Unified Communications as a Service, also known as UCaaS, is a service model where a provider delivers a range of communication and collaboration services over an IP network. Adopting UCaaS over legacy communication solutions is good business sense for many enterprises due to the added applications and business productivity benefits the solution brings. However, despite its popularity, many companies struggle to make the switch to UCaaS due to the seemingly endless options available on the market today.
Dean Manzoori, Vice President of Product Management for UCaaS at Masergy, offers advice on what businesses should look for in a UCaaS solution and details how Masergy is addressing the rising demand of UCaaS in the workplace.
A variation of Unified Communications (UC), UCaaS (also referenced as hosted UC) has become a viable option for businesses that seek to avoid the capital and operational expenses of owning and operating a UC solution on their own. It encompasses all that UC offers and more including enterprise messaging, online meetings, telephony, presence technology, and video conferencing. But all of this comes with greater cost savings, flexibility, and scalability since the service is cloud-based.
Manzoori says UCaaS has vastly transformed how businesses communicate. “Back in the days a hosted PBX and hosted VoIP were some of the only communication options available on top of the Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). But now, communications have morphed available services and deliver solutions that allow companies to easily communicate with all of their customer, vendors, employees, and partners seamlessly.”
"Telephony is still the centerpiece, but over the past decade usage of telephone calls has dropped and not nearly increased as much because most interactions have been displaced by chat/SMS/email and other modes of communication. And UC is exactly that: it provides other means of communication and collaboration within an environment," shared Manzoori.
Why Move to UCaaS?
According to Masergy’s whitepaper on Cloud Unified Communications, there are many compelling reasons why companies should consider moving to UCaaS. The main factors include improved employee collaboration, higher employee productivity, savings on travel, and improved communication with customers.
A cloud-based UC system also offers a host of technological advances to businesses when compared to an on-premise PBX. The primary benefit is lowered IT support requirements. Companies that move to a hosted UC solution can eliminate the burden of supporting complex telecom systems and pass this responsibility onto their managed service provider instead, helping them focus on their business and allocate resources elsewhere. Cloud-based services also offer the benefit of lower capital expenses, greater scalability, added functionalities, and automatic upgrades.
Finding the Right UCaaS Solution
It’s important for businesses considering a hosted UC solution to remember that while a lot of benefits can be reaped from UCaaS, not all offerings in today's market are created equal. Manzoori offers the following tips to help companies zero in on the right service for their needs.
Evaluate your business. Manzoori suggests that you should look inside your company first and identify your personal needs and requirements before you start looking outside for a solution. What do you really want? You should be able to identify your current environment and understand what your shortcomings and pain points are and try to categorize these before you start shopping, comparing, and talking to providers.
Ask important questions. When comparing UCaaS offerings, come up with a list of questions to help you evaluate which provider can tick all the right boxes. Do you need a local dial tone? Is uptime/availability very important to you? Will you need a private network/guaranteed outcome? How about support for home/remote users? Check and compare which providers can match and cater to your needs.
Consider provider stability and expertise. Another thing to consider when deploying a UCaaS solution is whether the provider you would like to partner with shows stability and expertise in the field. There many established vendors and smaller new players in the UCaaS space so it’s important to do your research on them. “Plus, if a provider has an ample amount of resources, companies can benefit from these as far as training and a learning curve is concerned, and thus focus their resources elsewhere as opposed to trying to 'keep the lights on.' That in of itself can save businesses,” says Manzoori.
Maximizing the Benefits of UCaaS with Masergy
When it comes to UCaaS, Dallas-based managed networking and cloud services provider Masergy understands that businesses need a solution that delivers all the right features at the right cost and can be deployed through an easy, strategic process. Their award-winning UCaaS offering, Global UCaaS, provides a highly scalable IP communications infrastructure and redundant carrier-grade platform for voice, video and mobile communications.
Masergy understands that different companies have unique needs and provides businesses with a consultative approach for migrating their voice systems into their cloud platform. Masergy employs a three-step process to help enterprises ease onto the cloud and ensure they have a system that meets their needs:
Strategic evaluation - Masergy’s team will partner with the organization to assess their current setup. Manzoori says that this allows a company to select how many users the system would be for (based on the plan options and features included). Masergy’s team will also survey number and location of office sites, current voice contracts, and more.
Customized solution - Next, the team will create a migration strategy to match the business’ needs. Masergy can develop a strategy for any of their three approaches: Hybrid solution (ideal for those who have an existing PBX and prefer to make a gradual transition towards hosted UC), Intelligent SIP Trunking (for businesses that already have an on-premise system, this solution allows them to combine voice and data systems using a SIP Trunking Solution), and UCaaS (pure, hosted UC ideal for companies that want a cloud communications system that eliminates maintenance costs).
Successful implementation - Masergy ensures that businesses enjoy a UC solution that is optimized for today and is future-proof for tomorrow. They keep the same calling experience across the board, whether it is an on-net international call or a call to a coworker in another cubicle.
Below are the key features of Masergy’s UCaaS:
- Single number mobility/BYOD
- Guaranteed on-net performance
- Seamless voice, video and instant messaging communications
- One inbox for voicemail, email and fax services
- Built-in disaster recovery with advanced automatic failover
- Global private dialing with no long distance charges
- Conferencing with bridges for planned and ad hoc calls
- Call recording, usage statistics, automated attendants, hunt groups and call center queues
- Easy systems management via cloud-based tools and real-time analytics
All of these included features make it easy for employees to collaborate and connect regardless of their location or the device they are using. Plus, users can take advantage of the 'presence' function to help make their interactions and outreach more meaningful. "In past, users would make a call and that would be it. But now they can view a user's presence and use chat for easy communication, or even escalate an interaction to a video/voice call. They can collaborate, regardless of location. Therefore, communication becomes a richer experience," shared Manzoori.
For the mobile workforce, Masergy also offers Masergy Communicator. Powered by the company’s UCaaS technology, Masergy communicator app is iOS and Android friendly that provides a consistent user experience across devices. “It includes features like ‘anywhere’ (applicable if a user is not running the app or is not a UC customer but still wants to see calls on a mobile device). Plus, caller ID uses the same number and ID across the board. Users can also enable a simultaneous ring to dial all devices to ensure availability,” explains Manzoori.
Learn more about Masergy and their UCaaS solutions on their website.
Masergy Communications is a technology company that provides global cloud networking services, security solutions, and cloud communications. Since 2001, Masergy has been changing the enterprise IT ecosystem with their innovative solutions. The company's cloud communications solutions deliver a comprehensive suite of communications and productivity applications, allowing businesses to engage employees, customers, and clients better. Masergy was named as the only Visionary in the 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Global Network Services.