Small-business Unified Communications adoption is a significant growth area, with thousands of organizations looking for the right voice or unified communications service that can converge audio and data. According to a recent survey, more small business buyers already use VoIP service (36 percent of their sample) than any other type of voice service (POTS usage is at 24 percent, and PRI usage is at 11 percent of their sample)—with many, many others evaluating the purchase of a replacement product. The FCC also has stated that 15% of American businesses have made the switch to a VoIP solution.
The study, from Software Advice, shows that small business priorities are varied. Twenty-nine percent of buyers want small business phone systems that forwards calls to alternate devices, while 25 percent seek a system with voicemail (25 percent).
Buyers view call forwarding as the most critical functionality. Indeed, more request call forwarding (29 percent) than even voicemail (25 percent)—a staple of small-business communications, and the most requested functionality in the 2014 VoIP BuyerView report. Most of the buyers who request call forwarding say they want to send calls to mobile devices. Another 21 percent of our sample seek systems with mobile compatibility.
Some businesses also value call reporting (7 percent) and monitoring (6 percent) functionality, which are commonly used by call centers. Call reports display logged information about inbound and outbound calls, including phone numbers and call length. Call centers increasingly want this information in real time, along with the ability to monitor calls without agents’ knowledge. Many of those buyers already using cloud-based phone systems—in particular, request call reporting in the form of visual displays known as “dashboards.”
Other businesses are interested in integrating their Unified Communications software with other kinds of business software (6 percent). Of these buyers, three-quarters specifically want integrations with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, which help businesses store, organize and analyze data related to customer interactions. As we’ve explained before, call centers often integrate phone systems with CRM systems so agents can instantly view customer data during a call.
Another interesting trend is the need for a centralized phone-system setup (cited by 7 percent). Some of these buyers work at organizations with multiple locations that each have their own PBX system. These multi-vendor setups can create problems, such as expensive per-minute rates and a lack of routing functionality for calls between locations. Other buyers work at organizations that are opening new locations, and want to replace existing systems with a new one that will be deployed uniformly across the company.
Unified Communications is helping buyers reduce their overall number of lines. Unified Communications and VoIP specifically can enable businesses to provision more flexibly, because with services like Star2Star’s you can price according to the average number of employees simultaneously on the phone, as opposed to the total number of employees or by the seat whichever meets the economic demands of the business. To satisfy this varied slate of requirements, cloud system adoption is becoming more widespread.
“The adoption rate for cloud systems among small businesses is nearly even with those for on-premise IP PBX systems and legacy PBX systems,” Software Advice said in the report. “Many buyers move to the cloud to save money and avoid the hassle of updating and maintaining their phone systems themselves, though some buyers prefer to manage their own systems and opt for on-premise solutions.” Star2Star delivers the benefits of both, while resolving their respective problems. Our unique cloud architecture combines an on-premise edge device, the StarBox® Voice Optimized SD-WAN, with a suite of cloud-based services—hosted at highly-reliable, redundant data centers—to create a complete, feature-rich communications system.
Star2Star’s award-winning, patented cloud architecture overcomes the quality and reliability limitations of other technologies and includes:
- Self-monitoring capabilities with guaranteed 99.999% reliability
- High quality, cost savings, flexibility and ease of use
- Features set in the cloud, such as voice mail, auto-attendants, find-me/follow-me call routing, conference calling and ring groups
- One provider, one monthly bill, one number to call for service and a seamless "it just works" experience
To find out more about how Star2Star is delivering all of this value to small and medium, and large) businesses, please click here.