Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are the backbone of a successful economy. Big starts from small: Apple that took off in a garage; eBay was founded in a living room; FaceBook was conceived in a dorm room.
In the present business environment, small can also be big. SMB owners are wearing more hats more than ever in order to keep pace with bigger enterprises. They are realizing that concerns related to sales, marketing, finance, human resources, and more can be addressed by streamlining processes through effective communications. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) can help meet these challenges at less cost than an in-house solution.
With the emerging mobility trends, SMBs are increasingly shifting to UCaaS to meet the changing demands of remote working through enhanced communication and collaboration tools. Reduced costs and business continuity are the main drivers to a move to a UCaaS model, along with a host of other benefits.
Reduced Costs – UCaaS enables SMBs to minimize the cost of ownership and offload significant capital expenditures to the provider with no major infrastructure to build. Work hours are saved by not having to maintain, troubleshoot, and replace old equipment. Hosted UC provides a predictable monthly operating expense with monthly billing that can include collaboration tools like audio and video conferencing and long distance services.
Business Continuity – Business disruptions happen not only during earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards, or wild fires, but also when isolated electrical fires occur, when major pipelines leak, or when IT glitches crop up. Most hosted UC services include a disaster recovery and business continuity plan that enables employees with Internet access to use the network’s UC tools to continue working and keep the business up and running.
Simplicity and Speed of Deployment – Premise-based UC is often complex, with several servers and UC applications needed to be set up by specialized IT professionals. A hosted UC solution can be set up quickly, with adds, changes, and moves accomplished in minutes. Typical IT management and maintenance tasks, including automatic updates of the latest versions, are handled by the UC provider.
Increased Efficiency and Productivity – Presence is an effective tool for SMBs that lends visibility into how employees are working and if processes are aligned with established business objectives. This translates to improved efficiency, increased productivity, and more robust ROI.
UCaaS is not without challenges, but businesses can have a successful UC experience if these challenges are addressed.
LAN Requirements –The local area network (LAN) is host to routers, switches, and firewalls. These critical components need to be upgraded, adjusted, and configured to ensure quality of service and streamline deployment and management.
Network Bandwidth and Redundancy Concerns – While voice calls, messaging, and emails are the more frequently used components of a UC network, video conferencing eats up significantly more bandwidth. UC planners need to assess their bandwidth requirements as well as plan for a backup bandwidth provider in case the primary system goes down or becomes congested.
Wiring and Cabling – Wiring and cabling may seem like minor needs, but they help ensure the desired quality of service. Cat5+ cabling works best in a VoIP environment, while Wi-Fi has limited uses. UC planners may also consider a dual drop switching system where the data network has its own port, with the phones having their own port.
Integration of Special Features – Many companies want to retain special digital and analog phone services that have been part of their corporate culture. These include paging systems, music on a call on hold, automated door systems activated via phone, advertising, messaging, and many others. Integrating and testing the services are important tasks during the planning phase.
The benefits of UCaaS are clear, but SMBs moving toward a hosted solution need to address the challenges for a successful deployment. If you’re an SMB looking to UCaaS to make your business big, contact us at ROI Networks for a no obligation UC planning session.