Is It Time to Shift to a UCaaS Provider?
Considering a transition to Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)? You’re not alone. IDG Quick Pulse reports that 28% of small- to medium-sized enterprises have already shifted to UCaaS and 56% plan to incorporate it into their network in the next 12 months to three years. The survey also found that 70% of unified communications (UC) deployments will be cloud-based in 2020 and “virtually all will be cloud-based in five years.”
There are multiple drivers leading companies to move to a UCaaS provider from legacy communications systems or on-site UC networks. One of the primary reasons is the current workplace. Over the past decade or so, there have been massive changes in how we work and how businesses operate. And this is especially relevant given the current massive shifts to the landscape in the new world. The days of a single office with full-time in-office employees are virtually gone for many industries. More commonly, companies have a diverse workforce working across multiple locations and channels. While a distributed employee base has its benefits, it also presents a host of challenges.
When it comes to connecting your people and customers, traditional PBX systems, pieced together technology, or a basic on-premise UC solution are not only inefficient, they’re expensive, unreliable, pose security risks, and often result in a poor customer and employee experience. They simply can’t keep up with modern business requirements and do little to support productivity efforts.
In order to support the entire spectrum of business requirements across the enterprise and be more nimble to change, organizations are increasingly prioritizing the unification of communications and collaboration. While the initial investment in a UCaaS provider may cause leaders to pause, there are both immediate and long-term benefits that quickly outweigh any doubt.
6 Benefits of Switching to a UCaaS Provider
Harvard Business Review says resistance to change is one of the key reasons why companies hesitate to adapt on time. But change is all around us, an inevitable force that can’t be ignored indefinitely. Until management embraces change as a means to leverage new opportunities, companies will lag behind. History is littered with once-dominant brands that are now distant memories, simply because they refused to be agile and adapt to change.
Need more concrete reasons to shift to a UCaaS provider? UCaaS providers can offer your organization a variety of benefits, but we’ll give you five of the most common ones.
Increased Business Speed and Responsiveness
IDG found that 82% of survey respondents cite the desire for increased productivity as a top-five driver for investing in UCaaS, and 34% say it’s their primary driver. With added functionality, such as instant messaging and presence (IM&P), employees can engage with customers and each other across more channels faster and more reliably. A network that can support multiple types of connectivity, such as LAN/WAN, Internet, cloud, wireless and mobile is one without the common limitations of previous networks.
UCaaS, one of the many available as-a-Service solutions, increases speed to value, helping organizations speed service for greater market share. Accenture says, “If you have an agile operating platform – a feature of as-a-Service – you can move the entire business faster, less weighed down by your existing IT systems. With as-a-Service, you can tap into world-class capabilities in a matter of days or weeks, not months.”
UCaaS enables employees to communicate with customers and collaborate with each other with greater ease, spending less time and effort on basic communication needs and more time executing work. Increased productivity quickly leads to increased revenue and more satisfied employees who feel the technology supports the way they want to work.
Reduced and More Predictable Costs
When companies retire obsolete or soon-to-be-obsolete legacy networks and consolidate technologies, not only do maintenance costs decrease, but license costs may also decrease as companies get more efficient at paying for what they actually use. You are able to avoid costs spent on keeping skilled network technicians on staff or allocate those team members to higher-value initiatives.
Instead of owning and managing equipment and services in-house, organizations can offload the burden to UCaaS providers that manage all of the equipment, maintenance and upgrades as part of your subscription. Because your costs are on an as-a-Service subscription, you pay only for what you need and know exactly what your costs will be month after month, year after year. Having this kind of predictability makes the budget planning process much easier.
More Streamlined Operations and Billing
Look at most companies’ communications network and you’re likely to find a myriad of solutions, each requiring specialized support and multiple vendor management. IT spends valuable time on break-fix and troubleshooting, installations, upgrades and other support services – time they could be spending on innovating solutions to grow the business or help achieve corporate objectives. The IDG survey found the desire to consolidate technologies was a top-five investment driver for 78% of respondents, with 16% saying it was their primary driver.
Vendor management also consumes precious time and resources. There are different contracts, costs, licenses and renewal dates someone has to keep track of. Even with the best efforts, these variables can get out of control. Things get missed and costs escalate.
By consolidating and standardizing vendors, hardware, software and peripherals across your network, and relying on a single UCaaS provider to manage the entire network for you, your people can focus on other initiatives without compromising reliability, security and quality communications.
Greater Flexibility and Scalability
Businesses are rarely static entities, at least the ones that endure. They evolve, grow and change, yet legacy systems rarely progress with them. Adding new sites, users and communications capabilities to a legacy system is always a challenge and can be quite expensive. Many existing networks simply can’t handle increased demand or multiple channels. Some locations may be hosted while others may have traditional PBX, complicating the network and making it challenging to manage.
