Siemens Identifies the Cost of SMB Pain Points

Value added telecommunications resellers across Europe have a growing opportunity to ease end users’ communications difficulties following new research by Siemens Enterprise Communications. The global survey shows that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are wasting as much as 40 per cent of productive time on a variety of different “pain points” associated with multiple and poorly integrated communications channels.

The study categorised the top five “pain points” surrounding the management of different communications systems that together are seriously eroding employee productive time as well as quality of customer interaction. The top factors, experienced by 70 per cent of firms questioned, were:

– delays in receiving information from colleagues

– receiving unwanted communications

– inefficient communications co-ordination between staff

– barriers to collaboration

– time lost answering customer complaints using different channels.

SMB respondents labelled “waiting for information” the No.1 “pain point” with, on average, the leading five communications “pain points” combining to drain organisations of 17.5 hours’ productive time every week.

Survey researchers calculated that on average, the annual financial cost of time lost to these five issues was €20,572 (£17,383). They also found that a 100-strong company is wasting the equivalent of €4140 (£3,498) for every employee and €414,000 (£349,830) every year by not resolving these communication issues.

Unified communications (UC) are emerging technology platforms in SMB communications. UC platforms aim to integrate different communications technologies (fixed/mobile telephony, email, and IM, etc.) into one single unified platform based on open standards (IP) and to make employee availability easier and more efficient via presence management. The promise of increased staff availability will improve both customer service and internal communications. Many larger enterprises have already adopted these technologies to improve business processes, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction.

The Siemens study suggests that SMBs are seeking answers to communications difficulties: although 60 per cent of respondents did not currently use UC, some 41 per cent of firms nevertheless stated that having a system to reduce the time spent dealing with communications issues was seen as a very or extremely high priority for their businesses.

But the survey found evidence of progress towards greater mobility through systems such as UC in Western economies: over half of companies (53 per cent) in US and European economies claimed to use unified communications or parts of such solutions. There was also greater incidence of mobile working in these two regions than in Brazil, Russia and India, particularly among SMBs.

Martin Northend, global head of SME marketing, Siemens Enterprise Communications, said: “European companies share a global problem – they’ve made heavy investments in communications networks and devices without being able to harness them for greater productivity. Companies need to bring disparate communications onto integrated platforms that support rather than complicate staff operations, as so often happens now.

“As the downturn is forcing CEOs to find ways now to save variable costs or make staff more productive, there is an emerging opportunity for telecoms resellers to help customers eradicate these different “pain points” and show end users a smarter way to ‘do more with less’ through innovations such as HiPath OpenOffice and other unified communications products.”

Leon Mangan, Sales Director, Indirect Sales, Siemens Enterprise Communications, commented: “The fact that mid-size and very small firms both identified the same five leading “pain points” highlights European business’ inability to manage and gain optimum value from expensive telecommunications investments.

“Because so many firms are clearly experiencing “communications pain”, the channel can play a pivotal role in improving end users’ performance with network convergence strategies, optimising company LANs or WANs to slash costs and adopting unified communications platforms to put all personnel on a common footing. These approaches will avoid the complexity and waste of many of today’s poorly integrated SMB communications platforms.”