SMBs Like Some UC, But Full Implementation Still Uncommon

By Craig Galbraith Comments
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Small and medium-sized businesses are showing interest in a range of enterprise and consumer communications capabilities, but few have implemented a comprehensive, end-to-end unified communications (UC) system that can deliver connectivity and collaboration capabilities beyond the sum of its separate parts.

That’s the finding of IDC’s latest report on UC for SMBs, which says that forward-looking SMBs are selectively using VoIP, conferencing and unified messaging tools. Yet relatively few are diving into the deep end.

"Many SMB business and IT priorities relate to communication and collaboration," says Justin Jaffe, research manager for Small/Medium-Sized Business and Remote Worker/Home Business research at IDC. "SMBs are interested in both underlying capabilities and specific UC technologies. The real challenge for vendors is to effectively connect the benefits of unified communications to improved business performance. Show how UC can make a real difference in productivity and efficiency and SMBs will flock to it."

The report shows that more than one-third of small businesses – fewer than 100 employees – and nearly three-quarters of medium-sized companies – 100–999 employees – currently own at least one unified communications component technology. More than 30 percent of small firms and 55 percent of midsize firms plan to add at least one UC component in the next 12 months.

Other findings of note:

  • Thirty percent of medium-sized companies use VoIP technology, while smaller firms deploy VoIP less due to lack of awareness; infrastructure costs; and concerns that the technology is less secure, lower quality and less resilient in a power outage.
  • The poor economy has SMBs watching their budgets. Virtual meetings are becoming more popular due to restrictions on travel. About 45 percent of medium-sized businesses use some type of conferencing technology.
  • Adoption of unified messaging remains modest despite a big increase in SMB ownership of mobile devices. But the percentage of firms planning to add it in the next 12 months has increased since IDC’s last survey.
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