Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a cloud-based delivery model that brings communications into a single platform, such as internal messaging, videoconferencing, or VoIP calling.
More and more, business owners are moving their on-premises hardware equipment to UCaaS, saving them the trouble of implementing an on-premise strategy. It’s also a great way to boost security and flexibility and slash costs.
Yet, UCaaS still has room to expand. The UCaaS market grew by over 10% from 2022 to 2023, and analysts expect many holdouts to ditch their outdated legacy equipment and incorporate it and its cloud technologies in the upcoming years.
Here are some key trends shaping UCaaS today.
1. Increasing Need for Anywhere Collaboration
More employees are working from home than ever these days, which means UCaaS has gone from being a nice-to-have to a must-have for most businesses.
The discussion of whether work-from-home (WFH) models are better than hybrid or in-person systems continues to play out. But there’s no denying that the genie is out of the bottle. The ability to work from anywhere is table stakes in business communication.
UCaaS solutions offer a ton of benefits for businesses that have employees working in different locations:
- Omnichannel communication, which involves various communication tools like a corporate chat interface
- VoIP, which offers features like smart call routing, dial-in conferencing, visual voicemail, and low-cost international calls
- Live collaboration functions, which facilitate group chats and enable the creation of virtual conference rooms
- Video meetings, screens, calendars, and internal file sharing
- Project management features
- Call recording
How will this trend get more people to adopt UCaaS? For one, colleagues, new employees, and even customers expect these features to be part of a company. With widespread acceptance of WFH practices and the almost seamless transition to remote working, clients won’t accept an apology if a rep can’t pick up a customer service call out of the office.
Even if stakeholders don’t know that UCaaS is at work behind the scenes, they’ll expect it to be there. This includes employees who want to work from anywhere.
This does come at a cost, though, particularly for your IT department.
For instance, legacy systems that integrate with UCaaS don’t have the flexibility to ensure secure access to the system for remote work. Workers could face user authentication challenges which, in turn, might start showing up as security and compliance issues later on.
2. Adopting Measures for Compliance and Security
While UCaaS offers a ton of helpful features and benefits for businesses, there’s one big concern hanging over its head: can it keep your data safe?
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has risen alongside UCaaS, where employees are allowed to use their devices, such as mobile phones or personal laptops, for work. While convenient, this practice has introduced new risks to network security, as personal devices are inherently less secure. More devices mean more entry points for security threats that could jeopardize sensitive company information.
To address this issue, new security trends are exploring zero trust architectures. These introduce certain security features that support compliance requirements. The goal is to generate a bulletproof strategy for protecting company and client data. Failing to keep up with security and compliance requirements can result in multimillion-dollar fines.
As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, cybersecurity measures to combat wrongful access are still critical. Companies will still rely on technologies such as SSO (single sign-on), TLS (transport layer security), multi factor authentication, and activity monitoring to ensure their employees are the ones logging in and not someone else.
3. 5G and the Internet of Things
The H in the WFH (work-from-home) philosophy has been gradually replaced by the A of anywhere. As a result, dependable and constant network connectivity is a must. Businesses must ensure that, regardless of where their employees are based, they can have reliable access to their work.
5G technology and satellite internet such as Starlink are the leading technologies being implemented to keep up with a mobile workforce. 5G networks have increased speed and reduced latency with a larger coverage area and better security protocols than Wi-Fi.
Other connectivity solutions on the rise include SD-WAN and edge computing, which involves processing data closer to the source rather than on the cloud. Edge computing also grants lag-free communication, which is essential for video conferencing, voice calls, and IoT devices.
4. The Rise of AI
AI has become incredibly sophisticated in the last few years, and UCaaS vendors are beginning to integrate AI to leverage its ability to streamline tasks.
AI can be used for translation, transcription, scheduling, enhancing meeting quality, and analyzing large data quantities. It can also perform intelligent recaps and generate meeting notes, recommended tasks, and personalized highlights.
Chatbots or voice bots can support contact centers and assist with customer experience by answering questions and helping clients troubleshoot issues. AI tools can also improve audio and video quality by filtering out unwanted background noises.
These AI abilities are omnipresent now in the wake of ChatGPT, but they were unthinkable five years ago. UCaaS solutions can profit significantly from them, and the quality of add-ons, such as transcription or translation, will tilt the scale for certain vendors.
5. APIs for eBonding
UCaaS vendors are now using open platforms that can integrate other business applications, all without leaving the central platform’s interface. These APIs allow you to receive cross-app notifications or reminders and share files from different files.
APIs also let businesses tweak their systems and add new features without changing the underlying code structure. For example, you can include click-to-call directly within CRM systems or allow agents to access call history or client information through eBonding.
The global API market size is projected to go from $4.28 billion in 2023 to $23 billion by 2030—on pace with UCaaS solutions. Companies that leverage APIs are able to leave behind a siloed architecture and have a slight edge when scaling up. In a competitive market, a slight edge is enough.
What’s more, APIs don’t only allow eBonding between UCaaS and non-communications systems. UCaaS can be integrated with other similar services if that’s what a business requires.
For example, companies are now connecting UCaaS and Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) platforms or even legacy Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) solutions. Since UCaaS solutions are not adjustable and ship as an all-in-one package, organizations that combine their current comms stack with CPaaS could find brand new ways to interact with customers.
6. Combining Outsourcing with UCaaS
Outsourcing a solution, such as a VoIP platform or a chat service, means you have to trust a vendor to run it from their cloud ecosystem. It can also mean the outsourced vendor runs the services themselves.
UCaaS solutions will certainly help teams collaborate and get work done, but they can also be used by outbound, client-facing reps who don’t belong to the company.
By outsourcing call center services and security mechanisms which are already in action today, companies can get in on a current UCaaS trend and leave an aspect of their communications to specialized third parties.
Since UCaaS has predictable and transparent pricing sheets, it’s easy to allocate a specific investment to a whole marketing outbound call campaign. And, you can do this all while benefiting from a side of UCaaS that isn’t so well known, such as its ability to integrate dialers with a CRM for increased client visibility.