Unified Communications Featured Article

What Do Midsized Firms Want Out of UC?

November 14, 2013

We hear a lot about large-scale enterprises these days, and of course we also hear a lot about the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market as well. But the medium part of SMB actually seems to get short shrift these days, which is why it was somewhat exciting to discover that medium-sized businesses actually have some very unique responses to problems, especially those surrounding the field of unified communications (UC).

A midsized business here is defined as a business that has between $10 million and $1 billion in annual revenue, according to the National Center for the Middle Market, and there are around 200,000 such firms in the United States alone currently operating. Others define midsized businesses based on employee counts, but no matter how said businesses are defined, said businesses don't exactly have a lot of priority on sales radars. The solutions offered to these businesses are often either one step above consumer technology, or woefully overpowered stuff that was geared down slightly from the large business. But there are important points to keep in mind about the midsized business that can really help in terms of providing solutions to these firms.

First, midsized businesses clearly believe in UC, and are ahead of the normal run of business. While 29 percent of all firms have put a UC system in place, either as a standard system or in a pilot capacity, 40 percent of midsize firms already have. By like token, however, midsize firms roll out UC systems in a microcosm, bringing out a small scale version first before upgrading. Twenty-four percent of midsize firms bring out global UC at the rollout level, as opposed to 32 percent of all firms that do.

Midsize businesses expect certain things out of UC, particularly improvements in collaboration, faster problem resolution, and overall improved project management. Most firms are satisfied with the gains in these fronts, as the worst score was 84 percent satisfaction for increased speed in problem resolution. After that, businesses are looking for faster decision-making capability, improved relationships with partners and suppliers, an improved customer experience and better results from social media collaboration.

The biggest problem—and perhaps the biggest opportunity for other businesses—is addressing the problem of employees not knowing just what all the new UC systems can do. Thirty-seven percent of firms said employees were unaware of the productivity-enhancing features of UC systems, though midsize firms often cited employees who weren't on UC systems yet as well as a general difficulty in measuring the effectiveness of UC. But of least concern was the matter of preparing the individual business units, cited as a problem just 11 percent of the time.

Opportunity is screaming out of these results. Not only do UC vendors now have an excellent idea of where to focus efforts and future development, but said vendors also now know what to not bother with much, if at all. Education is going to be a major opportunity for anyone looking to supply UC gear, and complete educational packages may prove to be the most useful feature of all here. Still, it's easy to forget that midsized businesses have issues and concerns specific only to midsized businesses, so bearing these concerns in mind will likely prove to have far-reaching effects—and far-reaching value—for the businesses looking to supply these businesses with UC product.

Edited by Alisen Downey