Unified Communications (UC) Service Providers are Looking at SMBs Wrong

A confused professional symbolizing Unified Communications (UC) service providers are looking at SMBs wrong
April 17, 2018
by John Macario BLog Post Title Underline

According to figures from the Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses make up 99.7% of all businesses in the United States. In other words, all of the largest companies you can think of are basically a rounding error in the sea of small businesses around them.

Get our latest Unified Communications Report: The Current State of North  American SMBs

We're used to thinking of small businesses as a monolith. After all, the ones that we interact with on a day-to-day basis are relatively similar — they're small, B2C retail and service storefronts. They're convenience stores, restaurants, bookstores, nail salons, barber shops, etc. Even these small businesses are just a fraction of the total, because small businesses represent 43% of high tech employment, and 98% of exporters.

With these facts in mind, service providers should note that they're treating SMBs the wrong way in their marketing and outreach efforts. Most service providers treat SMBs as a single block, where anything under 25 seats is an SMB sale, and anything over that is enterprise. Instead, they need to understand that SMBs are a rich and varying tapestry. To be clear, each section of this tapestry could use and benefit from UC technology, so here are the best ways to reach out.

Adoption is Low, and Interest is High — but Different SMBs need Different Things from UC

Edgewater Networks recently conducted a survey of over 1,250 SMB decision makers at companies ranging from home businesses to operations with over 500 seats. We concluded that SMBs overwhelmingly haven't invested in IP communications yet, but that there's a strong intent to purchase over the next two years. There's a bonanza waiting for service providers who get their messaging right.

As far as marketability goes, we've determined that SMBs can be roughly divided into four groups, with each group requiring a different message.  SMBs are comprised of:

  • Companies with fewer than 20 employees
  • Companies with 20-49 employees
  • Companies with 50-99 employees
  • And companies with more than 100 employees

There's significant interest in unified communications from each SMB market segment, so there's no sense in going after one group to the exclusion of the others. Rather, each group will need different messaging.

  • Companies with fewer than 20 employees are still heavily invested in traditional landlines. They tend to centralize in a single office, and as such they don't really need or use video conferencing. By contrast, they do use their mobile phones as primary communications devices, which means that UC solutions tailored for this segment should emphasize mobile.
  • Companies with 20-49 employees are also still invested with TDM, but these companies are likely to use competitive local carriers and invest in technologies such as video conferencing and desktop phones.
  • Companies with 50-99 employees have phone systems that are similar to the 20-49 segment above, but their purchasing behavior is more traditional. Almost half of these SMBs buy both phone and internet services from traditional telcos. With that said, these companies are also a bit more likely to employ remote workers as well.
  • Companies with 100+ employees are the ones that act most like a traditional enterprise. They are avid video-conferencers, with heavy dependence on apps such as WebEx and GoToMeeting. Lastly, they're the most likely to have a developed IT department — the biggest differentiator across all categories of SMB.

Selling to SMBs with Network Edge Orchestration

The difference in technology adoption rates across SMBs means that for the smaller categories, business decision makers and non-IT managers will be the target for sales. As you target larger segments, the reverse will be true — but however you're positioning UC technology, the Intelligent Edge is your friend.

Intelligent Edge solutions mean that for smaller businesses, service providers can monitor implementations without worrying that there's no technical staff on site. Our remote monitoring and management solutions ensure that even if your customers don't have IT departments, you'll always be able to reach in and fix major issues before they file a support ticket. For more information on Intelligent Edge solutions and our SMB research, contact Edgewater Networks today.

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Topics: Network Edge Orchestration

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