If you started your career with a corded office phone and a 17” x 22” paper desk calendar, you’ve seen a lot.

You have the 'back in my day' story that goes like this: “Back in my day, we used to have to walk down to the office of the person we wanted to talk to, compare our desk and pocket calendars, pencil in the date and time to talk, decide who would call whom, then hope that the other person picked up. If they didn’t you had to start the process all over again."

We’ve come a long way baby since that time, and analyst firm Frost and Sullivan’s Connected Work research team has seen and documented it all - noting four major shifts in the evolution of enterprise communications over the past two decades:

  1. standalone on-premises telephony PBXs
  2. standalone on-premises telephony PBXs to include collaboration and conferencing
  3. cloud-based end-to-end communication and collaboration tools
  4. cloud-based communications platforms

Notes analyst Michael Brandenburg in Communications Platforms: Reaching the Next Innovation Front of Enterprise Communications, “Cloud-based communications platforms take the key components of business communications, including telephony, messaging, conferencing and collaboration, contact center, and programmable communications through APIs, and deliver them as a centrally managed and tightly integrated, yet modular, service.

“Designed for public or private cloud deployments, collaboration platforms provide a level of scalability and adaptability previously not possible or cost-effective. In addition, a communications platform differentiates itself from even the most advanced end-to-end unified communications (UC) solution or UCaaS in a couple of important ways.”

3 Differences Between a UCaaS Solution and a Communications Platform

Brandenburg says the major differences between a UCaaS solution and a true communications platform are:

  • Multi-modal communications. “A true communications platform enables businesses to take advantage of nearly all modes of communication - telephony, video, web, text messaging and social media chats - in exactly the way the business and its customers want to consume them,” whereas solutions still operate in “islands of collaboration.”
  • Openness and extensibility. “Unlike standalone UCaaS solutions, a communications platform is positioned to adapt to a business’s overall communications strategy, rather than forcing the business to adapt to the solution,” notes the Frost and Sullivan analyst. “An extensible communications platform enables businesses to incorporate all of today’s modes of communications into their workflows, as well as position themselves to be ready for the next big thing in the future.” (Read more key differences around openness and extensibility here.)
  • Communications platforms drive digital transformation. Platforms allow organizations to align the technology with where they are in their innovation journey, but add, evolve, and scale as needed, which has proven key in 2020.

A fantastic story to this end comes from Laureate International University, a 50-year-old institution that had to rapidly transform its operations, offerings, and workforce in 2020. Read more here about their communications platform experience and what they’re planning when it comes to continued digital transformation.

For more defined communications platform benefits (six to be exact), click here.