The tech world has been buzzing about digital transformation for a few years now, but it took a pandemic to bring the concept into clear focus for many organizations. Those that had taken steps to inject digital processes into all aspects of the business gained the agility and resilience they needed to cope with the challenges and uncertainty of the past year.
That was particularly evident in companies that had transitioned to digitally mature communications solutions such as Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS), Contact Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) and Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS). These cloud-based platforms proved critical for facilitating work-from-home operations and providing seamless customer support.
In a post-pandemic world, the challenge will be to create a “digitally converged” communication infrastructure that tightly integrates all three as-a-service models. With work and location becoming increasingly uncoupled, combining these services will be key to providing frictionless communication for a variety of internal and external audiences, including remote and mobile employees, customers, partners and suppliers.
UCaaS, CCaaS and CPaaS have some similar characteristics and provide many common benefits. In addition to supporting multiple communication channels, they reduce spending for on-premises infrastructure, offer much greater scalability and flexibility, and have more advanced analytics and reporting capabilities. Nevertheless, they typically serve different purposes for different business units and tend to operate within functional silos.
UCaaS is the most common of the three. It combines voice, video, messaging and conferencing capabilities in a single service, and is usually purchased by IT organizations to modernize phone systems and support internal and business communication needs. It has become essential for providing remote workers with communication and collaboration capabilities regardless of location.
CCaaS, on the other hand, is designed for customer communications and typically falls under the purview of the company’s sales and marketing teams. These platforms provide seamless omnichannel interactions, intuitive self-service and comprehensive reporting. In addition, most offer tools for workforce optimization, predictive routing and 360-degree customer journey analytics.
Finally, CPaaS is a development platform that makes it easy to embed real-time voice, video and messaging capabilities into core business applications through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) or snippets of embedded code. For instance, CPaaS makes it easy to video-enable applications for customer support, telehealth services or distance learning.
The obvious benefit of convergence is that organizations can support the communications needs of all employees and customers with a common framework based on the same network foundation. That eliminates communication silos and streamlines support and management tasks.
Convergence can also improve security through a unified back end with consistent application of access permissions, data encryption, upgrades, patches and other security policies. Single provisioning and configuration reduces the risk of errors that could create vulnerabilities.
There are cost benefits as well. According to research from Metrigy, companies that integrate their contact center with unified communications report near 100 percent revenue improvements, while also reducing costs by 14 percent.
The biggest benefit of convergence will likely be enhanced insights into almost all internal and external interactions. The ability to collect cross-platform data will allow organizations to conduct a variety of AI-powered analytics to assess team productivity, evaluate the customer journey and drive real-time decision-making.
The challenges of the past year clearly illustrated the value of cloud-based communications for ensuring business resilience and agility. Going forward, the increased convergence of UCaaS, CCaaS and CPaaS can eliminate communication silos, enhance efficiency and deliver valuable organizational insights.