UCaaS Explained: Guide to Unified Communications as a Service

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies create ready-made solutions for digital challenges. Instead of enterprises designing their own tools and applications, SaaS companies offer their products hosted in the cloud. A variety of models in the form of as-a-service have emerged in the past decade. One prominent example is Unified Communications as a Service, commonly referred to as UCaaS.

UCaaS Explained: Guide to Unified Communications as a Service

Many stakeholders embraced digital communications prior to UCaaS becoming widespread. Today, a fresh wave of companies is committed to improving their communication methods. For such organizations, Unified Communications as a Service is a crucial component.

Read this guide to gain a better understanding of the UCaaS model and its features. Ultimately, you’ll discover how your organization can capitalize on its numerous advantages.

Understanding Unified Communications

Communication in the workplace has become increasingly diverse. Employees ping each other over chat, send group messages, call clients, and check their email throughout the day. With all of these communication channels, it’s easy for messages to slip through the cracks. A message can get ignored if there is an overlap in communication from one channel to the next.

A Unified Communications system works to reduce these problems. It creates opportunities for the communications tools to talk to each other. That way, the information sent and received throughout the day falls under the same umbrella.

With an Unified Communications platform, you don’t have to comb through pages of messages to find the file you needed. Unification makes it easier to keep track of communications and keep up with your peers.

While the concept of unified communications can benefit workers, these processes aren’t always easy to set up. This is where unified communications-as-a-service comes in.

What is UCaaS?

UCaaS is a vendor-provided Unified Communications service. Instead of implementing a Unified Communications process be yourself, reach out to specialized service providers. The vendor you hire manages the technology and the service is typically based in the cloud. You will pay a monthly or annual fee for using their service.

In most cases, UCaaS providers will develop an interface for employees to manage their communications. They will also help companies link up various communication channels through this system. For example, a business phone line will route calls through this service. It doesn’t matter if that employee has their phone on them, they can still access the messages.

Keeping all communication in one place makes it easier for employees to manage their messages. It also means your team members don’t have to be fully connected all the time. They can focus on work while all of their calls, texts, email messages and chat alerts arrive on one channel.

What are some key features offered by UCaaS tools?

Each UCaaS provider offers its own tools and services to help customers. However, there are some commonly offered features that allow you to transition most of your communication onto one platform or interface. Keep these features in mind as you compare different UCaaS services.

  • VoIP technology: Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) tools allow teams to make calls over the Internet instead of through traditional landlines. This is particularly useful for remote work and for dedicated sales teams. VoIP isn’t a competing service with UCaaS, but rather a significant part of the overall Unified Communications offering.
  • Voicemail systems: Employees can check their voicemail messages within their browsers. They can also set up systems to forward voicemail recordings and transcripts via email.
  • Fax-to-email: faxed information can also become email-friendly, allowing teams to digital records by saving them as PDFs.
  • Video calls: Video calling becomes easier to manage with UCaaS systems. Teams can also set up conference services and even broadcast their communications. Conferencing tools are ideal for all-hands meetings and town-hall discussions with staff.
  • Hot desking and remote work: Employees can access their messages from any location, regardless of where they are working. This is ideal for team members who have office lines but work remotely or travel throughout the year.
  • Chat services: team members can send quick messages to coworkers throughout the day for increased communication and collaboration.
  • Employee office hours: employees can practice healthy work-life balance levels by setting clear office hours for messaging. Limit when notifications are silenced and when they start again.

With these features, you can see how employees can keep all of their messages in one place for easy access, no matter where they are. Instead of checking their email messages, then voicemails, then chat notifications each day, they can review all of these communications at once.

What is the difference between UCaaS and CPaaS?

There are multiple types of as-a-service providers that you may come across. CPaaS stands for Communications Platform as a Service. While this name sounds similar to Unified Communications as-a-service, they are two significantly different things.

CPaaS refers to the process of adding communication tools to your software systems. Let’s take for example a company that developed an app and wanted to include a customer service chat. That organization should look for a CPaaS provider. Companies that use CPaaS tools search for specific communication options and consider ways to embed them into their systems. CPaaS tools are often APIs built into existing software platforms.

Conversely, UCaaS apps bring your communications channels together. In some cases (like the voicemail and fax-to-email functions) they improve them. You don’t need to have an existing software system to use UCaaS. You don’t even need to be a technologically forward company.

As you research different UCaaS providers, keep in mind the differences between platforms. This will help you find the right vendors for your company’s needs.

What are the benefits of UCaaS?

Investing in an Unified Communications platform helps companies increase productivity and streamline teamwork. Also, there are some very specific benefits of investing in UCaaS. Here are a few reasons to consider it.

Optimal for remote teams

The pandemic pushed millions of Americans out of their offices and into remote work. As companies grapple with the future, hybrid work environments have become more and more popular.

According to a survey of 1,000 American-based hiring managers, 22 percent of the workforce will be remote by 2025. This is an 87 percent increase from pre-pandemic levels. While remote work options have already been growing steadily each year, the pandemic gave this work style a significant surge. As a result, teams need a communications and collaboration platform to keep both on-site and remote workers connected.

An UCaaS is a cloud-based service that allows teams to work together—even remotely. Employees don’t have to worry that their work phone is in the office. They don’t have to bring their work laptops home to check their messages. Instead, these team members can work from anywhere by connecting to their UCaaS accounts.

Scalable services are available

UCaaS companies have grown in popularity because they can meet the needs of different companies. While some specialize in enterprises or SMBs, many UCaaS providers offer different service levels. This makes Unified Communications accessible for companies of all budgets.

