Resellers Missing Significant SME IP Telephony Opportunity

Resellers are placing too high an emphasis on cost savings, whereas SMEs are basing their purchasing decisions on the benefits IP telephony can deliver in supporting business growth and improving competitiveness. This miss-match consequently means almost 60% of SME decision-makers go on to shelve their IP telephony investment plans.

These are the headline findings of independent research commissioned by Toshiba Business Communications Division (BCD). Over 200 SME decision-makers were questioned about their business strategy and communications requirements..

The research found:

• Good business communications is seen as critical by SMEs, with more than 60% conducting most or almost all of their business over the phone;

• Business communications was rated as the highest priority in terms of technology investment to support future growth, with transactional web sites second, followed by mobile technologies for ‘road warriors’;

• Enhancing customer service (66% of all respondents), improving staff efficiency (64%) and creating closer supplier relationships (38%) were seen as the top priorities for improving competitiveness and supporting growth;

• Only 55% of respondents said lower telephone bills would make them consider investing in VoIP or IP telephony.

The research also revealed that 71% of SMEs rely on external support from a telecoms partner to manage their business communications, which suggests there is a significant ongoing opportunity for value-added resellers to educate customers on the business benefits of IP telephony and how it could apply to their organisation. Only 18% of those surveyed believed that IP telephony systems for SMEs would offer less features and functionality than those aimed at larger corporates.

“SMEs are becoming increasingly sophisticated technology buyers, which means resellers must position themselves as long-term partners and develop a consultative, solutions-led sales approach,” said Tim Webb, general manager of Toshiba BCD. “Resellers need to be able to answer key questions such as: How will this investment help grow the business? What improvement in competitiveness can we expect? SMEs are basing their decisions on a more complex and rich set of criteria which is shaking out the resellers who can’t provide the right answers.”