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5 Unified Communications Trends You Need to Know in 2021

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Every year, businesses need to check themselves and see how they stack up against not just competition, but market trends. This is where unified communications trends of 2021 come in. How can businesses continue to improve their communication system and, by extension, maintain productivity and manage remote teams?

Unified Communications Trends: 2021

The unified communications trends for 2021 seem to focus not only on increased productivity, advanced technology, and better customer service but also on ways to improve employees’ experience and team collaboration. Read on for the top UC trends for 2021 that businesses should keep in mind.

1. Adoption of UCaaS

One of the top UC trends is the growing adoption of UCaaS. Large companies and enterprises are investing in unified communications as a service as a business communication system. This is because UCaaS consolidates major communications channels and platforms such as voice, video, SMS, and email in the cloud. And by combining all of these applications and channels in one place, UCaaS boasts a cost-effective and organized business phone system.

2. Rising Presence of AI

As can be seen with most industries, artificial intelligence (AI) is slowly expanding and making its way in major processes. Telecom and business communication is no stranger to AI. However, a growing unified communications trend sees AI becoming a more common tool. Think: virtual chatbots, virtual assistants, integrated services, and more. The implementation of AI resonates with the goal of using technology to improve productivity and collaboration and achieve faster and more accurate results.

3. More Cloud Solutions

Cloud communication solutions continue to be on the list of UC trends. And this is simply because cloud computing and storage have been in great demand and used by almost every business. According to a 2019 study conducted by Nemertes, about 67% of companies are currently using some part of their UC cloud solution while a third of those companies are using their UC cloud solution to the fullest extent. Because of this, UC providers are looking at partnerships, affiliations, and integrations that enable users to take advantage of more comprehensive cloud solutions.

4. Rise of Global SIP

As businesses across the world are renewing and improving their global communication systems, it is important for your company to stay ahead of the game. Global SIP gives multinational businesses the ability to expand with ease and reduce communication-related costs. With SIP trunking from VoIP providers, your business can place focus on voice network infrastructure, offer multichannel and multimedia support, and have access to centralized cloud communications.

5. Focus on EX as well as CX

While most UC trends are focused on improving customer experience (CX), in 2021, focus has shifted to employee experience (EX). Improved EX directly leads to enhanced CX, which at the end of the day should be every business’ goal. Unified communications can help employees become more efficient; efficient employees reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.

Switching to UC for Business

Unified communications can vastly improve your business’ productivity while ensuring it stays in the game with advanced telecom technology. Find out how United World Telecom can help your business; speak with one of our experts today!

What is the Difference Between UCaaS and CCaaS?

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As “business in the cloud” grows more and more common across industries, users are looking at integrations to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This is where unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS) come in.

Contact Center Versus Unified Communications: What’s the Difference?

CCaaS and UCaaS are business communication technologies. And while there are key differences between the two types of technologies, they work best when combined.

The main difference between UCaaS and CCaaS is that UCaaS focuses on internal communication and collaboration while CCaaS focuses on customer interaction. However, by bundling the two technologies into one cloud platform, you can save on communication costs. This means a monthly predictable bill and no need for extra hardware.

What is UCaaS?

UCaaS or unified communications as a service consolidates a business’ communication tools and applications into one unified cloud-based platform. Communication tools include voice, video, instant messaging, and conferencing. Additionally, they come with features such as call forwarding and routing, interactive voice response, voicemail-to-email and fax-to-email, and more.

A business’s IT team purchases these solutions to improve internal communication. These solutions can help businesses improve their office phone systems and streamline workflow by encouraging collaboration, flexibility, and mobility. UCaaS is similar to platform as a service, PaaS; where UCaaS makes unified communications available to businesses of all sizes.

What is CCaaS?

Contact center as a service or CCaaS also enables multichannel communication through one cloud-based platform. In other words, it is a call center software hosted in the cloud. Your CCaaS provider will create and maintain the software that allows you to enhance customer experiences.

With CCaaS, instead of the IT team, purchasing decisions are led by sales managers and leaders. This is because CCaaS solutions are geared towards sales and customer support. These solutions focus on creating easy methods for agents and employees to connect with clients and leads. Some common features include skill-based routing, customer authentication, outbound calling, etc.

How to Integrate Unified Communications Into Your Contact Center

To integrate unified communications into your contact center, follow the below steps:

1. Find the right provider for a voice and data network:

To get the combined benefits of UCaaS and CCaaS, you need a reliable voice network and/or phone system provider. This is usually a business phone service provider that provides your business with its international toll free service, VoIP numbers, and so on.

