Cloud-based unified communications systems have been a popular option for many enterprises over the past decade. For those companies that have opted to keep on-premises UC systems, now may be the right time for a migration.
Migrating to UCaaS offers benefits for both the organization and end users. Let's look at the six benefits and a few caveats of the platform in order to make a sound strategic decision.
The benefits of UCaaS
There are numerous reasons why businesses are shifting from on-premises UC offerings to UCaaS. In most situations, the added flexibility of a cloud-based platform offers value that cannot be gained with on-premises alternatives. The most sought-after UCaaS benefits include the following:
- Lower implementation costs. From both a Capex and Opex perspective, migrating to UCaaS removes the requirement to purchase server hardware or manage in-house or cloud data centers. This frees up costly data center space, while still providing users with the features they demand most.
- Lower management costs. A second Opex advantage is that IT operations are reduced as there is no physical hardware to maintain and update. As businesses continue to find ways to reduce the upfront costs of owning and maintaining a UC platform, it's relatively low-hanging fruit.
- Great for distributed workforces. UCaaS is ideal for organizations supporting hybrid and remote work as users can access communication services from anywhere internet access is available. It makes for a suitable system for companies that have shifted to a work-from-anywhere workforce policy and helps employees manage workflows. An on-premises UC platform, on the other hand, has delays and high costs associated with deploying across multiple locations.
- Unlimited scalability. UCaaS services are highly scalable and can accommodate nearly any number of business users. The ability to scale licenses up or down based on need makes for an incredibly flexible option for organizations with fluctuating head counts. The ability to scale up or down without additional Capex enables much more flexibility for organizations compared to the costs of adding licenses to an on-premises platform, for example.
- Enhanced security. Enterprise-grade UCaaS service providers ensure security of their customers' UC instances. Large service providers likely have a better handle on how to secure UC services compared to enterprises that may struggle to find and keep qualified IT security staff. Thus, IT leadership may feel that security is enhanced through partnering with a provider and also reduces delays in security maintenance and updates.
- Advanced UC features. UCaaS is a mature technology that includes all the traditional communication and collaboration tools. The ability to deliver fully integrated VoIP, video conferencing, meetings, chat/messaging and file sharing is now possible along with newly added features and functions, like generative AI.
The drawbacks of UCaaS
While UCaaS benefits often outweigh any drawbacks for many businesses, the technology can still be unfit for a handful of reasons. Considering all the factors that go into a UCaaS migration is crucial to ensure a full-run UCaaS platform is the right fit for business needs. Examples of potential drawbacks include the following:
- Lack of call quality control. Most UCaaS architectures use the internet to reach cloud UC servers. As such, there is no way to apply quality of service mechanisms on VoIP and video traffic once they hit the internet edge. For businesses that rely heavily on UC to reach their customers and critical partners, there is a risk of temporary drops in UC service quality when internet outages or network congestion occurs. In some cases, the risk is simply too big to ignore.
- Security as a concern. While, on one hand, security can be improved by migrating to a fully managed UCaaS platform, the organization loses control over data security. Even if that risk is low, some businesses would rather manage their own security risk instead of leaving it in the hands of a third-party service provider.
- Carrier coverage deficiencies. There may be situations where public switched telephone network (PSTN) access and direct inward dialing numbers are not available for the business locations that require widely distributed workforces spanning multiple countries. While options exist to bring your own carrier, this adds extra in-house management for the business and lessens the overall benefit of using a UCaaS platform.
- Out-of-control costs. If not carefully controlled, the number of licenses in use can cause UCaaS bills to get out of control. Administrators must keep track of who needs UC services to prevent licenses from sitting unnecessarily idle.
One size fits most
The question regarding whether UCaaS is right for your business should be made clear early on by doing research and understanding company needs and goals. Unless your organization relies heavily on inbound or outbound call centers or has UC users where the provider's PSTN service is not available, most other challenges can be easily worked through. UCaaS providers have gone to great lengths to ensure their communications platforms work in most business verticals, and thus, the advantages almost always offset any disadvantages.