Unified Communications Explained – Everything You Need to Know to Get Started
Unified communications (UC) has emerged as a must-have tool during the pandemic. With remote work expected to stick in the long-term in the form of hybrid work, cloud communications technology is likely to persist as an essential component of day-to-day business technology. If your company isn’t taking advantage of UC technology yet, but you want to get started, read on for unified communications explained.
What Is Unified Communications?
With unified communications, or UC, you and your employees can access all of your business communication tools from a single platform. It’s one user interface for everything – voice, instant messaging, fax, file sharing, email, and video conferencing. This streamlines communications, saves time, and enables more effective collaboration.
What Does UCaaS Mean?
When comparing UC solutions, you’ve likely come across the term UCaaS, or unified communications as a service. This refers to a cloud-based UC service.
As with any software as a service (SaaS) solution, your UCaaS provider houses the application and information in secure data centers. Your business doesn’t have to worry about managing the software. And, you won’t need to expand your IT resources to benefit from a cutting-edge UC platform. You pay for the cloud-based service, usually on a subscription basis. The provider will automatically update the software, maintain the network to ensure uptime, and provide support.
Why Is Unified Communications So Popular Today?
The global market for unified communications and collaboration is growing quickly – in 2021, incremental growth will reach $169.82 billion, and year-on-year growth will exceed 46 percent.
A lot of the recent surge in adoption has been because of the pandemic. With millions of formerly in-office employees suddenly working from home, businesses sought out tools to keep employees connected and productive while remote. Unified communications has proven itself as an essential tool for remote work. With high-quality communication tools, real-time responses, easy collaboration, and seamless integrations, users could work from wherever, just as if they were in the office.
Even as the world puts the pandemic behind us, the workplace won’t go back to what it once was. Both employees and employers have realized the huge benefits of remote work, and many aren’t willing to give up the flexibility. Moving forward, nine out of ten organizations will use a hybrid work model – which includes in-office and remote work. To keep remote employees connected, those businesses are going to need a powerful unified communications solution.
How Does Unified Communications Work?
With unified communications as a service, your provider handles backend configurations, security, and telephony functions. Users download the UC application to their devices and then log in to the platform from anywhere to send files, make or receive calls, participate in video conferencing, and more.
The voice data is transmitted over the internet using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology. This is why you can use unified communications from anywhere. Employees can receive business calls at home, on the go, or in the office as long as they have an internet connection.
Teams can also connect virtually to collaborate – and with today’s advanced video conferencing technology – enjoy flawless sound and video quality and an engaging online meeting experience. They can chat in real-time, share files at the touch of a button, and so much more.
What Hardware Do You Need to Get Started?
For unified communications, you don’t need to invest in a lot of hardware. In fact, with cloud-based UC, your employees can access all the tools they need from a smartphone, laptop, or computer with the downloaded app.
What users will need is a good-quality internet connection. You can also use VoIP phones for home or office use. These phones rely on the internet to send calls, so you don’t need to have a business phone line.
How Long Does the Setup Process Take?
With a cloud-based solution, the setup is simple. There’s no extensive onboarding required. No downtime to deploy the software. With Intermedia Unite, our cloud-based unified communications platform, setup is as easy as a phone call. You can keep your existing phone numbers. And, once you get started, you can count on 24/7 industry-leading support to help with any questions.
Isn’t Using Cloud-Based Phones More Expensive?
No, it’s generally less expensive. Switching to VoIP is likely to lead to huge savings, not an increase in costs. This is because setup fees are far lower than setup costs for traditional phone systems. Ongoing costs are typically lower as well. According to an analysis performed by Vault Research, businesses that switched to Intermedia saw a 36 percent drop in average per-line phone bill costs.
What Should You Look for in a UC Provider?
Not all UC providers are the same. To get the best experience possible out of your service, make sure your provider offers a high uptime guarantee – ideally over 99.99%. You also want to look at security and compliance – high standards and independent validation are a must. Verify that their data centers are audited, preferably to the SSAE 16 Type II security standard.
Comprehensive support and a seamless onboarding experience are also important. How easy is it to get your questions answered? Are onboarding and migration services included, and can you count on zero downtime or data loss?
All of this comes standard with Intermedia Unite. Plus, you’ll gain a competitive advantage with a leading-edge UC platform designed to empower flexible teams. Learn more about Intermedia Unite.