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The value proposition of Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) is about enhancing the customer experience through newer capabilities such as SMS, video, and even certain types of social media. UCaaS also supports the gathering of data and analytics so that interactions with customers and other constituents can be effectively measured.

“This is not a matter of switching from a legacy PBX to another kind of PBX,” said Dave Dyson, CEO of Eclipse Telecom, an enterprise communication consultant and management firm based in Chicago. “We did that when we went from traditional copper-based PBXs to VoIP, and I think a lot of folks are looking at this in the same way. But the reality is that you have to think about unified communications differently. This platform is going to be providing all the business communications needs of your company.

“While you’re removing friction from the customer experience, you’re also adding efficiency to your company because you’re systems are more capable of getting customers to the right people within your organization to sell them the thing they want to buy, or to solve the customer service issue that they have,” Dyson continued. “So, the customer doesn’t need to get transferred around the company hoping to find the person who can help them. This anticipatory behavior drives revenue, drives C-sat, and drives higher Net Promoter scores.”

There was a time when many people were uncertain about using the cloud to fully support their business communications, but those perceptions have dramatically changed over the last few years and continue to change even more rapidly amidst a global pandemic. Moving forward we expect UCaaS to expand into new frontiers such as voice and speech recognition, which will open the door to new differentiators, especially for those who own their own platforms or APIs, thereby making their offerings more difficult to copy, and speeding time-to-market.

“When you update your platform, you’re raising the stakes of what your business can do,” said Jim McGarry, regional vice president of channel sales at Mitel. “This isn’t just about dial-tone. This is about collaboration, about the empowerment of your mobile users and, most importantly this is about changing the way that your customers connect with you. This is your brand-building.”

“PBXs have had their day,” added Jamaal Savwoir, director of channel sales engineering at 8×8. “For quite a while, there was a significant amount of risk associated with moving to the cloud, but industry analysts are now saying that the actual risk is not moving to the cloud fast enough. Innovation is no longer happening in premises-based systems. They continue to go end-of-life, end of sale, out of maintenance – not to mention the fact that people who have traditionally maintained or used those systems are quickly moving on to other phases of their careers. Any way you look at it, PBX technology has probably seen its final days.”

As the industry continues to increasingly shift towards the cloud, the ability to use on-prem equipment may become hampered by a shortage of options and available features. Over the course of time, a full complement of communications capabilities will move from differentiator status to table stakes for general business. Those who are unable to find the desired communications from one communications company will be likely to move towards others that do provide them.