Jan 17 2024

UCaaS vs CCaaS: What State and Local Governments Need to Know

The two cloud-based communication solutions are similar but contain key differences. Which should agencies pick? Can they work in tandem?

Contact centers and communication systems are evolving, and organizations must adapt to meet the needs of employees and citizens alike. An on-premises contact center leaves organizations relying on outdated technology and locks agencies into requiring in-person attendance as so many others embrace hybrid and remote work. In fact, 40 percent of server hardware deployed at company data centers is more than 3 years old.

From the perspective of the public sector in particular, Jerry Dotson, vice president of public sector at Avaya, wrote that due to an “uncertain economic climate, shrinking budgets and workforce attrition, government agencies are looking for new ways to implement efficient and innovative contact center technology solutions that do not disrupt service to the citizen.”

Organizations are innovating by shifting their contact centers and communication platforms to the cloud to take advantage of the flexibility, location independence and real-time updates that cloud technology offers. Among the solutions available to them are Contact Center as a Service  and Unified Communications as a Service. Though similar, CCaaS is more focused on customer experience and interaction, while UCaaS is better suited to streamlining internal communications and collaboration.

Agencies would do well to understand each offering, know how the two options differ and how they may work together to achieve the best setup for their situation.

Click the banner to learn if your cloud environment is meeting your agency’s needs.

How Can State and Local Governments Use CCaaS?

CCaaS is a cloud-based customer experience solution that can handle customer interactions such as calls, email and chat, routing those inquiries to agents based on available resources. For the public sector, “CCaaS enables secure, two-way communication channels for state and local government agencies to interact directly with their constituents,” says Javed Khan, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Collaboration.

State and local agencies are constantly looking to improve the citizen experience, and CCaaS “offers unparalleled opportunities for transforming public service delivery while simplifying the administration and operation of critical infrastructure,” adds Jenifer Bond, vice president of U.S. state, local and education government sales at Avaya.

CCaaS services manage and track customer journeys, employee interactions with citizens and other inbound or outbound communications. These are tracked across voice and digital channels, such as email, web chat and text messaging. The advantage here is that communities naturally want to interact with state and local governments through their preferred channels. CCaaS solutions offer omnichannel engagement, making a citizen’s interaction with its government more flexible and streamlined. The result is deeper constituent trust, Khan says.

Implementing a CCaaS solution means organizations can do away with on-premises call centers in favor of more flexible call centers operating entirely in the cloud.

EXPLORE: A scheduled callback solution reduces waiting in phone queues.

How Can State and Local Governments Use UCaaS?

UCaaS is another cloud-based solution that brings together calling, meetings, video, messaging and other communication technologies into a single platform. UCaaS solutions aim to improve communication and collaboration both internally and with external partners.

“State and local government agencies look to UCaaS to enable remote and hybrid work with the added capability of streamlining employee communications and boosting productivity,” Khan says.

“State and local governments can use UCaaS to expand their communication options, moving beyond simple voice into chat and messaging as well as video meetings,” Bond says. “An employee can have one number for voice, texting and fax, and that number carries across all of that employee’s devices, available wherever he or she is, simplifying the process of collaboration by eliminating technology burdens.”

CCaaS Vs. UCaaS: How Do They Differ?

Generally, CCaaS solutions aim to help public-facing teams engage with their communities and, for the public sector, enhance the overall citizen experience. By contrast, UCaaS solutions are more focused on bolstering internal collaboration via features such as videoconferencing, cloud calling and messaging.

Jenifer Bond
The seamless integration of UCaaS and CCaaS enables swift coordination between agencies, providing real-time information to citizens and managing high call volumes efficiently.”

Jenifer Bond Vice President of U.S. State, Local and Education Government Sales, Avaya

As TechTarget describes, “UCaaS connects an organization's employees to each other, while CCaaS connects customer service and sales representatives to the company's customers.”

“Deploying one or both solutions depends on an organization’s communications goals,” Khan says. “The biggest challenge many public sector organizations face is ensuring consistency of service and that advanced features of both solutions are fully leveraged to improve the citizen experience.”

How Can CCaaS and UCaaS Solutions Work Together?

The two cloud communication solutions fill slightly different niches but complement each other. For example, frontline government employees could interact with the public through a contact center while simultaneously engaging with knowledge workers and SMEs throughout their organization for background information and additional details that they can relay to constituents.

Such a setup involves implementing a unified, single-vendor platform that contains both CCaaS and UCaaS. Doing so could help with such essential public services as emergency response. “During a crisis, such as a natural disaster or public health emergency, the seamless integration of UCaaS and CCaaS enables swift coordination between agencies, providing real-time information to citizens and managing high call volumes efficiently,” Bond says.

Khan offers another example from Cisco.

“If constituents consistently raise the same point of view or issue, agents can relay this information to the appropriate representative to enable data-driven public-policy decisions,” he says. “The city of Buffalo uses constituent feedback from its 311 call center, which uses Cisco’s Webex Contact Center technology, to inform investments in the city’s Operation Clean Sweep initiative, targeting issues such as potholes, broken streetlights and street cleaning.”

Khan contends that the customer experience and the employee experience are connected. “This is why 66 percent of decision-makers want a combined UCaaS and CCaaS solution, according to a Forrester study commissioned by Webex,” he says. “By using an integrated UCaaS and CCaaS solution, organizations can have a full view of every interaction with the public and share insights gained from inbound and outbound inquiries across departments.”

DIVE DEEPER: Better decisions improve outcomes for public safety.

What to Consider Before Implementing CCaaS and UCaaS?

The digital transformation process within state and local government agencies needs to be smooth and safe, providing employees with the right tools while also meeting the privacy and security needs of the public. Naturally, working with trusted partners and vendors is key, and security must be a major factor in implementing the right solution.

Ultimately, how an organization embraces cloud-based communication solutions should be based on need.

At the end of the day, Bond says, cloud-based solutions come with a number of benefits, including scalability, cost efficiency, flexibility, security and open interoperability. Cloud-based solutions are an ideal fit for today’s work environment, as they provide accessibility from anywhere, enabling agency employees to work remotely to ensure continuity of operations and bolster employee well-being. UCaaS and CCaaS solutions also generally provide full-time, dedicated IT operations staff who are responsible for complying with service-level agreements.

“Modern UCaaS and CCaaS solutions leverage open, industry-standard protocols and application programming interfaces, enabling communication and interoperability across borders — between various agencies, and between agencies and citizens,” she says. “By eliminating the need for extensive on-premises hardware and infrastructure, cloud-based solutions offer cost savings and ensure that the costs mirror the government’s business volumes and requirements, thus delivering value when and where it is needed. Using these services, governments can allocate budgets more effectively and invest in critical areas.”

ArtemisDiana/Getty Images

Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.