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Introduction to VoIP and UCaaS

Businesses are always looking for the latest technology trends that will help them improve efficiency and drive further success. The way that businesses communicate, both internally and externally, is a vital component in securing greater productivity and providing the best experience possible. As the move away from legacy systems continues(i.e. traditional phone systems and older IT infrastructures) , there are two clear choices in modern communication: Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).

It’s always good to have a choice, but without the right knowledge, it can be more of a curse than a blessing. The aim of this blog is to explore the finer details between VoIP and UCaaS, guiding businesses to make an informed and confident decision on which one aligns best with their needs and requirements.

What is VoIP?

VoIP is a phone technology that enables voice communication over the Internet, giving users the ability to make calls via an internet broadband connection, as opposed to the traditional analogue service. Unlike traditional telephone lines that are limited to a single desk phone, VoIP enables users to make and receive calls from multiple devices, including laptops, mobile phones, and VoIP desk phones.

It has been at the heart of the gradual mobile revolution since the 1970s when the first real-time conversation on the ARPANET took place. The later development of the ‘Internet Phone’ only meant that the momentum continued, with the pace of change quickening as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) switch off draws ever closer. As the sun sets on the traditional copper phone network, technologies like VoIP become more of a necessity, rather than a nicety, for any business.

What is UCaaS?

UCaaS is a cloud-based solution that grants businesses the power to communicate via a single platform, bringing the likes of voice calling, video conferencing, instant messaging, presence information and file sharing into one place. Its ability to support both real-time and on-demand communication between users has given UCaaS a reputation as an efficient way to collaborate, no matter the size of a business or its scope of work.

With UCaaS, the infrastructure is cloud-based, operated and maintained by a third-party provider that eliminates the need for businesses to manage and maintain their own on-premises equipment (but we can cover the advantages later). Through VoIP technology, audio from voice calls is encoded into data packets and transferred via the Internet to its destination, with the corresponding VoIP phone converting these packets back into audio for the recipient. It’s as simple as that!

Now that we’ve introduced VoIP and UCaaS, we can now dive deeper into the functionalities behind each solution, and what benefits they can bring. As already established, these comparisons and further evaluations can give business leaders the insights they need to decide whether VoIP or UCaaS is the best way for organisations to communicate.

Scalability and flexibility

Business communications should be scalable; that’s a fact, plain and simple. Businesses looking to grow are obviously looking towards solutions that can accommodate the need for extra equipment, but there should also be room to scale down. If businesses are going through the process of hiring new staff, or managing the departure of staff members, they need to be equipped with the ability to add/remove these seats without having to pay for anything that remains unused.

Traditional phones systems lack this capability, meaning more modern solutions are far more suited to provide added flexibility. This is where VoIP and UCaaS thrives, as both can give businesses the means to add and remove lines with ease. Productivity doesn’t have to be sacrificed while making these changes and adjusting accordingly to the situation. It can be no surprise that 19.1%of companies have already adopted UCaaS to form part of their overall communication strategy.

For organisations that rely heavily on phone systems to conduct daily business, VoIP is a much better fit for these kinds of companies. As businesses expand, and customers look to new avenues to communicate, traditional VoIP struggles to meet this demand. As UCaaS covers a wider range of communication channels, these solutions are far more flexible for businesses that operate multiple mediums of communication. Businesses of differing sizes can find this added flexibility far more suitable when looking to scale their operations.

A comparison in cost

31% of an organisation’s technology is made of legacy systems, showing how some businesses still rely on the familiar solutions that they have been using for a number of years. These systems have proven to be costly to maintain, with some sectors seeing organisations devote almost 80% of their IT budget on ensuring that these systems remain operational. By also considering the costs of a potential data breach, a loss in efficiency, and an absence of innovation to attract new business opportunities, then the costs of legacy systems continue to grow.

Both VoIP and UCaaS are far more cost-effective than legacy technologies, and we all know how valuable the bottom line is to businesses of all sizes. Compared to the upfront costs that come with opting for traditional phone systems, both are profoundly cheaper due to not relying on equipment housed on-premise, and solely relying on a stable Internet connection to operate. Their compatibility with a range of devices, including mobile phones or laptops, also means that no specialised equipment needs to be purchased.

