There are many benefits of unified communications for businesses, with evolving demands on communication calling for increased collaboration and connectivity, and turning UC into more of a necessity.In a recent article for Biz Tech Magazine, contributor Tom Smith noted the changing UC landscape with the introduction of cloud-based unified communication systems creating a wealth of new opportunities for business.

Two Paths Cloud or PBX

Businesses should weigh their specific needs in tandem with the benefits that on-premises UC or cloud-based UC can provide.

"In today's fast moving and highly interconnected operational environment, the ability to communicate effectively and seamlessly is nothing short of critical," Smith wrote. "As a result, many organizations have turn to unified communications (UC) solutions to blend a diverse array of tasks and technologies, including IP telephony, collaboration, presence, conferencing and video, social media and contact center functions."

Smith referred to UC as the answer for bringing people together in a virtual manner, further reducing errors, spurring innovation, improving service levels and lowering costs associated with IT and administrative overhead. However, with the advent and rapid uptake of cloud-based UC solutions, modern businesses don't simply have to decide on which UC features they want, they also have to consider whether an on-premise or cloud-based UC solution is the best fit for their business.

Weighing the benefits
When deciding between on-premises and cloud communications, Smith articulated a number of points to consider. In general, on-premises UC usually allows for a high level of flexibility and customization, with a variety of solutions and available approaches. This option could also potentially lower the cost associated with ownership, as it generally requires a one-time investment raher than an ongoing outflow. Cloud-based solutions advantages typically center around ease of use. Overall, businesses can observe lower capital expenditures, a more scalable approach to managing system upgrades, enhanced features, simplified support and more efficient security with cloud UC.

On-premise solutions typically work best for larger organizations, especially if workers are clustered in central locations, Smith explained. On the other hand, cloud solutions tend to work well for businesses that have multiple locations and a substantial number of remote or mobile workers. In addition, organizations experiencing rapid growth tend to look to cloud-based UC in order to more easily add users and features as their business evolves.

In a recent article for InformationWeek, an industry expert stressed the importance of interoperability when it comes to UC, noting that cloud-based solutions will continue to spur the growth of the UC industry, allowing businesses to reach a wider consumer audience.