Using an efficient UCaaS platform to benefit your business not only in the present time but can also help you get a technological advantage in the years to come.

Solutions like UCaaS are in high demand these days for the flexibility, convenience, scalability, cost optimization, and other benefits they offer to modern businesses facing tough competition.

They are proven to be essential in crucial times like the recent pandemic where employees had to work remotely.

Having advanced tools and resources for the remote workforce offers better productivity, streamlined work, and success.

In this article, I’ll discuss UCaaS and the best UCaaS platforms you can choose to streamline communication in your business.

What is UCaaS?

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a cloud delivery mechanism used for business communications. It enables unified communication services to be available and accessible from the cloud for businesses, from enterprises to SMBs.  

UCaaS is one of the terms in Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS) like SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc. It is also a part of digital transformation efforts that promote the adoption of cloud services across industries globally. It supports six major communications functions:

  • Enterprise telephony
  • Unified messaging
  • Mobility
  • Instant messaging as well as a presence for teams and individuals
  • Meeting solutions like video, audio, and web conferencing
  • Communications-enabled processes like workstream collaboration, communications platforms, contact centers, etc.  

Since it’s cloud-based, businesses of all shapes and sizes can adopt it easily. It offers them the benefits of easy scaling, hassle-free setup, cost-saving, and more.

How Does UCaaS Work?

The cloud-based UCaaS infrastructure is delivered, owned, operated, and maintained by a service provider. Hence, the customers don’t have to configure or set up any infrastructure by themselves to get started. Some of its characteristics are:

  • Multitenancy, including partitioned tenants residing on shared unified communications infrastructure like data centers, compute, racks, common equipment, network, and blades
  • A self-service web portal to provision, manage and monitor usage and performance
  • Services are licensed for a recurring, monthly, or subscription charge

UCaaS streamlines communication services and solutions across an enterprise. It provides chat, SMS, video conferencing, a contact center, and many more capabilities. Everything happens on the internet; thus, you won’t require additional VolP hardware in order to provide services to your customers. UCaaS service providers will handle all the backend configuration, telephony, functions, and security.

To help you understand the working of UCaaS, it’s necessary to discuss VolP or Voice-over-Internet Protocol, which powers the UCaaS voice functionality. VoIP converts sound into data packets and transmits it to a cloud-based phone service provider. Also, voicemail notifications and phone numbers operate with the help of the universal Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).

UCaaS leverages VolP to its fullest without complexities. This enables your team to make calls easily and everyone to work remotely with applications installed on their mobile devices and computers. 

In addition, UCaaS data centers can withstand harsh weather, surges, and power outages, resulting in business continuity and scalability, which is difficult and costly to manage for businesses if they create a UCaaS platform of their own.

Furthermore, UC services are practically operated with effortless collaboration, messaging, and video applications. Everything is designed in such a way that can reduce complexity and provide you with smooth, unified communications in your organization, whether on-premise or remote.  

UCaaS Components in Detail

UCaaS houses various communications tools, audio conferencing and telephony to file sharing, exchanging emails, and video conferencing.

So, a good UCaaS platform must offer all these capabilities along with an intuitive interface for effortless navigation and better productivity. It must also offer an integrated contact center, embedded communications, chat, video, and voice.

The key components of UCaaS are:

Telephone or Phone System

UCaaS platforms come with a quality phone system with essential features such as call forwarding, routing, recording, ID blocking, auto-attendant, voicemail, call management, etc. It uses cloud PBX and VolP to enable a business to make/receive calls on the internet. Advanced solutions can also mobilize AI for better efficiency and rich data insights.  

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing has become more necessary for modern businesses to thrive, especially after the covid-19 pandemic. Employees might be working from anywhere, and if you want to discuss something important or conduct a meeting, this mode of communication is excellent, no matter where the participants are joining from.

UCaaS solutions can offer multi-participant and one-to-one phone and video calling to support office meetings, webinars, presentations, chats, and more. This boosts collaboration, irrespective of the distance factor.

Email and Instant Messaging

With instant messages, team members can chat online easily in real-time. This is useful for quick briefings, reminders, and regular communications. It’s also great for providing customer support since it is convenient, efficient, and non-intrusive.

Similarly, email is useful for businesses and remains effective. It is the most professional way of communication and efficient too. You can use emails alongside other communication channels to streamline workflow and give employees and customers their preferred mode of communicating.

Collaboration Tools

UCaaS platforms include various collaboration tools to enhance teamwork and communication. It offers features like quick scheduling, screen sharing, file sharing, recording, coaching, as well as project, customer, and employee management.

