Unified Communication is a valuable tool for businesses looking for technology to cut spending on communication costs, free up IT, and give users access to mobile-friendly options. UC combines all of the dispersed communication channels in the business environment into a single, aligned platform, giving companies the freedom to adapt, grow, and evolve as the business changes. But going from a traditional copper-based phone system on the PSTN (public switched telephone network) to UC is easier said than done.
Where should you start? How should companies begin to review each vendors’ differentiators and proposed value? What are the best deployment options? What are the various strengths of each provider outside their primary value proposition? Let’s dive into these and other top considerations for adopting a unified communications platform.
- What makes each UC offering stand apart? The unified communications market is extremely competitive, and the market is only growing. According to Transparency Market Research, the industry will reach $79.3 billion by the year 2024. Businesses shopping for the right UCaaS platform need to consider the vendors’ differentiators to determine what solution aligns well with the company and checks the right boxes. Figuring out this alignment will help with the evaluation process. Many vendors will seemingly have similar UC options. However, a company’s strengths are often tied to their original business line, and they added other services later to keep up with competitors. When evaluating vendors, talk to real customers about their experiences related to your company’s must-have feature set and circumstances. Keep in mind also that almost all of the UC sellers out there offer voice-based calling. Vendors stand apart in mobile app experience, contact center solutions, conferencing, video capabilities, or integrations.
- What about deployment options? Several popular deployment models for UC solutions make it one of the most critical considerations for the decision-making process. Do you have a central office? Or does the company have the IT expertise to manage an on-premise deployment? On-prem deployments are an evolution of conventional phone systems, only moving to digital lines instead of analog and giving teams upgraded UC features. However, this option requires in-house expertise. Other options include cloud-based UC models, which can consist of a private cloud or multi-tenant cloud deployments. A private cloud model is generally set up and monitored by a vendor at a data center. The multi-tenant approach is gaining popularity because it’s very convenient and offered as a monthly fee. It also provides simple implementation and a low level of IT resources. Finally, a hybrid UC deployment allows companies to move specific applications to the cloud while keeping some on-prem. Hybrid UC deployment options can be sophisticated and often require additional technical resources.
- What about integrations? For companies moving to UC, the solution may be replacing the phone system and much more, such as chat functions, audio conferencing, web conferencing, and desktop video conferencing. But there’s also the opportunity to integrate the UCaaS system with other SaaS applications and business applications for even more efficiency gains. When looking at UC vendors and technology partners, ask how the system can integrate with existing systems such as CRM or ERP systems. What are the additional costs involved in setting up integrations? Building these integrations and leveraging APIs can get involved and require specialized skills to reap the full benefits, so preparing is critical.
Look before you leap
When you consider the many benefits of UCaaS, from advanced scalability, streamlined management, mobile options, and cost efficiency, it seems that embracing this tool is a no-brainer. The trick is choosing the right solutions, vendor, deployment options, and features. By having a clear understanding of your requirements and conducting research, companies can quickly narrow down the best options.