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September 09, 2008
September 09, 2008

Unified Communications for SMBs: SaaS Makes Sense

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Senior Editor

Unified communications. No doubt, you’ve heard that phrase before. And, if you own a small to medium-sized business (SMB), or are in charge of a smaller company’s IT purchases, you may be deciding whether it makes sense to deploy a UC solution. Likewise if you work for a carrier or network operator that is considering adding UC for SMBs to its portfolio.

If weighing the pros and cons of UC for the SMB environment is as far as you’ve got, jump-starting the next step likely will require getting some advice from those in the know. A good starting point would be to plan on attending INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO next week in L.A., and check out the “Defining the Business Case for Unified Communications” panel, presented in part by Jon Doyle (News - Alert), vice president of business development at CommuniGate.
As the title suggests, this panel will examine the business case for uniting various SMB communications systems and tools — including PBXs and IP PBXs, Internet, voicemail, fax, and cellphone integration — to boost efficiency and productivity while reducing communications-related costs.
Doyle told TMCnet that his perspective will be different from those of his fellow panelists  —David Yedwab from Market Strategy and Analytics, Jeff Szczepanski from Allworx (News - Alert), and David Schenkel from ObjectWorld Communications — because the other companies represented don’t sell UC systems per se, but rather IP PBXs that can be part of a UC solution.
“We offer a full, end-to-end unified communications solution,” Doyle said.
CommuniGate’s UC solution is sold directly to carriers, who then resell it to SMBs. This means, Doyle said, the company’s intended audience for this particular panel is both carriers/network operators and SMB owners/IT decision makers.
Doyle emphasized that it’s not just offering a full UC solution that matters, but how such a solution is delivered. His contribution to the panel will focus on how UC can be deployed using the Software-as-a-Service model — and why it makes sense for SMBs to consider SaaS (News - Alert) delivery for UC.
“All enterprises struggle with trying to put everything on-premise, especially in the United States because of bandwidth problems,” Doyle told TMCnet. “Getting UC as a hosted solution from a provider makes a lot more sense.”
He added that the issues with on-premises UC don’t end with bandwidth limitations.
“There are also complexity issues,” Doyle said. “If you're a law firm or a doctor's office, you don't have the skill set in-house or a big IT shop to integrate unified communications. It's better to just get it as a turnkey package.”
So, if you’re curious about whether it makes sense to deploy UC at your SMB, or if you’re a carrier considering selling UC to SMBs, head over to the “Defining the Business Case for Unified Communications” panel on Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 9:15 a.m. (Pacific Time).

Mark your calendars for 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. Register now!

Mae Kowalke is senior editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae's articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Mae Kowalke


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