Will Unified Communications Be More Accessible for SMBs in 2017?

Google and Slack just joined forces, and that should have the attention of small businesses everywhere. The Google-Slack partnership comes on the heels of announcements from Microsoft and Facebook that each tech giant launched rival chat-based collaboration platforms. At a high level, these deals highlight increased competition in the UC space. For SMBs, this means enterprise-level collaboration tools are more at their disposal than ever before.

Why Small Businesses Should Care about Unified Communications Trends

The publicity these high-profile mergers, paradigms like IoT and trends in unified communications and remote collaboration technology get may have many small businesses saying, “Okay. But what does that mean for me?” The fact is, these trends highlight a general shift among businesses of all sizes to become leaner, faster, more collaborative and cost-efficient. Time pressures, workforce mobility and technology costs are three drivers behind these organizational shifts.

Time Is Precious

Meetings are one of the highest expenses on companies’ budgets. PGI estimates a weekly, hour-long, five-person meeting costs a company nearly $7,000 a year. For SMBs, that’s $7,000 that could be contributing to business growth.

UC enables companies to become more productive and efficient with their time. Employees can save on meetings by using real-time collaboration tools like Skype and Slack to get information. Cloud tools like Office 365 enable employees to work anywhere on any device. As businesses start the new year, they should consider UC technologies as an opportunity to help employees make better use of their workdays.

The Workforce Is Mobile

According to Gallup, teleworkers make up a quarter of the workforce and are trending upward among small businesses. As SMBs continue to strive for expansion, they’ll require tools and technologies that empower growth and mobility. From a logistical standpoint, teleworking offers a number of benefits to small businesses, including savings on maintaining a physical office and the ability to cast a broader net when hiring.

Technology Is Expensive

44% of small businesses planned to increase IT spending over the past year. Companies of all sizes are challenged to make smart investments as they increase their technology spend, but small businesses have less room for error. Even if a UC solution like Office 365 is the right option for an SMB, gaining full ROI can still be dictated by key elements like getting user buy-in and adoption.

Every company will have unique factors to consider as they evaluate collaboration requirements for 2017 and beyond. Though some small business may not be ready, able or even need to shift to a UC solution, it is important for business leaders to be aware of the possibilities available in the market. It’s also essential that they know their business requirements and proactively seek out the right advice so they can make better-informed decisions regarding unified communications.

To learn about a key element in the UC decision-making process, check out our blog on evaluating network bandwidth.