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Why Your UCaaS Platform Isn’t Truly Unified

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“Unified communications” is a term that has been used for the past 30 years to describe anything that brings together some combination of voice, video and messaging. As technology progresses, more platforms have declared themselves to be “unified.” Unfortunately, most simply give the illusion of unification.

The rise of the cloud supported more seamless product integrations — which, in turn, made it easier to declare something “unified” as long as it strung together a messaging and calling component into one interface. This has been the case for years mainly because customers don’t typically see or care about what happens on the back end.

However, even though it’s not immediately obvious, the way a platform is designed and architected directly impacts the way we work.

As we enter an era where data is a critical business function and people are using more and new ways to communicate, the term “unified communications” needs to be redefined.

Attack Of The Devices

The way we communicate has changed significantly since the term “unified communications” became part of our vernacular. In the mid-2000s, we saw the release of the iPhone and the advent of the cloud — both of which played major roles in disrupting the legacy desk phone technologies of yesteryear and enabled real-time communication from anywhere.

Forrester reports that 74% of information workers it surveyed “used two or more devices for work — and 52% used three or more.” While smartphones, tablets and laptops give us flexibility, they also add another layer of complexity when building seamless communication experiences.

During a typical day, you’re not just on phone call after phone call. You switch between email, calling, conferencing and texting across myriad devices ranging from personal phones to in-office meeting room hardware. Especially with more people working from home, a unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solution makes the transition from one form of communication to another smooth and disruption-free.

As workers became more mobile, legacy communications providers began bolting on video and chat capabilities as they scrambled to build more versatile solutions. This has led to disparate tech stacks getting stitched together, making it difficult (and in some instances, impossible) to make those seamless jumps between communication methods. For example, if you’re on a phone call with a customer and need to switch to screen-sharing to demo a new feature, a unified platform wouldn’t require you to hang up and start a video call.

A truly unified platform allows you to move calls across devices and jump from voice to video without ever interrupting the conversation. This is not to say a unified communications platform needs to support every communication workflow; instead, it shows the importance of integrations and tech partnerships. There are certain tools and technologies that you’re familiar with and want — or need — to continue using. Having a platform that connects those solutions with your favorite communication channels helps keep users engaged (while increasing efficiencies).

Fighting App Overload

According to a report from Okta, companies use, on average, a whopping 88 apps. It’s safe to assume it would be impossible for one platform to solve all the unique communication needs for every team and employee.

Some roles require specialized tools that wouldn’t make sense for a UCaaS provider to build themselves. Integrating with those specialized tools is necessary for communications platforms, but it’s just as important to design those integrations to enhance our work, not disrupt it.

Unified communications should focus on becoming the centralized hub for all of those connections. Imagine a single pane of glass for all interactions and the time saved by using one search engine to find an old message from a co-worker instead of combing through texts, emails, Slack messages, etc. What if all voice and video communications could be searched within that same interface? And while accessing that information is helpful, it’s the actionable insights you can extrapolate from the consolidated data that really matter.

Finding The Right Fit

Finding the perfect UCaaS platform for your organization can seem daunting. There are a plethora of providers, and each has its own unique feature set. The first step is to determine which features matter most to your team. A good UCaaS platform can enable seamless meetings and messages but might also include contact center capabilities, mobile app availability, virtual faxing and much more.

Once you’ve determined which solution is best for your team, the migration from on-premises to the cloud is the next biggest hurdle — but also your biggest opportunity. On-premises management wasn’t a big deal when we were in the office five days a week, but now, the ability to have IT remotely manage all aspects of your business’s unified communications is priceless. Your communications solution should be extensible so that if you need to spin up entire offices from across the globe in minutes, it should be easy to do so. However, there are still legacy services that require help from the service’s deployment team to set up, including in some cases where expensive professional services are required to physically set up in-office systems. Finding a UCaaS platform with simple, intuitive deployment is critical for getting up and running quickly.

From UCaaS To trUCaaS

Despite the massive shift in the way we communicate, the concept of unified communications has stayed stagnant since 1993 when it referred to mainly voice and email. It is now possible to connect interactions in ways that were impossible even a few years ago.

Instead of the disjointed work experience we experience today, there is a huge opportunity to streamline the way we communicate. The only way we’ll be able to reap the benefits of seamless transitions and enhanced analytics is by processing all conversations through the same technology stack. The result? Truly unified communications as a service, or trUCaaS.

Source: Forbes

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