Cloud unified communications offers new potential

    The telecommunications industry is under a lot of pressure today, as major service providers seek innovative ways to set themselves apart from other competitors offering high-quality business phone systems and other crucial technologies. The proliferation of cloud computing, however, is introducing new opportunities for communication operators. Decision-makers are often easily won over by shiny new services that promise to deliver cost reductions, performance improvements and virtually every other goal on an executive's wish list.

    The emergence of unified communications is compounding these opportunities, as the technology supports consolidation strategies by providing individuals with access to video conferencing, business VoIP services, instant messaging and other collaborative tools through a single interface. When the cloud and unified communications movements collide, organizations will be able to take advantage of even greater capabilities.

    A recent report by Cloud Pro highlighted the potential for cloud-based unified communications, noting that it's like a hosted phone system with a myriad of applications. Unified communications in the cloud will likely introduce major changes in how business operate, answering the ongoing demand for a ubiquitous connection to virtually every collaborative tool from anywhere at any time.

    Looking beyond the hype
    There are a number of studies that support the growing market of cloud unified communications, though they don't necessarily provide any real insight into what will happen. Cloud Pro said that decision-makers looking to understand hosted unified communications need to recognize that it is not a simple plug-and-play technology. Executives will need and be given the opportunity to try out the services before embracing a company-wide deployment of the system.

    This evaluation will become increasingly important as the definition of "work" changes from a place to an activity, Cloud Pro reported. This transformation will increase the need for anytime, anywhere access to mission-critical collaborative resources.

    "[There is] a disconnect between access to business applications from anywhere, compared to access to telephony or UC apps," communication expert Bas Baars said, according to Cloud Pro. "IT managers are clearly starting to recognize the flexibility and cost-saving benefits that a cloud-based approach to communication can offer."

    A separate report by TechTarget highlighted how companies are beginning to adopt Unified Communications-as-a-Service, or UCaaS, because of its connectivity capabilities that give individuals the ability to access crucial solutions from anywhere on any device. This is especially important during the ongoing mobile revolution when companies are regularly embracing bring your own device and other next-generation initiatives.

    Hosted PBX with UC capabilities are also flexible enough to let decision-makers add or subtract users on demand, TechTarget said, making them ideal for companies that want a telecom system that can support long-term growth.

    As the cloud communications industry expands, unified communications will continue making its way to the hosted environment. By planning ahead and calculating how their organization will use the technology, decision-makers can gain a competitive advantage over rival firms that have yet to adopt the innovative services.

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