The pace of change in how businesses communicate has only become more rapid in the last few decades, and it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. A hybrid approach between the home and the office has now become the norm, giving an incentive for the development of solutions that streamline and simplify collaboration between colleagues. Traditional legacy systems are now costly in terms of both time and money, opening the door to Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).
What is Unified Communication as a Service?
These cloud-based solutions integrate multiple communication channels into a single platform, giving users the ability to utilise voice, video, and instant messaging in a single platform. With these solutions available on multiple devices, employees have greater control over how they collaborate with their colleagues, ushering in a brand-new era of workplace productivity. But how exactly does UCaaS help in this regard? What can UCaaS do to take businesses to a whole new level in efficiency?
The importance of streamlined workplace communication
The global market size of UCaaS is set to reach $44.7 billion by 2030, showing how greater value is being placed on innovative new communication strategies. UCaaS gives organisations the means to solve a variety of challenges that threaten to limit and obstruct daily operations, including concerns over collaboration, maintaining systems, and the costs associated with communication services. It’s imperative for businesses to phase out poor communication strategies, especially as they can cost organisations $62.4 million per year in lost productivity.
There is a consensus among employees that their place of work simply isn’t doing enough in terms of fostering collaboration. Despite it being valued as ‘very important’ by 75% of employees, only 9% felt that their business had the right tools in place to enable effective sharing and collaboration. Disjointed communications lead to the creation of silos between teams, inevitably leading to decreased productivity due to a lack of direction when attempting to collaborate. By consolidating tools into one platform, UCaaS can start to break down these silos and create a culture of collaboration.
Enhancing workplace productivity from any location
Hybrid working is continuing to evolve, as employees are looking to enjoy the full benefits of a more flexible working model. With employees working from multiple locations thanks to access from a range of devices, communication tools must have the capability to make collaboration as easy as possible. Since UCaaS operates in the cloud, all remote employees need is a stable internet connection to access the same level of call quality that office workers enjoy. Considering 83% of workers prefer hybrid working, UCaaS is the best way in enabling businesses to implement a remote working policy.
Accessing the right tools in a timely manner is vital in making sure that remote employees don’t lose their productivity when working away from the office. Time isn’t lost switching from platform to platform, and users can manage multiple communication channels from a single location. Businesses using UCaaS solutions can make decisions 2.6 times faster thanks to real-time collaboration and the ability to avoid the burden of lengthy email exchanges that only lead to the possibility of key pieces of information being lost. This alignment ultimately increased productivity, as more than 75% of UCaaS users can attest to.
Legacy communication solutions require expensive on-premise equipment to be able to operate, which is a certified way of racking up a hefty bill. Costly maintenance, increased spending on energy, and the need to buy physical hardware are just some of the ways that legacy technology can drain finances. Businesses must also divert IT resources to provide upkeep to on-premise equipment. This steadily becomes more of a burden in time due to a lack of upgrade options.
When adopting new technology, these financial concerns can be forgotten. What UCaaS does is provide a more cost-effective way of communicating by unifying multiple platforms and streamlining processes. Operating in the cloud eliminates the need for on-premise equipment, with businesses utilising a cloud environment reporting cost reductions of 50-70%. Upgrading systems and maintaining them is now the responsibility of the service provider, freeing up both financial and personnel resources that can be diverted to more pressing business concerns. With some UCaaS systems offering a pay-per-user model, businesses don’t have to overspend on services and only pay for what they need.
Businesses must be responsive to any changes in demand, regardless of whether it’s increasing due to onboarding new users or decreasing when staff leave. Failing to be mobile to this fluctuating demand leaves businesses open to potentially wasting resources if they over-invest in hardware, or being ineffective if they haven’t devoted enough to expanding their communication capabilities. Lacking scalability can prove disastrous for businesses, especially if they are continuously pushing for growth and finding the best ways to remain efficient in markets that are becoming more competitive.
There’s a good reason why scalability is the top UCaaS adoption driver for businesses. Traditional phone systems, as already established, rely on physical hardware that make upgrades and expansion difficult, but the cloud alleviates this pain by making the ability to add or remove lines much more seamless. When participating in markets that can be volatile and unpredictable, scalability is a necessity to stay productive and avoid the risk of being unable to deal with customer demand. By having more control over the number of lines that are currently being used, businesses can scale more effectively without relying on additional hardware or IT support, which certainly provides further evidence of the cost-effectiveness of UCaaS overall.
Security and reliability
In the last three years, the global average cost of a data breach has increased by 15% and reached a value of $4.45 million. Cyber security has now become a topic that appears at the top of a business leader’s list of priorities, with 88% of company executives viewing cyber security as a more serious threat to overall business operations. Having multiple communication platforms opens businesses to more points of attack, which only becomes more serious with employees working remotely and using public networks to access business servers. These breaches can damage trust with customers, lead to downtime in services, and potentially result in hefty fines if customer data is compromised.
The added levels of security that come with UCaaS solutions, including encryption and disaster recovery protocols, can alleviate any concerns about data breaches. Complying with guidelines, such as GDPR, only builds that vital level of trust between businesses and customers that fuels growth and ultimately drives organisations towards their long-term goals. While UCaaS does provide an extra level of security and business continuity, threats like phishing, malicious malware, or a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack remain. This isn’t, however, the time to panic and accept the inevitable assault that paralyses business functionality; instead, now is the time to assess how secure and compliant a UCaaS provider can be. The most attractive options are those that fit perfectly into the needs of the business and, above all, protect valuable points of data regardless of employee location.
What does the future hold for UCaaS?
Just like any technology, UCaaS will never stand still. Service providers will always be looking to find new ways to improve upon the technology behind UCaaS and to enhance user experience. Businesses are already beginning to anticipate these changes, with more than half of IT spending set to be devoted to cloud computing by 2025, for example. AI has the potential to enhance real-time communications, as greater usage only makes it more capable of undertaking tasks like routing calls or analysing voices. The rise of 5G will make working remotely far easier due to better connectivity, and only fuel the reliance on cloud-based services like UCaaS.
These emerging technologies will certainly make the UCaaS market far more competitive, with each of these providers dedicated to giving businesses a more seamless and streamlined way to communicate, both internally and externally. Breaking down barriers in communication can improve a workforce’s productivity and give businesses the incentive they need to achieve their long-term goals. Although it’s difficult to predict what exactly the future will bring, there’s no doubt that UCaaS will become more beneficial to businesses and change the way that we work for the better.