If your employees aren’t planning to return to the office any time soon or you’re adopting a hybrid work model, your traditional business phone system may no longer make sense. That’s why more enterprises are moving to unified communications-as-a-service, or UCaaS.
Gartner predicts that the communications market is poised for investment acceleration through the first half of this year as IT planners move ahead with UCaaS initiatives, with global UC spending growing at a 4.1 per cent CAGR to reach US$50 billion in 2025.
In another Gartner report, the analyst firm forecasts that 75 per cent of enterprise users globally will not be using a desk phone by 2024—up from 30 per cent in 2020.
But if you’re worried about the cost and complexity of moving to UCaaS, there are many options these days from barebones to highly sophisticated—depending on your needs.
The problem with PBX systems
A traditional PBX system includes hard-wired phone lines, a server for switching and routing, and a console for management and administration.
But anyone who’s had to deal with a PBX system over the years knows that it’s difficult to move, add, change or delete users, and you need someone with PBX expertise to manage it—which, these days, is getting harder and harder to find.
And since these systems are limited to voice, you can’t use video conferencing or collaboration tools over the same system. Even for voice, you still need a PBX at each of your locations, as well as connectivity between those locations.
While these issues aren’t new, the rise of work-from-home and hybrid workforces are making traditional business phones and PBX systems highly unsuited for the future of work.
The benefits of cloud-based UCaaS
UCaaS combines voice functionality with new features—like collaboration tools—not possible with your traditional PBX. And it delivers the same functionality of an on-premise UC solution, but with the benefits of cloud.
This includes voice, telephony, video conferencing, real-time messaging and even presence. Since it’s a monthly subscription, you don’t have to invest in hardware or IT expertise; your provider takes care of everything, from setup to security to monitoring.
While UCaaS provides more flexibility for employees—and for customers—it also eliminates the cost and complexity of supporting an on-premise PBX system. And there’s no need to invest in hardware at each location, since users connect to the cloud-based system via the internet or a dedicated MPLS network.
At the same time, users can easily transfer calls to coworkers even if they’re working from home. And anyone can move, add, change or delete users from the system without specialized knowledge; it’s simply a matter of clicking a few buttons on a dashboard.
What to look for in a UCaaS solution
Not all UCaaS solutions are equal. Be sure to look for:
- A stable connection: For consistent performance, you need the right underlying technology—similar to the plumbing in your home. A new paint job and decor won’t help if you have issues with water pressure and leaks. It’s recommended that your organization has a high-speed DSL or fiber connection to handle both your regular internet traffic and your UCaaS solution.
- Quality of Service (QoS): The quality and reliability of your communications will depend on the quality of service of your network. Since packets are traversing the internet, latency, jitter and packet loss can all contribute to a less-than-stellar user experience. When looking for a UCaaS solution, find a partner that provides a service level agreement (SLA) with guaranteed QoS.
- Making the best use of bandwidth: You can partition bandwidth (setting aside a dedicated amount) or prioritize bandwidth (prioritizing voice over other traffic, such as video) so when there’s high bandwidth use, your voice traffic won’t suffer.
Cloud-based UCaaS allows anyone with any device and an internet connection to use the system, which is ideal for remote collaboration, including document sharing and video calls. From retail to healthcare, it’s a fit for virtually any organization in any industry.