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Is Unified Communications Right for My Small Business?

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Large enterprises have a solid understanding of the value of technology and the ability to dedicate resources for staff, implementation and support of IT infrastructure changes. In contrast, SMBs are often constrained in both staff and funds – acquiring technology on an ad-hoc basis to address an immediate need.

If nothing is broken and the phone system is still working, should small businesses consider investing in Unified Communications? And if so, how do they calculate the return on investment?

Put simply, the dilemma facing many small businesses: invest in new technology now or later?

The impact of Unified Communications on business can be difficult to measure, as this requires a dollar value to be assigned to “soft benefits” such as enhanced employee productivity or improved customer service. A better approach is to focus on “hard benefits” – those that are measurable and quantifiable.

Here is a list of hard benefits small businesses should evaluate when calculating Return on Investment into Unified Communications (according to IntelliCom):

-   Reduction in telephony expenses achieved by replacing the charges for long distance call with no-cost or low-cost IP Telephony calls over a packet network

-   Reduction or elimination of third-party conferencing service charges by using the in-house conferencing capabilities of your UC-enabled telephone system

-   Reduction in travel expenses by replacing face-to-face meetings with audio, video and Web conferences

-   Lower real estate and facility costs by utilizing Teleworker and remote worker features of your IP system to reduce the amount of office space needed per employee

-   Reduction of productivity losses by using Teleworker and remote worker capabilities when employees are unable to come to the office

-   Reduction in mobile long distance charges by routing calls through the lower-cost calling plan associated with your telephone system instead of mobile service provider

-   Elimination of mobile roaming charges by using laptop softphones or smart phones to place calls over the Internet while travelling

-   Reduction of payments to outside support providers to perform moves, adds and changes by enabling internal personnal to perform basic management tasks in-house

ShoreTel’s Small Business Edition offers organizations of all sizes the potential to improve customer service, increase employee productivity and keep the workforce connected anywhere, anytime. In addition, it helps reduce the costs as described above.

When considering both the soft and hard benefits offered by Unified Communications, almost every small business with an outdated TDM phone system will benefit from investment into Unified Communications.

When should small businesses invest in Unified Communications? To stay competitive, the time is NOW.