Does your organisation require technology that provides communication channels for your employees to collaborate and connect? Do you require a phone system that can be accessed from anywhere as well as messaging functionality and enterprise telephony meetings? Is there sufficient communication tools to enable hybrid working and meeting software such as video conferencing? If the answer is ‘yes’, then your organisation needs a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solution.
Unified Communications as a Service solutions combine multiple enterprise communications channels, such as a Voice, Chat messaging, web conferencing and content sharing into a single platform. Over the past few years, there has been a surge in the popularity and demand for Unified Communication as a Service solutions. This trend was accelerated by the 2021 pandemic, causing employees to work from home and organisations to transition to a hybrid working model, requiring business leaders to ensure employees could continue to collaborate and communicate effectively. Furthermore, investing in a UCaaS platform is often part of an enterprise’s larger digital transformation journey or cloud migration project.
In this blog, we uncover what Unified Communications is and explore how a UCaaS solution streamlines business communications, empowers team collaboration, and drives operational efficiencies.
What is a UCaaS solution?
A Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solution, typically shortened to a ‘UC solution’, is a cloud-based application that combines multiple communication channels (audio call, video and messaging) into a single interface.
UCaaS solutions operate using a reliable internet connection, making telephony hardware redundant. When employees make or receive a phone call on the UC solution, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology – the internet – powers the telephony. VoIP telephony delivers cost savings through eliminating any requirement to install and maintain hardware. Rather than upfront costs for hardware and handsets, many UCaaS solutions have a recurring licensing fee with automatic upgrades to feature sets and security.
Modern UCaaS solutions provide organisations with flexibility and drive agile operations through enabling users to seamlessly switch from one device to another such as a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone and tablet all within a single session. For instance, a staff member may begin a conversation over a phone call using their smartphone but then decides it would be beneficial to share their screen. In one single click, the user can move between devices, seamlessly switching from their mobile device to their laptop. This functionality can help improve the user experience and optimise efficiency.
What are the components of a UCaaS platform?
A Unified Communication solution comprises of:
- Video conferencing
- Screen sharing
- Cloud technology
- Interactive voice response (IVR) system
- Third-party integrations
UCaaS vs PBX:
If your organisation currently has a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) system rolled out and you’re wondering whether there is any benefit of upgrading to a UCaaS platform, here are some quick questions that can assist your decision making:
- Would your employees benefit from the flexibility of working from anywhere rather than being restricted to working from a single location (i.e. their desk in the organisation’s office)?
- Do you think your employees would benefit from collaborating through rich media such as instant messaging or a video meeting?
- Is your organisation able to access to latest features in employee communication technology?
- Are the ongoing maintenance requirements and fees becoming hard to manage and a significant expense?
- Does the PBX system support your business continuity plans?
- Would employees benefit from leveraging the power of audio conferencing?
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, then upgrading to a UCaaS system should be prioritised.
UCaaS vs VoIP:
When comparing UCaaS providers vs VoIP providers, it is important to consider that even though UCaaS solutions use VoIP technology for telephony, VoIP systems do not provide the same capabilities as Unified Communications platforms.
VoIP solutions are digital telephony systems that convert voice audio into digital signals, eliminating any reliance on landline connections. Similar to UCaaS platforms, VoIP systems offer accessibility on various devices such as a softphone, laptop, etc.
Ultimately, VoIP systems are generally used by organisations that only need to use communication tools to make outbound calls and receive inbound calls. If your organisation wants more communication tools and to enable staff to collaborate across video calling, instant messaging and have the ability to share content such as files from the one unified platform, UCaaS systems can help satisfy these business needs.
UCaaS vs CCaaS:
When an organisation needs to extend communication capabilities for customer interactions, a Contact Centre solution may be required. To better understand the difference between these UCaaS systems and CCaaS platforms, here is a quick overview:
- Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) solutions are built to streamline communication and collaboration amongst employees within an organisation
- Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solutions enable service and sales representatives to communicate with customers across the channels of Voice, Email, Web Chat, SMS and social media applications. Contact Centre solutions also facilitate wrap codes or call dispositions, which provide rich data to understand the outcome and reason for calls, chats or emails.
For organisations that experience a high volume of inbound or outbound calls, require queue and campaign management capabilities or need to measure the performance of customer engagement activities, they should invest in a cloud contact centre solution.
How could your organisation benefit from a UCaaS solution?
Adopting a Unified Communications platform provides rich communication features and various collaboration tools. Some of the benefits UCaaS solutions deliver include:
UCaaS solutions serve as a way for organisations to replace legacy communications platforms and old telephony systems such as desk phones that require hardware. Upgrading to a UCaaS platform will help your organisation leverage additional functionality such as routing, forwarding and call analytics as well as utilising VoIP technology which assists in achieving cost savings.
