You probably have heard a lot about Unified Communications. As an ‘untethered’ workforce expands—a workforce free of geographic restrictions and traditional workspaces—the need for Unified Communications (UC) to the cloud has exploded. Unified Communications refers to the unification of business communications into a single platform, and often includes email, instant messaging, smart phones, landlines, fax capabilities and real-time data access. UC is also usually capable of handling both audio and video content. In general, UC allows businesses to have more flexibility, enhanced collaboration and greater responsiveness.
The explosion of Unified Communications is easy to understand when you look more closely at today’s workforce and their technology expectations.
As we shared in a previous blog post, BYOD continues to expand due to the reduced business costs and ease of use; smart phones are commonplace and working at home or while travelling is expected. Access to files, constant communication despite geographic borders, and easy access to video conferencing—all with mobile devices—allow employees to stay connected anytime, from anywhere.
As the workforce gets younger, led by the influx of Millennials, so does the comfort level of using newer technology. The vast majority of Americans own smart phones—they are owned by more than 90% of those between the ages of 18-29 according to the Pew Research Center—and the use of broadband technology at home is nearly as pervasive. Employees want the same level of communication for work that they have for home. These expectations will only continue to increase with a new generation of workers.
Video conferencing is playing an increasing role in daily business interactions due to the cost savings in travel expenses while increasing productivity, especially with features like multichannel capability, HD screens, advanced meeting controls and easy interoperability. But video solutions need clarity and elimination of disruptions or lag. Cloud-based UC solutions are particularly effective for video conferencing, without the need for expensive hardware.
UCaaS to the Rescue
Larger enterprises have already addressed the shift to UC, but SMB’s have been slower to react due to the high cost of initial deployment and ongoing support.
That’s because UC requires quite a bit of network infrastructure to accommodate the necessary bandwidth for phone calls, data sharing and more. Building infrastructure is costly! As the Huffington Post reports, “While small- and medium-sized businesses’ (SMB’s) telecommunications networks have become more proficient at serving more devices and connecting them to the cloud, they may not be able to offer the effective bandwidth increase, speed and security required.”
That’s why a cloud-based UC solution, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), is becoming more and more popular. UCaaS refers to the growing practice of outsourcing these services to a third-party, who then delivers them over an IP network, usually the public Internet.
With UCaaS, businesses don’t have to worry about managing and updating their communication technology—that will be handled by their UCaaS provider. Businesses avoid those expensive infrastructure expenditures, take advantage of the newest IP-based communication technologies, and have scalable and reliable communication services should they need to expand or downsize.
Let Single Path Collaborate
Is it time for your business to consider UCaaS? Whether or not you and your business are currently tech savvy (see if you are here), a partner like Single Path can help. We can assist you in weighing the advantages and disadvantages of Unified Communications, see if UCaaS is right for you, and help you determine the timeline and the immediate expenditures, if any, that are needed to unify your business.