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5/28/2008
06:43 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
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Unified Communications Confounds Small Businesses

Vendors love to talk up the benefits of Unified Communications, but an exclusive study of small and midsize companies by bMighty.com suggests that many companies are not yet getting the message.

Vendors love to talk up the benefits of Unified Communications, but an exclusive study of small and midsize companies by bMighty.com suggests that many companies are not yet getting the message.Despite the best efforts of vendors ranging from Cisco to Avaya to Microsoft and more, the bMighty.com research reveals that more than two-thirds of small and midsize companies still draw a blank when confronted with the term "unified communications."

Yet when provided with a definition -- the integration of multiple modes of communications (voice, e-mail, instant messaging, etc.) with business processes -- nearly three-quarters indicate familiarity with the technologies involved.

But familiarity doesn't necessarily lead to desire. Two-thirds of SMBs say that UC is more expensive than traditional telecom options, while a slight majority say it's too early for smaller companies to implement UC. Concerns about integration and complexity also crop up, along with the difficulty of calculating ROI when any benefits are spread throughout the company.

While UC proponents such as Don Van Doren, principal of Unicomm Consulting, like to pitch UC's ability to save up to $200,000 per user by transforming business processes, eliminating communications bottlenecks, reducing cycle times, eliminating process steps, and lowering staff requirements, smaller companies aren't yet buying in. Only 16% see UC as a way to gain competitive advantage.

Here's what SMBs DO find valuable in UC: most-valuable-uc-features

You can see more charts from the report in this slideshow, or you can download the entire research report (free; registration required).

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