Ready to Bring Cloud-Based UC to Your SMB?
Top Factors to Consider
Businesses of every size are beginning to embrace cloud communications, as they learn how the cloud can help them reduce costs, manage complexity, and improve productivity. According to industry analyst firm IDC, this ongoing increase in adoption is helping to, in turn, drive the adoption of cloud-based unified communications (UC) and UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS), particularly for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs).
At first, SMBs were cautious and on the slow side in regards to adopting UC, particularly when compared to larger enterprises. Making the jump to cloud-based UC can be a major shift, so organizations with smaller IT departments or budgets had cause to hesitate. However, UCaaS solutions typically require little in the way of up-front investment, are highly scalable, and are simple to deploy and use. As such, SMBs have found UC cloud services to be ideally suited for their needs.
There are many compelling benefits to cloud-based UC: lower costs, more flexibility to accommodate mobile and remote workers, and feature-rich systems. That said, there are still some barriers to UCaaS adoption, including concerns about security, reliability, and overall costs.
In an AT&T-sponsored white paper, IDC outlined several aspects that SMBs considering implementing a UCaaS solution should keep in mind. This includes:
Mobility has always been a driver for UCaaS, and demand will continue to grow as SMBs realize the benefits they can receive from integrating mobile capacities with UCaaS, including the ability to access key UC&C apps and services from a single mobile device. Be on the lookout for cloud service providers that can enhance and differentiate their UCaaS offerings by integrating mobile capabilities with UC functionality.
Migrating to UCaaS often requires a shift in focus, from tactical and near-term considerations to more strategic and transformative benefits. While the short-run benefits may be hard to see, UCaaS pays off in the long run by driving productivity gains, enabling employee collaboration, and facilitating faster decision-making. All of these pay off in due time, even if the immediate monetary benefits aren't apparent.
While more businesses are starting to adopt UCaaS, the usage rates for capabilities such as integration of business apps and business social networking remain relatively low. This suggests that many SMBs do need to put more of a focus on driving adoption and integrating UCaaS fully into their existing business processes, rather than setting it at the table and seeing who tries to use it. After all, employees need to use the UC&C services to gain their benefits.
Education and Training
When setting SMBs up with UC&C services, it's vital that cloud service providers use a consultative approach. They need to help SMBs understand the benefits of and use cases for UCaaS, so that they can make the most of the many benefits it can provide. After all, as the saying goes, knowledge is power, and a provider that goes the extra step in training and education will earn their client's business.
UCaaS solutions need to be easy to purchase, install, and use. Often times, SMBs lack the in-house skills or resources needed to deploy and support UCaaS, so they rely on their cloud service providers. The faster and easier it is to get set up with UCaaS, the better for all parties involved.
Pricing Model Shift
Cloud-based UC&C/UCaaS typically uses a flat-rate, pay-as-you-go pricing model. SMBs tend to appreciate this, as it helps eliminate confusion about the often-complicated pricing schemes and volume discounts of other services, while streamlining the purchase/payment process. This kind of pricing model also allows high degrees of scalability and flexibility, so that SMBs can meet their budget and usage requirements without jumping through extra hoops.
For more in-depth information about cloud-based UC&C strategies and solutions for SMBs, and to see what AT&T Collaborate solutions have to offer, you can register to download the IDC white paper: "Cloud UC&C: SMB Benefits and Concerns.