Smb telephony unified communications ip telephony

SMB Telephony: Unified Communications, IP Telephony

According to research by Springboard Research, adoption of unified communications in Australia is in the early stages of development. However the same survey, conducted with 469 CIO’s and business owners, also states 33% of SMB’s are planning on adopting some form of unified communications in 2009. Pundits agree the market is about to boom, but what is all the hype about?
If done right, unified communications is a collaborative technology that gives users the ability to make the connections they want no matter what device they happen to be closest to. That’s because moving all communications to the IP network transforms traditional multimedia end-points, such as PC’s, smartphones and IP telephones into fully functional communication devices, allowing you to get what you need wherever you are. A good definition offered by UniComm Consulting is «communications integrated to optimize business processes».
UC has its roots, and its largest adoption rates, among the enterprise elite. But no longer is it a privilege reserved for the enterprise. Small to mid-sized businesses (SMB) are adopting UC in droves. One factor fostering SMB UC adoption is user’s increasing comfort with tools such as instant messaging, social networking and mobility applications, said Simon Edwards, UC project director, British Telecom (BT).
One of the key factors not yet mentioned is perhaps the most important. Shifting from a traditional PABX system to a UC platform enables businesses to benefit from cost savings by using VoIP. VoIP enables SMBs to make phone calls over the IP network (if used with an IP phone) and is a cheaper alternative to the PSTN. The collaboration and mobility capabilities your business will receive from UC will help to reduce costs while raising productivity and agility. In fact, a recent survey has suggested these key reasons are the most important factors cited by SMBs like yours are adopting UC.
However, the fundamental reasons behind why UC adoption rates among SMBs are lower remain in place, namely the lack of IT expertise as well as tighter budgets. Industry heavyweights such as Cisco are doing a fantastic job of overcoming these barriers. Determined to make the communications revolution common practice among Australian SMB’s, Cisco has first acted by reducing the costs of their UC500 systems, and secondly is bringing selected channel partners up to speed with the technical and sales knowledge required to successfully implement UC solutions in the SMB space.
If you are interested in a new telephony solution but aren’t sure what the best approach is, your best bet is to contact an expert to assess the potential ROI of a new system. It’s likely you’ll be happily surprised at the result. But who should you approach? The problem here is UC and IP telephony in particular has an identity crisis. Not quite a telephony solution that is best left for telephony providers, and not a traditional IT system that can be handled by a standard IT services company, IP telephony solutions require a mix of both to produce results you’ll be boasting to your friends about.

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