Jayne Dimmick of Swyx

The case for SMB UC

Marcus Gallo of Cisco says his company has been actively involved in this market sector for some time now, with a communications suite aimed at the 8-48 market – The Smart Business Communication System.

“This was in response to huge demand for scaleable Unified Communications (UC) solutions for SMBs who increasingly want vendors to take a ‘bottom up’ approach to the solutions they provide, and this demand is as strong today as it ever was. SMBs have specific demands and they don’t just want scaled down versions of products designed for enterprise. Vendors need to identify the challenges unique to smaller businesses and design solutions around them, wrapped within a full support infrastructure for resellers.

SMBs provide a great market opportunity for resellers because when they implement UC it can fundamentally change their business, drive efficiencies and help them differentiate themselves in competitive markets. Resellers remain in a key position to support these businesses: the closer they are to the end customer’s business, the better positioned they are to provide advice and recommendations on implementations, and help communicate how UC can change the way smaller businesses operate. There are compelling ROI’s for SMBs, it’s about understanding their business and having access to relevant tools, products and solutions and ensuring that they are deployed so that they drive real business benefit.”

Where does 3Com think the PBX 25-50 user market is going? Gary Newbold,

3Com’s UK Country Manager says it is ‘moving towards voice and data convergence, and unified products that can do it all’.

“Voicemail or unified messaging is built into more and more VoIP products. Other increasingly important applications include conferencing, presence and instant messaging. VoIP solutions are much cheaper than they used to be and a great replacement for the traditional analog system. A huge number of organisations are making the move to VoIP. SMEs are not generally too concerned about the technology but all users are looking for three key things: ease of use, reliability and low cost – all of which are provided by the 3Com VCX Connect 100 all-in-one platform: an affordable IP telephony solution that brings feature-rich enterprise-calibre IP communications to small and medium-sized organisations with 25 to 100 phone users.”

Newbold adds that he believes the new value proposition for IP telephony is no longer inexpensive long-distance; it’s increased business productivity and customer service.

“This is achieved by communicationsenabling business applications, with a particular emphasis on solutions customised for a specific industry. Customers demand new alternatives and improved price/performance ratios. They want low upfront costs, pay-as-you-grow options and the best value for the investment.”


Some Questions:

Rob Pickering, Director, ipcortex thinks that, in the 25-50 user market, resellers must be cautious when selecting an IP PBX to support. “The 25- 50 user market is huge, and businesses within this bracket are displaying ever more sophisticated and varied requirements. Finding one single ‘best of all worlds’ solution that encompasses a wide range of features, flexibility and scalability can greatly reduce the investment a reseller has to make, in terms of time, effort and money.”

With this in mind, Pickering suggests the questions a reseller must consider before attempting to deploy an IP PBX within the 25-50 user market.

1. Is there a maximum number of extensions the system can support? – All businesses embrace growth and this can be particularly dramatic in the 25-50 user space – scalability is key. Can the PBX grow naturally along with clients’ businesses, without having to pay unnecessary license fees – or even worse, replace the whole unit?

2. What’s the total cost of the system? – With so much variation between business needs in the mid market bracket, it pays to find a solution with advanced functionality as standard. Many IP PBX vendors charge extra for individual functionality modules such as voicemail or queue capability and this can quickly add up. Others include a rich base feature set on all units. Always find out the total cost of the system and make sure you compare like for like.

3. What about call quality and resilience? – Switching a business from reliable ISDN or analogue lines to pure SIP trunks based on broadband may not always be the right answer. Look at whether the IP PBX supports ISDN as well as SIP connectivity options so that you can choose the most appropriate connectivity as requirements and economics change. This flexibility also allows resiliency by ensuring that the IP PBX can route calls around service outages to minimise disruption.

4. How complicated is it to make changes to the system? – As a reseller, you know that minimising installation time allows you to reduce total costs and increase margin. You need a system that’s easy to install, configure and maintain. Is the PBX simple to use and understand when adding new phones, performing general administration or changing system behaviour?

5. Is there a choice of compatible handsets available? – Every business is different, but with such a wide variety of IP handsets available, you can find a handset range suitable for every client. You need to be confident that the PBX supports a range of handsets to suit your clients’ working requirements, no matter their environment.


Education is Key

Swyx Product Marketing Director, Jayne Dimmick, reports that in the last 12 months their average system sale has risen from 22 to 45 users making this area of the market particularly popular for software-based IP telephony platforms.

“We have seen high demand from this sector for telephone systems that have in-built scaleability enabling an organisation to grow to potentially hundreds of users without major hardware upgrades or expensive call outs for continual moves and changes. SwyxWare fits the bill because it is easy to install, use, and adapt as staff leave or join.


We have also seen a shift in the way that users want to communicate. In the past, users have been reassured by the traditional deskphone, but our own sales show that this is now diminishing in favour of softphones, USB devices or indeed having calls always routed to a mobile, regardless of whether the user is in or out of the office. This trend is indicative of the move towards and recognised value of unified communications, which sees an ‘always available’ culture developing. We expect a continued rise in the popularity of softwarebased systems over the next twelve months as more and more companies become aware of the competitive advantage that UC can provide.

Ian Brindle, Head of Dealer Sales at the Manchester distributor Nimans says resellers are reaping the rewards of greater knowledge and confidence to drive sales in the 25-50 user PBX market – as they push the boundaries beyond traditional telephone functionality.

“Resellers are better educated and much more comfortable in embracing IP technologies and the different applications on offer – thanks to the support services and training provided by the distributor.

“Typically what is happening is much greater impetus with IP. It’s been a slow uptake but it’s gaining momentum all the time. More and more businesses in this arena are utilising the wrap-around applications, such as voice recording and mobile integration, which can be useful management tools.”

He continued: “These trends are increasing month on month as part of a steady progression. A lot of this can be attributed to better educated resellers. They are far more tuned-in to proposing these solutions; thinking much more strategically than just standard phone systems.

“They have built up skill bases both from a sales and technical perspective so they are more confident and comfortable in this market. They realise that if they don’t embrace new technologies there is a danger they will get left behind.”

Ian Brindleof Nimans


Reseller Feedback

Jon Singleton at comms services provider SpiriTel told us that in their recent experience customers in the 24 seat market have become much more aware of the benefits of VoIP and of Hosted VoIP.

“They are starting to understand the features of Hosted VoIP and are buying in to these facts. These being: porting numbers regardless of move location, self administration via means of a secure easy to use web server, the latest feature rich IP enabled handsets, cheap VoIP calls, free inter-company calling, lines consolidation and a host of high end PBX features like auto attendant and call groups. Not to mention the fact in most cases at this level the savings on lines and calls goes a long way to paying for the upgrade to this future proofed 21st Century Network solution.”

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