Per the research firm Global Insights, the market for Unified Communications (UC) technology will reach nearly $100 billion during the next five years. Such a huge forecast makes sense, as UC is not necessarily one product but an interconnected set of devices and applications that a business uses in concert with the goal of boosting collaboration and productivity between workers.
Voice services such as conference calling, visual services such as videoconferencing and text services such as instant messaging are the typical pillars of a digital UC platform. And today, cloud-based UC – a technology configuration in which most or some of the applications are hosted by third-party providers – is one of the fastest-growing segments in the communications industry.
Why? Because cloud-UC – also called Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) – offers the familiar business advantages of other cloud computing options:
- Broader service set
- Greater mobility and availability
- Reduced equipment and support costs
Of course, cloud-UC shares challenges with other cloud services, too, such as administrative complexities and cybersecurity concerns. So, like other areas of emerging technology, we advocate our readers take a deliberative approach to adopting UCaaS. Here’s a 5-step process to guide you:
- Start with User Needs
A large part of the appeal of cloud computing in general is the ability to use only the technology you need, when you need it, without having to own it. This means any cloud-UC journey should begin by assessing user requirements. Conference calling probably is a given. But how prevalent is instant messaging in your workplace? And is the organization ready for videoconferencing? How mobile is your workforce? Are we providing devices? Or can employees bring their own to work? One simple, effective way to find answers to these questions is an employee questionnaire.
- Review Cloud-based UC Components
Basic elements of UCaaS typically include:
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services
- Integrated email, social media and presence services
- Conferencing and collaboration services (audio, video and web)
Does your organization need all these components? Check your user survey for insight.
- Evaluate Existing Equipment
Many companies have considerable investments in on-premise communications infrastructure. And a lot of these systems are working just fine for individuals and the organization. Maybe you don’t need a full cloud-UC solution. A hybrid approach could be best for your users and your business.
- Make Cybersecurity and Business Continuity UC Cornerstones
UC systems will be an integral part of your business operations, which means UC must be an integral part of your business continuity planning and should be approached with a cybersecure mindset.
- Don’t Go It Alone – Many IT Managed Services Providers (MSPs) specialize in UC, cloud, mobility and other emerging technologies. We can help you find one that fits your business.