Cloud and Client-Based

UCaaS is cloud-based, which means every UCaaS platform and service is hosted on the cloud or over the internet by the service provider in their data centers. This enables you to access these services from anywhere, using any device and working remotely.

Benefits of UCaaS for Businesses and Remote Workers

As discussed above, UCaaS comes with many benefits, both for businesses and users, including remote workers. Some of the benefits are as follows:

Scalability

UCaaS allows you to easily scale your business software and resources up or down based on your requirements. You can also add/remove users instantly without planning in advance. This is challenging in on-premises solutions if you want to scale. You will have to invest so much in your tech stack and reinvent it to support such scalability. But in UCaaS, this is possible with a click of a button.

Flexibility and Accessibility

UCaaS solutions are effortless to access for anyone from anywhere. This provides the flexibility of working from home, or any other place employees want, making it great for remote workers. Since UCaaS applications and solutions are deployed over the internet or cloud, you can access all the communication tools on any device, be it a smartphone, laptop, desktop, or tablet.

Cost Savings

UCaaS is delivered to customers as a subscription-based solution. Just pay a certain amount in a fixed period and access all the communication features and tools in a single place without having to install any costly hardware or software or spend on its maintenance.

All you need is to invest in your systems along with quality bandwidth to access the UCaaS solutions. In addition, all the services and features will be defined for your chosen plan, and you will be secured from unpredictable communication expenses or fluctuations. This helps you manage business expenditure, at the same time, enhance your ROI.

With UCaaS, you can save on phone bills with a fixed monthly fee for unlimited calling and don’t require any upfront costs. You don’t have to pay for built-in advanced UCaaS features as they are included in your chosen subscription. Also, you won’t have to spend on IT staff for monitoring and maintenance purposes as everything will be handled by the service provider.   

Time-Saving

Every second counts when you are in business. Interesting opportunities can knock on your door at any time. Hence, you need to be always ready.

But what if you spend so much time and resources on building everything from scratch in-house and then on its maintenance, security, compliance, functionality, etc.?

Your core functionality and business might be affected, especially if you are short on workforce or budget.

Instead, opting for UCaaS will provide you with service minus all the headaches of managing and maintenance; you can leave everything to the service provider.   

Collaboration and Productivity

Powerful communications tools delivered on the cloud help all your employees, especially remote workers, to collaborate effectively. It promotes a healthy work culture with everyone connected and sharing insights and being on the same page, whether employees are from the same department or different.  

Similarly, UCaaS helps boost employees’ productivity by making information accessible at their fingertips through a cloud solution and effective communication and collaboration between employees and your customers.  

According to Cisco, 75% of users experienced improved productivity using UCaaS while working on multiple sites in a business.  

Apart from all the above, using UCaaS platforms offers other benefits, including:

  • Built-in redundancy of voice solutions for better reliability
  • Easy management and usage reporting
  • Streamlined employee and user experience with existing tools
  • Single point of contact for troubleshooting through the UCaaS provider
  • Security and compliance with regulations such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, SOC, etc.  

Some Important UCaaS Terms

Telecommuting

Telecommuting is a term used in a modern business landscape that means employees can work on their assigned tasks, no matter how simple or complex, outside of a traditional workplace like an office. People can connect using telecommunication tools such as phone calls, video conferencing, etc., and collaborate from anywhere in the world, provided they have a stable internet connection.  

Virtual Office

A virtual office is a setup for an individual to complete their tasks remotely. It has the device (smartphone, iOS, desktop, etc.) they use to access all the resources, websites, office files, and other tools. It may resemble your desk at the office, and you can design it to look professional and modern. You can use a comfortable chair to sit, work, relax, and repeat along with a table and other important things you need while working.

Collaborative Workplace

A collaborative workspace is such a workspace environment that focuses on collaboration between employees in an organization. This is done to reduce complexities, close communication gaps, and promote a healthy work environment. In a collaborative workspace, employees feel a sense of belonging to the organization and are encouraged to give their best, whether working from the office or remotely.

So, if you are looking for the best UCaaS platform, here are some recommendations for you.

Vonage

Get unified communications with just one app – Vonage for messaging, voice, social, fax, and video. It offers 50+ features and other integrated solutions, scalability and global presence, increased connectivity and productivity, 99.999% uptime, and quality of Service (QoS).