Hybrid Workforce Enablement
A key advantage of adopting a UCaaS platform is based on the cloud delivery model. UCaaS platforms enable every employee to access and utilise the solution regardless of their geographical location.
Consolidation of multiple internal communication systems
Employees no longer need to switch between different applications to call a colleague, send a message or interact over a virtual meeting that uses audio conferencing. UCaaS solutions alleviate the pain points that arise from disjointed communication methods by streamlining conversations into one platform, helping to improve productivity rates.
Manage availability through ‘Presence’
Working remotely has its challenges, so understanding if a colleague is available or is in a meeting is crucial to improving collaboration. ‘Presence’ is a visual icon that indicates an employee’s status such as ‘available’, ‘in a meeting’, ‘lunch break’, ‘offline’. An employee’s presence is revealed to anyone within their organisation to avoid workflow disruption.
UCaaS offerings provide a native contact directory that enables employees to simply search for a colleague’s name and start a conversation on their preferred communication channel.
Messaging a colleague or a group of colleagues in real-time can help elicit a fast response due to the convenient nature of this channel. Moreover, files, links and images can be shared on a message to further enhance collaboration.
Broadcast messaging through public group chats
Working on projects with team members who are outside of your organisation’s contact directory is made easier using a UCaaS solution. Public group chats group members can be created where group members won’t lose track of project updates or any prior conversations as all messages, files, documents, recordings and links shared in the chat are stored and can be accessed when needed.
Video conferencing has become a business communication staple for organisations globally. UCaaS solutions facilitate web conferencing to be used for various purposes including webinars, seminars, telehealth appointments, one-one-one catch ups and more.
Efficiencies through Business Interoperability
UCaaS systems are often compatible with third-party applications through native integrations or APIs. Integrating with other business systems can optimise efficiency, streamline workflows and improve the user experience.
Less reliance on IT
UCaaS software can be simply downloaded to a user’s device/s or accessed on a browser. The communications infrastructure is often managed by the UCaaS provider to alleviate any internal reliance to complete any upgrades.
ipSCAPE Connect – The WebRTC Unified Communications Cloud Solution Designed for High-Performing Organisations:
With one-click access to voice-calling, chat, video conferencing, screen and file sharing, analytics, third-party integrations and more, ipSCAPE Connect is a leading-edge Unified Communications as a Service solution that bolsters team collaboration and accelerates sales with WebRTC functionality.
With ipSCAPE Connect, teams can work faster and more productively through leveraging advanced functionality including:
Users can harness the power of Web RTC to enable their web visitors to seamlessly communicate across SMS messaging, send an email or schedule a call or video with customer facing staff directly from the website. All external communications that occur using WebRTC are synced onto ipSCAPE Connect so the user does not need to switch between applications to communicate with the website visitor. Moreover, the user can add the customer to their contact directory to provide a personalised experience onwards.
Reporting on the number of external calls, messages and video meetings that occur can indicate whether the business communications solution is sufficient to manage the volume or whether a contact centre solution is required to scale according to interaction numbers. ipSCAPE Connect provides real-time dashboards and historic reports to enable senior managers to form data-led improvements to the business strategy.
Advanced Integration Capabilities
Organisations can achieve interoperability with other business systems through a wide range of integrations natively available. Integrate ipSCAPE Connect with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system such as Salesforce to help maximise efficiency with ‘Click to Call’ capabilities. Furthermore, this UCaaS offering integrates with Outlook and Google Calendar to sync any scheduled video meetings and calls into the user’s calendar.
To support a collaborative and hybrid workforce, staff members can gain visibility into the availability of their colleagues through ‘presence’ – a visual icon that changes colour depending on the availability of the employee. For example, when an employee’s presence is green, this means they are available to have a conversation, whereas the colour red means the employee is busy or in a meeting.
If you were asked if you would benefit from having more time back in your day, would you answer, yes? This is possible through leveraging voicemail transcription. ipSCAPE Connect’s voicemail transcription feature converts the voicemail’s audio into text, enabling the person who received the voicemail to simply read what was communicated which ultimately saves time.
Call Recording & Storage
All calls on ipSCAPE Connect can be recorded and stored for compliance. Managers can easily access the call recordings on ipSCAPE RAMP – a cloud-based secure call recording storage solution that provides advanced filtering functionality and GDPR-specific features.
Eliminate any communication or data silos
Users only need ipSCAPE Connect to be able to communicate across multiple channels, removing fragmentation and boosting productivity by working with only one application.
ipSCAPE Connect enables a manager to configure an ‘auto-attendant’, a specific team member, such as a receptionist, that is designated to receive all incoming phone calls. This team member is equipped with the ability to seamlessly transfer the caller to a subject matter expert within their organisation. The auto-attendant can view each employee’s presence before transferring the call to deliver a frictionless customer experience through avoiding forwarding the caller to someone that is unavailable.
