Why Businesses are Adopting UC&C and How You Can Too

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Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs) are flipping the script, outpacing larger counterparts when it comes to adopting advanced communications solutions. John Macario, senior vice president of Enterprise and Channel Marketing, Ribbon Communications, explores what these SMBs are doing, the platforms they are choosing, and considerations for other businesses moving forward. 

The global pandemic changed how people at work connect, communicate, and interact as no other event has done before. Perhaps the group that felt this change the most was employees at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Historically, SMBs lagged behind larger enterprises in technology adoption, putting a higher priority on in-office collaboration. Today, however, SMBs are changing the narrative, adopting Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) with force, focusing on in-house IT support, and preparing for a future of work from anywhere flexibility. 

To understand how SMBs are succeeding with UC&C, let us explore a recent surveyOpens a new window conducted by my organization that polled more than 4,500 technology decision-makers in 19 countries in the Americas and Europe in late 2020. 

Growing Interest in UC&C for the SMB

The survey showed that businesses with less than 100 employees who have on-site IT support grew more than 60% since the last study in the Fall of 2019. The dramatic increase in IT support in these SMBs was likely driven by the need to adapt to remote work. The new IT resources put a plan to introduce UC&C tools that will stay in use long after the pandemic subsides. 

According to the survey, UC&C adoption for SMBs is up 41% compared to the Fall of 2019. While the growth is monumental, more than 75% of respondents still have not adopted a collaboration platform, and more than two-thirds say they are two years out from implementing UC&C. 

It is essential that other SMBs understand how UC&C initiatives can improve their business, the potential options available, and key considerations to make before deploying platforms at work to continue building on this momentum.

Learn More: 5 Purpose-Built Collaboration Apps To Secure Enterprise Communications

How UC&C Helps Businesses Across the Globe 

The growing number of organizations that have adopted UC&C solutions have already realized the benefits of this technology, including: 

  • Productivity from anywhere: Gone are the days of a desk phone and PC. UC&C solutions span mobile, laptop, tablets, and other devices to enable true flexibility. Employees can answer co-worker or client emails, move to chat, and advance to a video session seamlessly from anywhere, anytime. The reach eases the transition to work from anywhere and ensures teams are connected in a manner that best suits them.
  • Fewer communications silos: While adding a new platform might sound counterintuitive when it comes to reducing silos, standardizing one UC&C solution provides a consistent source of collaboration. Employees can understand the best way to reach each other to ensure important messages and information does not go unread. 
  • Cost savings: While there may be an initial upfront cost, UC&C solutions help consolidate legacy communications fees and the cost of running multiple systems. The flexibility also enables businesses to consider changing their office space to allow hybrid working solutions. 

Where SMBs Can Look to for Communications Support

The 4,500 technology decision-makers surveyed provided an overview of the vast array of options available to support remote workers during the pandemic and beyond, including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype for Business, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Slack, Blue Jeans, Avaya, and others. However, it was clear that Microsoft Teams and Zoom led the pack, with 27% and 28% of SMB respondents choosing these options, respectively. 

For organizations wondering which solution is right for them, it is important to look at independent third-party research. Consider reviewing industry analyst reports that map these platforms against each other and compare features, functionality, price, and roadmap. This information can help ensure IT teams make the right decision for their company. 

Learn More: Why Unified Communications Has Become a Must-Have in 2021

Important Considerations for Making Collaboration Work

Once a business has narrowed in on a solution, there are still a few important items to consider. One of those is ensuring the right security is in place to support the new platform. One of the fundamental contributors to making UC&C deployments work is Session Border Controllers (SBCs). These powerful devices provide: 

  • Security: Attacks on telecom equipment are on the rise, with some designed to bring a network down, such as denial of service. SBCs help secure the UC network and protect sessions between secure and non-secure endpoints. 
  • Intelligent session control: SBCs help select the optimal route to deliver calls to the final destination. This is one of the many session control policies SBCs enforce to ensure efficient traffic flow on a network. 
  • Interoperability and transcoding: Some networks “speak” different communication languages or use different codecs. SBCs help translate these protocols to ensure seamless communication from network to network and device to device. 
  • Scalability: As SMBs mature and scale, they need a solution that can help support that growth. Smart SMBs will focus on an SBC that helps scale cost-effectively from tens of sessions to hundreds and thousands. 

While there are other considerations that SMBs should make during the upfront investment into a new platform, SBCs should be at the top of the list. Many UC&C platforms require an SBC, and some include SBC services as part of the platformOpens a new window .

The growth in the adoption of UC&C across the board is no surprise. Still, the interest and momentum from SMBs open up new possibilities at work for employees, vendors that support UC&C, and the providers offering the platform. To make this trend stick, IT managers at SMBs should continue to explore the benefits these powerful solutions can provide their team, understand their options, and research the tools that help make these platforms work seamlessly.

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