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What Is UCaaS? (Unified Communications as a Service)

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As companies look increasingly to more flexible working environments, the drive for efficient cloud-based communications has risen. Gone are the days of old legacy equipment with its desk phones; nowadays, businesses are looking to all-in-one enterprise communications systems to solve their problems.

This is where the power of UCaaS comes into play; efficient, scalable, interactive, and easily accessible from anywhere and any device—UCaaS (unified communications as a service) has become the go-to option for small businesses and large enterprises. 

RingCentral’s study on the future of the digital workplace found that 95% of survey respondents think that collaborative communication apps are a necessary component of a successful communications strategy. Respondents said they often toggle between 10 apps an hour—so it might be a good time to start looking at some UCaaS options. Indeed, equipping yourself with a communications tool like RingCentral will render toggling between apps a struggle of the past.

Read on for a complete guide on UCaaS and the benefits it can bring to your business, including: 


UCaaS for Dummies — The only in-depth guide you’ll need

New guide for businesses:  UCaaS for Dummies

Happy reading!


What is UCaaS?

Unified communications as a service provides users with seamless integration of communication tools, including messaging (instant message, SMS, and MMS), voicemail, video conferencing, web conferencing, and audio conferencing. Unlike systems that host only one communication channel, UCaaS provides a blend of many tools all within one single interface.

Easily accessible from all devices, UCaaS is ideal for those working remotely, meaning you can collaborate and connect with your team from anywhere you fancy. The blend of different channels for business communications means you can also provide your team with a sense of connectivity no matter where they’re located.

Start your UCaaS journey today with RingCentral, a trusted provider of all-in-one business communications and software. With RingCentral MVP, you’ll be able to integrate your favorite channels into a single platform that encompasses messaging, video, and voice call—along with all the advanced features that a modern cloud-hosted VoIP (voice over internet protocol) system has to offer.

How does UCaaS work?

The integral technology underlying UCaaS is VoIP, which is used to help transmit sound into data packets via a cloud service provider. Phone numbers and phone notifications operate via the universal session initiation protocol (SIP).

Benefits of UCaaS: 11 ways all-in-one communications can help your business thrive

Efficient and accessible, it’s no wonder UCaaS has taken off among many businesses for its ability to provide unified communications solutions. 

Below, we’ve listed some of the top benefits of unified communications and how UCaaS can meet your business needs.

1. Cost efficiency

Handy for small businesses or startups looking to take off, UCaaS is an affordable solution to communications issues since it doesn’t take up any physical space. You’ll be able to save money on energy bills and outdated business phone equipment in the office. 

Since UCaaS is essentially a “service,” you also won’t need to fork out cash on any IT repairs or support—all of this will be covered by the system provider. By eliminating PBX, expensive on-premises updates and upgrades will become a thing of the past, so you’ll never again have to wait around for software and systems to be dealt with manually.

In fact, if you’re looking to quantify this saving, Forrester’s Total Impact Study found in its financial analysis that after switching to RingCentral, customers saved $512,070 over PBX systems, $95,200 from RingCentral’s CRM system integration with Salesforce: 

Companies that replaced their existing systems with RingCentral’s all-inclusive solution with softphone, fax, text, conferencing services, and the interoperability of all these functions were able to eliminate the need for multiple vendors and simplify their technology solutions.

And you can increase your cost-efficiency by using RingCentral MVP’s open-source application programming interface (API) to enable integrations with any of your existing software. Integrate with software such as Microsoft Teams or use Zapier to connect to over 3,000 additional apps instantly. 

2. Ideal for global and hybrid teams

Scalability is one of the biggest benefits of UCaaS, as it can be implemented for a global or hybrid team, regardless of location. Phone lines and special features can be added to your existing UCaaS and phone system, helping streamline workflows no matter where your team dons their headset to start work. This provides opportunities for increased global growth and the chance to recruit internationally. —With UCaaS, you’ll have all the tools and channels needed to collaborate and build a connected work culture.

3. Reliability

Since providers of UCaaS are bound by service level agreements (SLAs), you can rest assured that you’ll be equipped with secure and reliable cloud communications that put your company’s privacy and protection first. Guarantee both the safety of your data as well as your peace of mind with RingCentral MVP. We’re fully regulated, HIPAA-compliant, and adhere to strict file protection. Oh, and we offer 99.999% uptime

4. Employee flexibility and mobility

One of the many perks of adopting UCaaS solutions is the added flexibility it allows your team, regardless of location. As end users of the system, employees will be able to access a wide range of different communication channels from any device they want (desktop or phone), so they’ll be able to work in a way that suits them best.

This flexibility makes for an overall better user experience, leading to happier and more productive employees—a crucial element of a successful business and customer service! The fact that UCaaS can be operated from one single platform is also handy for employees, as they won’t need to keep multiple tabs open to perform different tasks or switch between applications.

5. Better team collaboration

Implementing UCaaS will not only streamline workflows and increase efficiency among your employees, but it will also unify communications and bring your team together. This makes it ideal for businesses dealing with remote work or hybrid operations since a sense of office culture and community can often get lost behind a screen. 

With a UCaaS provider like RingCentral, your business will have access to a wide range of communication channels—including team messaging, live collaboration functions that facilitate team chats, video meetings, screen and file sharing, and project management—so your workforce can stay connected.

glip messaging

6. Enhanced customer experience

Effective business communications isn’t only crucial to your team and internal operations; it’s just as crucial to your consumers and external operations. Cloud-based communications systems can provide an array of channels to communicate with customers. Customer service reps can reach out and respond to queries from all platforms (including social media) via a phone call, audio call, or even video—features like SMS and instant messaging add even more options to the mix.

