A recent study conducted by research firm Markets and Markets, the Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) industry is projected to grow by a CAGR of 23.3% over the next few years and could be a $2.48 billion industry by 2018. Despite these optimistic growth projections, it is not your fault if you have never heard of UCaaS before. Unified Communications (UC) is still a nascent industry where the focus is on enabling better business processes by integrating the real time communication systems (like instant messaging, telephony, video conferencing and data sharing) with non-real-time communication systems like email, text messaging and fax. The objective of unified communications is to let the sender transmit the message on one medium and let the receiver get it through another medium.
As the name suggests, UCaaS is the delivery of unified communication features as a cloud-based service by a third party provider. This is mostly done through an IP connection which handles all voice, data and video information that is transmitted from and to the customer. Given that UCaaS is still predominantly a North American phenomenon, most of the largest UCaaS providers are located in the United States with 8×8, ShoreTel and RingCentral grabbing most of the market share. UCaaS is also growing in countries like Canada where business internet providers like AllStream are among the more popular choices.
Why Does Your Business Need UCaaS
One of the biggest reasons for any business to upgrade to a UCaaS based system is the massive increase in productivity. In a traditional setup, an email you send to a colleague may not be processed till they access their mailbox. With UCaaS, it is possible to easily transmit this email as a text message or a phone call depending on the real time communication channel the receiver currently accepts. This drastically brings down the turnaround time for communication channels thus enabling better productivity of your organization as a whole.
Another major factor to consider is the enhanced reliability. Unlike traditional communication systems that can go down because of issues on your enterprise server, UCaaS is highly reliable. This is because your communication systems are securely connected with multiple datacenters so that in the case of one datacenter going down, the communication systems can still be made accessible through other datacenters.
For a small business, scalability and cost of ownership is another area where UCaaS comes in handy. Unlike traditional phone lines that need extensive capital investment on setting up PBX systems, UCaaS handles calls mostly through SIP trunking. Also, since all communication channels are handled via the internet, your business only requires an IP connection to get started. This also makes it possible for businesses to invest in affordable and highly scalable pay-as-you-go offers that are not viable on traditional communication systems.
Lastly, UCaaS makes it unnecessary for bootstrapped small businesses to own their own IT staff. In a lot of businesses, the main job of the IT team is to make sure all technology processes are running. With UCaaS, most of these tasks, including the responsibility for upgrading to newer software versions lies with the service provider. This means small businesses do not have to own an IT staff just to handle the technology operations.
UCaaS is a growing industry and is likely to be a critical part of business operations over the next decade. However, by adopting this technology, small businesses can enjoy terrific competitive advantage over their rivals by cutting down on costs and increasing business productivity.