While Unified Communications (News - Alert) (UC) can provide significant improvements in both operation and cost for companies of all sizes, recent research has shown that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are backing off of their drive to implement such technologies — at least for the time being.
According to recent InfoTech research on the SMB market demand for UC, roughly 70 percent of U.S. SMBs are implementing, trialing or planning to implement UC applications. These plans however, are not always meshing with IT budgets.
Cutbacks in IT spending have had an impact on about 25 percent of those reporting companies, resulting in significant changes to their implementation plans of IP Telephony and UC applications for 2008.
These changes include:
- 15 percent of SMBs polled said their IPT plans are now on hold;
- 13 percent said their UC plans have been put on the back burner; and
- 10 percent have instituted major reductions in both their IPT and UC apps implementation plans.
“Despite these cutbacks in 2008 spending, the SMB decision makers were actually more optimistic about their implementation of UC applications in the future,” according to Terry White, senior program director/InfoTrack for Converged Communications, in a Monday statement. Converged Communications conducted this study. “In our 2008 survey, U.S. SMBs expected higher attach rates in 2012 for six out of the eight UC applications, compared with our 2007 survey results.”
Attach rate is the percentage of IPT shipments that will include a specific UC application.
The study, InfoTrack for Unified Communications: 2008 SMB Market Analysis, analyzes the market demand of more than 200 SMBs for the following eight categories of UC applications: Unified Messaging; UC clients; Mobile UC clients; Voice over Wireless LAN; real-time audio conferencing; Web conferencing; desktop videoconferencing solutions; and IP contact centers.
For small businesses, the UC application that had the highest increase in attach rate was Voice over WLAN. For medium businesses, the biggest advance in attach rate was for desktop videoconferencing.
“Both U.S. and international SMBs are optimistic about their progression to the more advanced phases,” White noted. “These SMB decision makers clearly believe in the potential value of UC applications, but many are expecting their IPT and UC apps vendors to help them identify the best opportunities for realizing this potential value.”
SMBs are facing what many organizations must always deal with: how to implement efficient solutions while staying within budget initiatives. While UC applications have proven to enhance communications while also reducing costs, upfront investments can add up when making implementations. As this study shows, UC vendors will have to be creative to educate SMBs on the long-term benefits of the higher investment now.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
For more on the benefits of Unified Communications solutions, and to meet the vendors developing them, be sure to attend Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO (News - Alert) will take place in Los Angeles, California, September 16-18, 2008, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss — including conference sessions dedicated to UC. Don’t wait. Register now!
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.