The Channel Perspective
UC is Even More Beneficial to Post-Recession SMBs
It is said that small- and medium-sized businesses feel the impacts of a recession earlier than large companies, but they also recover faster. Well here’s a newsflash: We’re in a recovery, and SMBs are starting to buy again, albeit with a critical eye. This is good news for the channel, because unified communications lends itself easily to a positive discussion around improved efficiency and return on investment.
Better news still, SMB executives have more than likely heard about UC by now. Many of them, however, are still unclear about whether their organizations actually need it. While enterprises of all sizes can leverage UC for improved communications efficiency, SMBs can use it to respond to their unique set of challenges. As companies emerge smarter from the recession, SMBs can leverage UC as a practical tool to increase productivity and focus on strategic growth opportunities.
Those familiar with UC know it consolidates different communication modes (voice, data and video) and provides anywhere, anytime access to applications and resources through a single interface. It adds real-time status and availability capabilities via presence to each communication or collaboration application. It also reduces management and maintenance costs through the integration of voice, data and conferencing.
While UC benefits enterprises of all sizes, its greatest value for the SMB lies in its ability to help users multitask more efficiently. Employee roles at SMBs tend to be a lot less defined than they are in larger firms. As a result, SMB employees perform different tasks that cover many different areas of responsibility relying – for the most part – on disparate, antiquated systems to manage and transition between them all.
In the age of information overload, UC improves collaboration, providing tools that bring users and information together. The typical set of employee communication tools includes a cell phone, desk phone, e-mail and fax. UC pulls together all these different modes of communication, allowing users to access messages from them all from a single desktop or mobile interface. Presence allows users to locate the people they need, when (and how) they need them; and, voice and video collaboration makes it easy for them to access, share and use information. By breaking down communication silos, UC makes it easy for SMB employees who wear different hats to switch from one task – or role – to another and get more done, faster.
Mobility is another one of UC’s key components that responds to current SMB trends.
According to IDC (News - Alert)1, SMBs’ adoption of converged, mobile devices and services will drastically increase through 2012, indicating a drastic increase in the segment’s mobility. UC also allows users to move seamlessly from one mode of communication and device to another, based on where they are and how they would like to communicate. This makes it easy for employees to get more done while traveling, working from home or other remote locations.
While UC is certainly a worthwhile investment for competitive advantage, SMBs should consider it the next step — rather than the endpoint — to a much higher communications transformation within the organization. As the pace of business gets faster, UC sets the foundation for communication-enabled business processes, which allow SMBs to streamline workflows and more quickly communicate critical information associated with employees, customers, partners and suppliers.
Roles-based communication takes CEBP a step further by coordinating solutions based on the specific roles employees play within specific processes. It enhances critical intelligence faster so that employees can innovate, make decisions and close deals sooner.
SMBs survived the economic downturn by doing more with less, improving productivity and focusing on strategic growth opportunities. UC provides the most effective collaboration and communication tools available to help SMBs increase productivity, customer satisfaction and response to a more mobile workforce. As SMBs search for new ways to cope with the results of the new economy, leveraging UC helps them improve responsiveness as well as growth and propel business to new levels. IT
1 IDC. “Worldwide SMB Converged Mobile Device 2008-2012 Forecast and Analysis.” 2008.