If Australia is any indication, small businesses are not taking full advantage of the technology available to them.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) just released a new report that showed that while 39 percent of medium-sized businesses in the region use VoIP for their communications services, only 28 percent of small businesses do the same.
This concerned the ACMA, as it means that small businesses are being left behind.
“Collectively SMEs are big players in the Australian economy,” said the ACMA in a statement. “[They are] estimated to account for 69 percent of the total Australian workforce and 57 percent of total business income earned during 2011–12.”
The report suggested that small businesses should be outsourcing their communications more; only 17 percent of Australian small and medium-sized businesses currently outsource their communication needs.
This is despite nearly half of the respondents reporting that they currently use cloud services such as Web-based email or cloud storage.
The ACMA suggested that small businesses lack the digital confidence to transition properly to the new medium as trends and technologies change.
This is a pity, because VoIP offers a number of advantages for small business.
First, there are the general advantages of the technology that benefit all businesses that adopt VoIP: the cost of calling is greatly reduced thanks to leveraging the Internet as a transmission medium, with most business VoIP plans offering flat-rate long distance. There are added features that typically come along with VoIP, including auto-attendant functionality and call hunting. Mobility also is increased with VoIP.
Small businesses have more to gain than their larger counterparts, though, because VoIP also levels the playing field when it comes to telecommunications. VoIP enables small businesses to use the same technologies that large firms use, and this allows them to better serve customers while staying in budget.
Larger firms have had auto-attendants and full-featured company directories for years, complete with toll-free numbers. Until the arrival of VoIP, however, such functionality has largely been unavailable to smaller firms. This change enables these smaller firms to no longer appear smaller and more amateur by comparison, since VoIP brings these capabilities to all.
Clearly, small business is leaving some of its opportunities on the table.
Edited by Blaise McNamee