Unified Communications (“UC”) and Unified Communications as a Service (“UCaaS”) are terms that have been widely overused in the tech industry, leading to confusion in the marketplace around what the terms mean, how they differ, and the benefits they bring to an organization.
Unified Communications refers to premise-based systems which provide the integration of real-time communication tools such as IP telephony, conferencing/collaboration, instant messaging & presence (IM/P), email with voicemail (UM), and additional communication applications (e.g. contact center, SMS, MMS, etc.) into a single cohesive solution. Unified Communications as a Service provides the same functions of its premise-based compadre, but in a cloud-based deliver model.
Just confusing enough, right? Let’s remove the technology aspect and compare it to how we watch movies…
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when people wanted to have a movie night, they would have to go to Blockbuster to rent or buy the VHS. This required time to go to/from the store, a VHS player at our homes to play the movie, and there was a cost tied to each rental. Archaic, right? Thankfully, technology didn’t stay stagnant, and we moved from VHS to a better technology: DVDs! But wait—that disk won’t play on the machine we purchased not too long ago and works fine… Well, if you wanted to keep up with the times, you had to buy a new machine. Then we moved from DVD to BluRay, and people thought, “What do you mean this disc isn’t compatible? It looks and feels the same!” It became time to shell out more money on another machine, which may have even caused a need to buy a new entertainment system to hold all three systems.
Let’s fast-forward our way out of the Stone Age to modern day. We have grown accustomed to our movie nights or binge-watching our favorite TV series being nothing more than a few clicks of a button away. We don’t feel obligated to sit through 100 minutes of pain watching Caddyshack II because we paid to rent it and it’s due back tomorrow; we pay a flat monthly fee to gain access to endless options and the luxury of being able to pick a show back up from where we left off a month ago. The physical machine no longer dictates what we can/can’t watch, nor does the format of the movie necessitate ongoing expenses; our only “worry” is how big of a screen we can it watch on.
Believe it or not, this isn’t one long advertisement for “Netflix and Chill”—the importance of the necessity of constantly adapting in order to consume and utilize the best technology out there is just as relevant now as it was thirty years ago. When it comes to UCaaS vs. UC, it boils down to the consumption model and which one makes the most sense for an organization. We live in a world where the only constant is change and the pace of change is increasing by the minute. By adopting cloud-based, UCaaS solutions, organizations are able to increase their agility and ability to keep up with advancements in technology as they come by removing the constraints that legacy, on-premise, systems have imposed for years. If you don’t agree, we respect your opinion and would love to discuss further— can you meet next at the local Blockbuster next week?