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UCaaS vs CCaaS: What’s the Difference & Which is Best For You?

Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS) are cloud-based services that organizations can deploy to meet their business-to-business and business-to-customer communication needs, respectively. Organizations need both functions to be successful. Often, cloud-based approaches are easier to install, maintain, administer while also offering the most cutting-edge features, such as generative AI. Read on to find out the difference between UCaaS and CCaaS, as well as some key trends regarding these communications solutions.


What is UCaaS?

UCaaS is a cloud-based communications platform that incorporates multiple communication capabilities on a single platform hosted by a cloud provider. UCaaS is primarily used for internal and external business communications.

The “as a service” portion of the acronym refers to the broader category of “software as a service” (SaaS) which is an aspect of cloud computing, i.e., services that are hosted in the data centers that are built, operated, and maintained by companies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and many other companies.

Because unified communications (UC) is delivered “as a service” the UC software itself is hosted in a remote data center. The enterprise typically pays a monthly subscription (per seat license) to access the UC server software via an Internet connection, while the UCaaS application is itself installed on end user devices (desktop, laptop and tablet computers, as well as smartphones and other end points).

UCaaS combines communications capabilities such as phone calls (including VoIP calls),

instant messaging (or chat) between people or among multiple people, video conferencing, file sharing and email. UCaaS platforms often integrate with other business applications such as CRM systems and project management tools. By combining these different capabilities into a single platform, UCaaS platforms can make communication and collaboration between employees easier and more efficient.

UCaaS platforms typically replace an organization’s premises-based phone system (e.g., a private branch exchange or PBX). But, some organizations choose to maintain both systems as they gradually transition from on-premises telephony to voice calling delivered through the UCaaS platform.

For more on UCaaS, see these articles:

  • What Is UCaaS? UCaaS is a cloud-based communications platform that incorporates multiple communications capabilities on a single platform hosted by a cloud provider.
  • Trends Dominating the UCaaS Market: UCaaS offers essential, modern communications tools across multiple channels (voice, chat, video, etc.) for businesses. Check out the top 5 trends coming to UCaaS in 2024.
  • The Leading UCaaS Providers: The following article provides an overview of the leading UCaaS providers and what they offer in terms of features, functionality, integrations and/or partnerships.
  • Choosing a UCaaS Provider: UCaaS is a hot topic with many large UCaaS companies vying to become your modern UCaaS provider. A UCaaS company delivers solutions that can provide everything from plain old telephone calls, to instant messaging, to video and document collaboration, to email and calendar integration all within the convenience of the platforms of your choice.


What is CCaaS?

CCaaS is a cloud-hosted software suite optimized for managing interactions with customers and, more broadly, the entire customer experience (CX). As the term implies, CCaaS is a specialized form of software as a service (SaaS).

CCaaS is a cloud-based software solution that replaces traditional on-premises contact center infrastructure. Instead of a company owning and managing the hardware and software associated with a contact center solution, as well as handling the maintenance, upgrades, etc., it instead subscribes to the service from a CCaaS provider.

For more on CCaaS, see these articles:

  • What is Contact Center as a Service?: Are you looking for a contact center solution that offers greater flexibility and agent experiences? If so, check out this overview of contact center as a service.
  • Leading CCaaS Providers of 2024: CCaaS is a cloud-delivered suite optimized for managing interactions with customers and, more broadly, the entire customer experience. Read on for a list of some of the leading CCaaS providers.


Why You Need UCaaS and CCaaS

UCaaS is primarily intended for employees of a company to communicate and collaborate with one another. CCaaS is primarily intended for contact center agents to communicate with a company’s customers.

Some UCaaS vendors have added contact center capabilities to their platforms (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft, RingCentral and Webex). Contact center solutions, such as those on-premises solutions from Avaya or Mitel, or CCaaS solutions, such as those from 8x8, Five9, Genesys, Talkdesk, Vonage, Dialpad, Google Cloud Contact Center and Amazon Connect, have not necessarily added native UCaaS capabilities to their platforms but they all offer deep integrations to multiple UCaaS platforms.

To understand UCaaS plus CCaaS, Omdia analyst Brent Kelly says that it’s important to look back at the buying patterns for PBX and contact center that existed before UCaaS and CCaaS became available. Before them, Kelly said that between 60% and 80% of contact center purchases were made from the same vendor that provided an organization's PBX. So, the precedent to buy a “PBX plus contact center” combination has existed for many years.

Kelly said further that a organizations expect a ‘UCaaS plus CCaaS’ offering (which Omdia calls MultiCCaaS) will allow them to have more efficient operations for both IT and for the end users. “Having the same underlying platform for IT will simplify operations while having the same underlying platform will simplify interaction between the contact center and the rest of the company,” Kelly said.

But the benefits of MultiCaaS go beyond simplifying IT operations and potentially reducing costs. “Many businesses are now giving contact center seats to other CX-facing roles like customer success, sales, marketing, and account managers,” said analyst Zeus Kerravala.

The underlying idea here is that ‘uniting’ the customer and agent more quickly/directly with an organization’s "internal knowledge worker who has the answer" will improve customer experience (CX) while also reducing some load on contact center agents. There are challenges to this approach, one of which is just that internal knowledge workers (KWs) do not necessarily have the necessary skillset or disposition to deal directly with customers and that forcing them to do so may prove counterproductive.

That said, Omdia analyst Mila D’Antonio believes this approach to CX – looping internal KWs into CX – will become the primary customer service model in the coming years especially as AI technology advances and adoption of (generative) AI in the contact center grows.

“I think we are seeing businesses adopt this next phase of customer service where subject matter experts across the enterprise and even outside of the enterprise, become “expert agents” who take the specialized or complex calls,” D’Antonio said. “These are the calls that get escalated to a higher-level professional.”



UCaaS and CCaaS can be seen as two sides of the same coin. Organizations need both to be successful.