Unified communications (UC) has steadily gained acceptance over the years with enterprises of all sizes as a means of increasing productivity in competitive business environments. Most are familiar with the typical “on-premise” deployment model, with UC applications running on servers in the user’s data centers. Consistent with the trend of the migration of services (voice, infrastructure, storage, etc.) to a cloud-hosted environment, UC is no exception.
One of the more recent drivers of UC towards the cloud has been the proliferation of the different types of mobile devices that users use to stay in touch. Today’s employees may receive a call on their office phone and a copy of that voice mail via email, which they can retrieve either at their desk or via a smart device, perhaps using a mobile phone to return the call while also checking more email on a tablet or laptop. The average employee is now carrying an estimated 2.9 mobile communication devices, both company supplied as well as personal. The user expectation is to have their communications “unified” across all of their devices. The business challenge for the enterprise is to manage this element of unified communications (sometimes termed Mobility) towards corporate policies that include aspects such as security and legal/regulatory requirements. The Bring Your Own Device (or BYOD) scenario, where users are using personal devices for business communications, complicates things further.
This is the challenge that UC effectively resolves. Many companies are finding it more convenient and less complex from a management perspective, and more cost effective to align their UC needs with a cloud-hosted environment.
Does that mean that the on-premises investments are now dinosaurs and must be replaced?
Organizations can choose to run UC by using both a platform in the cloud as well as an on-premises solution. There are multiple benefits associated with this hybrid approach, including:
- Best of Both Worlds – The benefit of having a hybrid solution allows companies already invested in UC to keep and maintain that solution at their headquarters while running a cloud-based solution for mobile offices and remote workers, for example.
- Redundancy Made Easy – With UC as a Service (UCaaS) as part of the enterprise communications and messaging strategy, you have the redundancy required to make rapid adjustments, say in case of a major weather event or other catastrophe.
- Increased Efficiency in Dealing with a Remote Workforce – The integration of enterprise communications with complex business systems allows for a true solution based on open architecture.
Of course, the ability to add UCaaS to an existing UC solution provides business benefits as well. For example, having the benefits of cloud-based software, such as decreased operational costs, coupled with the ability to keep and maintain existing UC solutions, adds even most cost savings. Other benefits include:
- Removal of front-loaded capital expenses
- Dependable service experience and business continuity
- Increased number of services, including integration of business applications
Best of Both Worlds
While not limited to one type of organization, UCaaS is ideal for organizations that have large numbers of remote or mobile employees, particularly when addressing BYOD concerns and providing a unified user experience. The offices that already utilize a UC solution on premises may be amply served and the organization does not wish to make the switch.
Even more important is the ability to make adjustments quickly. The need to adjust to a changing workforce is one environmental impact. Another is crisis scenarios such as major weather events. In these cases, there is little to no warning, causing a challenge for those offices without a flexible UC solution. This is where a hybrid approach really makes sense. Practically at the flip of a switch, you can ensure customers are still served regardless of the ability for employees to get to the office.
Simplifying communication and collaboration is the hallmark of UC and UCaaS. The good news is you don’t have to choose. A hybrid solution in which you get the best of both worlds might be the answer for your organization.
Check out this guide choosing a UC solution.