Unified Communications as a Service
The UCaaS market is evolving at an incredible pace.
Driven by the demand for the flexibility, scalability, and versatility of the cloud, the UCaaS industry is set to reach a value of $79.3 billion by the end of 2024 – and the number keeps growing.
Unified Communications as a Service takes the benefits of a fully-aligned communication environment, complete with everything from cloud PBX, to recording and analytics, and places it into a flexible cloud environment that can grow and adapt at a rate that suits you.
As the way that we communicate and collaborate continues to evolve, UCaaS is also emerging as a far more advanced concept, with opportunities to combine your fundamental communication tools like voice and recording, with video, quality analytics, team collaboration tools, and even CCaaS (Contact Centre as a Service).
For years, companies have been discussing the potential of migrating into the cloud. It’s fast, efficient, and incredibly scalable. What’s more, cloud technology allows business leaders to adapt their expenses, by switching from a CapEX model with a lot of up-front investment, to an OpEx model.
UCaaS gives companies the option to access flexible and low-cost solutions for all of their communication services. According to Nemertes Research, a significant number of companies (at least 19.1%) are already using UCaaS for their calling needs.
Of course, switching from an on-premise environment into the cloud can be a complex process, particularly for bigger businesses that have a lot of investments into pre-existing tools. Because of this, many vendors and resellers are offering phased migration strategies that allow end-users to move to the cloud one step at a time, often starting with a hybrid environment.
It’s not just businesses that are having to consider their migration to the cloud carefully either. Vendors and partners are also seeing changes in their relationship. Some resellers are beginning to explore concepts like the master agent models, where vendors handle provisioning, and partners focus more heavily on marketing and sales.
One major trend in the UCaaS landscape, is the rising demand for SD-WAN capabilities. With SD-WAN, communication providers can more efficiently evaluate and improve quality of service. Essentially, SD-WAN allows for the application of technical parameters that allow connections to be delivered using priority bandwidth – enhancing the experience for communication users.
With the right SD-WAN solutions, vendors can actively monitor the communication landscape, seeking out the best possible paths for real-time communications. This ensures a stronger and more reliable quality of service. At the same time, SD-WAN solutions come with fantastic failover strategies built-in, allowing users to pick from a selection of advanced networks.
Organizations experiencing issues with standard WAN connections can use SD-WAN to temporarily switch to different lines to help improve the communication experience. SD-WAN even offers greater flexibility and ease-of-use through things like zero-touch provisioning, automated patching, and follow-ups.
Another significant trend powering the rise of UCaaS in 2020, is the rise of artificial intelligence and smart solutions. The growing access that businesses have to things like APIs, SDKs, and CPaaS means that resellers and service partners can easily implement intelligent tools into a service stack. Machine learning and artificial intelligence features can implement into every aspect of your UCaaS environment, providing access to everything from intelligent chatbots, to predictive analysis.
Intelligent integrations in the UCaaS landscape have the potential to make both internal and external communication more effective. With AI, companies can assess huge amounts of data in their communication strategy and use intelligent insights to make important decisions about everything from communication quality, to customer experience.
What’s more, virtual assistants in the UC stack makes everything from recording conversations with a voice command, to filtering through crucial recordings a lot easier. Voice assistants and chatbots will increasingly be able to takeover more repetitive and mundane tasks for employees, allowing human team members to accomplish more in their day-to-day work lives.
We couldn’t talk about the rise of disruptive technology like AI in UCaaS, without paying some attention to 5G too. As the demand for intelligent, convenient, and mobile communication strategies continue to grow, 5G is in higher demand than ever. Trends like remote and mobile working could make 5G into a crucial component for businesses in the years ahead.
According to IDC, 190 million 5G-ready devices are set to roll out during 2020 alone. What’s more, Ericsson Mobility believes that by the time we reach the end of 2025, 5G subscriptions will amount to more than 2.6 billion.
5G networks in the UCaaS landscape will make it easier for businesses to maintain high-quality communications in any environment. We’ll be able to upload documents and information from our smartphones on the move, and access HD-quality video conferencing anywhere. 5G could even pave the way for new mixed reality experiences in UCaaS, with the rise of AR and VR to take the office even deeper into the virtual environment.
UCaaS technology has the power to be incredibly valuable, both now and in the future. However, unless people are fully embracing the communication landscape in the cloud, they’re not going to be able to unlock the benefits for themselves. Because of this, reseller, vendors, and business leaders need to consider the adoption strategies that they can implement to ensure a full digital transformation.
The key to successful user adoption in UCaaS is a deep consideration of your audience and the problems that you’re trying to solve. The modern workforce is more dynamic today than it’s ever been, with a higher focus on user experience and work/life balance. Rather than forcing employees to adapt to a new strategy that’s beneficial to the business, leaders need to address the problems that their teams face every day and work back from there.
For instance, you could start with a challenge like “needing to work from anywhere” or having “single pane of glass for all communication information”, then work backward to find the UCaaS tools that you need. There’s no one-size-fits-all scenario to the perfect UCaaS rollout. Each business will need to consider it’s own unique requirements.
The good news is that once you’ve found the problems that you need to solve for your employees, convincing shareholders and stakeholders that UCaaS is worth the investment should be relatively easy. Connecting your workforce under a single environment for communication and collaboration can lead to results like higher productivity for 75% of users.
On top of that, UCaaS also offers benefits like:
UCaaS provides businesses with a single platform for all of their communication tools. It comes with access to both multi-tenant and single-tenant solutions, depending on the needs of your business. Alternatively, CPaaS is a cloud-delivery solution designed to integrate real-time capabilities for communications into your existing business workflows.
As UCaaS vendors continue to search for new ways to differentiate, UCaaS offerings with open APIs and CPaaS elements are becoming more common. Capabilities like click-to-call can be added to crucial UC tools, creating a more flexible environment.
Going forward, teams investing in UCaaS will need to consider how much they want to embed other concepts like VCaaS, CPaaS, and CCaaS into their cloud environment.