Unified communications (UC) isn’t necessarily a new concept. While the term is relatively new to the industry, the idea of bringing communications ability together has been around since e-mail became standard in the workplace. For a long time it meant audio and email together, and as such wasn’t a trend to be fretted over by the technology decision maker. However, since the introduction and standardization of video conferencing, and with presentation and collaboration technology becoming so powerful and useful in the workplace, unified communications has taken on a new meaning.
In a recent article with CIO.com, Sharon Florentine explains that many companies (68 percent of respondents in a West Unified Communications survey) have begun to use UC solutions beyond voice and email. Even so, audio still exists as the strongest portion of UC, with 79 percent of respondents utilizing audio conferencing solutions while only 68 percent used video conferencing.
What does this mean? Well, it mostly means that many companies aren’t utilizing UC as much as they could be. One of the main factors in that observation is that it’s not cheap to implement a full UC plan into a company, having to not only outfit your company with the technology but then combine that technology to work together. Even with the cost of implementation handles, integrating the technologies can be a headache that many technology decision makers aren’t ready to deal with.
That’s where Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) comes into the picture. From the CIO article:
“Millennials are driving this in the sense that they demand the availability of certain technologies. Our survey showed that more than half of respondents believe best-of-breed technology wins out over vendor loyalty—so now there’s a lot of point solutions from different vendors. Great, but who’s running IT departments right now? Boomers and Generation Xers, who are tasked with meeting those demands. So, they went out and bought all the best, the right stuff, all the right tools their users were demanding and said, ‘OK’, now you’ve got it,’ without understanding how to integrate it for the greatest efficiency,” says Rob Bellmar, executive vice president of conferencing and communications at West Unified Communications. That’s what IT departments are struggling with, and what UCaaS is aimed at solving.
UCaas combines video, IM/presence, chat, voice, file sharing and desktop sharing while allowing for greater mobile accessibility and cloud integration. The idea is that business now requires all of these abilities at once, where once it did not. So UCaaS will combine them and segment them. When you’re audio conferencing and speaking about a document, you should be able to share it in real time. When you’re on the phone with a client and colleague messages you, UCaaS should pick up on that and inform your colleague that you are on the phone and will respond in due time.
That’s not even taking into account the video aspect. By moving to the cloud, companies have more bandwidth available to them, and down the line it’s expected that UCaaS will be able to predict and plan for network speed and bandwidth needs. With video conferencing continuing to grow, this is an important task for technology decision makers.
Whatever your need, Unified Communications has a place in most businesses. By utilizing services, technology decision makers can benefit from UC systems without the hassle of tying them all together themselves.