The ability for customers to reach out to you via a range of channels makes for a better customer experience, as they can select the option most convenient for them. Not all customers will want to jump on a call, and others might want to write up a quick message or speak to a live chat agent. 

You can also use RingCentral to identify and analyze all the data amassed from these interactions to discover which channels are most popular for customers to communicate through, making the most of these in future conversations.

7. Greater team productivity

Not just a tool to enhance the customer service experience, UCaaS can also increase productivity among your team, as all its features function from one single platform. Your team will have access to different communication channels such as video and audio and other features such as messaging and web conferencing all within one platform. Here’s how it looks on RingCentral: 

This means they won’t have to jump between different tabs to get things done and risk distraction and burnout. UCaaS essentially acts as the main communications hub for your team, so employees can easily interact and work collaboratively. Indeed, RingCentral even offers a task management feature built right into the app to boost productivity.

8. All your data in one place

The popularity of remote and hybrid work, with teams and departments physically separated from one another, has made the problem of silos even more common. 

You might have staff in the office and staff working remotely, but if they have different tools and platforms to get work done, it will have a negative impact on communications. With UCaaS, you’ll be able to break down these silos effortlessly, as all team members will have one central hub of communications. With all information and communications in one single place, your team will feel more connected and aligned. 

9. Knock-on effect on revenue growth

We’ve already discussed the positive impact UCaaS can have on your customer service team, but did you know that this can have a knock-on effect on your revenue and reputation as a business? The Forrester survey we mentioned earlier demonstrated that, with a solution like RingCentral, customer-facing employees increased their revenue by $5.3 million.

Since UCaaS provides employees with the tools to work collaboratively and answer customer queries efficiently (from a range of different communication channels), they’ll be able to come up with strategic decisions and solutions to increase your organizational growth more easily. 

The more often your team produces consistent and successful results with customers, the more likely your business is to build up a reputation for being a caring company that puts the customer experience at the heart of its strategy and, thereby, increase sales.

10. Secure storage

If you’ve made the move to remote or hybrid work, you might already have questioned cybersecurity in a cloud environment. If anything goes wrong, you could face breaches of regulations, which in turn can harm your reputation.

 By implementing UCaaS for your business, you can rest assured that your provider will host your information and data securely. Depending on which provider you choose, you might be able to customize your data and security protection plan to give you even more peace of mind.

RingCentral offers seven layers of security, protecting your business all along the way:

ringcentral cybersecurity for startups

11. Ease of installation and use

The great thing about UCaaS is that you don’t have to be a tech wizard to install the system for your business. Since most of the groundwork is already done by your UCaaS platform provider, you’ll be able to migrate your system over to the cloud quickly and efficiently. You’ll also have access to easy-to-read user guides and manuals, as well as customer service reps to help solve any issues you face.

The future of UCaaS

AI is growing, and with it, demand for smarter and more efficient communications systems increases. Companies no longer want to lug around heavy enterprise machinery or wait for new downloads of the latest software—they want it at their fingertips. This is precisely what UCaaS offers its users; the latest communications systems all within one platform. 

The fact that UCaaS is completely mobile also makes it ideal for the evolving work culture—hybrid and remote work are starting to increase in popularity, and with this comes new problems for businesses. Having a team stay connected around the globe, regardless of location or time, is made easy with UCaaS, as it can be accessed globally. 

As we move closer to a working world where remote and hybrid work reign supreme, UCaaS will start to become the most effective solution for businesses of all sizes. The market for UCaaS is expected to exceed $31 billion by 2025, so watch this space.

Finding the right UCaaS provider for your business: 4 questions to ask

Whether you’re a contact center or business looking for a communications solution, finding the right UCaaS provider isn’t an easy task. The popularity of UCaaS platforms has boomed over the last few years, so choosing one that meets your business needs is key. Below, we’ve outlined some of the questions to ask when selecting your communications platform.

1. Is it scalable?

If you have a global or remote team, you’ll need to consider the scalability of the UCaaS provider you choose. Does it scale up and down instantaneously, adjusting to your business needs? Does it have features and business applications that can be added to existing employees’ or a new hire’s phone system?

2. Is it secure and reliable?

A must for the current digital age, your privacy and data protection should be one of your top concerns when deciding between service providers. Make sure your provider is verified, HIPAA compliant, and transparent about how it handles your data and privacy.

3. Is it made for collaboration and customer service?

It’s great if you’ve found a service provider with effective collaboration tools, but how does the software shape up in a customer service environment? Ensure the provider you choose has a wide range of communication channels available with everything from audio calls and video conferencing to instant messaging.

4. Is it fitted with SIP trunking?

Think about your business needs and whether SIP trunking is an essential part of your operations. If it is, you’ll want to choose a UCaaS platform that hosts voice over IP technology and telephony—this will ensure your agents can reach customers or other users via virtual phone lines. 

Choosing the right UCaaS for your business

The good news is, there are a lot of UCaaS platforms for you to explore for your specific business needs. Take your time, ask lots of questions, and take advantage of free trials and live demos.

Some UCaaS platforms even offer a powerful, totally free tier that’s a great way to ease into the UCaaS life. For example, you can get RingCentral Video Pro, which is our 100% free version, that includes our video conferencing and team messaging features.

Originally published May 24, 2018, updated Jul 20, 2021

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