Yesterday’s most popular workplace collaboration spot was the conference room down the hall. In most cases, it was supported by a PBX voice/phone system that might have lived in a closet nearby. Those days, like those of many other aging, legacy network technologies, are coming to a close. Today, collaboration occurs anywhere and everywhere, while the old conference room down the hall gathers dust, because the best place to connect and share ideas is now the cloud. And the way to get there is Unified Communications as a Service. The UCaaS era is here.
Driven by advanced technologies and the growing preference by employees to work remotely, today’s mobility enabled office demands a variety of essential tools to support instantaneous collaboration. Otherwise, workers are frustrated, productivity suffers and the advantages of always-on communications are lost. With that as a backdrop, it’s no surprise UCaaS sales have begun to dominate the space.
The rapid move to cloud-based UC is driven by a number of independent but interrelated factors – all relating to the emerging digital workplace – that legacy on-premises PBX office voice communications systems simply were not designed to address, including:
And these factors are really just the start. As in other facets of IT, the race to move UC to the cloud is in full swing, with even the most risk averse organizations opening doors to the benefits of the cloud.
Legacy systems simply weren’t designed to support the concept of the mobile first office. Integration, efficiency, flexibility and usability are precicely where legacy systems fall short, and where UCaaS excels.
Despite their decades long reputation for reliability, legacy office communications systems are narrow in terms of functionality, difficult to use and extremely inflexible. Cloud-based unified communications solutions free businesses from these constraints, delivering multiple tangible benefits that set users free. In addition to broad support for business mobility, these include:
As with any other cloud-based enterprise app, the quality, reliability and usability of UCaaS products can vary widely. To make sure they match your new digital workplace’s needs, you must keep in mind it’s not simply about finding a good collection of features and functions. It’s also about a business relationship and the ability to offer experienced guidance that leads to results. Prospective buyers should also consider the following:
And don’t forget to analyze the extras. Some providers offer more robust or higher quality options than others, so make sure all of your essentials are accounted for.
Obviously there are a lot of things to consider. But if it isn’t intuitive and easy for your people to use, you might as well have bought a cloud-based door stop. Even worse, if people try to use it, it can become such a support burden that any benefits you see will be drowned out by screams coming from IT. So choose carefully.
Windstream knows this part better than most providers, given our efforts to make our own OfficeSuite UCaaS solution as easy to use as possible. Same goes for our effort to combine UCaaS with our fully managed SD-WAN solution to make high performance implementations equally easy for IT.
For more thoughts on the process of making a smart choice in UCaaS, and added insight into why UC has quickly taken to the cloud, read our whitepaper, Welcome to the UCaaS Era, Where best-in-class UC takes place in the collaborative cloud. So whatever route you choose, you’ll have a strong list of criteria to help you compare options. And if I’ve overlooked anything, please let me know; we’re all about collaboration as you may have guessed.
Austin Herrington is Vice President of Enterprise Voice Product Management for Windstream Enterprise. He oversees the enterprise product strategy and roadmap where he and his team develop, manage and market advanced products and services offered to customers nationwide, executing programs to help businesses achieve a perpetual state of winning. He was previously Director of Product Management responsible for Windstream’s Internet portfolio and value-added services. Prior to joining Windstream in 2006, Herrington was Director of Product Management for Alltel. He holds an MBA from the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business.
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