In the last five years, unified communications have become increasingly important to businesses and customers alike. Consumers have willingly embraced the flexibility that comes with a digital customer journey and now the time has come to transform internal collaboration. Technologically driven business strategies and distributed working has seen businesses from a range of industry sectors upgrade their internal communication processes. Add to this, the technical expertise and expense associated with maintaining on-premise phone systems and the growing capabilities of cloud based technology and the conversation for UCaaS becomes one of opportunity rather than objection.
Defining cloud based unified comms
Unified communications describes a business phone system that combines phone and digital communication channels including your central business number and extensions, direct-in-dials (DiD) and your digital communications by integrating contact directories and calendar for a holistic user experience for both employees and customers. Unlike personal communication solutions, business unified communication requires specific features to enhance customer experience, fulfill compliance requirements and ensure departments and offices located all over the world can quickly and simply communicate, collaborate and manage files. Traditional unified communication solutions required on-premise hardware to run the PBX component but today we see a mix of ‘hybrid solution’ cloud based unified communication systems, using cloud applications for digital interactions and physical PBX hardware for public calling to and from the network; and complete cloud solutions, which deliver a robust and cost effective solution – minus the hardware.
Components of unified communications for businesses
Communication requirements for businesses are significantly more complex than personal communications, they require an understanding of business needs and a technical strategy to provide the right solution. Non negotiables to create a premier customer experience include: Call recording, call routing, voicemail, on hold music, call queuing, IVR, call analytics and call centre services. For employees, necessary features include anything from connected email services, calendar integration, instant messaging, video calls and shared file depositories. In addition to these vast feature requirements, organisations must ensure that they invest in infrastructure, networking and hardware solutions that are capable of coping with the volume of communications and have a reliable and stable connection to avoid customer and employee disruptions.
Cisco Unified Communications Manager Cloud is a carrier grade solution that delivers this experience for companies worldwide. Establishing a name as an industry preferred enterprise solution for organisations with large and complex communication requirements, Cisco Unified Communications Manager cloud is robust and detailed providing guaranteed services by using proprietary components in everything from hardware (such as routers and switches and even handsets) to certified technicians.
In successfully delivering these systems, Cisco paved the way for more and more organisations embracing unified communications to offer the same customer and employee experience – but without the high investment, high performance requirement needed to make Cisco UCM successful.
Unified communication cloud services
While Cisco conquered the enterprise market, BroadSoft was steadily building it’s own mid-market solution to similar acclaim. And in 2018, when Cisco acquired BroadSoft, the merging of these two players aligned Cisco’s existing portfolio of calling, meeting, messaging and contact centre solutions with a flexible, mobile cloud based solution suitable for organisations of all sizes. Together they hit the mid-market kicked of a communication revolution for SMBs. Cisco has since taken the power of BroadWorks from strength to strength, and with the upcoming launch of WebEx for BroadWorks, continues to be a leading innovator in the UC industry.
As with any business technology platform, unified communication cloud services should account for the business requirements and strategy of an organisation. Typically this will include:
- App-based voice, video, video and file management.
- Seamless calling across the public network and internally via DiDs.
- Syncing across mobiles, tablets, PCs and office phones.
- Hardware integration with industry-preferred devices.
- Contact centre services and advanced telephony features.
By selecting a cloud base solution, organisations can rely on the vendor to supply and maintain the technical resources and expertise required to support high volume business communications, reducing overall customer costs without any sacrifice in experience. Additionally, by combining cloud based collaboration apps which are widely used in the industry such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, organisations are able to align to industry standard technology and provide a seamless customer journey.
Geo redundancies are another significant factor accounted for by cloud unified communication services. Unified Communication suppliers will ensure they provide a robust business continuity solution with multiple data centres and seamless switching in a critical situation to ensure continued business operations. This, combined with a carrier grade network ensures that cloud based unified communication services can offer the same level of security to organisations as their hardware based predecessors.
As technological needs change and we embrace a variety of platforms as office-standard tools, the concept of cloud based unified communications will evolve from a mere calling, meeting and communication system to modular collaboration platforms integrated with cloud voice and video giving customers the freedom to select their software of choice.