If we had to determine one of the driving causes behind innovation and modern technology, we believe that communication would be in the top spot. When you think about it, so much of our devices and systems today make it easier than ever for people to communicate. Email, smartphones, cloud networking – everything is connected.
As a business, it’s imperative that you integrate a variety of communication services so that they form a cohesive structure. Instead of having two dozen different siloed channels for employees to talk to each other (and customers), you want them to blend seamlessly.
That’s where Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) comes into play. Today, we’re going to talk about the basics of this service, as well as how your business can benefit from it.
UCaaS as an Umbrella Network
As the name implies, UCaaS software specializes in unifying different forms of communication. With this model, you can deploy a wide variety of communication practices, such as contact centers, call centers, workplace messaging, live chat, and others.
What makes UCaaS so helpful in the workplace is that you can pick and choose which options you need. Rather than getting a bundle of different systems that you may or may not use, you simply pay for the elements necessary for your business and workflow.
As we’ll get into, flexibility and versatility are the core components of UCaaS software. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, and this system enables companies to customize their plans.
Single Tenancy vs. Multi-Tenancy
When implementing a new UCaaS system, you can choose between single and multi-tenancy. Let’s break down the pros and cons of the two.
In this case, you are the only customer using a customized software interface. The UCaaS supplier has built the network according to your specifications, and no other customers or businesses share it.
The primary advantage of this model is that you get full control over how you use the network. Not only that but if another customer’s system goes down, you aren’t affected by it. However, this kind of control and customization does cost money, so plan on higher upfront expenses if you want single tenancy software. Also, if you’re going to upgrade your system, you will have to pay extra for it since the provider has to go in and adjust your network individually.
As you may be able to figure out, multi-tenancy platforms have multiple customers working on the same network. The supplier is the one managing everything, although there is still some customization possible. Lack of control is one of the primary issues with this option, although it may or may not be a dealbreaker for your business.
Typically speaking, smaller companies can benefit from multi-tenancy UCaaS because it’s much more cost-effective. Not only do you have to pay less for your monthly subscription, but the provider is in charge of software updates and security patches.
Another issue is that, because you share the network with other customers, there is a higher chance of downtime or connectivity issues. While UCaaS providers can mitigate this problem with various redundancies, it can still happen.
Although the typical structure of unified communications is either single or multi-tenancy, that doesn’t mean the answer is binary. You don’t have to go all-in on one side; instead, you can have a mix of both systems to achieve your objectives.
For example, you may prefer a customized network that stays in-house for security purposes. You don’t want sensitive data sitting on a provider’s server. For other communication needs, you opt for a more cost-effective multi-tenancy plan.
Why UCaaS Works
Understanding the capabilities of UCaaS is one thing, but it can sometimes seem a bit nebulous and intangible at first. Let’s look at a few of the ways that deploying this kind of system can benefit your company.
With legacy networking systems (i.e., landline phones, proprietary computers, etc.), everyone using the system had to be under the same roof. However, in the modern era, remote workers are becoming much more commonplace. Not only that, but you may need contract or temporary staff to handle various projects or high demand periods.
Thankfully, UCaaS is highly flexible for your business. You can deploy different communication platforms anywhere at any time. As long as an employee has access to the internet, he or she can get the tools necessary to complete a variety of tasks.
Another way that UCaaS is flexible is that you can customize your network to ensure limited access whenever necessary. For example, contract employees don’t need access to your whole system. Rather than creating logins that could compromise security, temporary staff members have a customized user portal that generates specific data and limits accessibility. This way, you don’t have to worry about training or security issues across the network.
As you can imagine, not having to pay for a ton of workplace infrastructure can really help your bottom line. In the old days, smaller companies couldn’t dream of building or maintaining a contact center for customers. Now, with UCaaS, they can implement a full suite of communication tools to engage customers and provide better service.
As we mentioned above, getting a single-tenant network will cost more upfront, as well as incur higher maintenance costs. However, even though these expenses may be higher than multi-tenant options, it’s still much less than you would pay for legacy systems.
While you will likely have to keep an in-house IT team to manage the network (including things like app or program permissions), updates can take much less time. Since the program is on the cloud, IT workers no longer have to go into individual devices to ensure smooth upgrades and transitions.
As a small business, multi-tenant UCaaS is highly affordable, and since you only pay for what you need, there is less overhead.
In the old days, if you wanted to expand your company by setting up a new office or storefront, it could be expensive to connect it to your current network. However, because UCaaS is in the cloud, expansion is not only cheaper, but faster as well.
Adding new locations and offices to your communications network is simply a matter of connecting various devices to your system. Managers, employees, and remote staff can be integrated and added in with minimal training or onboarding.
Scaling your business isn’t the only way that UCaaS can help. If you need to add new communication methods (i.e., texting, live chat), you can incorporate that into your network immediately. Add or remove functionality as necessary based on changing needs.
Better Customer Experience
When you look at how people are communicating, it becomes evident that businesses need to adapt. While a simple call center was sufficient for customer interactions before, now users expect a variety of options.
Texting is a big one. More and more people rely on texting to communicate with others, and companies are starting to implement textable communications. UCaaS makes it easy to incorporate SMS messaging, and it can even be added to legacy phone lines.
Live chat is another feature that can enhance the customer experience. Rather than waiting on hold to talk to someone, users can get instant answers to various questions. With AI technology developing rapidly, businesses can also incorporate chatbots to filter inquiries and provide simple responses.
Overall, by utilizing a variety of communication channels, customers will be more likely to engage with the business and have a positive interaction. UCaaS ensures shorter wait times and easier access to customer information. Now that data isn’t as segmented or siloed, reps can bring up accounts much faster.
With competition so fierce these days, getting a competitive edge by providing better customer service is going to set your brand apart.
When managing a wide array of devices, security is always a primary concern. Not only that but if remote workers are handling transactions across your UC network, you have to make sure that sensitive information stays safe.
With the right UCaaS software, security updates can be built into the programming. Also, whenever a new patch or feature needs to be added, all devices are upgraded simultaneously, rather than one at a time.
Another way that this can manifest is in disaster recovery. Downtime can cost a company thousands or millions of dollars (depending on the size of the business). When your communication system is in the cloud, you can get back online faster. In some cases, you may not even have an interruption of service. If one office goes down, you can simply redirect to another office and not miss a beat.
We mentioned briefly how AI could be integrated into a UCaaS network. Considering that AI is the trend of the future, companies need to figure out how to implement machine learning technology efficiently. Because this software lives in the cloud, adding newer high-tech elements is no longer an issue.
Simply put, you don’t have to worry about investing in a system that will become obsolete in a few years. UCaaS is highly adaptable, meaning that your business will be too.