UCaaS is all about combining all the different communications channels available to a business in a single unified platform. While in the past businesses might have had to rely on a wide range of hardware, advances in digital technology mean that cloud computing services can now deliver this as a service.
In the past unified communications would mean making sure VoIP for internal and external calls could be combined into one system, but these days it also means adding other communication options such as chat/instant messaging, email, conferencing (audio and video), and even sometimes social media content.
While a number of companies are described as providing UCaaS, sometimes this has the practical experience of being more like many applications using a Single Sign On (SSO) to give the appearance of a unified platform. For this buying guide, we'll instead focus on those companies that deliver a true UCaaS experience by allowing all communications to be managed via a single application.
Here then are the featured providers we think deliver the best overall UCaaS experience.
- Check out the best business phone system here
- Check out the best conference call services here
- Check out the best call center software here
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Best UCaaS providers - at a glance
- Ooma Office
- MiCloud Connect
- 8x8 X Series
- Dialpad Talk
The leading UCaaS provider
RingCentral Office offers a complete unified communications solution that combines HD VoIP, messaging, conferencing, contact center, and fax, in a single application.
What's especially good about RingCentral Office is its total accessibility and scaleability, allowing anywhere from a single user to over a 1,000 employees to sign up for the service, meaning that it can truly serve anything from the smallest business to enterprises.
Different features are available according to different payment plans, but even the most basic Essentials plan offers a comprehensive range, including unlimited calls within the US and Canada, as well as unlimited SMS and MMS, and also mobile apps for use with iOS and Android for mobile use. Other features include visual voicemail, voicemail-to-email, as well as full call management and phone system administration which includes call recording on demand.
The Standard service plan adds reporting, a multi-level auto attendant, as well as internet fax features, along with unlimited audio and video conferencing for up to four people.
The Premium plan allows conferencing for up to 100 people, automatic call recording, as well as multi-site support, Single Sign On (SSO), and introduces integrations with SalesForce and Zendesk.
All plans also offer integrations with Microsoft, Google, and Box.
For single users, the Essentials plan costs $29.99 per month if paid yearly. For 2-99 users it's priced at $19.99 if paid yearly, rising to $24.99 for the Standard plan and $34.99 for the Premium plan.
The small business UCaaS
Ooma Office aims to deliver to small businesses an enterprise-level unified communications experience at a fraction of the price.
There are no differentiated plan levels - everything is available for $19.95 per month. However, you'll probably need to buy one of the starter business phone kits, though these tend to be quite inexpensive and subject to recurring special offers.
When you sign up for Ooma Office, you'll receive a toll-free number, and be able to make unlimited calls across all of North America as well as low international rates. However, it's the main calling features that are the biggest advantage that Ooma Office offers.
Over 35 features are listed, and these include such things as a virtual receptionist for automated call routing. There's also call forwarding, transfers and logs available, as well as ring groups, group callers, extension dialing, conferencing, and music on hold all included.
Another plus for small businesses is that there is no contract, so you don't need to fear being locked-in for the long-term with a single supplier for VoIP.
Overall, it delivers everything you'd expect from a full and professional telecoms system. If there's one area Ooma Office gets pulled short it's the lack of omnichannel routing, but there is an enterprise edition which can offer integration options on your CRM to cover this base anyway.
The established UCaaS provider
MiCloud Connect is the cloud unified communications platform that aims to provide an all-in-one communications, collaboration and contact center. Delivered through Google Cloud, Mitel Connect aims to provide UCaaS for all SME's.
All of the different plans available offer PBX telephony features, as well as audio conferencing, video collaboration, as well as desktop sharing. Mobile apps are also provided, and instant messaging is covered, too. Integrations include Outlook and G Suite, as well as connect telephony for Microsoft.
This forms the basis of the Essentials package, available from $20.99 per user per month, with conferencing limits of up to 8 people.
The Premier plan from $26.59 per user per month increases conferencing limits to 25 users, and also adds on-demand call recording, voice transcription, as well as integrations for SalesForce and other CRMs.
The one negative is that rather than bundle everything under MiCloud Connect, the website suggests that the contact center is a separate product that requires a custom quote. While the contact center does necessarily deliver a lot of advanced features, it would be better to see greater service integration to make it more attractive to SME's.
A leading UCaaS provider
The 8x8 X Series offers cloud communication software that acts as a full UCaaS platform, with even the most basic plan offering a good range of communication channels options and collaboration opportunities.
The platform is provided in four distinct service tiers, starting with the X2 which appears aimed at delivering a strong range of features for SMEs. Features at this level include call handling, HD voice calls, voicemail (along with transcription), SMS, HD video conferencing and screen sharing options.
If that wasn't enough there's also unlimited internet faxing, team messaging, call recording, SSO, as well as those all important integrations, such as G Suite and Office 365, as well as CRMs.
For the security conscious, the service is also compliant with HIPAA and GDPR standards.
After that, the X Series plans go through X4, X6, to X8, each tier adding additional functionality that better servce enterprise interests, bundling unlimited calling to a larger number of countries as well as call minutes where needed.
Various analytics becomes available through the tiers, though disappointingly chat, email, SMS, social media don't become standard until the X8 package, which comes in at an eye-watering $172 per user per month.
Even still, the more basic X2 package does deliver a strong entry-level plan with a comprehensive range of features that could be attractive to small businesses, though the higher tiers may not be so price-competitive as alternatives.
The visionary UCaaS provider
Dialpad made this year's Gartner Magic Quadrant as one of the visionary UCaaS providers, and it's easy to see with the feature range available at even the most basic level for Dialpad Talk.
Even the basic Standard tier offers unlimited calling across the US and Canada, as well as international service in 50+ countries. There are also local and toll-free numbers included, as well as unlimited SMS, MMS, and group texting.
Call handing and forward are included as standard, including operator routing, custom hold music, and call summaries available to share.
Group messaging, chat, call history, and analytics are also included in the Standard tier, as well as SSO, integration with G Suite and Office 365, and HD video calling. At $20 per user per month both the entry-level feature-range and pricing is extremely competitive.
The Pro tier adds real-time call transcriptions, more advanced analytics, as well as integrations with SalesForce, Zendesk, Slack, and Hubspot - among others - all for a reasonable $30 per user per month.
An Enterprise version is available, though this requires a custom quote for a bespoke service.
All in all, though, Dialpad really offers value for money, but where it lets itself down is by providing video conferencing as a seprate service. While there is a free tier, and a feature-rich paid tier for $15 per user per month, the surprise is that it isn't bundled with its Talk offering for a full UCaaS experience. However, it's possible that some small businesses may actually regard this as a plus if not required.