UCaaS 101: Simplifying Unified Communications as a Service

November 1, 2022

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Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is more than a useful cloud-based tool. The features made possible on this remotely hosted platform are driving significant changes in the way people work. Connect your remote teams with the office and each other. Bring together all of your communication tools to improve productivity and reduce wasted time and expenses.

This technology is new to many of the people who will use it, so we’ve put together this guide to get you started. We’ve unpacked the details of UC as a Service to help you get a clear picture of what it can do and how the features work. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Cloud communications allow you to work from anywhere on any device.
  • The platform lives in the cloud, so you don’t have to manage hardware or updates.
  • Using an internet connection for voice and data services is cost-effective and simple to set up.
  • UCaaS is flexible, powerful, easy to use, and secure.

What Is (UCaaS)?

Effective communication tools are the heartbeat of a productive workplace, regardless of where your teams are located. Unified communications provide security, convenience, and seamless integration for collaboration.

The UC stands for Unified Communications, which means that all of your communication tools are coordinated on a single, secure, cloud-based platform. 

Unified Communications as a Service follows the concept of SaaS, or Software as a Service. The entire platform is hosted on secure remote servers that are maintained, updated, and powered as part of the agreement. You don’t need to own or operate in-house servers and other hardware to support the software and its many features.

How Do Unified Communications (UC) Work?

A unified communications platform brings together chat, voice, video meetings, file management, and more. The software makes it possible for your teams to easily interact, share ideas, and stay focused, regardless of whether they work at home, in the office, or elsewhere. UC eliminates the inefficiencies of working with multiple communications programs and allows your teams to connect effortlessly from anywhere.

What Does a UCaaS Platform Include?

Some features of Intermedia’s Unite are:

  • Video conferencing
  • Cloud-based phone systems and services
  • Team chat functions
  • File storage and management
  • Business Integrations

In addition, your data is integrated with all communication features in the system, making files and information available for users to effortlessly access and share. 

Video Conferencing and Webinar Presentations

When your team can’t be in the same room, video conferencing is the next best alternative. Because AnyMeeting, our video conferencing feature, can be run in an internet browser, audience members only need to click on a link to join a conference. There is no required software to download and install on the attendees’ devices.

You can host a webinar on our AnyMeeting video conferencing feature to reach potential customers and clients, share your screen with all in attendance, or create interactive polls to keep information flowing and ensure that your audience remains engaged.

The capacity to communicate back and forth on any device brings your meetings and team collaborations to life. The ability to share data and documents easily and safely in real time contributes depth and content to the conversation. UCaaS offers a far more intuitive, comprehensive, and secure means of sharing than your team could hope to achieve with separate platforms.

Phone Services

With traditional Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone services, a company could manage line extensions through a wired connection in house.

With our enterprise-grade phone systems, you have the benefit of this technology without the expense and hassle of installing your own PBX system. Instead, you use your internet connection to tap into Intermedia’s system. 

This gives you access to over 90 call services that put your communication capabilities on par with Fortune 500 companies. Some popular features include:

  • Virtual voicemail
  • Hold & park call service
  • Voicemail to email  
  • Transfer and record calls
  • Online fax feature

You can also forward calls to mobile devices or other locations in the case of an emergency or other business disruption. You manage your phone features through an easy-to-use online interface.

UCaaS installation is a breeze. We send you pre-configured phones that you simply plug into your internet connection. You don’t need to have phone wiring installed in your building to use our enterprise phone services.

Chat and Email Services

Central to modern communications, email and chat features are part of the Unite platform as well. You can create chat channels for private teams, where only the appropriate people can share ideas and information. Chat conversations can be searched, making it quick and easy to find the thread or topic you need to pull up.

Email and text (SMS) services are also integrated with the UCaaS system. You can send and receive unlimited texts from anywhere in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico at no charge right over the same cloud servers.

