Unified communications (UC) has been converging data and voice over a single network for some time now. But the benefits businesses are reaping from UC have multiplied, thanks to the cloud. In fact, the cloud and its attendant mobility functionality have allowed the promise of UC to be fully realized in a way that premise-based systems can’t.
Today, UC encompasses much more than “click to dial.” Instant messaging, presence, audio and video conferencing, desktop sharing, voice messages as email, and other productivity tools — all from best-in-class providers — can now be combined in one easy-to-manage advanced voice platform hosted in the cloud. Enterprise applications can be integrated as well. Plus, businesses can choose how, when and to whom they want to roll out individual UC functions and apps.
Unlike premise-based UC platforms, a cloud-hosted platform offers the important advantage of mobility. Users can quickly and easily move their conversations and interactions from desktop phones or computers to smart phones and other mobile devices (and vice-versa), allowing them to collaborate anytime, anywhere. Cloud-hosted voice platforms also integrate easily with cloud-based apps, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and project management programs.
Current cloud-based voice services have improved compared to their earlier VoIP predecessors. Dedicated, carrier-grade voice connections are now available so that voice traffic does not have to fight for attention with data traffic over the same public internet, as with some over the top (OTT) services. Voice quality and reliability remain high, giving businesses the confidence they need to consistently maintain a professional image. A service hosted in the cloud also lets businesses maintain communications continuity in the case of localized power outages or disaster-related network problems.
A cloud-hosted voice platform offers benefits beyond making employees more productive. It also makes UC easier to manage for businesses. Because cloud-based UC management tools are intuitive, businesses no longer need to invest in certified personnel to provision, manage and support business communications. IT staff can be re-positioned to revenue-generating activities instead.
A cloud-based platform also makes UC future-proof because system maintenance and new service integration are handled by the provider. Updates happen automatically. Administrative users can adjust system settings and services with a few clicks in a mobile app. Scaling up and down to react to business needs is also simpler and no longer requires capital investment in premise equipment that has the potential to go unused if demand or staff size decreases.
Cloud-based advanced voice has transformed the way UC works for businesses. It allows employees to carry a virtual office right in their smart phones with all the productivity and collaboration tools that used to be tied to a desktop. Plus, it allows businesses to easily scale, manage and future-proof their communications.