The IDG survey reports that nearly 8 in 10 respondents cite greater flexibility and scalability as one of their top five business drivers and almost a third-place it in the number one position. What companies need is a flexible communications platform that can contract or expand with the business and easily scale to specific locations’ needs.
UCaaS gives users ultimate flexibility in how they build out their communications networks. Whether you opt for a multitenant cloud model where users share the same software license or you prefer your users each have their own license through a multi-instance model, your UCaaS provider can design a network to fit your needs and your budget.
Greater Reliability and Security
No matter how well your IT team takes care of your existing network, you’ve likely experienced outages, downtime, interruptions or other glitches that make it challenging for your people to communicate and do their work. It doesn’t matter if it’s a basic network failure or a natural disaster. Any interruption can wreak havoc for a business that relies on communications as the backbone of their business.
Another issue is security. When the current communications network fails to provide the level of connectivity and quality users expect, they often rely on other modes of communications that are outside of IT’s view and control. This introduces security issues that can have far-reaching consequences.
Additionally, legacy systems are often incapable of keeping organizations compliant with the many regulations specific to your industry or business case, such as CCPA, GDPR, HIPAA and PCI DSS. Some of these regulatory breaches result in hefty fines and reputational damage that can have a significant impact on the bottom line.
UCaaS providers can work with you to establish a network that provides you with solid disaster recovery and business continuity assurance. Building in redundancy and failover is critical to ensure your employees and customers can remain connected with near 100% uptime, even when there is a short- or long-term outage.
Your UCaaS provider can also design a network to support all of the regulatory requirements that pertain to your business. From processing credit card transactions to tracking customer call center interactions, you have peace of mind there are systems in place to make regulatory compliance much easier and transparent.
Access to Innovative Technology
A common pain point business leaders face is understanding which investments make sense. While you may want to provide your employees with the latest and greatest communication technology, it doesn’t always make financial sense. Plus, technology is always changing. What may have been considered the newest model a few years ago is now obsolete. It can be a frustrating cat-and-mouse game of constantly chasing the newest technologies and capabilities.
Part of the beauty of UCaaS is that it offers companies a cost-effective way to keep their communications platform up to date with the latest technology and software. Your old PBX or VoIP system likely can’t handle modern collaboration and messaging capabilities like audio and video conferencing, desktop sharing, messaging with conferencing, and archiving. Your call center capabilities are likely limited and unable to provide supervisor modes, skill-based routing, live monitoring and real-time presence. Can your current network extend unified communications applications to your and your employees’ iOS and Android devices?
Instead of having to constantly keep up with new technologies and capabilities, fighting for budget and continually investing in upgrades and new versions, UCaaS providers ensure their customers always have what they need and the most current versions – when they need it.
As new technologies emerge or business needs change, the UCaaS provider can make recommendations on how to best build out new communications and collaboration capabilities that leverage the technology that makes sense in your specific environment. You aren’t buying the technology, so you aren’t married to it beyond its useful life. When a new capability makes sense, you simply have your UCaaS provider add it onto your network.
Don’t Forget the Service
By now, you may be sold on UCaaS, but your job isn’t over. The UCaaS market is flooded with providers, but they are not all the same. The IDG survey says, “Respondents value one thing above all in evaluating UCaaS providers: reliability.” In fact, 72% said it was a top-five factor when they consider a provider. More than 50% believe that the technical support of a UCaaS provider is an important criterion for selection.
This isn’t surprising given that cloud technology isn’t all that different between providers. While pricing may come into play, what really sets UCaaS providers apart is their expertise, reliability and support. Some of the questions you can ask yourself during the evaluation process are:
- Do they truly understand our business needs across our entire enterprise?
- Are they able to expertly design a network that leverages the right technology to provide the level of functionality our users need?
- Do they use the best UCaaS practices that bring accountability and provide transparency?
- Do they commit a dedicated team of voice engineers and voice specialists to partner with our IT team throughout the entire installation process?
- Do they offer expert technical support and training after the installation is complete – at each of our company locations?
- Do they continue to check in to make sure our users continually have the capabilities they need?
- Do they offer agnostic recommendations on new or different technology that we could leverage to extend our capabilities?
- Do they become an extension of your IT team, providing all or a portion of the voice and network support your team needs?
- Are they focused on our business objectives more than selling us a product or service that may be overkill for what we actually need?
Transitioning to a hosted UC platform is one of the best ways you can champion change in your organization. The benefits that a UCaaS provider offers are greater than any perceived risks. The security is there. The reliability is next to 100%. The flexibility and scalability are immeasurable. The cost is overshadowed by the long-term savings. And the new functionality and capabilities are exactly what will set your company apart.