SMBs Cut Unified Communications Spend This Year, But Expand Future Plans

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According to a recent InfoTech primary research study of the Small and Medium Business (SMB) market demand for Unified Communications (UC), about 70 percent of U.S. SMBs are implementing, trialing or planning to implement UC applications. However, due to cutbacks in IT spending, about one-quarter of these reported making the following significant changes in their implementation plans of IP Telephony (IPT) and UC applications for 2008.

According to a recent InfoTech primary research study of the Small and Medium Business (SMB) market demand for Unified Communications (UC), about 70 percent of U.S. SMBs are implementing, trialing or planning to implement UC applications.

However, due to cutbacks in IT spending, about one-quarter of these reported making the following significant changes in their implementation plans of IP Telephony (IPT) and UC applications for 2008:

-- 15 percent of SMBs polled said their IPT plans now are on hold, and 13 percent said their UC apps plans have been backburnered.

-- 10 percent have instituted "major" reductions in both their IPT and UC apps implementation plans.

"Despite these cutbacks in 2008 spending, the SMB decision-makers were actually more optimistic about their implementation of UC applications in the future," according to Terry White, senior program director/InfoTrack for Converged Communications, who conducted this study. "In our 2008 survey, U.S. SMBs expected higher attach rates in 2012 for six out of the eight UC applications, compared with our 2007 survey results." Attach rate is the percentage of IPT shipments that will include a specific UC application.

The study, "InfoTrack for Unified Communications: 2008 SMB Market Analysis," analyzes the market demand of more than 200 SMBs for the following eight categories of UC applications:

>>Unified messaging, such as Avaya's Modular Messaging;

>>UC clients, such as IBM's Lotus Sametime;

>>Mobile UC clients, such as Microsoft's Mobile Office Communicator;

>>Voice over wireless LAN, such as Siemens' HiPath Mobile Connect;

>>Real-time audio conferencing, such as Mitel's Quick Conference;

>>Web conferencing, such as Cisco's Unified MeetingPlace;

>>Desktop videoconferencing solutions, such as Avaya's Video Telephony; and

>> IP contact centers, such as Alcatel-Lucent's OmniGenesys Contact Center.

For small businesses (2-100 employees), the UC application that had the highest increase in attach rates was Voice over Wireless LAN. Among medium businesses (101-500 employees), the biggest advance in attach rate was for desktop videoconferencing.

InfoTech's UC research study also identified patterns of phased deployment. SMBs are implementing UC in the following three phases:

>>The system-centric phase - implementing IPT based on hard savings with a focus on such attributes as reliability and security            

>>The application-centric phase - implementing UC applications with a focus on business value derived from productivity savings

>>The process-centric phase - implementing UC applications based on business-process improvement through communications-enabled business processes

"Both U.S. and international SMBs are optimistic about their progression to the more advanced phases," White notes. "These SMB decision-makers clearly believe in the potential value of UC applications, but many are expecting their IPT and UC apps vendors to help them identify the best opportunities for realizing this potential value."

The complete results from this study are contained in the 71-page "InfoTrack for Unified Communications: 2008 SMB Market Analysis." For more information on this report, go to http://www.telecomweb.com/IUC/2008SMBMarketAnalysisJuly2008/ or contact Mike O'Neill at moneill@telecomweb.com or at 973/602-0114.

About InfoTech:
InfoTech is a division of the T3i Group LLC, which specializes in global market intelligence on telecom and unified communications, including daily e-letter news breaks and subscriber-supported content from TelecomWeb.com; tariff databases and consultancy from Tarifica; Web-based business-telephony-product databases from TelecomTactics; and InfoTrack market- analysis programs and consulting from InfoTech.

Contact:
Debra Baker
dbaker @ telecomweb.com
301/905-7703

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