The evolution of communications technology over the years has changed how individuals in enterprises stay connected. The culmination of all these technological advancements has led to the emergence of unified communications as a service (UCaaS). Companies are shifting to UCaaS solutions for their communication needs, as it provides all the necessary channels of communication in one interface. Additionally, since UCaaS functions through the cloud, companies have lower capital expenditure than with prior communication systems. These benefits, along with the reduced strain on the company's IT departments and improved remote work, have encouraged the growth of UCaaS. But it is crucial to understand how UCaaS has come into being to understand its significance and potential growth.
The very beginning
The basis of unified communication is, as the name suggests, communication. Delving into the history of communication could turn into a rabbit hole, starting with older technology like smoke signals and courier pigeons, and advancing to concepts like the telegraph, Morse code, and the telephone. This series of solutions eventually led to the breakthrough technology we use today.
Private branch exchange, or PBX, was the crux of communication for companies in the 1960s. PBX effectively connected employees within an organization through limited physical phone lines and, at one point, required switchboard operators to facilitate communication. This was a strain on financial resources in terms of capital and personnel expenditure.
With the introduction of computer networks and functions such as email, there was growing concern over the time spent on context switching.
Interactive voice response (IVR) was the next step in the unified communication journey. Although it was already in existence, it gained popularity in the 1970s. IVR technology utilized pre-recorded messages and text-to-speech functions to help companies interact with customers. This was a massive step in unified communication, as it eliminated the need for a live agent. It also improved customer experience to a great extent by reducing wait times and costs because of the decreased demand for the workforce. Additionally, IVR provided companies with the option to receive customer feedback, thus aiding in improving business processes.
Voicemail is a system that stores voice messages that companies can access later. With the introduction of voicemail capabilities, by the end of the 1990s, companies started integrating voicemail and email into their existing devices. Thus, unified communication as a concept was strengthened as employees began accessing these functions from one place.
Session Initiated Protocol, or SIP, was the next stage of Internet Protocol (IP) telephony. SIP is a signaling protocol that enables communication sessions between IP networks for instant messaging, voice call, and video call applications.
With the advent of SIP, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) was established. VoIP essentially uses SIP to facilitate efficient voice communication between devices. This communication could be through audio or video, further developing unified communication. The introduction of VoIP technology in the market changed the way people communicate. This gave rise to the era of cloud communication, which eliminated the need for physical lines that PBX networks demanded. By carrying out communication functions across devices, individuals could save time and resources by using the same solution for different functions.
Although instant messaging was established in the 1970s, it started gaining prominence in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This was an essential addition to the unified communication arsenal, as it gave companies the benefit of real time communication. With businesses needing to stay ahead of the curve, instant communication was required to solve problems in real time.
With the advancements in VoIP reliability, audio and video conferencing technologies, and instant messaging, unified communication was made easier for enterprises. Using on-premise technology, companies opted for unified communication services. This came with the benefit of solid security and flexibility of customization since the technology was for the client company alone and not a shared service. Although these benefits were essential, they also came with many disadvantages. On-premise unified communication needed a higher financial and capital investment because of the hardware that came with it. It also strained company IT departments, as the technology required regular upkeep.
The rise in cloud computing, along with the downsides of capital expenditure and the rigidity of expansion in on-premise unified communication solutions, gave rise to UCaaS. As companies began providing unified communication services over the cloud, they eliminated the need for hefty on-premise hardware and accessed an array of additional benefits. These benefits included administrative capabilities, reduced costs, flexibility, and much more. This ushered enterprises into a new era of communication.
From how technology is evolving, it is clear that this is not the end. With advancements in areas such as artificial intelligence, there is vast potential for growth in the unified communication space. UCaaS providers are constantly working on bringing the best solutions to their customers. Find out how Cliq could be the solution you need for your business.