Modern organizations are discovering the benefits of trading legacy communication channels for internet-based tools that connect employees no matter where they are.
Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) was first introduced in 1996 as a way to help businesses navigate long-distance phone calls using the internet to avoid long-distance costs. As decades passed, telephony equipment companies realized that in addition to cost-savings, transferring information over IP was faster and better quality than using a traditional wireline.
Since then, communications technology has further evolved with the introduction of unified communications as a service (UCaaS). UCaaS integrates VoIP and a host of other communications features to create a completely unified digital workflow that lives in the cloud and is accessible to users on any device. Together, these technologies have changed the way modern offices look and how employees communicate.
What is voice over IP (VoIP)?
VoIP enables you to connect your phone service over IP networks as opposed to over a wireline. This is more cost-effective than having both internet service and a phone line separately.
Since VoIP uses the internet for calling, this means you can make calls directly from a phone, computer, or app. It’s more flexible and scalable for large organizations that need a streamlined solution for conference calls anywhere, anytime.
VoIP also offers additional features like voicemail to email, which sends a recording of a voicemail directly to your inbox so you can access it on your computer or phone. Another feature is simultaneous ring, where calls show up on your desk phone and mobile device in case you’re out of the office and expecting an important call. You can also easily route calls from the destination phone to any mobile phone in the system and quickly pass callers to the right contact.
Call logs and call recording give you an inside look at call analytics to better understand how phone lines are being used. All of these features make VoIP a necessity for organizations that need clear phone communication channels.
What is unified communications as a service (UCaaS)?
UCaaS combines team messaging, video conferencing, and VoIP all into a single platform. Users can effortlessly switch between communication channels—mostly with just a single click. For example, a marketing team in the middle of a complicated messaging discussion can quickly switch to a video call without ever having to leave the platform. Just a single click and they’re ready to start a face-to-face interaction. Think Slack and Zoom, but together.
The platform also acts as a hub for all workplace collaborations. Users can access all of their messages, calls, and files on any connected device, launch and join meetings, form groups, and even indicate presence status (available, do not disturb, offline).
Because UCaaS lives in the cloud, it also supports third-party app integrations such Google Workspace, Salesforce, and Microsoft 365. Workers can personalize their tools to accommodate their specific tasks. For example, marketing personnel who live and work in the Salesforce app can add the RingCentral app, allowing them to make video calls from within Salesforce.
Why is UCaaS relevant today?
UCaaS facilitates deeper communication and collaboration with less technology. In today’s increasingly-remote work culture, this is especially important to driving business success.
According to an MIT report, 14% of employees were regularly working remotely prior to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. When COVID-19 struck, that jumped to 34%, and most of them fully remote. The pandemic threw organizations into remote work faster than they ever expected, and most weren’t prepared.
In response, many organizations adopted digital solutions as separate apps—a different app for team messaging, video conferencing, and VoIP. This is a problem, however. The average employee today wastes up to an hour a day toggling between different apps. Combined with their other tasks, tabs, meetings, and notifications, it’s easy to see that the more apps we pile on, the less productive employees are.
UCaaS helps solve this problem by combining three apps into one. When employees need to send a message, join a meeting, or call a colleague, they can simply return to the same app. No need to run multiple tools just to accomplish one task.
Which one is right for your organization?
VoIP is a must-have for every modern organization. But is it enough? For organizations that conduct most business over the phone, possibly. In fact, companies that run on leaner operations can use VoIP to save on communications costs.
For any sizeable organization, however, UCaaS enables the deeper levels of communication and collaboration necessary to drive success. The future of work is remote, and teams must have the right tools to facilitate teamwork. By streamlining communications across your organization with a UCaaS solution, you ensure that employees have what they need to work together.
Originally published Jun 26, 2020, updated Jan 18, 2023