As-a-service solutions are gaining popularity at record speed right now.  

Prompted by trends like flexible working and digital transformation, companies are rapidly turning to software hosted on the cloud. After all, there’s no better way to be prepared for anything than with a scalable cloud environment.  

UCaaS, or Unified Communications as a Service, is among the most popular “aaS” services today. Gartner defines UCaaS as a cloud-based solution for combining communication tools. UCaaS is hosted by a provider and requires no infrastructure to get started (unlike traditional UC). This means that provisioning and updating UCaaS is effortless 

The market for UCaaS is set to reach a value of around $24.3 billion by 2026, and offerings are growing more sophisticated by the day. Alongside combined portfolios of messaging, video, audio, and presence features, vendors now offer contact center integrations, advanced collaboration tools, and even artificial intelligence.  

Here’s everything you need to know about UCaaS. 

What is UCaaS? 

UCaaS stands for Unified Communications as a Service. Unified Communication solutions align various communication technologies into a single platform, such as chat, telephony, online meeting systems, screensharing, and video. The “as a service” component refers to the way companies access their UC technology.  

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Unified Communications as a Service are hosted by an external provider who delivers functionality to your business over the cloud. The great thing about this structure is that you can easily adjust your stack to suit your needs. You can add new features as your business grows, tapping into tools like AI and automated routing. Companies can add new numbers to their telephony as they spread into new countries, and experiment with integrations.  

All UCaaS solutions are defined by their cloud-based infrastructure, and the ability to combine multiple forms of communication.  

Common features of a UCaaS offering may include:

Let’s explore some of these features in more detail. 

 

UCaaS Telephony and Voice 

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Voice is only one component of a comprehensive UCaaS strategy, but it’s an important one. Voice is still one of the primary ways that we communicate and collaborate. Since poor communication can cost companies around $42.5 million a year in productivity, telephony and voice are factors UCaaS buyers can’t afford to overlook.  

Leading UCaaS systems come with comprehensive solutions for voice, including VoIP technology, which allows companies to make calls over the internet. UCaaS offerings often feature a host of valuable features to improve business efficiency and productivity. You can access call logs, call forwarding, voicemail, and even routing tools.  

Many leading UCaaS telephony systems also offer the ability to access your software with a wide selection of apps including desk phones, and mobile devices.  

                                     

UCaaS Video and Meetings

The demand for video in the central communications stack is increasing. By 2027, Grandview Research indicates video will be worth $8.56 billion. Though video has been gaining attention in the communication world for a while, its popularity is accelerating thanks largely to the new trend for remote working.  

Over the year 2020, countless companies relied on video to bring employees together in a newly remote world. UCaaS video solutions often come with access to things like broadcasting, video conferencing, and screensharing. You may also be able to use your UCaaS service to set calendar meetings with your team, and access transcripts of meetings.  

 

Unified Messaging and Presence

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As more employees continue to work in distributed environments, email and phone calls aren’t always the most efficient way to communicate. Many employees are now relying on tools like Microsoft Teams to help them stay linked to their colleagues. These solutions offer a central environment where employees can work together on projects, share files, check the presence status of team members, and more.  

Unified messaging environments allow employees to speak to their colleagues one-on-one, or host group chat conversations. These tools often align with video conferencing and meeting tools so that users can instantly turn a chat into a video conversation. Many unified messaging and presence tools also come with access to bots and AI that can help improve workplace productivity. You may also be able to access SMS for the 80% of people who use texting for business purposes.  


Performance Dashboards and Workstream Tools 

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In the age of the new workforce, where employees can be scattered around the world, business leaders need a way to track the performance of their UCaaS solutions. This means that many UCaaS systems often come with analytics and dashboard tools to help with business insights.  

Your UCaaS offering may come with wallboard software that helps you to motivate employees around the world by allowing them to see their performance compared to their colleagues. There are also analytical tools that can check the quality of calls and communications in real-time, ensuring that IT teams are always informed when something happens to the network. Many UCaaS offerings can integrate with workstream collaboration tools where managers can assign tasks to team members and track project outcomes too.  

Integrations and CPaaS

Lately, the lines between UCaaS and other communications as a service solutions have been blurring. It’s becoming increasingly common for businesses to connect their UCaaS systems to other solutions through CPaaS (communication platform as a service), APIs and Integrations. For instance, a company could use Microsoft Teams and the help of the right vendor to create a combined environment for UCaaS and CCaaS (contact center as a service).   

The same business could also add extra modular features to their UCaaS environment, such as a built-in CRM where agents can get information about customers or a front-end where clients and customers can interact with professionals.  

