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October 16, 2006

Deloitte: Multi-Site SMBs Seek More Appropriate VoIP Solutions

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Senior Editor

Recently, more and more VoIP providers have taken note of the underserved small to medium-sized business (SMBs) market, and begun offering solutions designed specifically for smaller companies. But, not all SMBs are the same.
In a recent survey of 100 executives in a variety of industries (including financial services, real estate, and healthcare), consultancy Deloitte found that one segment of the SMB market particularly in need of solutions better tailored to its specific needs is smaller companies with multiple sites.
Multi-site SMBs, Deloitte said, are more likely than their single-site counterparts to purchase VoIP solutions, yet too often they find their needs not being addressed.
Specifically, SMBs with multiple sites are looking for scaled, affordable services—and in many cases, aren’t finding them.
“Many SMBs are too large to be satisfied with a T1 line and too small to afford or to manage a DS3 connection,” said Deloitte analyst Jan Woodcock, in a statement.
Scalability is a key element here, Deloitte said. So is the availability of tailored solutions that package together voice, data and managed services. Because of their size, SMBs find it difficult to negotiate competitive rates, so providers need to come to the market with solutions at appropriate price-points. Providers that understand the needs of SMBs stand to reap the rewards.
The Deloitte survey found that, when it comes to wireline spending, “a company with a single site that spends $100 on voice spends an additional $27 on data,” but “when the number of sites increases to between two and five, a company that spends $100 on voice spends $114 on data.” The number jumps to $140 for SMBs with more than five sites.
These numbers are important because the more sites an SMB has, the more likely that the company will turn to VoIP. Data from the Deloitte survey indicates that 18 percent of single-site SMBs use VoIP, while more than 70 percent of multi-site SMBs use the technology.
Providers need to pay attention to more than just the numbers, though. Deloitte noted that SMBs place more emphasis on trusted sources with good customer service than brand loyalty.
What all this comes down to is that, apparently, providing VoIP for SMBs is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Instead, customization and good, old-fashioned customer service is the key to success.
Mae Kowalke previously wrote for Cleveland Magazine in Ohio and The Burlington Free Press in Vermont. To see more of her articles, please visit Mae Kowalke’s columnist page.

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