Businesses today need to enable their employees to collaborate seamlessly wherever they are, through a variety of channels, including voice, video and chat.

By Ankush Joshi, practice lead for unified communications at AlphaCodes

This means they need a cloud- and service-based solution to deliver Unified Communications (UC). Unified Communications as-a-Service (UCaaS) has therefore become arguably the most important technology tool in the current environment, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic that forced enterprises to rapidly shift to a work-from-anywhere model.

However, choosing the right UCaaS platform can be a challenging task. A trusted IT partner can ensure the best solution to meet business needs today and in the future.

Old technology, new delivery

The concept of UC is nothing new, and enterprises have been making use of various flavours of it for many years. What has changed is the model of delivery. Instead of cumbersome, costly on-premises solutions that required months of implementation and integration, not to mention ongoing maintenance, UCaaS changes the game.

The as-a-Service model offers vastly improved flexibility and agility around procurement, operation, and delivery. This, in conjunction with changing business needs, the need to cater to a growing workforce of millennials, an unstable economic climate, and ongoing uncertainty around the pandemic, is driving dramatically increased UCaaS adoption.

The growth of this technology is evident: the UCaaS market was valued at $16,24-billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $30,53-billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 8,2% from 2021 to 2028. In addition, Gartner predicts that by 2024, 74% of new unified communications licenses purchased by organisations will be cloud-based, up from 48% in 2019.

Hybrid is the key

Much of the growth of UCaaS is being driven by the need to support a remote workforce as well as increasing tendencies toward catering for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

However, as we shift out of ‘pandemic mode’, more employees will return to an office environment, at least for part of the time, although it is expected that some will remain permanently remote. According to Gartner, by 2022, 74% of organisations will move at least 5% of their normally full-time, on-site workers, who had switched to working from home temporarily, into permanent remote-working positions.

Organisations need a solution that offers seamless communication and collaboration no matter where employees are, whether they are in the office, at home or traveling. Mobility is the key driver. However, many businesses may have existing investment into legacy and on-premises UC solutions, which makes switching entirely to the cloud less feasible. Hybrid solutions are important to enable a gradual shift while delivering flexibility, agility, and scalability.

Partners for success

There are many different UCaaS offerings available today and choosing the right one can be complex. Some important considerations are data security, consistency of service and network performance management, along with a fully managed service offering and 24/7 performance monitoring.

Organisations also need to ensure that their solution is affordable and reliable to meet budgets and business needs, and that it can be utilised outside of the corporate network to collaborate externally.

A valued technology partner can assist greatly when it comes to navigating the complexity of selecting a UCaaS solution. This includes ensuring that the solution meets data privacy needs as well as network performance requirements. When any new solution is implemented, change management becomes crucial to maximise adoption, and an IT partner is invaluable in achieving this.

In addition, a fully-managed service will ensure that downtime – a critical challenge to business continuity – will be minimal. The key to success is to have the right solution in place to maximise benefits, a service provider that offers an efficient monitoring tool along with full maintenance and support, and a trusted partner to bring it all together.