With a UCaaS system, a small business owner can invest in a communication tool without spending too much on it. These entrepreneurs don’t have to be experts on unified communications, that’s why they hire vendors in the first place.

Digital communication tools also allow companies to scale their efforts. If that small business expands and hires a dozen employees, the same UCaaS systems will keep meeting their needs.

Easy setup and launch

By investing in an “off-the-shelf” solution, companies don’t have to build their own systems. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. UCaaS companies stay on top of the cutting-edge trends and technologies related to communication. Instead of building an in-house system that they have to constantly upgrade, a UCaaS company can do it for them.

This ease of use also limits the hours companies spend on system maintenance. Companies can save money because they won’t have to hire team members specifically to manage internal communications.

Increased productivity

At its core, UCaaS is a productivity tool. It allows employees to keep their messages in one place – easy to reach and better organized. This means employees will spend less time checking messages and looking for different communications from their peers. They can focus on work, not managing messages.

Improved customer service

UCaaS doesn’t just help internal communications, it can also help you improve your customer service. According to the 2020 State of Service Report, 93 percent of customer service professionals believe customers have higher standards now than ever before. Brands are under increased pressure to deliver quality service quickly. This often means juggling with multiple communication channels at a time.

With converged communication, organizations can easily address customer questions and concerns. They are less likely to isolate customers by accidentally missing their phone calls or their messages. UCaaS is one of the best ways to streamline business communications.

Who needs UCaaS?

Unified Communications tools aren’t just for enterprise companies or new startups. These tools can benefit businesses of all sizes and industries. If you fit any of the company profiles below, you may need to consider UCaaS.

Established companies with legacy systems

If you are an established company with decades of experience, you may have a hard time updating legacy systems to keep up with the latest trends. New systems require new processes and an onboarding period for employees. However, many UCaaS tools can work with your existing communications tools.

For example, if you operate in a regulated industry that still requires faxed information, then a VoipNow & Hubgets platform can help you. Send and receive error-free T.38 faxes over IP, even on poor quality connections. Any incoming faxes are sent as PDF attachments to your email messages. And you can send faxes either by uploading them in the interface or by sending them from a setup email address.

This way, you’ll get rid of bulky analog systems, digitize the process and enable your employees to access faxed information from anywhere.

Consider the current state of your technology, from your office phone system to your internal chat tools. How can these systems benefit from linking up together?

Small businesses with limited staff

UCaaS systems aren’t pricey. If you operate a small business with a handful of employees, you can still take advantage of these tools. No business is too small to ignore unified communications. Adopting a UCaaS system now can help you stay organized and keep communication clear as your business grows.

Tech-forward companies

Even if your company considers itself to be at the forefront of modern technology, you can still benefit from a UCaaS system. Most UCaaS companies pride themselves on their simple interface and easy onboarding processes. They offer training tools and customer support for users. There are also API integrations to connect their UCaaS tools with other services.

You don’t have to build your own tools for everything. There are other services out there that can optimize your operations.

Most UCaaS vendors build their tools with flexibility in mind. They are able to work with a variety of businesses because their software tools are scalable and easy to implement. Whether you need to modernize your fax systems or start a digital-first company, UCaaS can help your team.

How do UCaaS tools improve your existing functions?

Unified communication systems offer many of the same features as existing apps and tools. However, the best UCaaS systems will improve upon them.

For example, many legacy chat features aren’t able to keep up with modern communication trends. They have limited formatting and lack a thorough and user friendly file management. While these systems work fine for standard communication, they are limited for the usual business communication flow, both inside the organization and with external stakeholders.

Users also wield greater authority over their accessibility and availability. With VoipNow & Hubgets, for example, they can filter incoming calls based on CallerID, predetermined time slots, extension status and call status. Moreover, they can configure their status appropriately within the interface. Team members can see these statuses before initiating calls or chats with colleagues. Ultimately, this results in streamlining collaboration and optimizing time usage.

Another advantage of consolidating team communication is the ability to locate shared information. Your UCaaS provider should have an advanced search feature that allows you to find conversations, resources shared, or even calls. The search features check every channel at once for the needed information. With this process, it’s easier to keep track of information, whether it was a phone call, a voicemail or a chat.

What does your company need for UCaaS?

Before you can move forward with your UCaaS vendor selection, make sure your company is prepared to use these systems.

The good news is that you don’t need much to use a UCaaS service. The main feature your company needs is an internet connection. What’s more, if you have a hybrid work environment, you need to make sure your remote employees also have reliable internet in place.

Additionally, you will need to set aside time for your employees to get used to your UCaaS systems. Any new change requires time and training. Talk with your UCaaS provider about typical onboarding windows. How long should it take to transition all of your services to the communication app? How can you train your employees to get the most out of the service?

Every company is different and has unique needs. Keep these aspects in mind as you look for a business communications solution.

See UCaaS systems in action

If you want to learn more about UCaaS, ask our Service Provider partners to give you a product tour of VoipNow & Hubgets. Your team will have access to numerous ways to enhance operations and streamline communication. Begin by prioritizing the features that hold the most significance for you, whether it’s advanced call management, smart call center functionality, persistent and searchable chat communication and file exchange, fax-to-email technology or simply want to accommodate hot desking and remote work. Consider all the additional features that will improve your productivity and make customer communication easier.

Once you understand how UCaaS can grow your business, you can find the right products for your brand. Learn about your communication pain points and how a software service can help them.

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