Where we work is changing; therefore, the way we work is changing too. Even before the pandemic, approximately one-third of the American labor force reported using digital tools online while working away from the office.
Gone are the days of being tied to a desk or physical location. Employees are using mobile devices to connect and work from anywhere. In fact, by 2025, an estimated 36.2 million Americans will be doing so, an increase of 16.8 million people from pre-pandemic rates.
It would make sense, then, to think we'd need versatile communication tools to keep up. And that's where unified communications or UC comes in.
Unified Communications 101
Unified communications consist of all the applications we need to do our jobs combined on one platform: voice, messaging, video conferencing, file sharing, and team collaboration all happen within a single space, accessed from any device. Amazing, right?
But there's more. UC provides a plethora of benefits to businesses:
Enhanced productivity: teams connect from anywhere using any device or medium they choose
Stronger performance: communication and collaboration happens in real-time, providing faster solutions overall
Better user experience: employee engagement rises because they have reliable tools that help them work smarter
Increased versatility: teams stay connected throughout the day no matter their physical location
What’s the Difference Between UC and UCaaS?
You've probably also heard the term UCaaS and wondered about its differences from UC platforms. In 2021, these terms are interchangeable since the "aaS" refers to the "as a service" cloud subscription model where on-site hardware and maintenance aren't required.
Aside from the advantages mentioned above, here are some additional benefits for businesses that are moving their on-location communication service to the cloud:
Flexible: easily update software without worrying about aging out of your equipment
Manageable: allow your IT team to focus on more essential tasks aside from complicated system set-up and maintenance
Economical: save time, money, and space with cloud-based maintenance and no on-prem storage
UC Collaboration and Elevated Employee Experience
Businesses of all sizes realize that unified communications are here to stay. They're looking into or adopting a solid UC strategy not only to stay more competitive in the marketplace but to attract and engage employees.
Genuine engagement comes through unified collaboration, often referred to as UCC. Providing the tools necessary for your workforce to do their jobs from anywhere at any time is undoubtedly valuable. UCC allows them to interface with each other to solve problems, ask questions, and stay connected in real-time through IM chat, text, video meetings, and voice without waiting for email or voicemail response.
Okay, you think, but what does that look like in real life?
Let's say you're an outside sales rep and your last appointment ran late. You're joining your monthly video sales meeting on your tablet while sitting in your parked car. Halfway through your teammate's screen share, you suddenly experience audio issues. If not on a UCC platform, chances are your conversation would end right there.
That's not the case when using unified collaboration tools. You'd be able to stay connected to the video while using your IM chat outside the meeting room (but still within the app) to notify your coworkers of your situation. Then it's a one-click phone call from the same app to restore audio.
Without skipping much of a beat, it only took a few seconds to connect an alternate communication source and continue your discussion.
How popular are collaboration tools to employees? So much so that 40% say they'd pay for them independently if they had to.
UC and UCaaS will continue to grow in the future. Grand View Research Report states, "The global unified communication as a service market size was valued at USD 38.74 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.6% from 2021 to 2028."
Unified communication is not going anywhere, and it's getting better all the time, providing tangible benefits to companies, employees, and customers alike. Now that's real.
Contact us here to find out more about which UC, UCaaS, and collaborative team products are best for your business.
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