusively relying on cloud-based communications is that functionality is going to be as strong as the quality of available internet connections. While there can also be outages with LAN or other phone network connections, they are not usually as common as downtime due to internet disruptions. For large, on-site offices and business operations, hybrid communications models that utilize both on-premise and cloud-based systems will enable flexibility and expanded capability, while still providing backup connection if there are ever internet issues.
Even for small businesses, it is helpful to consider that in some areas where service options are few or not as reliable, it may be also necessary to retain an on-premise phone system, especially if phone communications are essential to your day-to-day operations.
While UCaaS is clearly an integral piece of the future business communications, it can be challenging to know when and how is best to adopt new technologies you need to meet your business goals. At Milner, we work with a wide array of clients to meet their communications and technology needs and help them stay competitive within their markets. Our UCaaS solution specialists can consult with you to determine your company's best path toward a future-proof communication technology strategy—whether it will utilize UCaaS, VoIP, on-premise, or a hybrid system.