Looking for a $26 Billion Opportunity? Consider IP Communications for SMB Users
With the world economy in general still looking shaky these days, an opportunity for gain is difficult to pass up. A new report from Edgewater Networks and Metaswitch Networks, meanwhile, suggests that there's at least one big new vein of opportunity out there: a massive $26 billion opportunity for service providers with one target in mind, the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market.
The Edgewater / Metaswitch co-production—titled “The SMB Market for Unified Communications and Hosted Service”—revealed a noteworthy concept: while the adoption rates for Internet protocol (IP) services have been on the rise, there's still a hefty chunk of the market that's counting on time-division multiplexing (TDM) based phone service. That chunk measures out at a little better than 60 percent of the market, so clear opportunity is afoot.
But taking advantage of that opportunity will be somewhat difficult. There's a lot of interest in IP communications, but with so much of the market still working with TDM systems, taking advantage of this as-yet-untapped market will depend heavily on the ability of businesses to present IP offerings to the SMB user in the best possible light.
No doubt the marketing departments of IP providers are already wondering just what to focus on, and the report also provided some insight into that. The major factor for most of the market is economics, but there's also a clear benefit to being the best in service; those companies that can demonstrate the ability to create a relationship with the customer and offer a “hassle-free” process in sales and installation will likely gain some solid ground here.
Regardless of the approach, though, companies planning to sell IP communications to the SMB market will have to act fast; 74 percent of larger SMBs and 68 percent of smaller SMBs plan to get in on IP communications within the next two years, so hitting the ground running will be vital here.
Edgewater Networks' vice president of marketing, John Macario, offered up some comment on the study's results, saying “Today, customers don’t need more information on what the technology is, they need to understand how it can help a business of their size. Service providers that can craft and articulate a compelling offer customized specifically for SMBs stand to gain a significant share of this expansive market.”
It's an old saw when it comes to selling, but no less true for its age and frequent use: selling products isn't a good idea; selling solutions is better. SMBs here need to see the value in the product offered and what it can do for business. If those selling IP communications can show increases in reliability, reductions in monthly phone bills, and all those other key facets that mean a better bottom line, it's going to improve the chances of a sale greatly.
Show the bottom line benefits, and don't skimp on the extra features that can help out in other ways; show better efficiency, better communications, better value in the end, and that will likely tip a lot of scales toward the “we'll buy” side. SMBs out there are ready to go IP, but all those businesses need is a few good reasons to go with one IP provider over another, and that's something good marketing can do.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi