What Is UCaaS: Calling, Instant Messaging, AI, and More All in One Application
According to Custom Market Insights, the global UCaaS market is expected to reach USD 61.07 billion by the end of 2022. With a predicted growth of 26.43% from 2022 to 2030, the increasing popularity of UCaaS is by no means insignificant. But what is UCaaS, and what can it do for your business? Let’s find out.
What Is UCaaS?
UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) describes a cloud-delivered unified communications model. But let’s backpedal a little.
What Is Unified Communications?
Also known by its acronym, UC, unified communications refers to the equipment, services, and software that comprise multiple enterprise communication channels.
Common examples of UC include voice, video, instant team and individual messaging, collaboration, and document sharing. It also controls, manages, and integrates the associated channels. The most widely-known benefits of UC include increased business efficiency, productivity, and simplicity.
What Are the Three Main Components of Unified Communications?
- Web Conferencing from any location, including features like screen sharing and collaboration tools.
- Unified Messaging across platforms – both internal and external.
- Voice Calling via VoIP technology enables remote access through mobile devices, laptops, and PC.
Summing up, UC enables a team member to send a message on one platform and receive the same communication on a different platform. For instance, you could instantly access a voicemail message through email or cell phone.
Back to UCaaS platforms – its infrastructure is owned, maintained, controlled, and delivered by a provider. Think data centers and multinational operations – in fact, any business that needs to bridge geographies and office locations.
UCaaS solutions typically combine a cloud-based private branch exchange (PBX) for internal and external communications, and are synonymous with hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), hosted voice, cloud voice, hosted PBX, and cloud PBX.
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Just a few of the ways UCaaS solutions improve internal business collaboration and communications include:
- Desktop and cell phone push notifications
- Real-time analytics
- File-sharing capabilities
- Virtual whiteboard
- Scheduled and instant video conferencing
- Task management
For further information on the features of business VoIP services, you can check out this comparison of VoIP phones in Canada.
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What Are the Benefits of UCaaS?
UCaaS platforms provide businesses with flexible and affordable communication and collaboration tools. Many organizations choose UCaaS due to revenue-increasing opportunities. Others implement it to streamline their processes and enhance communication.
So, what else is good about UCaaS?
Reducing IT Workloads
UCaaS solutions help to streamline workflows and reduce IT workloads across your organization.
Enabling your entire workforce to communicate effectively from any location frees up IT staff to work on other tasks. And because UCaaS providers manage communications and administrate the system off-site, this lessens your IT staff’s workloads and allows them to focus on higher-priority projects.
UCaaS delivers total integration of communication services in one functional place.
Whether your business uses business voice and telephony, conferencing solutions, email, instant team messaging, audio, video, or all of the above, UCaaS has you covered. Remote companies especially benefit from a cross-functional UCaaS solution that is flexible enough to meet their business’s needs.
Cloud-based software and platforms make updating security a much simpler task. Without battling with manual security updates, your business has time to consider the security vs. compliance debate.
Security relates to your business’s systems and controls that protect its assets, whereas compliance refers to meeting preset third-party standards that denote best practices or legal requirements.
UCaaS delivers on both scores — just ensure that your UCaaS provider can host your confidential information and data in a secure data center and guarantee PCI, GDPR, and any ISO standards compliance.
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Pay Per User
Cloud-based telephone and collaboration systems are typically charged on a usage basis.
Why is this a good thing? It means that you pay for user space and bandwidth as you go, and you don’t pay for anything you don’t use. Also, UCaaS systems provide access to high-end features and upgrades – sometimes for no extra charge.
Monthly fees are usually charged per phone line, user, or ‘seat.’ The pricing structure of UCaaS makes this type of system much more flexible and affordable, especially for start-ups or businesses looking to scale quickly.
Simple Setup and User-Friendly
Typically, cloud-based communications systems are simple to set up, easy to manage, and intuitive to access.
Cloud providers that specialize in UCaaS solutions can migrate your system in next to no time with minimal business disruption. Then, once your system is ready to go, you can add new users and groups without compromising security or compliance.
While UCaaS gives your business all the important features in one application, your UCaaS software might not be the only one your workplace uses. Technology advances like API mean that the integration of third-party services is simple.
