The analyst data and client experience describing the virtues of voice/data convergence is well documented – greater efficiency, productivity, work flow integration and worker connectedness. According to analyst reports, half of all enterprises are engaged in the deployment of, or are using, unified communications (UC), while most of the rest are in the evaluation process.
Simultaneously, how UC services are implemented and delivered continues to evolve and mature. This evolution has led to the integration of UC with the emerging elements of cloud services. The result of that combination is Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).
So what is UCaaS? And why should enterprises include UCaaS in their evaluation and decision making process?
Five Reasons to Consider a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) Platform
Tips on how companies can offload equipment — and costs — through UCaaS platforms.
The movement toward UC was first led and evangelized by the equipment providers. Even as TDM (time division multiplexing) infrastructures were being implemented, equipment providers started the push toward IP PBXs. Eventually, carriers entered the UC space and offered management of UC devices in response to, and in defense of, their existing network-based TDM voice offerings. In both cases, enterprise CIOs were faced with substantial up-front capital requirements, cumbersome business cases, high expectations, and a struggle to quantify or demonstrate return on investment.
UCaaS has radically altered the equation. As a hosted, managed, and utility or usage-based offering, UCaaS removes the barrier of front-loaded capital costs and greatly improves the bias for action within the CIO’s office. Offered on a per-seat basis, UCaaS includes a standard suite of UC feature sets as part of the monthly seat cost. Typically, these capabilities include presence management, soft phones, single number reach, unified messaging, conferencing, and the necessary communications and messaging hardware to support the offer. Since these capabilities are provided in the cloud, consistent service experience and business continuity are intrinsic. In short, UCaaS provides UC capability via a cloud-based, standardized, and predictable model of cost and delivery.
Utilizing UC via a cloud-based offering eliminates the CIO challenge of overcoming front-loaded capital expenditures. Additionally, consistent service delivery with flexible feature sets (specific capabilities can be assigned to individual users) removes the headaches associated with providing seamless services across the enterprise.
But what of existing investments? In many cases, the existing voice infrastructure (TDM or IP) will not support the long-term strategy of integrating applications and business processes with the communications platform. UCaaS provides the opportunity to upgrade the communications infrastructure without the capital expense of a forklift upgrade. But, when the need to leverage existing platforms is present, integration is also an option. This hybrid environment, while not fully cloud-based, can still be supported through a managed environment and provides the CIO with the assurance that previous investments are fully leveraged. Which option the enterprise chooses varies based on the speed and reach of their vision and their desire to fully enable business applications.
As the UC market has matured, so has the roster of providers supporting UC services. Unlike previous implementations of UC, UCaaS and hybrid implementations are integrated offerings – integrating business applications and business processes with the communications infrastructure is essential to delivering on the value of UC implementations. As such, systems integrators have taken an active role in the deployment and support of UCaaS and have brought a broader suite of consulting, managed services, and integration capabilities to the communications market.
As enterprises finalize decisions concerning their migration to UC or look to better leverage existing UC investments, they need to add UCaaS to their roster of options. Predictable cost structures, capital avoidance, obsolescence-proof capabilities, and the integration of business processes are just some of the benefits they can reap. Teaming with a partner that has the experience, offers, and capabilities to deliver UCaaS in the manner that best supports the enterprise will ensure that all current and future benefits are realized.
About CSC: CSC is a global leader in providing technology-enabled solutions and services through three primary lines of business. These include Business Solutions and Services, the Managed Services Sector and the North American Public Sector.