Every creature communicates. Communication is used in the animal kingdom from great whales down to the smallest ants. Even trees and flowers have tools for relaying information. Communication includes the signs, sounds, gestures, grunts, words, text, emojis, and even gifs we use to convey emotions, needs and wants. No matter what language or format, communication helps us accomplish our goals. And it’s necessary for business.
Unified Communications (UC) is a type of cloud-based tool. It includes features like voice, video, personal and team messaging, voicemail, and content sharing. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is the cloud delivery method that provides these applications. Webex and Microsoft Teams are two examples.
The Utility of UC and UCaaS
Work anytime, anywhere, no office required. UC services help you manage your communications from one platform. Separate systems for phone, data storage and digital communications don’t benefit you or your business.
UC tools include traditional telephone services like call holding, three-way calling and call transfer. Plus, they give you the ability to make and receive calls from your office line on either your computer or a mobile device. You also have meeting (audio/video/web conferencing), messaging (internal/external/direct and teams), document sharing and digital fax capabilities.
Typical characteristics include multi tenancy, which is a complicated way of saying more than one customer shares the UC infrastructure. Things like data centers, racks, network and equipment. UCaaS customers also have self-service web portals for management and performance/usage reporting. The provider delivers applications from a common platform, like Webex and licenses the service for a monthly, recurring charge.
To Communication and Beyond
UC tools were an asset during the “Great Migration of 2020.” Since many businesses shifted to remote or hybrid teams, tools like messaging and video meetings became paramount for keeping all employees on the same page. More and more businesses are turning to UCaaS solutions and there is no sign of a slowdown. Transparency Market Research predicts the UC market will be worth almost $80 billion by 2024.
Growth is synonymous with change. If the UC and UCaaS market is going to experience such rapid growth expect some changes.
Death of the Desk Phone
The modern workplace is more mobile and flexible than ever. Instead of using hardware that limits employees to one location, businesses want software and cloud- based solutions. Rather than complex hardware systems that need maintenance and management, UC and cloud communications offer simplicity and efficiency.
Many UC platforms can replace elements of traditional telephony setups. Hosted PBX systems are taking the place of older, hardware-based alternatives and more and more organizations are opting for softphones on mobile devices over office or desk phones. VoIP is becoming the go-to telecoms choice for most businesses. These trends will most likely continue as more companies embrace #WFH life.
We carry our smartphones everywhere. We use them to make purchases, pay bills. They have become an extension of us. Something we don’t want to give up and a cause of anxiety if they’re not near. And now we are using them more and more for business communications. As thousands of people started working from home, many employees found that the easiest way to maintain productivity was to shift from desk phones or desktops to their mobile devices. This helped ease the transition from being away from the office.
Companies are looking for solutions that provide communication tools for their entire organization. UC apps and enhanced mobile UC experiences combined with developing technologies like 5G will help providers meet these needs over the next several years. UC mobile apps will also present new ways of working and collaborating together.
Smarter Than Smart
AI is having a moment. From home security to healthcare, artificial intelligence is impacting a wide range of industries and UC is one of them. Some cutting-edge UC platforms include AI-powered chatbots and data analysis. As time goes on, the impact of AI is only going to grow. Real-time call analytics is one example.
With AI, smart UC platforms could start to offer sentiment analysis. That’s where an AI virtual assistant can assess a caller’s voice to discern their mood and attitude. It can then offer advice and guidance to the agent speaking to the caller. Who would argue against making the customer service process easier, am I right?
When we go for weeks without seeing our coworkers, it’s nice to check in face-to-face. Video calls are now as common as picking up a handset. They help you form a stronger bond with colleagues and customers. With video, you can read another person’s body language and facial expressions. In the future of UC and UCaaS, video will be available for more user experiences.
Video conferencing and collaboration are key components for most UC platforms. They offer things like screen-sharing and integrated file sharing. In the future, conferencing features will become even more intelligent. We talked about AI for customer analytics, but it could also play a role in video as well — like bots that follow discussions and share relevant documents. It’s also possible VR could enter the meeting room space. VR meeting rooms or augmented displays could be an avenue for future UC to explore.
Are you Ready for an Evolution?
We are always evolving, from pictographs to morse code to landlines to personal computers to UC. Moving to a UCaaS platform is a process. Be sure to take your time and evaluate the best solution for your business. When you’re planning for the future don’t follow the crowd. Every business is unique with different needs and challenges. A UCaaS platform is one more way to take your business to infinity and beyond.