In a previous article, we covered the benefits of integrating Mitel PBX phone systems and Unified Communications (UC) solutions with Microsoft Teams. In that scenario, Microsoft Teams is still being used as a Unified Communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) and Mitel is bridging the gap for on-site telephony capabilities. This integration has many benefits, particularly cost savings and performance for external calling.
This article will cover an option for businesses that use Microsoft Teams and want to leverage UCaaS more fully. For these businesses, the best solution may be using the Microsoft Teams app for functions like messaging and meetings, but employing an entirely different UCaaS provider for calling services.
UC vs. UCaaS, What’s the Difference?
To start, it’s important to clarify the difference between Unified Communications (UC) and Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS).
While both UC and UCaaS communications enable communication via phone, computer, and apps, they each have advantages and disadvantages. Most notably, UC systems offer a greater degree of control, but that control comes with upfront costs in hardware and installation, and recurring costs for maintenance and call lines. The advantage of UCaaS is greater performance flexibility with minimal upfront costs, but that comes with less control and recurring licensing fees.
Why Not Rely Entirely on Microsoft Teams?
That is certainly an option, but Microsoft Teams has two critical weaknesses as a standalone UCaaS solution–external calling capabilities and calling costs.
Microsoft Teams and Calling Capabilities
Microsoft Teams is geared toward internal communications. It requires separate solutions to interact with customers and lacks features like advanced call routing. Performance drawbacks are not limited to features. Reliability is an issue.
If a business uses Microsoft Teams for its internal and external communications, downtime means a company-wide blackout. That extra ~47 minutes per year could be very disruptive and costly. Conversely, utilizing a separate UCaaS provider mitigates the risk that both lines of communication will ever be down simultaneously.
Microsoft Teams and Calling Costs
If a business wanted to use Microsoft Teams for external calls, they would have a few options for setting up their calling system and establishing PSTN connectivity. This includes buying a Microsoft Calling Plan with a block of users and time per month, using Operator Connect with a license cost per user, or using Direct Routing with a third-party.1 Taken as a whole, these options are far less cost effective than most UCaaS providers. According to Metrigy, the average annual cost per user for Microsoft Teams Phone Systems is $1,497, which is ~25% higher than the average UCaaS provider cost of $1,196.
For a 1,000-person company, that’s $301,000 of additional costs every year to use Microsoft Teams for calling.2
What Are Additional Advantages for UCaaS Integration?
Using a seperate UCaaS provider with Microsoft Teams can offer a best-of-breed experience for internal and external communications. In the broadest sense, a business can tailor its external communications while leveraging the utility and familiarity of the Microsoft Teams platform. But there are some specific advantages that are important to know.
A Seamless Experience
Due to the prevalence of Microsoft Teams, many of the top UCaaS providers have solutions that integrate directly with the app.3 As IPC is a Premier Partner of RingCentral, we’ll use them as an example. RingCentral created a UCaaS calling solution specifically for Microsoft Teams, with different options for connectivity, PBX phone system integration, and a suite of tools.4
Microsoft’s Calling Plans only cover 33 countries,5 and in many cases the customer must have their own PSTN access.6 But most UCaaS providers offer far greater geographic reach with less restrictions. RingCentral for Teams connects with 44 countries with PSTN support and offers local and toll-free numbers to more than 110 countries.7
Both in terms of calling and in general technologies, a separate UCaaS provider can offer far more than Microsoft Teams alone.8 RingCentral’s solution offers enterprise-level call capabilities, including text, chat, fax, advanced routing, interactive voice response (IVR), and more. In terms of apps, RingCentral offers more than 250+ apps and integrations for Microsoft Teams.9
Making the Most of Your Communications Investments
The ability for your employees to communicate and collaborate efficiently with one another is equal in importance to their ability to interact effectively with customers. As we have seen in this article and the related IPC article previously mentioned, there are a number of different ways that businesses can maximize their internal communications with Microsoft Teams and external communications with other solutions.
1 Lazar I. Microsoft Teams & Telephony: Why Businesses Prefer UCaaS Providers. Metrigy. Published “Q1 2022”. Accessed April, 18, 2022.
2 Lazar I. Microsoft Teams & Telephony: Why Businesses Prefer UCaaS Providers. Metrigy. Published “Q1 2022”. Accessed April, 18, 2022.
3 Mulley-Goodbarne E. How UCaaS Providers can optimise with Teams. UC Today. https://www.uctoday.com/unified-communications/ucaas/how-ucaas-providers-can-optimise-integration-with-microsoft-teams. Published August 31,2001. Accessed April 18, 2022.
4 Bring world-class customer experiences and calling into Microsoft Teams. RingCentral. https://netstorage.ringcentral.com/brief/world-class-customer-experience-and-calling.pdf. Published November, 2021. Accessed April 18, 2022.
5 Arbuthnot T. 5 new Microsoft Teams Calling Plan countries, now up to 33 countries. Tom Talks. https://tomtalks.blog/5-new-microsoft-teams-calling-plan-countries-now-up-to-33-countries/. Published September 27, 2021. Accessed April 18, 2022.
6 Lazar I. Microsoft Teams & Telephony: Why Businesses Prefer UCaaS Providers. Metrigy. Published “Q1 2022”. Accessed April, 18, 2022.
7 Reliable and Powerful Calling for Microsoft Teams. RingCentral. https://www.ringcentral.com/microsoft-teams.html. Accessed April 18, 2022.
8 Cloud Phone System. RingCentral. https://www.ringcentral.com/solutions/office/call.html. Accessed April 18, 2022.
9 Reliable and Powerful Calling for Microsoft Teams. RingCentral. https://www.ringcentral.com/microsoft-teams.html. Accessed April 18, 2022.
Making the most out of your communications investments isn’t easy. At IPC Tech, our engineers are experts in UC technologies and a range of UCaaS platforms. We can help you find the perfect balance of cost efficiency and capabilities for your unique needs.
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