Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is a modernized approach to real-time communications. Communications systems have evolved over the years from single feature systems into more robust platforms that can seamlessly handle and integrate many forms of communication.
Businesses from all industries are now racing to develop their own UCaaS systems. But no two businesses are the same, and it’s important that you know what to expect from a UCaaS system, how they work, the costs, and more.
Let’s start with the basics of UCaaS first.
What Does UCaaS Stand For?
UCaaS is the acronym for unified communications as a service. UCaaS is a service where multiple methods of communication are combined into one package and sold “as a service,” or through a third-party provider.
Your current cell phone communication service provider (CSP) likely can send text messages, make voice calls, and record videos to others through a single plan. These types of multi-featured plans are the core of unified communications.
Similar services are available for businesses to streamline communication among employees or between a customer and a service representative. These kinds of UCaaS systems can be integrated with other business applications to add to their utility.
You’ll likely hear business users referring to UCaaS as Business VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or cloud PBX. These terms are similar to UCaaS, but have a few subtle differences.
Why Is UCaaS Important?
The smartphone has become a staple piece of hardware that every employee is expected to carry, and with it comes a plethora of different avenues for communicating with the workplace. These methods of communication include:
- Text messaging
- Phone calls
- Instant messaging
- VoIP services like Skype
There’s a good chance your phone has separate apps for each of these functions. Having to check each app for updates to the project at work can be messy, time-wasting, and risky since it’s incredibly easy to miss something.
Does this sound familiar?
Imagine discussing a project through Slack. A few minutes later, you need to schedule a call on Zoom. Meanwhile, your receiving additional updates about the project from an employee on WhatsApp.
That’s where UCaaS comes in. Businesses can integrate all of their communications into a single cloud softphone – saving a business time and money.
How UCaaS Works
The “as a service” term has become increasingly popular. Software as a service (SaaS, for instance, is a distribution model in which the publisher hosts software programs over the Internet for customers to access.
“As a service” platforms are the norm today. The majority of companies prefer this subscription model because of the increased revenues it provides.
This same model is now taking over the telecommunications industry as CSPs work to provide feature-rich B2B softphone and VoIP solutions. UCaaS for businesses covers enterprise-grade messaging, calling, and video conferencing to help your team cooperate more effectively. Plus, many of these services come with call center integration to bring other features such as call routing, transferring, and more.
The Different Types of UCaaS Systems
A single-tenancy UCaaS system integrates with the hardware you already have set up on the premises. One instance of the communications software serves one individual customer so that no two customers share the same database.
The advantage here is improved security and reliability. Each customer’s data is kept separate from the others, and, if one customer’s service suffers from downtime, the others can continue to use the line.
This setup is more expensive to operate as the customer must pay for the upgrade costs through custom software required to run the service.
In a multi-tenant UCaaS system, one instance of the software is hosted in the cloud at the provider’s data center and serves many users at once.
With online integration, the provider can handle the installation and maintenance from their end for a monthly fee so that your company won’t need an IT department to use it. Thus, the benefits here are lower cost, more convenient support, and automatic updates.
You will likely receive fewer customization options with this option since most of the service is in direct control of the UCaaS provider.
Confused about which option is best for your case? Why not consider a hybrid system that many organizations opt for? They practically combine some of the advantages of both and are common for companies transitioning from one system to another.
The Evolution of Business Communication
Correspondence in the corporate sphere has changed dramatically. Traditional telephone systems were slowly phased out in favor of online methods such as email many years ago. And with the coming of 5G, this trend is only going to continue.
Enterprise organizations began picking up private branch exchange (PBX) systems that allowed multiple users to share a limited number of phone lines by distributing extension codes to each device. This removed the need to install a dedicated phone line for every user. However, PBX required specialized hardware that wasn’t always cheap to implement.
UCaaS should be seen as the successor to PBX, improving upon its flaws in several key ways.
Why Are Businesses Switching to UCaaS?
While other methods of business communication involve in-house hardware and maintenance, UCaaS uniquely outsources all the installation and maintenance to the service provider, reducing the cost and potential downtime for your company.
Since all devices connect to the Internet with no direct wiring necessary, UCaaS is more flexible and scalable for growing companies. New users can easily be added, and software can be installed on compatible devices with ease.
And finally, you often receive far more advanced feature sets through UCaaS, including:
- Voicemail to email transcription
- Online faxing
- iOS and Android apps
- Integration with other business platforms (Skype, Salesforce, Outlook, etc.)
- Call management features (like call screening, call logs, and visual voicemail)
- Call center-specific services (automated receptionists, music on hold, etc.)
- The ability to transfer files
- Ongoing support for device and operating system updates
How Does UCaaS Benefit Customers?
UCaaS not only streamlines the correspondence among employees, but it also makes interacting with your customers easier as well.
Many modern customers prefer talking over text messaging, citing its convenience and faster response times. Yet, few businesses are capitalizing on this preference. UCaaS applications offer this feature to call centers and other businesses looking to improve their real-time communications capabilities with a reliable VoIP platform.
Is UCaaS Right for You?
UCaaS is definitely worth investigating if you’re looking for more efficient communication amongst employees and customers without incurring a massive cost.
Larger organizations are starting to transition into UCaaS since it’s more scalable and expandable than other alternatives. Managing business locations around the globe and adding new users without investing in major infrastructure changes is enough to convince companies as large as Amazon and Google to take the plunge.
Not all industries welcome cloud-based technologies as willingly. If you deal with extremely sensitive information like patients’ medical documents in the healthcare industry, you may not trust the cloud with your sensitive data.
Luckily, there are UCaaS and APaaS providers like Acrobits on the market that offer best in class encryption to our clients. Are you interested in learning more about UCaaS trends? Check out our blog post on that here.
In our next post, we’ll show you why UCaaS is the right choice for businesses like yours.