Your IT and development teams can “pull” the services they want into your central communications dashboard and integrate them into your workplace workflow.
Implementing UCaaS can help to bring all your communications systems and operating system tasks together. Because many business applications benefit from UCaaS solutions (CRMs, customer support, and data storage, to name just a few), integration with essential business apps is crucial.
For example, SendGrid integrations with your UCaaS platform enable you to create customizable workflows and communicate them to the rest of the team – from any location.
UCaaS technology has a broader feature set than standard communications tools.
UCaaS offers administration and maintenance management functions, online integrations, and built-in security. Your business can benefit from features including online fax services, softphones, mobile apps, wireless mobility, digital receptionists, and conference management tools. These components are “always-on,” – enabling instant communication from any device and location.
Following on from the last point, if you do run into trouble setting up your UCaaS system, you’ll have unlimited support on hand to help.
A cloud-based solution must have a dedicated support system, as any migration phase can be challenging. Seek ongoing support from your provider, such as fast response times, efficient collaboration tools, 24/7 availability, training programs, and product guides. An offering of unlimited help desk support is a boon for your business and will ensure you optimize your UCaaS experience.
No Hardware Costs
In addition to the pay-per-user pricing model, there are no hardware purchase costs associated with cloud-native architecture like UCaaS (unless you choose to invest in physical handsets or headsets for voice). Your UCaaS provider absorbs initial equipment expenses, and you just pay for what you consume.
Because UCaaS only requires an internet connection to access the platform, what you do pay can often be less than what you would pay if you hosted it yourself.
UCaaS enables businesses to adopt new technologies faster and scale operations more efficiently without finding the capital for expensive hardware.
Fewer Energy Costs
Making a move to integrated software solutions helps to reduce energy costs and to promote environmental sustainability.
Cloud-based systems use less equipment and consume less power – good for your business and great for the environment. Advertising this fact will not harm your marketing strategies, either!
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What Is the Difference Between UCaaS and VoIP?
Businesses exploring their digital transition to the cloud may be interested in this question.
VoIP is a voice communication channel that enables users to make inbound and outbound phone calls over the internet – instead of the traditional, wired PSTN method. The main difference between UCaaS and VoIP is that VoIP technology delivers just voice telephone calls. UCaaS encompasses multiple communication channels in one dashboard.
One reason businesses would opt for UCaaS over VoIP is advanced integrations with third-party apps and solutions. For example, UCaaS can seamlessly integrate with project management tools, calendars, and email providers to deliver a more productive way of working and a better customer experience.
While all UCaaS solutions include VoIP calling, VoIP software is limited to voice calling (and occasionally SMS) only.
Differences aside, UCaaS and VoIP both have in common:
- Require little hardware
- Have a quick and easy setup process
- Offer third-party integrations
- Reduce operating costs
- Deliver scalability options
- Require a strong internet connection
As with implementing any new business system, you’ll likely experience a learning curve as your team gets on board. You’ll need to ensure every member understands what is UCaaS and how to use it.
Investing the time to ensure everyone uses UCaaS effectively is vital and will go a long way to positive change management in your workplace. However, the long-term benefits of a UCaaS solution far outweigh some short-term disruptions. Drawing up an implementation plan and working closely with your UCaaS provider and team will make for a smooth transition.
Why Does Your Business Need UCaaS?
As your company grows, you’ll want to scale up your capabilities and resources. Scaling up your business might involve exploring different business phone systems, a contact center in the cloud, or investing in additional equipment.
Another option is a UCaaS solution. If your business operates in omni-channel environments and requires seamless communication and collaboration across multiple locations, platforms, and devices – the UCaaS model is ideal.
Because you only pay for what you consume, UCaaS is the flexible solution if your business has periods of uncertainty or is prone to market fluctuations.
UCaaS gives your team the tools they need to be as efficient as possible, and since it’s a cloud-based system, it removes any IT burden or issues that can arise from a system that you own, manage, maintain, and have to upgrade yourself.
About the Writer
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, a conference call platform and AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Check out her LinkedIn profile.
Disclaimer: The author is completely responsible for the content of this article. The opinions expressed are their own and do not represent IEEE’s position nor that of the Computer Society nor its Leadership.