Significant ROI

By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2009-02-24 Print this article Print


According to Frost & Sullivan analyst Vanessa Alvarez, in general SMBs currently have very ad-hoc communications strategies in place. "With the SIS research suggesting that unified communications can help SMBs eliminate as much as 20 percent of hidden costs due to fragmented communications, it's clear that the return on investment is significant," Alvarez said.

Despite the current economic climate, when SMBs are hunkering down and trimming (or slashing) budgets, Hamann said midmarket companies need to consider the benefits in unified communications investments. He said many SMBs hesitate in investment, even though they recognize these pain points as a significant issue, because many SMBs don't have a complete grasp of what unified communication really means. "This comes down to education, and the smaller SMBs, the less educated they are, because it's not their main focus," he said. More education from resellers and vendors is required.

"Although we are seeing strong adoption in this market, based on this study's findings, we believe that more than 60 percent of SMBs are not currently using a UC solution and are missing out on a major opportunity to cut costs. In addition, they can gain new levels of competitiveness, productivity and collaboration," he said. "Even by assigning hard costs of more than $5,000 per employee a year for these pain points, there remains the soft costs of lost opportunities and customer dissatisfaction due to the lack of responsiveness caused by disparate communications."

As more and more SMBs turn to mobile communications solutions to stay competitive in a mobile marketplace, Hamann said SMBs must choose solutions that offer flexibility and scalability. With clients using various technologies such as VOIP, along with the plethora of mobile devices and operating systems, finding a solution that achieves widespread compatibility is no easy task, especially for small businesses with limited budgets and technical experitise.

The study found 61 percent of respondents find difficulty in establishing collaboration sessions with colleagues and average 3.3 hours per week attempting to address issues of inaccessibility or lack of full collaboration with colleagues. "An SMB with 300 people has an IT department and it becomes part of their job," Hamann said. "It comes down to consultants, to a certain degree, but primarily the resellers and the vendors to really do this training and explanation on unified communications."

These pain points also hurt business opportunities and relationships with existing clients, he said. Seventy-four percent of respondents said they average 3.3 hours per week dealing with negative comments or complaints from customers, specifically because the customer was unable to reach them in a timely fashion.

Hamann said this eight percent loss in productivity is itself significant, but the true cost of customer dissatisfaction may be much greater. "It adds up quite significantly across the overall company," he said. "Everyone who is communicating through whatever means should have felt these pain points in some way."

Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at Before joining, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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