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Unified Communications Still a Baffling Concept for SMBs

There's the forest, and then there are the trees. Sometimes it's hard to see one for the other. That seems to be the case right now with unified communications (UC).

With what? That's the question a lot of small to midsize business (SMB) owners are probably asking themselves if they're reading this. bMighty.com, a Web site for SMBs, recently released results of a survey that revealed that SMB owners and IT folks aren't nearly as excited about UC as some of us in the trade press and the channel are.

In fact, folks with SMBs mostly don't even know what UC is or what is meant to be part of it -- but, thinking about it, do you? It's still kind of a nebulous concept in a lot of ways, isn't it? And every vendor has a different definition. So maybe that shouldn't be a surprise.

What might be a surprise, though, is that the main reason that SMBs are shunning UC -- whatever they think it is -- is because they find it too expensive. That means that the vendor and partner messaging about cost savings with UC isn't resonating. In fact, all SMB owners see with UC is cost ... the "savings" bit hasn't followed for most of them.

Not only that, but out in the world outside the tech industry, folks are still discovering some new-fangled thing called Skype. So, there's work to be done here. On one hand, UC simply needs to mature as a technology -- which it will, as vendors shake out and the market begins to better define itself and what it offers.

On the other hand, however, partners apparently need to do a better job communicating -- and maybe understanding themselves -- the cost-saving benefits of UC. Until that message goes through, they might continue to get a busy signal from customers. Perhaps we in the industry see so many UC trees that we forget that customers still feel lost in a telephony-messaging forest. It's time for partners to guide their way.

Posted by Lee Pender on June 09, 2008 at 11:54 AM