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Unified Communications Explained: What is UCaaS & How Can Businesses Benefit From UCaaS
Introduction & history
Portman Tech’s first dance was with UCaas!
In the early 21st century, (yes, we are not discussing landlines, fax machines & pagers), industrial revolution revisited us in the form of advanced telecommunication. The evolution of the internet over the last two decades made things possible in a really big way, especially for businesses in the heart of cities like London. Companies started moving away from hard-wired telephone networks to VoIP (voice-over-internet-protocol), an internet-based solution. A new term ‘Cloud’ started appearing in the horizon. ‘Cloud Calling’, ‘Cloud Computing, ‘Cloud Storage’, essentially became synonymous with IT service providers.
The underlying word here however was “communication”. Organizations realized that to not just grow a successful business, but even if they wished to run it smoothly, effective internal communication was a must. Employees needed to interact with each other with clarity and speed. Any possible conflict had to be erased with transparency and mutual understanding, thus promoting the company’s values and goals.
And yet, all the new-found ways of communication were on separate platforms and dealt with unsynchronized data, which provided inconsistent user experience. Today’s world is more dynamic and not confined to a specific desk. One would like to be constantly available, attend business meetings while on the go, communicate with the entire team, or simply check if all security systems are in place from a remote location.
Integrating all these mediums of communication together with the PC environment is managed under Unified Communication. Instant messaging or ‘live chats’, voice/video calls and conferencing, data and screen sharing, call control and speech recognition, etc across multiple users with multiple devices, either from one to one, or broadcasted from one to many, the term ‘Unified Communication’ defines everything above.
What is UCaaS (Unified communication)?
Not everyone who runs a business in a city like London may be technically proficient. Therefore, let us understand this from a layman’s point of view. Imagine having a magic remote that controls all your communication channels. Emails pop up instantly, you switch to video calls with a click, and instant messaging feels like a tap on the shoulder. That’s the magic of unified communications (UC)!
Think of it this way: instead of juggling separate apps for calls, texts, chats, and video meetings, a Unified Communications system combines them into one seamless platform. It’s like having a digital HQ for all your interactions, no matter where you or your team are located.
Why should Unified Communications be your first choice?
- One-stop shop: No more digging through endless apps or missing messages. UC streamlines communication, saving you time and frustration.
- Supercharged teamwork: Collaborate instantly with colleagues across the globe. Share screens, brainstorm ideas, and build relationships – all within the UC platform.
- Productivity Boost: Focus on what matters, not on managing communication chaos. UC keeps you connected and, in the flow, allowing you to accomplish more.
- Cost-cutting Champion: Ditch multiple subscriptions and redundant tools. UC consolidates everything into one efficient system, saving you money and headaches.
So, if you’re tired of communication juggling acts and want to work smarter, not harder, unified communications is your game-changer. It’s like having a superpower for connecting anytime, anywhere, with anyone.
Remember, UC isn’t just about fancy features; it’s about simplifying your work life and amplifying your team’s potential. Give it a try, and experience the magic of communication harmony!
What are the various common uses of Unified Communications?
You could order a meal delivery over a voice message; however, the restaurant may receive it in an email or chat medium for easier processing. The IVR can now be set up to automatically respond to frequently asked questions. Managing devices through apps on your phone – these are all not so-technical and conveniently set up for individuals or even big companies.
Having one interface for all your communication, managed from one place, would only mean simple and easy to control. This would in turn increase response time, bridge the gap between dispersed team, eventually reduce costs and also improve productivity. Now, if you wish to avoid capital expenditure, you may choose not to deploy UC service on their own, and move the entire solution to the ‘Cloud’!
Since 2004, Portman Tech has been offering UC as a Service to its customers right here in London. As a premium managed IT service provider, we have the expertise to provide flexibility and scalability for your core business tasks. Offering contact-centre capabilities, including auto-attendant, interactive voice response, call routing, customer relationship management integrations, embedding cloud-based communication features into your business application and workflow, etc can be a near future discussion too.
Benefits of Unified Communications for businesses of all sizes:
- Streamlined Workflow:
- One platform, infinite possibilities: Switch effortlessly between emails, calls, video meetings, and instant messaging, eliminating app fatigue and context switching woes.
- Say goodbye to scattered information: Access all communication history, files, and notes in one central location, saving time and reducing the risk of missed messages.
- Boost collaboration: Brainstorm, share screens, and work on documents together in real-time, regardless of physical location.
- Enhanced Customer Experience:
- Never miss a beat: Respond to inquiries quickly and efficiently across various channels, leaving customers feeling valued and heard.
- Personalize every interaction: Leverage integrated CRM data to tailor communication and offer better support.
- Build stronger relationships: Foster closer connections with clients through video conferencing and instant messaging, solidifying loyalty and trust.
- Increased Mobility and Flexibility:
- Work from anywhere: Stay connected and productive even when remote, ensuring business continuity and employee satisfaction.
- Empower flexible schedules: Facilitate hybrid work models and cater to diverse employee needs with seamless communication access.
- Break down geographical barriers: Collaborate internationally without communication hurdles, expanding your reach and market opportunities.
- Cost Savings and Improved Resource Management:
- Consolidate and simplify: Replace multiple disparate tools with a single UC platform, reducing subscription fees and IT maintenance costs.
- Optimize resource allocation: Streamline communication processes and workflows for improved efficiency, freeing up valuable time and resources.
- Boost employee morale: Invest in a tool that simplifies work lives and empowers employees, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover.
- Enhanced Security and Control:
- Centralized data management: Securely store and manage all communication data in one place, mitigating the risk of breaches and leaks.