Applying Measures for Security
Managers can access security features such as defining roles and assigning user permissions for all employees. Using ipSCAPE Connect, you do not need external SBCs or VPNs. Voice and data are continuously protected with native end-to-end encryption.
Meetings & Conferences
This UCaaS offering drives team collaboration through on-demand video which enables a staff member to launch a virtual face-to-face meeting with one or more internal colleagues. Additionally, users can schedule a video conference in advance, inviting external participants through sharing a uniquely generated meeting link. To enhance engagement, this UCaaS platform provides collaboration tools such as screen sharing, ‘raise hand’ functionality, an in-conference chat where participants can access file sharing, poll creation, and more.
Virtual post-it notes
A user can set a personal reminder by sending a virtual post-it note to themself. Virtual post-it notes serve as a way for a team member to collaborate if their colleague’s presence reveals they are unavailable to chat – team members can share a post-it note to any colleague informing them of something important.
Each ipSCAPE Connect user can access this UCaaS solution from up to 10 different devices including a laptop, tablet, smartphone etc. Users can switch devices during an interaction without needing to end and re-commence the call or video meeting, supporting enhanced collaboration.
ipSCAPE Connect’s leading-edge WebRTC Unified Communications solution can be seen below:
No matter what industry your business operates within, continue reading to discover how ipSCAPE Connect can help enhance your organisation’s operations:
Benefits of UCaaS for Debt Collection Agencies:
ipSCAPE Connect empowers your debt collection agency to streamline operational activities through one centralised unified communications platform. Field agents can effortlessly share updates with team members using instant messaging. Meanwhile, mercantile agents can make outbound phone calls to any customer and initiate video meetings all within a single interface. This integrated business communications solution serves as a way to consolidate debt collection procedures into one solution.
Benefits of a UCaaS platform for Fundraisers:
Many fundraising organisations centre their operations around face-to-face interactions such as attending in-person events or door knocking. Charities and not-for-profits are required to overhaul their day-to-day operations and leverage fundraising software to maintain donor engagement. ipSCAPE Connect enables fundraisers to keep communication lines open with their donors through talking over the phone, messaging and video conferencing. Collaboration tools such as screen sharing, creating a group chat and sending virtual post-it notes helps promote teamwork and drive engagement.
Benefits of Unified Comms for Healthcare providers:
Hospitals, medical centres and individual health practitioners can modernise their business communications and seamlessly interact with ancillary healthcare services such as laboratories, pharmacists and insurers across instant messaging, web conferencing and audio calling while using one solution. Healthcare providers can utilise ipSCAPE Connect to conduct telehealth appointments with patients on a video meeting and send e-prescriptions by attaching the link or file on a message.
Benefits of Unified Communications for Retailers:
Built to engage with customers shopping online, streamline store enquiries and improve team communication, ipSCAPE Connect is designed for modern retailers to improve their internal and external communications. Using WebRTC functionality, customer service representatives can engage with website visitors through web chat where prompt support can be provided. Anytime in-store employees receive questions where they are unsure of the correct response, ipSCAPE Connect can be used to make an audio call to a colleague that is best equipped to resolve the customer’s enquiry.
Benefits of using a UCaaS provider for Education Institutions:
E-learning is an evolving global trend and can be conducted using ipSCAPE Connect’s virtual classroom capabilities – teachers can schedule recurring online video meetings with students where they are able to attend from any location. Students can access classroom tools such as ‘raise hand’ functionality to seek real-time support from their teacher. This all-in-one unified communications platform enables students to create group chats where they are able to work collaboratively on team projects together with access to file and link sharing. Students can also message their teacher directly to ask a question and gain one-on-one support.
Benefits of using a Unified Communications Platform for Car & Automotive companies:
Consumers don’t necessarily want to follow the traditional way of visiting several car dealerships in-person to find and purchase a car. Automotive companies can cater to today’s digital age through leveraging WebRTC functionality where staff can engage with customers that are browsing their website. For instance, a customer clicks on the web chat icon displayed on a car dealership’s website to ask a series of questions. As the customer’s questions become more complex, the customer service representative decides to click one button and switch to a voice call that occurs within the same browser. After verbally answering the customer’s questions, the customer decides to schedule a test drive. The customer service representative is able to send a message containing a calendar link to the customer within the same web chat interaction that the conversation first started, ultimately enhancing the customer experience and improving average handle time.
Does your organisation wish to explore adopting a Unified Communication and Collaboration solution? Contact ipSCAPE today to learn more about how ipSCAPE Connect elevates organisational efficiency and drives collaboration through streamlining communications into one easy-to-use unified platform.
ipSCAPE is a feature-rich, scalable cloud communication technology solution with advanced integration capabilities. We help businesses connect with their customers through multi-channel communications, including Voice, Web Chat, Email, SMS, IVR and other emerging channels.