FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--New research from International Data Corporation (IDC) finds increasing small and medium-sized business (SMB) interest in a broad range of enterprise and consumer communications capabilities. Forward-looking SMBs are selectively using a range of tools including voice-over-IP (VoIP); conferencing technologies that support audio, Web, and video; and unified messaging, which integrates voice and data messaging. Still, 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.
"Many SMB business and IT priorities relate to communication and collaboration," says Justin Jaffe, research manager for Small/Medium-Sized Business 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."
Key findings from this study include the following:
- More than one-third of small businesses (firms with less than 100 employees) and nearly three-quarters of medium-sized companies (firms with 100–999 employees) currently own at least one unified communications component technology. SMB interest in adding UC technologies is considerable: more than 30% of small firms and 55% of midsize firms cite plans to add at least one UC component in the next 12 months.
- VoIP technology has established a solid foothold in the medium-sized business segment, and more than 30% of firms with 100–999 employees use it. IDC 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. All of these concerns can and should be addressed by vendors.
- The economic downturn underscored the importance of expense management, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, and restrictions on business travel have contributed to the popularity of virtual alternatives to in-person meetings. Approximately 45% of medium-sized businesses currently use some type of conferencing technology.
- Although 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. That noted, the percentage of firms citing plans to add it in the next 12 months has increased since the previous IDC survey.
In Unified Communications in U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Business, 2011: Growing Demand for Communication, Collaboration, and Connectivity – But Integration Remains Elusive (IDC #230314), IDC examines U.S. small and medium-sized business (SMB) use of telephony and communications technologies that are part of unified communications. Technology categories examined include voice over IP telephony, audioconferencing, Web conferencing, and videoconferencing. Also examined is unified messaging, which integrates voice, email, and messaging platforms across desktop and mobile device.
A related document, also to be published in October 2011, IDC U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Business Special Market Update, August 2011: SMB Unified Communications Market Attracts Interest From IT Vendors (forthcoming), details new SMB unified communications solutions from WebEx, 8x8, Panasonic, Grandstream, Broadcore, LG-Ericsson Fonality, and Toshiba.
International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. For more than 47 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting www.idc.com.
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