File Storage and Data Sharing

Every document, image, or video you need is backed up on secure remote data storage servers. Each user has 2 GB of cloud storage for data, which syncs automatically with their devices. Your files are safe and you have access to your information at all times, from any synced desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

This powerful feature makes it possible for your team to have everything needed for collaboration right at their fingertips with data security and automatic backup built right in.

Business Integrations

One of the powerful capabilities of Intermedia’s UCaaS is its ability to integrate with other popular software platforms that you may already be using. You can tap into the power of your UCaaS through your familiar programs, such as Google Workspace, Microsoft Teams, and MS 365.

Business integrations give your team the capacity to connect and collaborate with the features and tools of your cloud communications combined with the interfaces they’re already comfortable using.

Call Center

Included in both the Pro and Enterprise subscriptions is Intermedia’s Call Center feature. The call center encompasses an automated assistant that can answer and route calls 24/7. You can assign routing based on special events, dates, vacations, or any situation when your regular routine changes.

Supervisors can oversee and support employees over the phone with these options:

  • Monitor: listen in to a call in progress
  • Whisper: speak privately to an employee without the third party hearing
  • Barge: interrupt a call and join as a participant

Call Analytics

Call Analytics is part of these pro and enterprise UCaaS subscriptions as well. Analytics can help you measure the productivity of your phone engagements. Track the activity and performance of your phone sales teams, whether remote or in house. 

You can create visual progress charts that help employees improve customer interactions. You may want to use these graphics in a video conference with your entire sales team. 

This is a great tool to help everyone involved in customer communication to understand which approaches are effective and which should be modified. The uses of analytics are virtually endless.

Complete Control for Users

All of these impressive features are managed through a free desktop app. Intermedia Unite brings together ease of use, efficiency, convenience, and control. This central UCaaS interface allows you to communicate how, when, and where you are doing business.

  • Call a co-worker. Use the built-in directory to find and call company contacts.
  • Initiate a meeting. Click on the meeting tab to launch a meeting or to share your screen.
  • Transfer or flip a call. Park a call, transfer to voicemail or another contact, or flip the call to another device instantly and seamlessly.
  • Monitor status. See who is available throughout the network and who is currently busy with another customer.

The features are impressive, and they all come with the universal benefits of UCaaS: flexibility, affordability, and security.

Access Anywhere

Because UCaaS is remotely hosted and not installed on a particular computer or device within your workspace, no one must be tethered to a particular place to have access to the software.

All employees, including remote and hybrid teams, can work from any location. All the functionality, tools, and data are available to them, whether they are on the road, working from home, or in the office. Team members simply log in to the app on any device with an internet connection.

Inherent Security

With Unite, you are signing up for a service and not purchasing the software, so you are not restricted to a single release or a fixed number of users. The program is flexible, scalable, and always updated with the latest security and features. You are also freed from the concerns of hosting and maintenance.

It’s that convenient.

Who Benefits From UCaaS?

Any business that requires communications will benefit from UC as a service, but it’s especially useful for those that have remote workers. This growing demographic has shown that productivity and job satisfaction improve when workers have the opportunity to work remotely at least part of the time.

What’s the Big Deal About Remote Work?

The brief version is that employees like working from home. They appreciate the flexibility and don’t miss the commute. Their work doesn’t suffer, either. In fact, productivity ticks up when workers are allowed to skip the office.

According to a two-year study by Great Place To Work, productivity when working from home was the same or better than working in an office. With no time wasted on commuting or water cooler chat, employees have more time to get their work done and a more flexible time frame in which to do it.

The remote work trend is likely to continue to grow in the future, and UCaaS will be there to support businesses and workers.

Most employees have fewer sick days and enjoy their jobs more when working remotely as well. The ability to work from anywhere also allows for greater resilience and quick adaptation in the event of a crisis.

The same study showed that staying connected to co-workers and maintaining a sense of company culture is also important for employees to enjoy their work. Communication remains essential to the success and productivity of the team.

