You’ve probably heard of ‘unified communications’ (UC). It’s one of those impactful business buzzwords that sounds like it promises to vanquish a variety of problems in one fell swoop. However, that’s because it can. Combining every channel of business communication into a single, cloud service platform, UC is an increasingly popular choice for businesses seeking ways to expand, modernise and reduce communications costs.

Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) differs very slightly from UC.  A UCaaS solution provides many of the same benefits of UC, but these are instead accessed through a single hosted environment. This means that all of the applications, services and communication tools a business needs are available via one platform, usually hosted by a UCaaS service provider and high-speed Ethernet service.

How does UCaaS work?

Giving employers and employees alike instant access to either a preselected or specifically tailored set of tools, UCaaS is all about connection and communication. All staff receive the same, real time, ideal user experience for the type of work they perform – and can do so from any connected device. This means that remote and mobile workers have the same access and are never out of the loop, while internal communications are no longer limited to one workspace.

TechTarget’s experience of UCaaS is that it provides flexibility and scalability of core business tasks, making it an ideal solution for small businesses and start-ups that hope to expand. Once you have a UcaaS provider in place, it’s usually a case of using the service in a ‘pay as you go’ format.

This means increased manageability of your planning and budgeting, and is one of the reasons why many other media outlets, including Inc., report that UC products can “improve productivity and save you valuable time and money.

Access to instant messaging communications platforms also gives staff the ideal tool for simultaneously communicating with their colleagues and dealing with important or difficult calls. This is due to all staff being part of the same converged voice and data network, with each team member able to access the same tools, regardless of where they happen to be working.

However, you don’t need a multitude of mobile staff to take advantage of UCaaS (or, at least you don’t need any yet). When all of your workplace staff use the same applications through the same channel, you immediately stand a better chance of delivering more consistent work. Plus, you’ll have fully-qualified employees on hand to show any ‘newbies’ how you work and what you work with.

As well as setting you up positively for any future expansion of your business, cloud-based services come with increased security and cloud backup as standard. Also, the longer these communication technologies are around, the more businesses will be signing up to their services. Finding out how UCaaS services will benefit your business now is ensuring that it remains competitive in the future.

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Are there other benefits?

Promising a more efficient business in the future isn’t the most tangible of benefits, agreed. However, UCaaS does come complete with a number of other perks that you can take advantage of immediately.

For instance, not every business, particularly smaller operations, can afford to spend time and money on IT services. With a UCaaS service, you’ll have an expert provider on hand, perhaps 24/7 – like our contact centre – to help you resolve any problems with your cloud-based service.

You’ll also be able to scale the level of your service up and down, in line with business growth or any seasonal fluctuations. Adding tools and applications to your service as you expand, UCaaS grows and scales with your business.

If you don’t do much in the way of video conferencing now, you might integrate it into your communications methods. Do you rely on emails for internal communications and document-sharing? Then try instant messaging platforms and dedicated document-sharing applications instead.

According to TechTarget, moving to UCaaS is “no longer a matter of if but when.” Although saving money is often the most enticing aspect of switching to this service, this one is perhaps the most pressing. Making the change now will give you an advantage over competitors who delay, but it will also be putting your communication technologies on the same level as many others.

Providing businesses with the chance to really make the most of this latest in ‘communication innovation’, there will come a time when switching is essential, not optional.

Looking for the right UC Platform for your business?

Providing a rich, collaborative experience that is built on the award winning Horizon Hosted PBX.

Quite simply, Horizon Collaborate is designed to improve productivity and increase collaborative team working – and it does just that.

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How do we make the change?

Start by looking at your existing communications infrastructure, including telecoms, networked devices and any mobile devices or remote workspaces you use. Check that the available tech is up to spec, and whether or not your telephones are compatible with cloud-based services. If you have any questions on these aspects, please contact us to discuss how we can help you to upgrade your business today.

It could be identified that you need new, fibre optic internet installation (Gamma Business Broadband could be the ideal solution here), or that the handsets you currently use need to be upgraded, too. If you already use networked computers and any cloud-based services, it’s likely that your desktop devices will be ready-made for UCaaS. Then, it’s a case of selecting the applications you need and setting a date to upgrade your systems.

Before your new service is live, you could also look at your existing personnel and decipher which individuals are best suited to leading the way in your new communications strategy. If you have any particularly tech-savvy employees, they could help to drive your business forward with your new tools.

You could also allocate specific duties to certain individuals or teams, and identify dates to meet with them for feedback, as your UCaaS service begins. You and the individuals you have chosen to drive your business forward may need to deliver small training sessions to other staff, in order to ensure a smooth transition.

However, when using cloud-based tools and applications, every user you assign will be notified of further upgrades to the software. Subsequently, every member of staff will receive essential information at the same time – you’ll know that nobody is being left behind. Hence, when you hire new employees, you’ll be introducing them to a skilled workforce where everybody knows how to assist them in their new role.