2. Choose the best features for your needs:

Browse through different features and services offered by your provider. You may even consider a virtual call center software that gives you access to standard and premium features such as call reports, direct inward dialing, call recording, IVR, and more.

3. Provide excellent customer service:

Use these features to create better customer experiences. Some ways you can do so include:

    • Offering multichannel support (voice, video, email, live chat, text message)
    • Using automation to create a faster and more productive workflow
    • Utilizing features to create a robust business phone system for internal and external communication

5 Benefits of UCaaS and Contact Center Collaboration

So, why does your business need a UCaaS and CCaaS collaboration? Here are the top 5 benefits of combining or integrating unified communications into your contact center.

1. More internal collaboration

With these technologies combined, different teams or departments within your office can work smoothly with each other. For instance, your marketing and sales teams must work together to determine the right leads and the right way to approach those leads. Being able to communicate easily and share information in a fast and secure manner can boost such collaboration.

2. Enhanced customer experience

With advanced communication features, you can strive to offer better customer service and caller experience. You can quickly forward callers to the right department or agent via your IVR system or through skills-based routing. You can also offer multichannel support for users who do not prefer phone conversations. Furthermore, a well-designed IVR system may even be able to reduce call wait times by providing troubleshooting help via prerecorded messages or sending callers to voicemail. Either way, the goal is to make the experience better for callers so that you retain these customers.

3. Lower communication costs

When bundled, you do not need additional expensive equipment or hardware to support both technologies. You can use your existing devices and phone system. Additionally, having both systems on the same platform ensures you have only one predictable bill per month instead of multiple bills. All of this helps reduce your monthly business communication costs which can result in significant savings for local as well as international businesses.

4. Enable remote working

Since both UCaaS and CCaaS work on cloud technology, you and your teams can work from any location and any device. This gives way to remote contact centers, virtual call centers, as well as distributed teams to work effectively even when working remotely.

5. Low IT maintenance

Finally, since these systems work over the cloud and are usually hosted by your provider, your business won’t have to worry about the costs of managing a data center. You merely rely on your provider, saving more in communication-related costs.

What is a PBX Phone System?

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Looking for an upgrade for your business phone system? One that reduces calling costs but enables better and reliable connection? A private branch exchange or PBX system works alongside your current telephone network. However, it has the potential to give you access to high-quality voice and video communication. In this post, we explain what a PBX phone system is and how it can benefit your business.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX): Definition & Guide

A private branch exchange is a telephony solution that enables communication between users of a private network. A PBX system works with your business’ telephone network and handles forwarding and routing features for calls. Companies use private branch exchange systems to reduce monthly phone bills as it operates internally and uses fewer phone lines.

Most PBX providers will offer you communication features along with the system. These features include voicemail, cloud IVR, custom messages, call transfer, and extensions.

Before these systems worked only through plain old telephone service lines. However, now, you can connect your PBX with VoIP technology, also called IP PBX. Voice over IP technology uses the internet instead of analog phone lines to make and answer calls. Both of these systems together will give you the ability to use SIP trunking as a feature that offers voice and video calling at inexpensive rates.

Setting up a private branch exchange system, however, needs expertise. To install PBX for your office, you will need specific hardware, physical space, and an IT team for maintenance. Costs for these can increase quickly. Thankfully, cloud PBX functions as a cost-effective solution.

4 Reasons for Businesses to Use a PBX System

So, why should your business consider getting a private branch exchange phone system? There are many benefits to using a PBX system, which include:

  1. Running a call center: PBX systems can hold inbound and outbound calls in a queue and transfer them to the right department when the time comes.
  2. Connecting multiple locations: a PBX system can route users to employees, agents, or departments in another office location, enabling team collaboration.
  3. Transferring calls through extensions: calls can be transferred quickly and with ease, without the worry of calls being dropped.
  4. Custom call management: Handle and route calls according to your needs and desires by setting rules within the system.

With advancements in telecommunications, there are a few different private branch exchange systems to choose from. The most common are hosted/cloud and on-premise/IP PBX. Let’s delve into these types first.

Understanding the Difference Between PBX, EPABX, and IP PBX

There are many terms for PBX going around: PBX, IP PBX, PMBX, PABX, EPABX, to name a few. And it is not always clear what each of these terms means or which type of phone system is right for your business. Let’s try to break this down so you can make a more informed decision when it comes to your business PBX system.

What is EPABX?

Electronic Private Automatic Branch Exchange — also known as PABX and EPABX — is a PBX system or private telephone network used for internal and external business communication. Employees share limited resources and use a single phone line for business-related communication. This helps reduce phone system expenses.

