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10 UCaaS terms you need to know

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The communications world is loaded with acronyms and jargons, and while these can fly for IT veterans well-versed in the technology, they can also be confusing enough to make your head spin. To help everyone understand the nomenclature behind unified communications, we created an introductory list.

Here are some of the most common UCaaS terms you’ll want to know:

1. VoIP

VoIP, or voice over internet protocol, enables an organization to connect a phone service over the internet as opposed to over a traditional phone line. It affords organizations greater flexibility, because users can make calls on any internet-connected device, including a phone, computer, or app. This is a scalable solution for enterprises that need to make conference calls with distributed employees or clients and can be more cost-effective than having to pay for both internet service and a phone plan separately. 

VoIP offers additional features like voicemail to email, which sends a recording of a voicemail directly to a user’s inbox; simultaneous ring, which rings a user’s desk phone and mobile phone; and call logs to give organizations a better understanding of how their system is used.

2. PBX

PBX stands for private branch exchange, which is a telephone network that provides organizations with local lines and a certain number of external phone lines, so organizations can communicate internally and externally with clients. A PBX uses different communication channels, including VoIP, ISDN, and analog. 

PBXs are available as “on-premises” systems or “hosted software.” An on-premises PBX means that an organization is responsible for the deployment and maintenance of the system. These organizations have a data hardware room and a dedicated IT infrastructure to manage the system. A hosted PBX system is managed by a provider over the internet. An on-premises PBX is preferred for organizations that need control and customization abilities, while a hosted PBX is more affordable up front and easier to maintain.

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3. UC vs UCaaS

UC, or unified communications, represents workplace communication and collaboration apps and services. Unified communications combines team messaging, video conferencing, and cloud phone into a single platform to streamline communications and reduce app overload. 

The “aaS,” or as a service, refers to the cloud delivery model of the unified communications tools. UCaaS is hosted by a provider and delivered to an organization over an IP network. This offers greater flexibility, scalability, and cost savings as opposed to an on-premises software tool.

4. Presence

Presence refers to the status of a colleague as indicated next to their names in a team messaging app. It shows whether a colleague is online, in a meeting, marked as do-not-disturb, or even invisible. This helps employees make smarter decisions about when and with whom they communicate.

5. BYOD (bring your own device)

BYOD refers to employees using their personal devices to connect to organizational networks and applications. Personal devices include smartphones, personal computers, and tablets.

Due to the increasing prevalence of flexible workflows and working from home, BYOD is on the rise. Some organizations consider this part of shadow IT, because it involves software and hardware not supported by IT. However, some organizations encourage BYOD because it accelerates productivity of remote work.

6. Integrations

Many cloud applications integrate with others to create a more seamless experience for users and reduce the need to bounce between applications in their day-to-day workflows. For example, users can integrate RingCentral into their Salesforce app to schedule and launch video meetings directly through the Salesforce platform. The same goes for other apps such as Microsoft Teams, Amazon Alexa, and more.

7. WebRTC

WebRTC, or web-based real-time communications, is an open framework for the web that enables video, voice, and data communication capabilities. This technology is available on modern browsers and native platforms. It provides a basis for developers to build communications solutions. Use cases for WebRTC include everything from web apps that use the camera and microphone, to video-calling and screen sharing apps.

8. Call analytics

Call analytics give teams a deeper look at how their phone systems are being used. In a broader scope, call analytics can show what channel drives the most calls, what yields the highest quality calls, and what times are peak call times. 

Organizations can also analyze individual calls to understand what happened on a particular phone call. This is especially helpful for marketing and sales functions because call analytics shed light on how clients are interacting with an organization.

9. SLA (Service Level Agreement)

A service level agreement defines the level of service that an organization expects from a vendor. This agreement is vital for organizations that are using any software, platform, or infrastructure as a service, because they need to lay out specific requirements, metrics, and deliverables they expect from a vendor for their technology.

10. Mobility

Work no longer just happens in the office. Having a cloud-based unified communications platform means that users can access the platform on any connected device, anywhere, anytime. Whether it’s at the office, at home, or on the road to a business conference, mobility is what makes modern workplace collaboration possible.

Originally published Nov 20, 2020, updated Jan 18, 2023

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