Small and midsize financial institutions are rapidly adopting Unified Communications as a Service for improving the customer experience and internal processes, as well as reducing costs.
More than 30 percent of bank and credit union executives responding to a study conducted by American Banker reported they had already implemented a unified collaboration strategy. Many are interested in UCaaS, which integrates voice, videoconferencing, screen sharing and instant messaging though a single cloud provider. Expectations are that adoption of UCaaS in the SMB sector will double by the close of 2021, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.
UCaaS Brings Many Advantages to Banks and Credit Unions
Among the benefits of UCaaS is ease of use for banks and credit unions, allowing them to deliver better service for use cases such as approving SMB business loans. Loan reps and loan officers must be able to quickly and easily communicate and collaborate with each other in an integrated and real-time fashion across all aspects of the associated approval workflows rather than going back and forth by fragmented phone or email messages to coordinate activities.
Another plus with UCaaS is that it doesn’t matter where employees are located or what devices they are using for immediate interactions. Most UCaaS services support a simultaneous ring feature to call all the numbers a user has. So, bank or credit union employees using their mobile devices on the road can be contacted as easily as when they are at the office.
UCaaS also has the ability to integrate communications and business applications — customer relationship management, customer service and productivity solutions — via APIs for more efficient workflows and enhanced productivity. For instance, call recording that may be required for industry compliance can be integrated with cloud-hosted contact center software.
Moving communications to the cloud saves money too. With UCaaS, financial companies don’t have to upgrade and maintain their own communications infrastructure, and operating expenses are predictable. Like any cloud service, UCaaS enables scalability on demand, and companies pay only for what they use.
However, with any unified collaboration solution, quality of service is crucial. And traditional WAN systems have an inefficient routing design that can result in excessive latency, packet loss and jitter, which can cause pixelation, freezing or dropouts on voice and video calls. Users will notice when that happens.
Deploy SD-WAN for Optimal UCaaS Performance
Software-defined WAN technology changes the game. SD-WAN improves performance, uptime and reliability. Data is routed through a financial institution’s infrastructure in the most efficient way possible.
Banks and credit unions can take advantage of features like prioritizing critical traffic, such as videoconferencing, across the network and reserving bandwidth for reliable performance. SD-WANs also aggregate private and public broadband connections together to increase bandwidth and accommodate changes automatically for bandwidth-intensive applications.
Specialized SD-WAN technology makes this happen. For example, Aruba Networks’ SD-WAN solution has built-in deep-packet inspection capabilities that identify voice and video traffic. It automatically monitors and steers traffic around the network to optimize communication. This becomes critical if an internet connection is lost.
Financial services and many other industries will complete their SD-WAN rollouts by 2021, according to John Burke, principal research analyst and CIO for Nemertes Research. “Indeed, its spread is so rapid, and the infusion of SD-WAN functionality into WAN solutions so broad, that soon the cluster of functions we currently call SD-WAN will be considered table stakes — the default expectation for any branch network,” Burke writes in a Nemertes report on SD-WAN as a Service.
SD-WAN’s business case, he continues, mostly revolves around “the hard-dollar economics of connectivity: substituting low-cost internet bandwidth for high-cost MPLS to meet the burgeoning needs of new communications, collaboration and cloud applications.”
Additionally, the selective consolidation of WAN services, including routing, Wi-Fi, ethernet, firewalls, VPNs and application visibility into a single platform, provides the potential for a significant reduction in the hardware costs associated with the multiple box solutions, according to a Doyle Research white paper commissioned by Aruba Networks. Expect maintenance cost reductions of about 15 percent as well.
OPEX savings accrue because of SD-WAN’s advantages with respect to agility, scale, ease of management and unified network security. The savings increase with the number of a business’s branches.
Individually, SD-WAN and UCaaS provide clear communications value and cost savings for businesses. Combined, those advantages are multiplied.