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Key features:

  • Vonage meetings, an intuitive video collaboration tool to use for your entire organization
  • Admin portal to manage phone systems
  • Mobile and desktop apps to keep your tools and teams connected
  • Business inbox to capture and address issues faster using SMS, Facebook Messenger, and MMS
  • An AI virtual assistant to offer voice-enabled customer self-service
  • App Center to integrate high-value applications to improve productivity and user experience
  • Caller ID blocking
  • Busy Lamp Field to identify which phones are in use
  • Call Announce to figure out calling reason and call conference

Vonage is easy to set up, quick to scale, and effortless to adopt. In addition, it enables employees to interact with customers and each other virtually anytime and anywhere.

Zoom

Unify your meetings, chat, and voice with a single solution – Zoom that offers communication flexibility and eases collaboration.

Key features:

  • Meetings: Secure HD audio and video, built-in collaboration solutions, and calendar integration
  • Chat: Instant connection with customers and simplifies other employees, schedule and conduct phone calls and ad-hoc meetings, track tasks, and share files
  • Phone: Use Zoom phone, turn a call into video, and use cloud VolP phoning from a laptop, mobile, desktop, and tablet
  • Video webinars: Zoom webinars that can scale up to 50k people, including over 100 video panelists with top video and audio quality and the option to customize the setup, live streaming, and registration
  • Zoom Rooms: A conferencing room to collaborate remotely or from the office
  • Security: 256-bit AES-GCM encryption and other in-meeting security features
  • Supported platforms: macOS, Windows, Linux, Android OS, and iOS

Using Zoom, you get clear call quantity, encrypted and secure cloud communications, quick messaging, and a simplified tech stack.

Nextiva

Nextiva makes communication easier by letting you connect phone systems with business applications, automation, and AI on one single platform to help you run your business well.

Key features:

  • Automation to do repetitive communication activities such as auto-responses, sending emails, conducting surveys, etc., and save time
  • Analytics to gain deep business and customer intelligence
  • Robust built-in tools to drive service teams and sales
  • Cloud PBX with call routing
  • HD phone calls
  • Screen sharing
  • CRM integrations
  • Advanced features include call logging, recording, queues, transfers, forwarding, ID, on-hold music, auto-attendants, etc.

Nextiva enables you to interact with customers and employees on multiple communication platforms such as phone, email, video, text, and social media.

Microsoft Teams

Use the popular platform Microsoft Teams to connect with people at work, home, and school.

Key features:

  • It supports all devices from desktops and laptops to smartphones and tablet
  • Data encryption for files, calls, chats, and meetings
  • File sharing, polling, and task automation
  • Cloud storage
  • Webinar hosting, registrations, customer appointments, etc.
  • Reporting tools
  • Integration with tools like Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneDrive, SharePoint, etc.

Teams connects you with your colleagues, friends, and family and access shared resources anywhere to learn and innovate through calls, sharing videos, and chatting.

DialPad

Talk, meet, and message your customers and employees using Dialpad, which provides a beautiful workspace to help you create meaningful relationships. No matter where your teams and customers are, it goes with you everywhere, unifying communications.

It offers wonderful features and integrations and keeps on innovating to bring better solutions.

Key features:

  • AI-powered video meetings, sales outreach, and contact center
  • Extends to 70+ countries with toll-free and local #’s
  • Almost 100% uptime SLA
  • Option to collect CSAT on all customer calls
  • Built-in speech recognition as well as Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • 74+ integrations available
  • FREE trial for 14 days

You can count on this enterprise-grade platform for all your communication needs, irrespective of your business type and size.

GoTo

Stay connected with your colleagues, customers, and people who matter using a simple solution – GoTo. This cloud-based phone system is secure and designed for remote and flexible work.

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Key features:

  • A visual, drag-and-drop editor for easy configuration
  • Cloud PBX and international calling
  • Call routing, HD video conferencing, auto-attendant, phone tree directory, etc.
  • Porting current numbers or adding a toll-free number
  • Customizable dial plans and call routing
  • Streamlined contact center workflow
  • 99.999% uptime, distributed cloud architecture, and low bandwidth usage

GoTo supports all devices, and it’s easy to switch between your desktop apps, desk phone, or mobile app.

Conclusion: Why Is UCaaS Vital for the Future?

Investing in the right UCaaS platform will offer better communications in your organization – among your employees and customers. It will also offer better scalability, reliability, flexibility, and ROI.

According to a 2012 report by IDC, the UCaaS market reached $47.2 billion in 2020. Looking at its growth and increased usage over the years, it’s expected to stick around for many years. So, choose the best UCaaS platform and enjoy its benefits for your business.