UC or UCaaS? These are terms we throw around expecting the market and our clients to understand what these acronyms mean today and the increasing benefit to any company. Unified Communications (UC) was originally a term developed by our industry… a marketing phrase to describe a bundle of communications applications in one wrapper and delivered by either Cloud VoIP or an IP PBX. We all became familiar with defining UC as voice, video, presence and chat.
The benefit to the business community was the advantage of bundling on pricing and improving access to early team collaboration tools.
As UCaaS evolved, additional software development drove new features and access to mobility services using “soft clients” or applications for cellular devices, laptops, desktops, and tablets.
Those capabilities reshaped the notion of “anywhere” telephone numbers and expanded to “anywhere” Unified Communications making remote worker arrangements more convenient and productive.
And the only decision for the client was signing a contract for a cloud VoIP platform or purchase/lease for an IP based on-premise PBX. As a result, the adoption of Cloud VoIP has been overwhelming and increased dramatically over that short period of time.
The business cases typically revealed that for small and mid-sized companies Cloud VoIP was the best financial decision. The pricing model for the Cloud platform bills on a monthly recurring basis and any endpoints are leased, rented or included.
So, the upgrade to a new phone system became an operating expense as opposed to a capital expense. Having the option to expense the system made it easier for most companies, even larger enterprises, to take advantage of new technologies without spending a large sum of capital dollars.
On top of the financial options, the benefits of technology obsolescence protection and business continuity are built into the Cloud VoIP solution.
Total Cost of Ownership: Basic Comparison
Typically, a 3-year analysis between the two options could provide savings of 40%-50% for small businesses and 20%-30% for medium and mid-sized clients. Many larger enterprise customers could experience a saving, but the analysis varies based on several other key factors.
Those other factors have become even more important because today, UCaaS is not just available from Cloud Voice and Premise Voice service providers but now there are new players providing UC or UCaaS independent of a company’s voice platform.
Two examples of these newer players are Microsoft Teams and Amazon Chime.
So, the business model and the decision has become more complex for all sizes of business since there are other quantitative and qualitative issues that need evaluated:
- Company size, # of employees, and location demographics
- Age of legacy equipment at one or more locations
- Existing on site or cloud software applications
- Security and compliance guidelines
- Ability to integrate new software
The Catalyst for Unified Communications as a Service
More and more companies have increased their interest and reliance on collaboration technologies. Having a “single box of applications” for every company just doesn’t address the unique needs of each business.
The growth in software applications including supply chain management, CRM, intuitive user interfaces, and contact centers are only a few of the recent business process and operational tools redefining the client’s platform and infrastructure requirements.
Equally important are the new service provider entrants delivering stand-alone collaboration platforms and the advantages they bring as alternatives as companies consider moving services to the cloud.
Technology and software solutions like, UCaaS, CPaaS, and CCaaS have evolved and emerged to address the need for broader, more customizable collaboration platforms.
Businesses are making investments in multi-cloud solutions supporting different functional areas of their business using “smart” business process flows, in-depth data gathering tools, systems management, and predictive analytics.
The overall expectation is that these investments will pay-off. To ensure that objective, companies should begin addressing critical questions such as:
- How do you balance new technology with company requirements for aaS?
- How do you ensure an effective means of integrating those software platforms into an open and collaborative environment?
All companies need to look ahead and around that next corner at the availability of aaS , if not, they will certainly be left behind, looking like an “aaS”.
With UCaaS, service providers opened the door to integrate multi-channel communications strategies through one, simplified, cloud platform. But, UCaaS is only one of many “as a service” models emerging in the marketplace.
Supply Chain as a Service, Cloud Services as a Service, Productivity Management as a Service, CRM as a Service, Project Management as a Service, Contact Center as a Service, and the list goes on.
The biggest trend seen in the market is an overall continuous movement towards cloud-based communications.
The key drivers of this business trend are:
- Customer Expectations and Experience — Maintaining strong customer relationships is more critical than ever and making their experience easier, simpler, and more intuitive is essential.
- Exceeding Goals with Digital Technology – More and more businesses understand the overall economics of “personalized” SaaS solutions that allow them to achieve corporate objectives.
- IOT Disruption — The rise in IoT devices continues to enable more services, information, and… aaS.
Even with these trends, the question remains… should I purchase the software and maintain my own equipment or license the software in the cloud?
Using UC or UCaaS as the example, there are several measurable and subjective factors affecting decision making and a business case related to moving any business service into the cloud.
Size of the company, the number of locations, embedded infrastructure, and business process need, all play a significant role in the decision. But, when you combine the lower cost of entry, rapid deployment, mobile accessibility, and scalability, companies have a strong basis for considering the migration.
And, if those attributes provide the business with the value of speed to market, great customer and employee satisfaction, predicative analytics supporting faster decision-making, I think you’ll find that moving to the cloud is a game-changing opportunity. “aaS” is here to STAY!