Communications, both personal and business, have changed drastically over the past two decades. Where we once had to pick up a landline phone and call the person we wanted to reach, we can now communicate in a variety of ways, including mobile phone, email, text messaging, social media, chat, audio and video conferencing apps, and more.

As the internet came into play in the late 1990s, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) became a method of communication that took place over the internet, allowing people and businesses to communicate more easily and inexpensively with anyone anywhere in the world. Since then, VoIP has slowly made its way up the user base

Fast forward to today and internet and computer technology has advanced tremendously. VoIP is still alive and well, and it is a virtually untapped market for business communications. Just 36% of businesses use VoIP technology. However, with the vast number of ways we can communicate today, communications can be complicated and difficult to manage. This has given rise to a new form of communication: Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). This new service offers a number of things VoIP does not. Let’s take a look at how each communication method works.

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VoIP

When a business signs up for VoIP, they can use a digital telephone that is connected to the internet. All calls can be made and received through that telephone, just as they would have used a phone in the pre-internet days. However, this telephone works in tandem with software that allows the voice transmission to be carried over the internet via data packets. This means the software also works with desktop and laptop computers and mobile phones.

The VoIP service is much the same as a traditional telephone service. Calls are made and received. There are features such as voice mail, caller ID, and call forwarding. Conference calls can be held, numbers can be ported, and calls can be recorded. There is no need to run separate lines for phone service within a business. Each physical phone is programmed with its own number and can be plugged into any networked phone jack. This comes with significant convenience and cost savings. However, this system is limited to voice calls. This is not the case with UCaaS.

UCaaS

UCaaS is a multi-channel communication system that is offered as a service. The most fundamental difference between VoIP and UCaaS is the fact that VoIP offers only voice communication, whereas UCaaS offers a flexible and adaptable form of communication that includes voice, texting, video calls, chat, screen-sharing, file sharing, and more.

Essentially, the voice portion of UCaaS still makes use of VoIP, so users will still have the advantage of inexpensive voice communications across the globe. This makes business communications run more smoothly and it makes connecting with the customer a more rewarding experience for everyone. UCaaS has a number of advantages over VoIP. These include:

  • UCaaS is a cloud-based system. This means that a business does not need to purchase and install an extensive on-premise infrastructure to support the system. All the servers are maintained by the service provider and all data is stored remotely. However, the business does need desktop phones, routers, and other supporting hardware.
  • Security and resiliency are built in should a natural disaster occur. Because the data and infrastructure are not on-premise, should something happen and the location be compromised or the power go out, communications can continue without interruption and data will remain secure.
  • Video conference calls with multiple people can be held. It can be as effective as if everyone were in the same room, even if they are spread out around the planet, provided they have the correct equipment, such as a specialized conference phone and computer.
  • UCaaS can be integrated with third-party applications so a business can do things like access customer data from other tools, allow helpdesk calls to be made from within the helpdesk application, and transfer calls between devices. And since all forms of communication are accessible via a single platform, it’s easy to receive and respond to any communication.
  • UCaaS can be scaled as an organization grows. It is subscription-based, which means plans can easily be adjusted and features added or removed as required by the business. This perfect to follow business growth and seasonal adjustments.
  • Increased productivity through easier communications and access to data from within the platform.
  • There are fewer errors when transferring data across applications and platforms because this task no longer has to be done manually.
  • Full mobility and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) support.
  • There are fewer missed calls. The top providers use carrier-grade class 4/5 switches (physical) and there is no single point of failure. Calls will get through 99.999% of the time.
  • Calls can be routed to any phone or device on the network, ensuring that fewer calls go to voicemail. When calls do go to voicemail, users are notified by email, so they never miss a message.

Should You Offer UCaaS?

Clearly, the advantages of UCaaS outweigh those of VoIP, even for the small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). As a provider for SMBs, VoIP is essential, but UCaaS is set to overtake it as the primary platform on which communications take place, simply because communications have become so much more diverse than simply making a phone call.

If you provide service to SMBs that don’t require video capability, they might think VoIP is all they need. However, SMBs are required to communicate with remote team members, clients, and others via a variety of methods. Team and workflow apps, text messaging, social media, chat, and email are relevant for just about any business operating in today’s marketplace.

This makes UCaaS the ideal choice for SMBs, not just larger corporations. Plus, as your customers’ businesses grow, the service you provide can grow with it. The key is to choose a UCaaS provider that offers not just a good price, but also good voice quality, network integration, mobility, a flexible billing plan, good features, and high security. Then you can be sure your customers have the best communications system possible.

Written by Mathieu Pipe-Rondeau Marketing Communications Specialist @ SherWeb

Mathieu is responsible for SherWeb’s blog content and organic social media. Highly conscious of branding and related communications, he’s constantly on the lookout for new and better ways to showcase SherWeb to the world. Mathieu has ten years of communications and marketing experience, including expertise in knowledge management, process creation and improvement, technical writing and content strategy. When he’s not producing engaging content, Mathieu enjoys cooking, singing and skateboarding with his son.