Unified Communications-as-a-Service, aka UCaaS, is currently described as cloud-based messaging, voice and video services that are consolidated into a single platform. Up until this point, the focus with UCaaS seemed to be more on developing each facet of the solution. More recently, UCaaS companies are responding to the need for a consolidated UCaaS solution that integrates with existing technologies.
UCaaS began with managed voice services and expanded its capabilities into new methods of communication such as chat, presence, video, web, and so on. The modern version of unified communications began with an enterprise cloud platform through a cloud service provider - and now expands its reach through APIs and other plug-ins with existing PBX hardware and software – taking unified communications to the next level. In 2017 and into the future, the industry is likely to witness the following developments take place.
Improved User Experience
The majority of users would agree that utilizing a single software client to handle group calling, group messaging, video collaboration and other voice functions, would be a true enhancement to the user experience. Eliminating the need to switch between applications saves time, improves productivity and enhances user satisfaction. A common example could involve a scenario where two co-workers begin collaborating through messaging, use the same app to share and discuss files and then convert the exchange to a voice call to clarify a few details to get further feedback and real-time decision-making. With a single interface, everybody wins: employee, management, and customer alike.
Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Ease of Management
Today’s UCaaS offerings provide lower TCO for companies. Comprehensive UCaaS solutions reduce capital expenses, since on-site PBX systems and other telephony infrastructure are no longer required. And with a simpler infrastructure, there is a further reduction in support costs for maintaining the system, as well as a decreased need for system training. Most UCaaS providers include easy-to-use management tools for their systems and handle updates and maintenance with each service-level agreement and support contract.
Expanding UCaaS to include Contact Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) and WFO/WFM
As UCaaS service providers seek to replace antiquated on-premises PBX systems, the next logical step is to determine a cloud-based answer for contact center services. As a result, CCaaS packages are now offered by many UCaaS vendors to handle the need for contact center agent operations, previously connected through the onsite PBX.
Major consolidation took place in the CCaaS market space in 2016 and is expected to continue through 2017. This push for consolidation stems from a user demand to either combine UCaaS with CCaaS or workforce optimization/workforce management (WFO/WFM) platforms, whichever best meets enterprise operational requirements. Companies like West - who can offer the best of both worlds with a converged CCaaS, WFO/WFM and UCaaS product like West Cloud Contact Pro - are working to meet tomorrow’s communication needs today.
Increased Consolidation and Interoperability with Productivity Programs
In 2017 and in years to come, there will be a continued push by companies and UCaaS vendors alike, to move towards enterprise UCaaS solutions that integrate with productivity apps in the workplace. Users appreciate the ability to use a consolidated solution that allows them to pull up their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software with their cloud-based contact center tool (CCaaS), and even their UCaaS tools for messaging, voice and video access, without having to switch in and out of multiple apps. Both users and management like the rise in productivity that occurs with a consolidated solution. And from a higher-level perspective, operations and IT managers are happy to simplify the enterprise infrastructure and along with it, simplify vendor management.
As more companies select one primary vendor for their UCaaS needs, there will be a growing number of vendor partnerships forming. Vendors like Cisco and West will continue to partner together to provide interoperability between products. These companies are merging collaboration solutions through product offerings such as West Cloud Contact CE and Cisco Spark Hybrid, in order to realize the benefits of simpler and more streamlined unified communications-as-a-service.
In the coming year and those that follow, UCaaS will continue to have a sunny outlook for enterprise implementation. UCaaS providers will build their enterprise products to include similar tools favored by the consumer sector in efforts to foster user familiarity and comfort, while continuing the trend toward complete, integrated UCaaS solutions that maximize productivity and efficiency. To improve the communications outlook for your enterprise, be sure to partner with West – a UCaaS leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant.