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Benefits of unified communications services and platforms

Author: Heidi Vella

Digital transformation is dramatically changing the way we work. The proliferation of communications tools and solutions means office workers are no longer tied to their desks for long chunks of the day. Instead, they can work remotely yet still easily communicate and connect with their colleagues, customers, and others when and how they choose.

Still, maintaining multiple communications tools can be challenging and can lead to disjointed and less secure communications. As a result, teams often continue to work in silos, which further hampers cross-department collaboration, reduces productivity, and increases employee dissatisfaction. The benefits of unified communications platforms help mitigate many of these challenges and gain a competitive advantage through digital workplace transformation.

At the same time, companies are evaluating whether to add unified communications functionality to their existing system or move their communications to the cloud and adopt a unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) solution.

Unified Communications versus UCaaS

Gartner describes the characteristics of UCaaS as "multitenancy (including tenant partitions residing on shared UC infrastructure, such as data centers, racks, compute, network, common equipment and blades) and self-service web portals for provisioning, management and performance/usage reporting."

UCaaS is a cloud-based UC offering that supports the same core functions as its premises-based UC counterpart, only the delivery model is altered. UCaaS infrastructure is owned, operated, maintained, and hosted by a service provider typically in a shared multi-tenant instance and delivered as-a-service for a per-user, monthly recurring subscription fee. Essentially, it's an off-the-shelf solution located in the cloud for companies that want an easy and quick to deploy solution. Key benefits of UCaaS are that it provides flexible, secure, scalable, and cost-effective communications. 

How IT benefits from UCaaS

Key benefits of unified communication platforms included the reduction of the number of communications solutions IT departments need to manage and operate. Because UCaaS is a fully managed solution, management, maintenance, upgrades, and feature improvements are the responsibility of the provider, not the IT department. Additional benefits include reducing challenges related to dealing with multiple vendors, relieving the need for internal investments in IT staff, and freeing up IT personnel to focus on other projects. 

Outsourcing the management of a communications system can also save the IT department time and money. UCaaS’ predictable, monthly per-user pricing model can help IT departments better manage their budgets. And the scalability of a cloud-based UCC platform means IT can more quickly and easily meet the requirements of a growing business.

For example, UCaaS helped a recruiting firm mobilize its staff, increase operational efficiencies and strengthen customer relationships with more meaningful, face-to-face interactions; at the same time, the IT department saved time by no longer having to manage a complex communications system.

Considerations for implementing UCaaS

Before selecting a UCaaS solution, it's important to conduct a business and technology assessment to determine what you already have and where gaps exist. Disappointing UaaS performance is often tied to insufficient network infrastructure and bandwidth so it might be necessary to order CPE, WAN circuits, or SIP trunks.

Equally important is identifying employees’ needs and the pain points your business is experiencing. For instance, office workers may have relatively few mobility requirements, whereas sales reps and remote employees likely will need mobility and collaboration tools that help them stay connected to the rest of the organization.

It's also important to prepare your employees for migration to a new system by communicating changes and training them on how to use the new capabilities. According to IDC survey research, lack of training and/or awareness that UCaaS capabilities exist are leading reasons why employees at organizations with UCaaS don’t use the solution.

All technology migrations have the potential to be challenging. But by partnering with a technology provider that can guide you through the UCaaS assessment, design, and implementation process it is possible to avoid the pitfalls and reap the benefits of unified communications with a successful UCaaS implementation.

Learn more about Verizon's Unified Communications and Collaboration as a Service offering and how it can help your business today.