For many business leaders around the world, the question is no longer whether they should embrace unified communications. Instead, it's become "Which type of UC solution should we deploy?" or "Do we need to upgrade our existing UC?"
As a recent study demonstrated, business leaders are coming to some very clear conclusions in this area, all centering around the cloud. According to Wainhouse Research, the global unified communications as a service market is poised for major growth in the near future as businesses take their UC to the next level, or dive right into cloud-based UC from the get-go.
UCaaS AcceleratingThe study, which included insight from more than 70 communications service providers and platform vendors, determined that by 2018, the global UCaaS market will likely reach $5.3 billion. This marks an extremely strong compound annual growth rate of 24 percent for the five year period studied.
"There's a growing preference for cloud-based services, particularly in mid-to-large enterprises, and UCaaS is riding that demand," said Bill Haskins, senior analyst and partner with Wainhouse Research.
As Haskins explained, UCaaS has a number of inherent advantages over legacy, on-premise UC deployments.
"Putting unified communications in the cloud makes great economic sense: the infrastructure is there, the support mechanisms are in the place, the training program is ready," he noted. "Plus, fewer IT and purchasing resources are required to manage it."
Cloud AdvantagesThe advantages of a cloud-based UC system go far beyond those highlighted by Haskins. Unlike on-premise options, UCaaS requires hardly any up-front investment. Businesses can begin to leverage these resources without purchasing expensive hardware.
Additionally, cloud-based solutions can be implemented almost immediately. Once a firm decides to embrace cloud telephony, the platform can be up and running in days or less. An on-premise solution requires far more time, as companies must purchase, install and roll out a lot of IT.
Cloud also offers far greater scalability. Because companies only pay for the services they actually use, there's no impediment to growth or contraction. Adding new users or increasing their reliance on cloud-based UC solutions is a smooth, problem-free process.
When companies depend on legacy UC solutions, though, this is not the case. Instead, firms need to plan carefully when growing, as they will eventually need to purchase more equipment to accommodate more users. This poses the dual risks of either over-investing and wasting money or under-investing, thereby forcing the company to go through the same process all over again sooner than it would like.
By removing these problematic elements, as well as decreasing the barrier for entry, UCaaS is the ideal choice for smaller firms eager to take advantage of UC for the first time. Simultaneously, this approach is the perfect fit for large companies that want to maximize flexibility and growth potential while minimizing costs.