Finding true value in unified communications for SMBs

Finding True Value in Unified Communications for Small and medium sized businesses


Small and midsize businesses (SMBs), like large enterprises, have long had the opportunity to bring together their core calling, meetings, and messaging applications together in an all-in-one unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) platform. Modern UCaaS offerings also often feature support for add-ons such as contact center, customer support, virtual events, and webinars, further elevating the value proposition for those companies looking for an integrated approach.

Compared to large companies, however, SMBs are lagging in their adoption of UCaaS, as Metrigy found in a late 2021 study on SMBs and their communications and collaboration choices. It’s not that IT and other decision makers at SMBs don’t understand what UCaaS is, they just don’t see a unified communications platform as necessary for their businesses.

Among the 509 participating companies with headquarters in Australia, North America (Canada, U.S.), and Western Europe (Germany, Ireland, U.K.), 42.4% of those with between 10 and 100 employees and 45% of companies with between 101 and 500 employees indicated such was the posture on UCaaS at their companies. Only 20.2% and 26.7% of SMBs at each respective size company said they specifically look to purchase UCaaS and understand the benefits, with 28.3% of the smaller company size and 22.1% of the larger company size giving a nod to a UCaaS consideration not as a default, but if pricing and features meet their needs.

One reason many SMBs haven’t gravitated at large to UCaaS is a reliance on their office productivity suite—Google Workplace or Microsoft 365, for example—for their communications and collaboration needs. In our research, Metrigy found that 91% of SMBs use an office suite and, of those, 45.4% consider that suite as the starting point when crafting their communications and collaboration strategies. However, this doesn’t mean SMBs are getting each of the core communications apps from their office productivity suite providers. The phone system sits outside the office suite for 55.4% of SMBs in the study, and 44% use a separate meeting app (although, to note, 31.5% of this latter group also uses the meeting app built into their office suite).

SMBs that favor having a stand-alone phone system or messaging app cite greater reliability and better user experience as the drivers—and those can be compelling rationale. But there’s a downside: A mix-and-match, siloed app environment can hinder innovation, be tough to support, and overly complex for users. And challenges abound, with SMBs in the study identifying integration, security, IT manageability, cost, and usability as top sticking points associated with maintaining separate communications and collaboration apps. Considering all these downsides, it’s time SMBs get serious about UCaaS.

In our study, we found that SMBs in the two size groups differ on what factors would have them make the leap into a single platform that integrates calling, meeting/video conferencing, messaging, and other apps. For the larger-size SMBs, easier management and better feature options would be the biggest factors swaying them to the single platform choice. Smaller-size SMBs rank ease of use and lower cost as their top factors.

UCaaS platforms, such as GoTo Connect, meet all those factors. At a minimum, today’s UCaaS platforms deliver an all-in-one solution comprising calling, meetings/video conferencing, and messaging/team collaboration. But they can be so much more than that as well, seamlessly adding in a host of other capabilities, such as contact center, virtual events and webinars, and even remote assistance.

With choices being plentiful, SMBs need to take care in vetting UCaaS on several key factors, including: the range of communications and collaboration features supported; integration with other apps and API availability; ability to provide centralized management and remote support for a hybrid workforce; and professional services for planning, migration, implementation, and user adoption. But now is the time to do so; the benefits are clear:

  • Simplified user experience – Within their UCaaS solution, users should be able to communicate and collaborate by phone, chat, or video meeting, depending on the purpose at hand, and seamlessly move from one to the other—no quitting one app to launch another, or needing to remember how to use one application from the next.
  • Reduced cost and complexity – IT or other technology decision makers can streamline costs with the consolidation of multiple services into a single license, and reduce management complexity via a single dashboard and one provider.
  • Elimination of legacy, on-premises platforms – 38.4% of SMBs maintain on-premises phone systems. Many will be able to justify a cloud migration based on ease of use, cost savings, feature integration, and unified management.

To truly achieve the benefits of unified communications, IT leaders and other decision makers at SMBs must make the jump to UCaaS—and sooner rather than later.

ABOUT METRIGY: Metrigy is an innovative research firm focusing on the rapidly changing areas of Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC), digital workplace, digital transformation, and Customer Experience (CX)/contact center—along with several related technologies. Metrigy delivers strategic guidance and informative content, backed by primary research metrics and analysis, for technology providers and enterprise organizations.