As UCaaS environments become more open and flexible, it’s becoming increasingly easier for today’s businesses to work with vendors to build the perfect UCaaS experience.  

What are the Benefits of UCaaS? 

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UCaaS solutions are growing more incredible all the time.  

Unified Communication used to refer to a simple system that combined UC telephony with email, fax, and maybe the occasional voicemail service. Now, organizations can build comprehensive cloud-based environments that are tailor-made for their employees.  

Modern UCaaS solutions come with access to everything from AI applications that can translate and transcribe conversations to innovative dashboards that support remote worker productivity. Though initially, the popularity of UCaaS centered mostly around smaller businesses, demand among larger companies is growing too. Large enterprise adoption rate for UCaaS has grown to more than double the rate for small brands. 

UCaaS is popular because it takes the advantages of an aligned communication system into a flexible cloud environment, giving companies the ability to adapt their services to suit them. Benefits of UCaaS include: 

  • Single pane of glass environments: Jumping between different apps and tabs wastes crucial employee time. Today’s organizations need to provide their staff with all the crucial tools they need in one unified place. UCaaS brings a variety of features together into a cloud environment that improves productivity and workplace efficiency.  
  • Support for remote workers: UCaaS solutions are delivered over the cloud, making them accessible to all kinds of users. In a world where remote and hybrid work opportunities are increasing, UCaaS ensures all your employees have access to the same tools. You can even roll out updates remotely for a zero-touch provisioning experience. 
  • Scalability and flexibility: UCaaS breaks free from the one-size-fits-all communication stack. Working with the right vendor, you can build the solution that’s perfect for you. Your UCaaS system can be a simple cloud-based service, or a fully featured offering that connects with your contact center and CRM. The UCaaS solution can even grow in size as your business evolves.  
  • Ongoing innovation: Because UCaaS systems are based on the cloud, it’s easy for vendors to introduce new innovative features to their customers as the marketplace evolves. You can easily get access to the latest solutions built on things like artificial intelligence, 5G, and extended reality, without having to rip and replace your system.  
  • Hosted support: Using a UCaaS solution for your communications means you don’t have to host and manage your own service in-house. This takes some of the extra work off your employees, and gives you access to dedicated, specialist help. UCaaS vendors can help you to implement the tools you need quickly and easily, and may even assist with things like data management, and quality service monitoring.  


Choosing a UCaaS Vendor 

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To truly unlock the benefits of a UCaaS experience, companies need support from the right vendor. 

Like any pioneering new technology, UCaaS works best when it comes from a company that understands the needs and expectations of their clients. Sometimes, this means that consumers need to look for vendors that can help with the migration away from traditional UC systems.  

Other times, companies might need to find a brand that has the systems in place to help them shift to a remote or hybrid work environment as quickly as possible.  

When you’re consolidating your communication stack through UCaaS, don’t cut corners on the search for the best provider. Make sure you consider: 

  • Feature sets: UCaaS solutions need to come with all the features you could want to run a successful business. This could mean looking for things like find-me, follow-me calling capabilities for your remote workers, or investing in call recording systems for compliance. Your UCaaS offering should also be flexible enough to connect with the tools and services you already use, whether it’s your existing desk phones, or Microsoft Teams accounts. 
  • Flexibility: UCaaS is naturally flexible thanks to its deployment through the cloud. However, the right vendor will ensure that your stack is built specifically to suit you. This means delivering the exact functionality that you need, complete with things like support for your CRM tools, phone extensions that suit your business, and more.  
  • Integrations: Integrations are becoming an essential part of the UCaaS environment. You may need your service to connect with your contact center on Microsoft Teams, or you might be looking for a UCaaS service that connects with CPaaS and API features. Choose the vendor that can give you an open and adaptable environment. 
  • Security and Compliance: If you’re working with a flexible vendor, they should be able to offer the kind of compliance components you need for your business. Look for support for regulations like GDPR and HIPAA, and check what your vendor can do to assist with end-to-end encryption or ensuring privacy.  

The Future of the UCaaS Market

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UCaaS is currently one of the most-adopted communication systems in the world, gaining more popularity all the time. As organizations continue to discover that on-premises systems are too rigid for modern businesses, the journey to the cloud continues to accelerate. Most companies are already shifting to cloud and those that aren’t have plans to do so in the future.  

With UCaaS, companies can benefit from increased uptime, better reliability, and a more competitive environment for communications. According to studies, increased flexibility and agility are among the most exciting features of UCaaS, driving the biggest investments from companies. Going forward, UCaaS will also be the solution that opens the door to opportunities for agile evolution in companies of any size. With UCaaS, you can be ready to embrace the cutting edge of communication tech. 

Is it time for you to consider a UCaaS service? 

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