FRAMINGHAM, 16 MARCH 2011 -
We're continuing to discuss and excerpt the results of our recent "2011 SMB Communications Plans and Priorities" State-of-the-Market Report. And even though the focus of the reports was on SMBs, it is noteworthy that responses were received from analysts and vendors within the industry and from larger companies, all are largely in agreement.
The surveyed community was presented with a number of statements with which they were asked about the extent to which they agreed, the top six of which we'll summarize here.
"Maximizing working capital and/or cash flow is a major consideration in our technology decisions," with a total of 88% of the respondents ranking it as either "Agreeing" or "Strongly agreeing" came in first. While this may be considered to be self-evident, it is nevertheless significant in that it underscores that economic considerations still reign supreme.
The third-ranking statement further underscores the importance of cost concerns to the respondents. "Minimization of TCO is the ultimate goal of using services versus in-house systems", was ranked by 83% of those surveyed as either "Agree" or "Strongly Agree".
The second-ranking statement, "Availability of the features of our office communications system to our remote employees is important" indicates that even though direct economics are very important, indirect ROI via increased productivity is also a major consideration. This is supportive of a very strong industry trend: mobility. The ability to access all information regardless of location is a key component in productivity.
The impact of mobility is also reflected in the fourth-ranking statement, "Desire to improve our ability to effectively manage e-mail, phone, text message, social networking communications. " The majority of readers will recognize this as a definition of "Unified communications."
The fifth-ranking statement, "Awareness of the ability to obtain Cloud-based IP Telephony and Unified Communications services," was a bit of a surprise in its high ranking. From our perspective, using these services in the cloud is a marvelous emerging option. The high awareness here is probably an artifact of the sampled base being among the technological elite of the SMB community.
The last of these top priorities, "Improvement of our overall operations if we enhanced our technology," simply underscores the previous statements. All priorities come down to economics, but SMBs are quite eager to pursue paths that lead to a "hard ROI" - by which they accomplish current tasks at a lower price - and a more elusive "soft ROI" - by which one ultimately saves money by employing the most current technologies.
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