Over 80% of people use text messaging for business - compared to the good old days of sending a letter by carrier pigeon, we have come a long way. But are we really being as effective as possible with our enterprise communications?
Communications infrastructure has primarily been deployed by the specific enterprise for their employees. With the rise of the cloud, this has all started to change, and be more cost-effective and secure for enterprises. Read on to learn what unified communications is and whether or not your business is implementing it in the most beneficial way.
First off, What is Unified Communications?
Unified Communications (UC) is real-time and non-real-time communications meant to optimize business processes and increase user productivity. UC is the integration of enterprise-level, real-time communications like chat, voice, audio and video conferencing, with enterprise-level, non-real time communications like unified messaging. It can be implemented in several ways, including on-premise, hosted, and in the cloud.
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is when UC are implemented in the cloud. This offers several benefits to enterprises that want to lower upfront costs, enhance security, and keep up-to-date on the latest and best trends in UC.
What are Some Benefits of Unified Communications as a Service?
UCaaS is valuable to enterprises for a few reasons, not the least of which being related to capital costs.
- Shifting to the Operating Cost Model: By switching to UCaaS, you shift from a capital investment model to an operating cost model. This means that enterprises do not have the vast upfront costs that you come to expect from on-premise solutions.
- Fewer Employees: By switching to UCaaS, you will no longer need as many IT staff. Instead, the service providers are responsible for ensuring they have the most technically skilled and up-to-date IT staff to fulfill your requirements.
- Easily Increase or Decrease Your Load: By switching to uCaaS, you can change your usage requirements as you need. This differs drastically from on-premise models, where you must predict your operating requirements and stay ahead. This leaves a lot of risk for being over-capacity.
What are Some Cons to Unified Communications as a Service?
UCaaS is sometimes seen as the bad guy by enterprises that are particularly concerned with customization and security. Is there validity to this?
- Customization: If your business wants a significant amount of customization, on-premise may be the proper solution for you. On-premise communications platforms can give you exactly how much customization you need, because you hire the IT staff that manages it directly. However, this comes with higher operating costs, as you must pay for more employees and for employees to keep up-to-date and technically savvy.
- Security: Some enterprises are cautious to put their data in the cloud for security purposes, but this is largely a misconception. If anything, service providers give a typically more secure place for UC, as they provide redundancy of data. Many also highlight the importance of security by hiring proper IT staff and information security experts.
What are Some Examples of UCaaS?
The leading UCaaS providers include several powerhouses like Cisco, Vonage, and RingCentral.
- Cisco WebEx Teams
- Jive Communications
- West Unified Communications Services
- Microsoft Teams
In addition to these, we also consider industry leaders like Slack and Skype for Business. Though these are not considered unified communications by some, we choose to cast our vision much larger. Companies like Gartner hold unified communications to a strict definition including:
- Offer a UC solution that unifies all areas defined by Gartner’s UC model.
- The ability to offer clients for multiple environments.
- The ability to integrate with other communication applications like contact centers and collaboration services.
- Have a significant market presence in at least 3 areas of UC.
- Offer their services in multiple regions, including APAC, North America, and Europe.
- Provide evidence of sales and revenue.
- Provide proof of on-premises enterprise UC capabilities.
Slack, Skype for Business, and others meet the majority of this criteria, outside of providing an on-premise solution. With a community that is largely moving away from on-premise, we believe that this should not be a marked indicator of a UC product. Many companies use Slack and Skype for Business for their team communications. They should be included as major players in the space.