Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are adopting unified communication (UC) services in much larger numbers than ever before. According to a Jabra market survey, approximately two-thirds of SMBs will either add UC or replace existing systems with UC in the next one to two years.
Why are SMBs now going out en masse to adopt UC? CDN posed the question to Yves Dupuis, senior vice president of global enterprise solutions at Jabra, who cited three key reasons for the growing adoption: an increasing need and want for this type of technology, a decrease in barriers preventing SMBs from adopting UC in the first place, and the cloud.
SMBs want UC
“The notion and importance of productivity and concentration in small businesses creates an ever increasing need to collaborate. Many users within small businesses are multi-taskers, and they require technology that is flexible and efficient, something UC allows them to be,” said Dupuis. “There is the opportunity to manage your call structure with heightened collaboration and when you can take advantage of screen sharing and joint presentations, you don’t need to get in a car or get on a plane.”
The need for technology that does take advantage of features such as screen sharing comes with people becoming more and more familiar with consumer technology like Skype and Whatsaap. Market acceptance for UC-like technology has grown as businesses seek services that are similar to what they may use in their personal lives on consumer platforms.
Barriers to entry for SMBs have lessened exponentially in the last few years. Between cost and complexity, the adoption of a UC platform hasn’t always been the smoothest process.
A decrease in barriers
A pretty significant component of the increase in UC adoption is the friendlier cost of adoption. As the technology matures, more competitors enter the market vying for success. An increase in scalability, with many UC products making it easy to add or remove a user or device, and the overall increase of variety in the market that allows businesses to pick and choose what types of UC work best for them, instead of having to stick to one large package, also have led to the decrease in cost.
“The channel should try and make UC as simple and scalable as it can be. UC that has been very successful has been able to make it quite easy for their customers to make changes and add or remove either licenses or devices. That scalability and simplicity in doing business with SMBs is really key for the channel,” said Dupuis.
On the cloud
The cloud is the present, not the future, and that has a significant impact in the appeal of UC for SMBs as businesses look towards the cloud for services. The notion of cloud has allowed for off-premises solutions to move toward hosted UC and hosted voice providers.
“The cloud on the technology level has really been a key event. It is sort of a catalyst more so than the trigger for small businesses to feel confident and comfortable with the technology,” Dupuis said.
How the channel can help customers
When speaking about the amount of SMBs moving toward UC, it is important to remember that a significant portion are investing in UC for the first time. This is where the channel comes in by providing education for SMBs.
“Education can’t be under stressed, it is really critical,” said Dupuis. “We are talking about companies who are likely making their first investment into this type of technology, and they will have questions that need to be answered so that the implementation of UC is as painless as possible.”
Bad experiences with UC installation can halt deployment entirely. A common problem is a business buying the service or devices, but then don’t have the appropriate or supporting hardware to make the experience a success. The channel can bring awareness and education on UC to customers, and create solutions that alleviate those worries to fix those problems.