Business technology is at its best when it's used as an equalizer. While there was once a time when small and midsized (SMB) organizations could do little but watch in envy as their enterprise counterparts adopted cutting-edge technology, those days are gone. SMBs no longer have to be overly concerned with unified communications costs. This technology is now accessible and affordable to any business, no matter its size.
Still, misconceptions persist. Even as cloud-based unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) products grow more rapidly than self-managed alternatives, some SMBs still feel these solutions are financially out of range. Despite these fears, UCaaS is an affordable tool that organizations can tap into without major investment in infrastructure or personnel.
Unified Communications Costs
As the name implies, UC allows businesses to marry certain communicative functions (both employee- and customer-facing) and other software solutions into a seamless package. When a dentist deploys software that automatically sends customers SMS appointment reminders at set intervals, UC is at play. Likewise, when an organization moves its customer service centers from a landline model to a cloud-powered, social media-inclusive customer contact center model, the technology rests at the core.
Now consider the difference between cloud-based and on-premises solutions. An on-prem solution might require numerous costs, including:
- Hardware to store and distribute the solution
- Space for hardware, plus electricity for cooling
- Private data circuits to distribute information
- Personnel to administer and manage the hardware and solution
- On-site technician visit fees
… and a lot more. Cloud, meanwhile, places most of the physical and administrative costs on the vendor.
Naturally, the latter model holds promise for SMBs, where businesses have many of the same technological needs as the average enterprise, but not the sprawling resources. The business needs little more than an idea of what they want, personnel capable of integrating it, and an internet connection — a far more palatable option for many SMB organizations, compared to the alternative.
The savings cloud provides far outweighs the cost of the product. Indeed, SMBs can use UCaaS to save with one hand and realize new revenues with another.
Savings and Revenue for SMBs
On top of cloud's upfront cutbacks, businesses can use UCaaS to reap operational savings and secure new revenue streams. Consider a small chain of for-hire call centers that provide customer-facing support for first-party clients. The business has traditionally relied on wired phone branch exchange (PBX) service for phone calls and its business internet for things like email and chat — the costs of which are prohibitive enough to be a real pain point.
This business can slash the costs of managing separate PBX hardware for each connected location when it moves to UCaaS. The savings holds huge appeal to a business that might run multiple lines for each of its sites. It could use its newfound funds to reinvest in marketing or technology, or simply pass the savings along to customers.
More, the company's communication lines — such as its chat, social media, and email capabilities — are all run over their existing business internet through voice over internet protocol (VoIP), making the business a proper cloud-based customer contact center. VoIP tends to be significantly less expensive per minute than traditional wireline, especially regarding long-distance and international calls, another savings that allows the company to advance its market position.
Then there's the marketing appeal. Because the company's new contact center integrates with its customer relationship management (CRM) platform, it can centralize all communication, with no need for a customer to reexplain their issue every time they move from social media to chat to calling. The business uses this capability to pitch to new clientele, which soon gives it the ability to open centers in new markets.
SMBs Are Better With Cloud
For small and midsized businesses, the savings cloud provides far outweighs the cost of the product. Indeed, SMBs can use UCaaS to save with one hand and realize new revenues with another. The business could be a small healthcare chain looking to carve out market space with telehealth offerings, or a small retailer hoping to offer an enterprise-style loyalty program to its customers. If it involves communications and technology, UCaaS represents a better, more affordable way to get it done.
Yes, there may have been a time where traditional on-premises UC options were priced beyond the average SMB's grasp. Those days are no more. With the power of cloud-backed communicative capability, a whole new world is open to the sub-enterprise organizations doing their best to stay competitive in the market — and for those businesses, that's a very good thing.