Few would deny that unified communications solutions can deliver tremendous value to virtually any business. These tools are designed to bring together a wide range of communication channels into a single platform, complete with a single user interface. Inherently, this improves employees' efficiency, productivity and collaborative abilities.
Yet it is possible for businesses to go even further and gain even greater benefits through their UC investments. How? By embracing a cloud-based UC system. In a number of key ways, the cloud adds tremendous value and utility to a company's UC.
Here are five of the biggest, most noteworthy advantages that cloud-based UC solutions have to offer:
1. Cost savings
This is arguably the single most obvious advantage, and certainly one of the most significant. In several important ways, cloud-based UC beats out on-premise UC on purely financial grounds.
First and foremost, cloud solutions have little to no upfront costs. There's no need to purchase and then install costly hardware and other equipment, as is the case with an on-premise system. This is particularly important for smaller businesses and startups that may not want or be able to devote too much of their available capital to business communications technology.
Additionally, a cloud-based UC solution shifts the maintenance burden from the business to the UC service provider. General maintenance and upkeep for a UC system can prove both expensive and a time drain on the company's IT team. Cloud-based UC enables a firm to devote its limited IT resources to higher-level tasks without hiring more IT team members.
"The cloud is ideal for supporting softphone technology."
2. Mobile support
Superior mobile support is another key advantage of cloud-based UC deployments. Specifically, the cloud is ideal for supporting softphone technology, as ARN recently highlighted. The source noted that with a softphone, an employee can replicate his or her office phone on a mobile device, thereby allowing the employee to use an official phone number to conduct business from anywhere. Naturally, this makes workers more flexible and more efficient.
The cloud, with its built-in accessibility, can easily support such a deployment, whereas an on-premise UC solution would be less accommodating.
3. Flexible work
On a related note, cloud-based UC is also ideal for supporting flexible work arrangements, including remote employees based outside the office. The ability to work from home is becoming increasingly prized by employees, especially younger individuals who are now entering the workforce. For a company to attract and retain the most promising professionals from this pool, it needs to make remote and flexible work an option. To this end, a cloud-based UC solution is invaluable, as it allows off-site personnel to communicate and collaborate with one another through their personal computers, smartphones and tablets. This connectivity is simply not possible with an on-premise UC option.
4. Less downtime
Downtime is always detrimental for businesses, but this is particularly true when it comes to UC. After all, many firms will deploy this technology in the contact center. This means that downtime will translate directly into negative customer service and support, which in turn will hurt client retention rates and brand reputation. And there's no way for any organization to fully discount the possibility that a natural or man-made disaster will strike at any given moment.
As industry expert Russ Fordyce explained for Network World, cloud-based UC deployments mitigate the risk of downtime. This is thanks to the fact that cloud-base systems can be securely accessed by any authorized personnel using an Internet-connected device. Even if the office is damaged and unusable, personnel will still be able to utilize the company's UC resources, as these will be based off-site at the cloud vendor. Essentially, cloud computing ensures that weather, power outages and similar disasters will no longer have the ability to undermine a company's UC capabilities.
Last but hardly least, cloud-based UC has the benefit of delivering upgrades and improvement more easily and regularly. With the cloud, there's no need for the business to replace on-site equipment in order to take advantage of the latest in UC technology. Instead, the UC vendor itself will make the necessary changes, and the business can immediately begin to take advantage of these improvements.
With all of these benefits, it's easy to see why so many companies are now turning to the cloud for their UC needs.