Approximately 45 percent of medium-sized businesses use some type of conferencing technology.
report from IT research firm IDC found increasing SMB interest in a broad range
of enterprise and consumer communications capabilities, including voice over IP
(VOIP); conferencing technologies that support audio, Web and video; and
unified messaging, which integrates voice and data messaging. Still, the report
noted relatively few have implemented a comprehensive, end-to-end unified
communications (UC) system that can deliver connectivity and collaboration
capabilities beyond the sum of its separate parts.
than one-third of small businesses (firms with less than 100 employees) and
nearly three-quarters of medium-size companies (firms with 100-999 employees)
currently own at least one unified communications component technology. The
report found SMB interest in adding UC technologies is considerable: More than
30 percent of small firms and 55 percent of midsize firms cite plans to add at
least one UC component in the next 12 months.
researchers noted VOIP technology has established a solid foothold in the
medium-size business segment, and more than 30 percent of firms with 100 to 999
employees use it. IDC said it believes the relative reluctance of smaller firms
to deploy VOIP technology may be due to multiple factors, including lack of
awareness, unwillingness to invest in new telecommunications infrastructure,
and a perception of VOIP as being less secure and providing lower call quality
and less resilience during power outages.
SMB business and IT priorities relate to communication and collaboration,"
says Justin Jaffe, research manager for SMB and remote worker/home business
research at IDC. "SMBs are interested in both underlying capabilities and
specific UC technologies. The real challenge for vendors is to effectively
connect the benefits of unified communications to improved business
performance. Show how UC can make a real difference in productivity and
efficiency, and SMBs will flock to it."
economic downturn underscored the importance of expense management, especially
for midmarket companies, and restrictions on business travel have contributed
to the popularity of virtual alternatives to in-person meetings, the report
said. Approximately 45 percent of medium-size businesses currently use some
type of conferencing technology.
SMB ownership of mobile resources-from smartphones to notebooks to media
tablets-continues to increase along with interest in supporting remote workers,
adoption of unified messaging remains modest. With that noted, the percentage
of firms citing plans to add it in the next 12 months has increased since the
previous IDC survey.
the report, "Unified Communications in U.S. Small and Medium-Sized
Business, 2011: Growing Demand for Communication, Collaboration, and
Connectivity-But Integration Remains Elusive," IDC examines SMB use of
telephony and communications technologies that are part of unified
communications. Technology categories examined include VOIP telephony, audio
conferencing, Web conferencing and video conferencing. Also examined is unified
messaging, which integrates voice, email and messaging platforms across
desktops and mobile devices.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, 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.