Communications technology has proven pivotal for any size business, but is making waves for small organizations in particular. Solutions including high-definition voice and video calls, real-time messaging and file sharing have allowed small businesses to compete on equal footing with their larger market competitors while arming their employees with crucial collaboration features.
Currently, many small businesses leverage some type of unified communications technology, but these systems are typically housed and maintained on-premises. A new trend is emerging, where these critical solutions are being hosted off-site as a service. Now is the time for smaller organizations to ask themselves, "Is unified communications-as-a-service right for me?"
Market growth spurred by SMB adoption
Before taking a look at available technological options, it's important to understand the market environment surrounding UCaaS. Businesses of all sizes are increasingly shifting their unified communications off-site, but the trend toward these solutions in the SMB industry is contributing significantly to overall market growth.
TMCnet contributing editor Laura Stotler reported that more SMBs are putting cloud services like UCaaS in place, spurring a more than 22 percent compound annual growth rate through 2020. The market, which reached a value of $26.45 billion in 2015, is on track to reach $62 billion within the next few years, especially as more small businesses invest in cloud-based communications.
Questions to consider
If you're a small business that has yet to make the switch to a UCaaS platform, there are a few key questions you should ask yourself. Answering these will not only ensure that this type of technology is a worthy investment for your organization, but will help you better understand your needs and the type of solution you should seek.
What is my current UC solution? – First, it's important to consider your current communications capabilities. Do you already have a UC solution in place? If so, how is it hosted? Your provider may offer a cloud-based version that can make your transition more seamless.
It's also helpful to factor in any UC features you may be missing. For instance, if your current solution doesn't include presence capabilities, this could be a perfect opportunity to upgrade to an as-a-service offering that provides more robust features.
Will I fall behind in the market?– Considering the significant market growth of UCaaS taking place in the small business sector, this is an essential question to ask. If your competitors have a UCaaS solution that enables their employees to do more while saving communication costs for the organization, will this impact your company? If your organization is struggling to compete in the marketplace, a UCaaS could be just the thing your staff needs to boost productivity and provide better service.
Do my employees have effective mobile capabilities? – One of the best things about a cloud-based communications solution is that it is accessible from any device with internet connectivity. This enables workers to leverage crucial UC capabilities and remain in contact with each other even if they are operating from outside of the office. An on-premises solution, on the other hand, can make this level of collaboration difficult. And as Unified Communication Strategies pointed out, mobility is increasingly important for small businesses.
"Mobility has always been a driver for UCaaS, and demand will continue to grow as SMBs realize the benefits they can receive from integrating mobile capacities with UCaaS, including the ability to access key UC&C apps and services from a single mobile device," Unified Communication Strategies stated.
Am I factoring in short- and long-term outcomes? – Unified Communication Strategies also pointed out that a transition to UCaaS should include considering not only immediate benefits, but advantages and ROI that come throughout the lifecycle of the technology. It's important not to give up on the technology if improvement isn't seen right away.
"While the short-run benefits may be hard to see, UCaaS pays off in the long run by driving productivity gains, enabling employee collaboration, and facilitating faster decision-making," Unified Communication Strategies noted. "All of these pay off in due time, even if the immediate monetary benefits aren't apparent."
What can my UCaaS provider offer? – Finally, it's important to ask what differentiates each provider from the competition, and what unique advantages a UCaaS partner can provide. For instance, a vendor that not only offers UCaaS, but can also provide consulting and assistance beyond the deployment stage is a significant plus.
UCaaS technology is becoming crucial, especially for small businesses. For more details that will help determine if this type of solution is right for your organization, contact iT1 Source today.