Businesses that choose to invest in cloud-based UCaaS find a significant reduction in IT spending, with 34% of businesses saving an average of $161,000 a year after beginning their UCaaS journey. For businesses that choose VoIP, they can see a 90% reduction in international call costs, while smaller businesses could see their initial start-up costs decrease by 90%. Calculating fees on a per-user, per-month basis ensures that organisations don’t overspend on transforming their communications, especially if they take future scaling and growth into account. The cost-effectiveness of VoIP and UCaaS makes them attractive to businesses of various sizes and needs.

Securing a modern infrastructure

The costly maintenance of legacy IT solutions has already been established, yet some businesses are adamant in keeping to these systems. Fears over compromising business continuity and a loss in service during a transition, in addition to having to adapt to a new system, means that there is resistance to digital transformation that opens businesses up to multiple risks that extend beyond increased expenses. Legacy systems are lacking in the more innovative forms of security, for example, and an average cost of $4.45 million after a data breach may spur some businesses into action.

Security is just one factor to consider when building a robust communications infrastructure, alongside the likes of reliable bandwidth and potentially purchasing additional equipment. Having a stable Internet connection means VoIP and UCaaS can operate to their full capacity, and having sufficient bandwidth to support multiple devices ensures dropped calls, or a fall in average call quality, doesn’t pose a threat. Dedicated VoIP phones may also be purchased, but businesses also have the option to use a software application to turn their computers into a ‘softphone’ that resembles a more traditional phone interface.

If business needs are outlined early enough, then it’s far easier to assess which existing systems can integrate seamlessly with the communications infrastructure. Enterprises that rely on CRM software and project management tools will find these integrations extremely helpful to carry out their work, as well as social media platforms and email clients. Having a clear idea of what needs to be achieved when building, or refining, a new communications infrastructure can make the choice between VoIP and UCaaS, and which provider to utilise, much easier.

Communicating and collaborating in the hybrid era

We are now all firmly aware of how much traditional working patterns have changed. As businesses shift their focus towards hybrid working, the ability to be flexible is now ‘integral’ for organisations of all kinds to work efficiently and effectively. Lacking the right means to communicate and collaborate will leave employees frustrated without having real-time information at their fingertips. Enabling a remote working experience starts with choosing the right communication solution that can give employees, and in turn customers, a far better experience overall.

A vital strength of VoIP and UCaaS is their ability to empower employees to work away from the traditional office environment, thanks to being cloud-based. All that’s required is an Internet connection, with multiple devices helping to keep colleagues connected to one another. Considering over 60% of employees believe that they work better remotely rather than in the office, there’s a clear incentive to invest in cloud-based communication technologies to facilitate the strong desire to take full advantage of a hybrid working model.

What separates VoIP and UCaaS in this regard, however, is how much better suited UCaaS is to a team’s collaborative efforts. Real-time file sharing and editing, for example are just two aspects of UCaaS that can vastly improve the way a team collaborates. VoIP is certainly handy through its ability to monitor, record, and forward calls, but when it comes to being able to collaborative efforts that require greater management, UCaaS is far better suited to businesses that require such a system to operate wherever an employee is working.

Both communication technologies do give users, and in turn customers, a much better experience compared to the more traditional pieces of technology. Integrating platforms into one interface negates the need to switch from app to app, improving productivity and making information sharing less laborious. Having instant access to business-critical data means that agents can provide a better, more personalised service to their customers, fostering loyalty and helping to build further success. Indeed, customers will certainly appreciate the higher quality of audio calls that VoIP and UCaaS can provide!

Choosing between VoIP and UCaaS

Business communications software has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years, with VoIP and UCaaS leading the way in giving businesses innovative and more refined ways to communicate, both internally and externally. VoIP is a necessity for every single business seeking to obtain their wider goals, as it provides the advanced call features needed for smaller businesses to start creating an advanced communications strategy. Its cost-effectiveness and scalability give fledgling organisations the perfect base to grow.

UCaaS has such a diverse range of features and channels that make it a more fitting choice for businesses that operate over a wider range of communication platforms. Having an easy-to-use interface that brings them all together certainly gives employees and advantage in productivity, especially when collaborating with colleagues across multiple departments. UCaaS is certainly applicable to any business, regardless of size, and expands on VoIP technology by providing enhanced features that vastly improve both the user and customer experience. 

At the end of the day, what really matters is finding the right fit regarding wider business needs. A better understanding of what employees need to attain greater success in their role will give a good indication of which communication solution to adopt. Unified communications is the future in terms of collaboration, providing organisations with a variety of benefits that breathes new life into business communications. Whether it’s VoIP or UCaaS, both are more than capable of delivering the service any company requires.