The main difference between PBX and EPABX systems lies in who operates the system. PBX systems used to be (and in some cases, still are) human-operated or manual systems and are also known as PBMX.

PABX systems, on the other hand, use computers to automate the switching process within the system, also known as Private Automatic Branch Exchange. EPABX systems don’t need an operator and instead use a computer to manage and transfer calls effectively.

pbx flow chart

IP PBX: What is it and How Does it Work?

IP PBX takes the private branch exchange system to the next level by using VoIP technology and cloud communications. IP PBX phone systems use VoIP technology to transfer or direct calls from one end to another by converting analog voice signals into digital signals. The VoIP provider manages the initiation (beginning) and termination (end) of each call.

IP PBX uses SIP technology, the standard for VoIP phone systems. Because of this, your business can make use of SIP trunking to utilize multiple voice channels or SIP channels without purchasing separate lines. And since SIP trunks are location-agnostic and highly scalable, you can set up or move offices or work remotely, as and when needed within minutes.

With IP PBX, you can expect:

  1. Low communication costs — This PBX system is inexpensive compared to analog alternatives. You can choose between different plans (metered and unmetered) of SIP trunking services to find one that works for your business needs.
  2. High scalability — Add/remove users and lines as needed without having to change your system or plan.
  3. Low equipment costs — Use your existing hardware and equipment. No need to teach or train employees in using new systems.
  4. Cloud reliability — By using a cloud-based system, when your PBX system fail, the cloud system’s settings will automatically route calls to predetermined locations or lines to ensure uninterrupted service.

On-Premise vs Cloud PBX

There are two different types of private branch exchange systems: Cloud PBX and On-Premise PBX. And choosing between these two phone systems depends on a few factors:

  • What do you need from your phone system?
  • Do you want to connect multiple office locations through the system?
  • What communication features do you need?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you have or need to hire an IT team?

The answers to these questions can help you determine which PBX phone system is right for you.

On-Premise Private Branch Exchange System

An IP or on-premise PBX system refers to a system that is installed within the office, is IP-ready, and is handled and maintained by you. You will need an experienced IT team to handle such a system. If you want a system that you can control and manage and you have the budget for it, then an on-premise system may be your solution.

You can even choose to combine your PBX with VoIP tech and run an IP-PBX system instead. This way you can make and receive calls through the internet instead of using analog phone lines. Doing so results in better phone quality and access to VoIP features such as call forwarding, transfer, etc.

Cloud PBX System

A cloud PBX is what it sounds like: a PBX system that works over the cloud. This means that it does not need a physical space in your office. Other terms for cloud PBX include hosted or virtual PBX systems. A hosted or cloud PBX system works similarly to an on-premise system, except that it is operated by your provider.

Therefore, you do not need to worry about installation and maintenance costs or even hiring an IT team to manage the system. In fact, you simply sign up for the service, complete the minor set-up, and start using it.  They take care of the system and all you need to do is use it. One factor to note is that your business will be reliant on your provider and won’t have as much control as with an on-premise system.

With hosted private branch exchange, calls made are routed to the provider and then the destination. Cloud PBX systems are VoIP-based systems that help you take advantage of cloud communication features such as call forwarding, recording, IVR systems, outbound calling, advanced routing, and more.

Choosing Between Cloud PBX vs On-Premise PBX

So, what are the main differences between these 2 types of private branch exchange phone systems?

On-Premise Cloud
Customizable Customizable
Operated on-site by you Hosted by your provider
May use VoIP tech Uses VoIP tech; Needs a broadband connection
Low monthly costs; High upfront costs Low monthly costs; No upfront costs
Controlled and managed fully by you Little to no control over how it operates
Limited calling features Variety of calling features
Physical space required; closet or room No physical space required
Installation and regular maintenance required No installation or maintenance needed
Costly maintenance No maintenance costs
Experienced IT team needed No professional IT experience needed
Limited scalability On-demand scalability
Can handle SIP trunking for high-definition voice and video calling Can handle SIP trunking for high-definition voice and video calling

The bottom line is that if you want a system that is wholly controlled and managed by your in-house IT team then an IP-PBX is the choice for you. However, if you don’t want to worry about the hassle of running and maintaining your phone system, then go with the cloud.

Get a PBX System for Your Business

Here at United World Telecom, we can help get you set up with a private branch exchange system that makes call management simple and efficient. You can sign up on our website or speak with our experts to learn more! Call us at 1 (877) 898 8646 to see how we can assist your specific business.