- Granular access control: Define user permissions and roles to ensure compliance and appropriate communication access levels.
- Advanced security features: Benefit from built-in security protocols like encryption and two-factor authentication for added peace of mind.
Whether you’re a lean startup or a multinational corporation, ‘Unified Communications’ offers a potent recipe for success. It elevates your business by streamlining operations, fostering collaboration, and empowering your team to connect and build with ease.
Forbes Advisor rates the following UCaaS providers of 2022 very high:
- Nextiva – for businesses with multiple locations
- RingCentral – for businesses with a high call volume
- Zoom – for businesses that need a comprehensive video conferencing solution
- Vonage – UcaaS with robust features
- 8×8 – for scalable solutions like unlimited international & local callings, toll-free numbers, etc
Who are the leaders in providing Unified Communications systems?
The leading research and advisory company Gartner, has named ZOOM and Microsoft Teams as a leader in UCaaS in their magic quadrants; ZOOM in their first year of eligibility and Microsoft Teams for two consecutive years.
ZOOM was one of the fastest growing applications with over 400 basic/core telephony features. It has one of the most comprehensive UCaaS portfolios (ZOOM Meetings, ZOOM Team Chat, ZOOM Webinars, ZOOM Rooms and ZOOM Phone). One of the striking features of the ZOOM application is its focus on security protocols which includes a 256-bit AES-GCM encryption and in-meeting security options. This prompted us at Portman Tech to work on an official collaboration with ZOOM and we are happy to provide unmatched UCaaS to our clients.
Are there any security concerns with applying UCaaS to your business?
- Data Breaches and Leaks – UC systems centralize a vast amount of sensitive data, including emails, messages, voice recordings, and video conferences. This makes them prime targets for cybercriminals seeking to steal confidential information or disrupt operations.
- Unauthorized Access – Weak access controls and inadequate user authentication can leave the system vulnerable to unauthorized access. Malicious actors could gain access to sensitive data, impersonate legitimate users, or manipulate communication channels.
- Malware and Phishing Attacks – Phishing emails and malware-laden attachments can easily infiltrate UC systems through email and instant messaging, potentially compromising the entire network and infecting connected devices.
- Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks – DoS attacks can overwhelm UC systems with traffic, rendering them unusable and disrupting critical communication channels. This can lead to financial losses, reputational damage, and operational downtime.
- Shadow IT – Employees using unauthorized communication tools and applications outside the sanctioned UC platform can create security vulnerabilities and introduce compliance risks.
What steps can be taken to secure a business against Unified Communications’ risks?
Every business that goes online, whatever the size or segment, should implement robust security measures, including:
- Data encryption: Encrypting data at rest and in transit protects it from unauthorized access even if attackers breach the system.
- Strong access controls: Implement multi-factor authentication, role-based access control, and user activity monitoring to control access and detect suspicious behaviour.
- Security awareness training: Educate employees about cybersecurity best practices, phishing scams, and the importance of using sanctioned communication tools.
- Regular security audits: Conduct regular security audits to identify and address vulnerabilities in the UC system and network infrastructure.
- Incident response plan: Develop and test a comprehensive incident response plan to effectively manage security breaches and minimize damage.
By taking these steps, businesses can leverage the benefits of unified communications while minimizing the associated security risks. Remember, a proactive approach to cybersecurity is essential for protecting your business data, ensuring communication integrity, and fostering a secure and productive work environment.
How to choose the best UCaaS partner for your business?
This is the question that finally comes to your mind. Finding the best UCaaS partner for your business requires careful consideration and a personalized approach. Here are some key steps to follow:
- Assess your needs:
- User base: How many users need access? Consider future growth and geographic distribution.
- Features: Identify essential features like voice, video conferencing, instant messaging, and collaboration tools. Prioritize based on your workflow and industry needs.
- Budget: Determine your budget range for both initial costs and ongoing subscription fees.
- Integration: Assess your existing IT infrastructure and need for integrating the UCaaS solution with other business applications.
- Research potential partners:
- Market leaders: Start with established UCaaS providers with proven track records and experience in the industry.
- Local options: Consider regional providers offering closer geographical support and understanding of your specific needs.
- Read reviews and case studies: Seek insights from other businesses using the same UCaaS platform.
- Attend industry events and webinars: Network with potential partners and gather information about their offerings.
- Evaluate features and services:
- Compare feature sets: Ensure the platforms meet your essential and desired functionality needs.
- Security considerations: Assess data security protocols, compliance certifications, and disaster recovery plans.
- Customer support: Evaluate the Unified Communications provider’s support options, response times, and training resources.
- Scalability and flexibility: Consider the platform’s ability to adapt to your future growth and changing needs.
- Request demos and proposals:
- Ask for live demonstrations: Get a firsthand look at the platform’s features and usability.
- Negotiate pricing and terms: Compare pricing models and seek competitive quotes.
- Clarify contracts and service level agreements (SLAs): Ensure you understand fees, service commitments, and dispute resolution processes.
- Make your decision:
- Prioritize your needs: Don’t be swayed solely by price; choose a partner that aligns with your specific requirements and long-term goals.
- Build trust and communication: Seek a partner you feel comfortable collaborating with and who understands your business.
- Make a confident choice: Select the UCaaS partner that best empowers your business communication and delivers tangible value.
Remember, choosing the right UCaaS partner is an investment. Most IT service providers offer flexible pricing and customized solutions based on your specific IT requirements. Take your time, ask questions, and prioritize your unique needs to make the best decision for your business’s success.
As a customer, always ensure you have data on the pricing, scalability, customer support and reviews/ratings of a UCaaS provider before you choose your partner. Give us a call at Portman Tech and we will be glad to consult.
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