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Hosted unified communications gaining momentum

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The office phone system experienced significant changes during the course of the last several years, largely due to ongoing technological innovations. Companies are no longer bound by land line solutions that are hard to manage, costly to maintain and expensive to operate. Instead, the consumerization of IT has progressed the private sector toward a mobile state of mind, relieving managers of the challenges associated with the legacy business telephone.

Consumerization trends are widely acknowledged to have contributed to the growing adoption of bring your own device (BYOD) and other mobile strategies. Yet they have also provided the corporate setting with new collaboration solutions, including video conferencing, instant messaging and a number of other applications. Using multiple disparate tools raises costs, however, which encouraged the business world to embrace unified communications.

The presence of unified communications has been steadily increasing in recent years and will continue to do so in 2013 and beyond. The proliferation of unified communications and the ongoing adoption of cloud computing created yet another IT innovation: cloud-based unified communications.

A recent report by Fierce Enterprise Communications noted that 2012 was the year when Unified Communications-as-a-Service, also known as UCaaS, truly emerged as a practical solution to the age-old problem of reducing costs associated with leveraging multiple collaboration applications. While UCaaS offers nearly the same functionality as premise-based offerings, demand for the cloud-based model has been increasing lately.

The growing UCaaS market

Although cloud-based unified communications is widely acknowledged for being useful to small and medium-sized businesses, the private sector as a whole can benefit from adopting the technology for its flexible characteristics. UCaaS is also managed off-site, meaning a trusted third party is responsible for keeping the system up to speed with the rest of operations, Fierce Enterprise Communications reported. This is especially important in today's fast-paced business world, where decision-makers need to focus on mission-critical tasks or risk falling behind.

A separate report by Network Computing noted that the core appeal of cloud-based unified communications for the private sector lies in the hosted PBX system. In general, all unified communications strategies, both on-premise and cloud-based, begin with the adoption of advanced voice technologies. Down the line, innovative instant messaging, video conferencing and presence technologies begin to emerge to create a more holistic platform.

Nevertheless, UCaaS is forecast to pick up velocity in the coming years, largely because it offers a number of unique advantages over premise-based offerings. This was highlighted in a recent TechTarget report, which noted the cloud's disaster recovery capabilities are favored by the majority of large and small organizations. Business continuity in today's age is crucial, as failing to continue operations in the wake of an emergency may mean a firm is forced to close its door for good. Regardless of budgetary restraints, a hosted unified communications platform will better ensure a company's longevity.

TechTarget said UCaaS is also easier to deploy than traditional unified communications platforms and provides better support for the ongoing BYOD phenomenon.

As the telecommunications landscape changes, organizations of all sizes and industries should consider adopting cloud-based unified communications to improve internal and external operations in a more efficient manner. By deploying UCaaS, companies can take advantage of a multi-functional business phone system that will continue to deliver high-quality results in the long run. If decision-makers wait too long to adopt the technology, their firm will likely struggle to play catch up in the coming years.