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The True Value of UCC to Small and Medium-sized Business Customers in Conjunction with Aastra

This study confirms previous Frost & Sullivan findings that small and medium-sized businesses take a more conservative approach than larger businesses when it comes to unified communications and collaboration (UCC) investments. Frost & Sullivan defines UCC as an integrated set of voice, data, and video communications applications, all of which leverage PC and telephony-based presence information. Smaller budgets, limited internal IT resources, and a more concentrated workforce represent typical barriers to UCC adoption among SMBs. A Web-based survey methodology was utilized. The data were collected from November 2012 to February 2013, and the survey included 315 global channel partners.

Research Objectives

The primary objective of this research is to assess channel partners’ opinions regarding the perceived benefits and adoption of unified communications and collaboration (UCC) tools among small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers.

In order to support this primary objective, this research will also:
• Measure the strategic focus on and adoption of UCC tools among SMBs
• Identify the key barriers to advanced UCC tool adoption in the SMB segment
• Measure the adoption of various types of communications endpoints among SMBs
• Determine the perceived benefits and importance of UCC tools to SMB customers
• Identify the key decision makers in UCC investments and determine their key investment criteria
• Measure partner expectations for future demand for UCC tools in the SMB segment
• Identify partner strategies for success and partner expectations for better vendor support in serving SMB customers
• Discover some key differences in UCC perceptions according to the type of partner and by world region

Methods

Methodology
A Web-based survey methodology was utilized. The data were collected from November 2012 to February 2013.

Sample
A survey of Xglobal channel partners was conducted.

Reporting Notes
Frost & Sullivan defines SMBs as entities and organizations with X– employees.
Due to rounding, percentages in charts and tables may not equalX percent.

UCC Definition
Frost & Sullivan defines UCC as an cohesive set of voice, data, and video communications applications that influence presence information from personal computers (PCs) and telephony. A UCC solution may be comprised of the following applications: telephony; voice/unified messaging; presence; instant messaging (IM); audio, Web, and video conferencing; e-mail; mobility; teamspaces; file sharing; social networking; and more. In this study, UCC refers to both integrated and disparate deployments of the various communications and collaboration applications that comprise the UCC stack.

Executive Summary

• This study confirms previous Frost & Sullivan findings that, when it comes to UCC investments, SMBs have a more conservative approach than larger businesses. Smaller budgets, limited internal IT resources, and a more concentrated workforce represent typical barriers to UCC adoption among SMBs.
• The study also confirms, however, that UCC adoption is on the rise in this customer segment. Significant opportunities for vendors and partners exist among distributed SMB organizations in which UCC tools can help to connect remote teams and enhance productivity.
• One-third of partners believe that their SMB customers are placing a somewhat large or very large focus on their UCC strategy.
• Partner perceptions vary, however, based on the partner’s degree of involvement and type of engagement with end-user organizations. IT consultants are most optimistic, with 61 percent of respondents in this group stating that SMBs have a large focus on a UCC strategy.
• Partner perceptions and actual UCC adoption also vary by region. In emerging markets, the main opportunity for partners is to migrate the SMB customer base to IP telephony and converged networks. In developed markets, some SMBs are ready to adopt more advanced UCC tools, such as unified messaging (UM), fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), and Web/video conferencing.
• The most widely deployed UCC tools are audio conferencing (83 percent) and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)/Internet protocol (IP) private branch exchange (PBX), 81 percent. Web conferencing (47 percent), room video conferencing (44 percent), and desktop video conferencing (41 percent) are reported to have the lowest penetration.
• The majority of partners (Xpercent) state that TDM phones are used among their SMB customers and more than half rank them as the most common communications endpoint in that segment. Mobile phones are the second most popular type of communications endpoint (X percent).
• Half of the respondent identify IP phones as being used by SMBs. However, only X percent believe that business soft clients are used by their SMB base.
• An opportunity exists for partners to help SMB customers to realize the full benefits of convergence and UCC by migrating customers to IP endpoints. Similarly, partners can help customers to more effectively address the challenges that are related to mobility and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend.
• One-third of partners state that the most common approach among SMBs is to extend existing investments in voice systems. Another third state that it is most common for SMBs to replace existing systems with new ones.
• A very small percentage of partners report that SMBs are looking to switch to hosted, managed, or cloud UCC services. However, with increasing availability of compelling hosted/cloud UC offerings, this scenario is likely to change and partners need to be prepared to address the trend.
• More than half of surveyed partners believe that the main barriers to SMB adoption of advanced UCC tools are integration costs (X percent) and license costs (X percent). Cost is a particularly large barrier in South America (X percent).
• Among partners, IT consultants are most optimistic about the future adoption of UCC tools (X percent); distributors express the most conservative outlook (Xpercent). This is a positive sign, since consultants are typically involved at the early stages of UCC deployment.
• The majority of partners (Xpercent) identify the business owner as the key decision maker in UCC investment outcomes. Partners must ensure that the business owner is a part of the sales and implementation process.
• Almost three-quarters of partners believe that the main benefits that SMBs seek to realize with the deployment of UCC tools are cost reduction and enhanced productivity. Only Xpercent believe that SMBs deploy UCC tools for their green benefits.
• According to X percent of partners, ease of use is the top UCC purchasing criterion for SMBs. OnlyX percent think that the technology roadmap is a key concern for SMBs.
• In order to drive accelerated UCC adoption, partners must employ a consultative approach that helps SMB customers to understand the benefits and use cases for the various UCC tools. Partners must also help to train customers on how to use UCC tools more effectively to ensure greater customer satisfaction.
• The vast majority (X percent) believe that the IT vertical is showing high demand for UCC tools. Only Xpercent expect the hospitality vertical to adopt UCC tools in the near term.
• In their relationships with vendors, distributors are most focused on discounts and better/more extensive training. Consultants place the largest focus on training. Partners should demand more extensive training from their vendors in order to be successful in this rapidly evolving market.

SMB Focus on UCC Strategy by Type of Partner

Of partners,Xpercent believe that their SMB customers place a very/somewhat large focus on a UCC strategy. However,X percent of consultants seem to believe this to be so, which may be due to their early involvement in SMB UCC tools considerations and implementations.

Table Of Contents

Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) Channel Partners Survey
Table Of Contents

1. Research Objectives and Methods
2. Executive Summary
3. SMB Customers' UCC Strategies, Adoption, and Purchasing Behaviors
4. Channel Partner Sales Approach and Requirements for Vendor Support
5. Corporate Demographic Profile
6. Appendix
7. The Frost and Sullivan Story

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