January 17, 2012

2012 SMB Communications Plans and Priorities

  • TCO Rules - and Cloud-Based UC Provides Solutions 
  • A Webtorials State-of-the-Market Report
  • Steven Taylor, Joanie Wexler, and Leslie Barteaux

SMBs are tasked with the divergent goals of controlling costs while improving their technological and competitive advantage amid a virtual commerce market in which businesses of many sizes and shapes can compete with one another.  SMBs are growing increasingly aware of cloud-based technologies and services, which can provide an avenue for beefing up communications and customer relationship management capabilities to rival the cutting-edge solutions in use in the largest enterprises without having to invest in an entire hardware and software infrastructure to do so. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud offerings for UC, for example, help SMBs enhance communications with local, traveling and home-based employees, as well as with customers and partners, without having to buy, manage and update server equipment, operating systems, application packages and per-user licenses.

Minimizing impact on TCO, maximizing their working capital/cash flow and markedly improving their overall operations (particularly in the area of communications) are the factors driving the business decisions of these SMBs.  Proposals to upgrade their technological advantage are more likely to be embraced if presented with assistance in calculating the savings SMBs are likely to realize in doing so.

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Please note that this report was made possible in part due to the generous support of Fonality.

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In this annual "State-of-the-Market" update, we look at SMBs - a critical component of our overall economy that is often overlooked by our industry - and examine the "pain points," the importance of various factors to their success, and how Unified Communications can be of immense help in addressing these issues.

Of special interest, we use our unique "Importance vs. Difficulty" index to examine the relative importance of a number of important factors and how difficult each of the factors is to accomplish.

It is somewhat surprising that in this case there is an almost linear relationship between what is important and what is difficult. For instance, "TCO" is by far both the most important and the most difficult to accomplish. By contrast, "Adhering to Technical Standards" is below the norm when asked for a strict ranking, and also among the easier to achieve.

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