Employers are now clearly seeing the productivity and cost benefits of work-from-home and hybrid work, and it’s all thanks to collaboration applications and cloud-based Unified Communications (UC).
As offices shut down across the globe, cloud UC went from a fast-growing sector of the enterprise communications market to arguably the single greatest investment for business continuity, productivity, and customer experience. Unless your company has 100% of its employees working in-office 100% of the time, you’re going to need to understand cloud-based UC, how it works, and its benefits. Here’s what you need to know.
Cloud UC provides all the same applications as traditional UC (presence, VoIP, video and web conferencing, call recording, team collaboration) but delivered over via a cloud-based service as opposed to on-premises telephony equipment.
Cloud UC services are hosted by third-party service providers, like Masergy. These providers bring value in ensuring a high-quality user experience with VoIP, video, and real-time communications. Providers like Masergy also package cloud UC applications with high-performance SD-WAN and network services so users get more consistent and predictable performance across the globe.
This is very important. A recent survey by IDG, for example, found that the top challenges with UC today are network performance management and global service consistency. A global network services provider like Masergy handles overall management of application performance including 100% in-sequence packet delivery – delivers the total package for ensuring optimal UC application performance worldwide.
The greatest benefits of cloud-based UC are related to remote work enablement (hence, the huge surge of cloud UC amid COVID), flexibility, and cost savings:
Remote work enablement: Cloud UC enables anyone to work efficiently anytime, from anywhere. Employees are no longer tethered to a physical office desk, and that has opened the floodgates for remote and hybrid work productivity. This is good news as we look ahead. Numbers fluctuate between studies, but data from Gartner and others suggests anywhere between 22-51% of the U.S. workforce will continue working from home in some capacity through 2025 as COVID pans out. Even then, remote work will remain an important part of how organizations operate.
Flexibility: Cloud UC allows people to work much more flexibly with all-in-one, cloud-based communication and collaboration capabilities. Employees can quickly launch video meetings anytime, anywhere from within one simple app. They can make and receive calls regardless of where they are, what device they’re using, or what form of communication works best for them. These days, many companies are using Microsoft Teams as their corporate telephone system. Learn more here. In short, cloud UC gives users the freedom they have long wanted for working in a way that works best for them.
Cost savings: Companies can save with cloud-based UC in a few ways. On the CAPEX side, research shows businesses can save about $11,000 annually for each employee that works remotely – and that’s just part-time. On the OPEX side, cloud UC allows companies to reassign IT staff to higher, value-added areas. On-prem equipment maintenance costs are also rising. According to Metrigy, companies with less than 1,000 users and one single provider save nearly $700 per user license when they switch to cloud UC. Unlike premise-based solutions, upgrades and refreshes are also included in the cost of your cloud UC system.
Another benefit of cloud-based UC is that services are software-driven, meaning features are infinitely customizable to meet the growing and changing needs of your business. In other words, you can use Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, to extend your UC functionality into different business apps and workflows. For example, if you’re using cloud-based UC as your corporate phone system, you can easily add IVR to provide self-service voice menus that let customers navigate and find information by calling your main number. You can also add automatic speech recognition and virtual agent services so that customers can navigate menus and services by simply speaking to a sophisticated AI-powered engine. The options to customize are seemingly endless.
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