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UCaaS and CCaaS unite as organizations embrace the cloud

The UCaaS and CCaaS markets are converging as vendors and end-user organizations alike integrate cloud-based contact centers with communications platforms.

As technology evolves, it has a way of converging or diverging over time. Looking at the past decade, unified communications and contact center platforms split when UC was migrated to the cloud by way of a cloud service model. However, now that most organizations have successfully transitioned their UC platforms to a cloud service provider, the next logical step is to repeat this migration process with the contact center in mind.

Let's examine the history of the relationship between UC and contact centers and how the cloud is driving a new convergence of UC as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS).

UC and contact centers were at one time converged

Contact center apps, tools and integrations have traditionally been paired with internal business voice and UC services. Sharing the same hardware, software and management tools was commonplace when both platforms were managed on premises. While UC services focused on the integration of intercompany communications, contact center features are externally focused and include integrations with CRM platforms. But, at their core, both UC and contact center services use voice, video and IM features that can be shared. The service overlaps enabled businesses to do the following:

  • reduce hardware, software and licensing costs;
  • use a centralized management platform;
  • apply a single data security policy across all communication services; and
  • deliver unified reporting and analytics.

UC in the cloud and contact center on premises

Cloud computing service offerings that required low latency transport for time-sensitive applications started to take off in the early 2010s. Voice, video and other UC services could suddenly be deployed and managed within a public cloud, as opposed to on premises. While a UCaaS model seemed appealing to IT leaders, most were hesitant to migrate both UC and contact center services to the cloud as reliable cloud connectivity for latency-adverse applications had yet to be proven.

As such, businesses opted to test the waters by migrating their internal UC services to a third-party UCaaS provider, while simultaneously keeping contact center services in-house. Likewise, most voice and video service providers chose to focus on cloud-delivered UC services with the promise of adding contact center integrations down the line. For many enterprises, this is where they sit today -- UCaaS for internal communications and traditional on-premises contact center services for customer-facing communications.

Contact center as a service gains momentum

For the most part, the migration of UC services to UCaaS has been successful. UCaaS architectures have also proven to be reliable from a low-latency network delivery perspective. Because of this success, IT decision-makers have grown comfortable with the SaaS model for UC and are now entertaining the idea of migrating their on-premises contact center platforms to the cloud through CCaaS. Thus, once again, we will see a convergence of both UC and contact centers.

The benefits of combined UCaaS and CCaaS are similar to those in the early days of UC and contact center integrations. Bringing these technologies to the cloud offers additional benefits, including the following:

  • single management interface;
  • unified user and security policy configurations;
  • elimination of on-premises data center hardware or software;
  • improved scalability; and
  • support for hybrid and work-from-home employees.

In addition to growing customer sentiment, communications service providers have also been busy creating or acquiring contact center services that customers can easily integrate into their existing UCaaS platforms.

Vonage and RingCentral, for example, both made CCaaS platform acquisition announcements in 2018, while Dialpad boosted its contact center functionality with an acquisition in mid-2021. The combination of service provider cloud-focused contact center feature upgrades with the growing popularity of CCaaS and the renewed convergence between UC and contact centers will be hot topics in the UC space in 2022 and beyond.

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