According to Infonetics Research, the cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) market is expected to reach $12 billion by 2018. UC and Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) are sought-after as telephony and collaboration solutions and are continuing to grow in popularity. When considering a move to UC or UCaaS, companies often consider the ability to leverage on-premises equipment while modifying their existing communication capabilities to meet present and future needs.
Beyond the basics of cost and popularity, what are some key considerations enterprises should review when looking to implement UC in 2017? The following checklist will help round out their analysis and ensure they select an appropriate UC solution that meets all of their needs.
Most would agree that efficiency is lost when workers are forced to go in and out of various apps in order to perform their day-to-day tasks. As a result, an important feature of any comprehensive UC solution is its ability to integrate with other existing software and services – whether local or cloud-based - like the company’s Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) and Private Branch Exchange (PBX). There is also an expectation that available unified communications features will extend functionality to other applications, such as including a click-to-call button in Salesforce.
In 2017, there are a variety of features and functions that companies implementing a UC solution will be seeking out. One of them is the ability to deploy UC across a myriad mobile devices. Improving employee efficiency is a top goal and companies want their workers accessible and able to perform their daily functions whether at work or offsite. More and more staff members expect the ability to forward calls from their desk or softphone to their mobile device. They also want the ability to use integrated mobile apps that possess full-featured productivity capabilities like chat, real-time presence, conferencing, email and file sharing. Overall, organizations will want to assess their essential needs and decide whether core functions like directory integration and federation with other non-UC services are requirements for their enterprise UC solution as well.
BC-DR and Network Architecture
The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market is estimated to have generated around $40 billion in 2016 according to Gartner research. One of the reasons is that companies either lack in-house support or require a faster way to deploy and run their applications.
When choosing a hosted UC provider, companies want to be sure that the service provider’s infrastructure is flexible and secure, with business continuity assurance, as well as providing Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees. The UC provider should also have locations in geographically-dispersed regions to protect against outages from localized disasters. Finally, enterprises should seek out service providers that allow a variety of network connections – whether from the Internet, Ethernet or Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).
Video for Collaboration
Video is no longer just for relationship building. New codecs such as H.264 high profile and H.264 Scalable Video Coding (SVC) reduce the network-impact of video and can enable high-definition video across the Internet or wireless 3G/4G networks. And once H.265 is put into use, it will provide a standard protocol, allowing interoperability between various video vendors, without requiring additional conferencing equipment. Headed into 2017, video will continue to be used for content playback and review, and for offering training across geographic boundaries. Integrated content management and hosted video services may be in demand as well.
Every organization has proprietary information that is sensitive in nature. Enterprises must ensure that data is properly protected through strong security practices. Service providers should employ security that utilizes the following:
- 2-factor identification
- Data encryption
- Independent security audits
- Clearly-defined policies for data retention and archival
Furthermore, the UC provider must also be able to comply with any applicable regulation such as HIPAA, PCI, etc.
One unified communications service provider stands out from the rest when fulfilling the checklist requirements listed above: West Unified Communications Services. Partner with us to provide your organization with the UC functionality, infrastructure and complete enterprise solution that is customized to meet your company’s unified communications needs. For more information check out our lead UCaaS offering which includes Cisco HCS technology.