Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) is on the rise amongst small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), according to new research commissioned by Aastra. The research reveals that the widest adoption of UCC amongst SMBs is by organisations with multiple offices or homeworkers, where UCC tools such as audio and videoconferencing, IM (Instant Messaging) and unified messaging can deliver tangible benefits by connecting remote teams and enhancing productivity.
The research was conducted by Frost and Sullivan amongst 315 global channel partners to gain an insight about the perceived benefits and adoption of UCC tools among SMBs. Entitled “The True Value of UCC to Small and Medium-sized Business Customers: Why They Can’t Thrive Without It,” the research examines the importance of UCC tools to SMB customers, the key barriers to adoption and the support needed by channel partners to accelerate widespread use of UCC.
Key findings include:
•Almost three-quarters of partners believe that the main benefits SMBs seek from UCC tools are cost reduction and enhanced productivity.
•Partner perceptions vary, however, based on partner degree of involvement and type of engagement with end-user organizations. IT consultants are most optimistic with 61 percent of respondents in this group stating that SMBs have a large focus on a UCC strategy.
•According to 81% of partners, ease of use is the top UCC purchasing criterion for SMBs.
•The most widely deployed UCC tools amongst SMBs are audio conferencing (83%) and VoIP/IP PBX (81%), followed by Unified Messaging (69%) and fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) (66%).
The study also looked into the relationships between vendors and partners in driving accelerated UCC adoption. It highlighted a greater need for partners to educate customers about the business benefits of various UCC tools and to train customers on how to use these tools more effectively. It also revealed that partners would benefit from more extensive training from their vendors.
The barriers to adoption amongst SMBs, according to the research, include small budgets, limited internal IT resources and a concentrated workforce. More than half of the surveyed partners cited integration costs (54%) and license costs (51%) as the main barriers to SMB adoption of advanced UCC.
According to Alan Reeve, Managing Director, Aastra UK, “As the market leader in communications for small and medium-sized businesses in Europe*, it is important that we share these insights with the channel community. The findings not only provide a valuable insight into the reality of the SMB market but also reinforce that the latest enhancements to the Aastra 400, such as being even simpler to install, easier to manage and more cost-effective, are in tune with the market requirements.”
Elka Popova, Program Director, Unified Communications & Collaboration, at Frost & Sullivan, comments, “While this study confirms previous Frost & Sullivan findings that SMBs have a more conservative approach than larger businesses when it comes to UCC investments, it also confirms significant opportunities for vendors and partners to drive UCC forward amongst SMBs. As macro-economic conditions improve, SMBs are likely to switch their focus from more tactical objectives, such as immediate cost savings, to more strategic objectives such as gaining a competitive advantage through enhanced productivity and accelerated decision-making. A solution-centric partner sales approach focusing on ease of use, aided by greater vendor discounts and continued partner training, will boost demand for UCC tools in the SMB market.”
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