In other words, unified communications offer more than the ability to work outside of the traditional office space. They provide an invaluable means for co-workers to keep in touch and preserve the bonds of the team when they work in different locations.

What Are the Advantages of Remote Work for Your Organization?

Workers appreciate the flexibility of the work-from-home model, but is it good for the company? In short, yes. Your business benefits from a remote-flexible work environment for some obvious reasons:

  • Hiring is location-agnostic. With UCaaS, you can find talent from anywhere. You are not limited to candidates who live near the office.
  • You can compete with other employers. Surveys conducted by FlexJobs revealed that most people prefer to have the freedom to work from anywhere they choose.
  • Remote work is cost-effective. As teams can communicate and collaborate virtually, there’s less of a need to pay for business travel.
  • You may also cut down on office space and the associated costs of maintaining a large physical location if you transition some employees to full-time remote work or a hybrid work schedule.

What If Your Employees Work in the Office?

Remote work is not the only reason for unified communications over the cloud.

UCaaS is a workforce solution that benefits all types of businesses, even those with on-premises teams. With this technology, employees don’t have to deal with some of the limits traditional business communications pose:

  • When there’s a power outage or a natural disaster, operations don’t have to come to a grinding halt. Because UC as a service is cloud-hosted, your teams can still take calls, hold meetings, and collaborate from wherever with an internet connection.
  • Poor server performance isn’t going to slow down your business. Cloud service providers offer near-flawless reliability. As a result, your teams won’t have to deal with slow service, unclear calls, or other disruptions that can happen with on-premises software.
  • Outdated hardware is never a business continuity problem or an unplanned expense either. When a business phone breaks down, or a computer crashes, getting employees up and running again over traditional in-house networks takes time and money.
  • With UCaaS, the same contact info, stored files, and tools are all safely hosted and backed up on remote cloud servers, so employees can simply log in from a different device. As long as an internet connection is available somewhere nearby, your entire office is virtually interruption-proof.

With UC as a service, your business never has to miss a beat.

What Should You Look For in a UC Provider?

To get the best experience possible for your teams, choose a provider that has everything your company needs. Here are factors worth considering when comparing providers:

  • Security – How secure are the physical data centers that host your software and data? You also want to check for iron-clad network security with enterprise-grade firewall systems, multiple intrusion protection systems to detect and deter malicious traffic, and distributed denial-of-service protection.
  • Data protection Access to servers should be limited to authorized engineers. There should also be a full-time security team monitoring everything from perimeter defense and architecture testing to source code reviews.
  • Features – Does the UCaaS platform have the phone system capabilities and voice and video communications tools your teams will need?
  • Uptime – Make sure your provider includes a high uptime guarantee in their service-level agreement.
  • Service – Does the company have capable people available to help you with questions when you need a little assistance?

Another way to choose a great provider is to read customer reviews. The most relevant and honest statements about any business are going to come from people who have experienced the services and used the products of that company.

Intermedia gets stellar ratings (4.8 of 5 stars) from business owners and employees who use our platform and services. Check out some of what people have to say about us here on Trust Pilot. An impressive 88% of users gave us five stars, earning us the highest possible rating of “Excellent.”

How To Get Started With UCaaS

Getting started with Unified Communications as a Service is simple. There’s no extensive learning curve or lengthy setup process.

Intermedia Unite provides pre-configured phones that you plug into an internet connection to initiate your voice services. Employees can download the mobile and desktop apps on the devices they wish to use, and they instantly have access to all of the cloud-hosted communications features in your plan.

You manage the service remotely through the online management portal. Actions such as adding a user, changing permissions, and setting up auto attendants can be done in minutes with no IT expertise required. When you need help, we’re here for you, 24/7. It really is that simple.

Learn more about Intermedia Unite and unlock your team’s potential with UCaaS.

Kirsten Barta

Kirsten Barta is Sr Marketing Communications Manager at Intermedia

November 1, 2022

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