Is your business still struggling with an on-premise unified communications (UC) system, when UC as a service (UCaaS) is readily available? UCaaS provides a myriad of productivity improvements without the up-front expense of an on-premise system.
Public cloud deployments dominate UCaaS installations, and now hybrid deployments are surpassing private ones in terms of growth. According to Synergy Research Group, hybrid deployments of UCaaS rose year-over-year compared to private (as well as public) deployments. Specifically, hybrid clouds now represent the fastest-growing segment, realizing a 46 percent increase from Q1 of 2013 to Q1 of 2014.
Part of the reason that companies are moving away from private UC deployments in favor of hosted ones is that the return on investment (ROI) from UCaaS is proving greater. The ROI on UCaaS is so high because of the following benefits:
- Ease of use: Best-in-class solutions feature a single, easy to use application screen, allowing users to enjoy a variety of features (such as instant messaging, digital fax, and presence management) with simple point-and-click access.
- Disaster recovery and redundancy: Especially for companies with limited IT staffs or budgets, UCaaS offers better disaster recovery, preserving your business’s reputation and customer base. With built-in redundancy, end users never lose access to communications tools.
- Rapid service deployment: When you go with on-premise UC, it can take months or even years to roll out UC companywide. UCaaS (and any new features), however, can be made available to employees quickly. The existing communications system even can be left intact, allowing IT to assess impact and best practices for rolling out the solution more broadly.
- Mobile BYOD support: As most UCaaS solutions use a browser to access service, they are ideally suited for multiple operating systems and different form factors, making them the best BYOD choice.
- Reduced costs: A UCaaS system comes with a low upfront investment, especially compared to the rip-and-replace required for a new on-premise system. UCaaS solutions also often reduce costs for in-house maintenance, making them a win-win for your IT staff and your bottom line.
- Centralized management: A UCaaS solution allows all the system’s administrative tasks to be centralized, reducing the time and effort of setting up new users, updating features, and applying patches.
As with any new investment, it’s not enough just to consider all the potential advantages of UCaaS. A company also has to take a fiscal look at its existing communications system and compare it to the costs of the new UCaaS system to determine the ROI for the project. Start by determining a baseline for the comparison using one of the following two options: 1) Where no UC applications previously exist, the baseline will be the benefits of UCaaS compared to its operating costs. 2) Where UC apps do exist, compare UCaaS costs to the cost of the existing UC model. Be sure to take into account platform, adapter, and device costs. Once basic costs are determined, business owners ought to assess the following three variables:
- Productivity improvements: As UCaaS costs are proportional to the number of workers served, it follows that UCaaS is most likely to generate a good ROI when workers spend significant time collaborating with others who are also UC-empowered.
- Lower costs: According to general consensus among industry experts, most companies wouldn’t consider switching without at least a 25 percent improvement in costs, based on the ROI calculation.
- Reduced taxable income: If your ROI calculation doesn’t justify the project, consider cash flow as added incentive. UCaaS is deductible as an expense in the year the cost is incurred, unlike capital equipment for an in-house installation.
Before you go to your CFO for hosted UCaaS project approval, be sure your ROI is well-calculated. UCaaS comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, each affecting ROI differently. An orderly approach will help you get down to brass tacks. To find out more about a UCaaS provider that has had great success in reducing customer costs, check out Star2Star Communications.