Small Businesses Planning to Invest in Communications say Avaya

According to a new survey on small business technology trends from Avaya, most small businesses in the UK, France, Italy, and Russia say that they are investing in technology right now, or plan to do so within the year. The reason: when it comes to keeping employees as productive as possible, communications tools win out in France (with 56 % of those surveyed rating it as most important) and Russia (39%) over compensation and flexible work schedules, which were more deemed more important for productivity in the UK and Italy.

The survey, conducted online by Avaya, a leading global provider of business communications applications, systems and services through a third party (e-Rewards) in April 2009, provides thoughts from European small businesses (defined as companies with between 20-80 employees) on a wide range of economic, technology and communications trends.

Results of the survey reveal a small business environment that is still investing in communications technology, even during these tough economic times, with an impressive 79% of businesses in the UK, 71% in France, 69% in Italy and 63% in Russia saying that communications technology is critical to their business and they would spend money on it.

However, the results also reveal a market that has been hesitant in implementing some critical communications technologies, such as telecommuting and mobility. A majority of those surveyed across multiple markets (80% in France, 78% in Russia, 65% in Italy, 59% in UK), said they would employ technology to enable employees to work from home if they could trial it first and see the benefits.

“Small businesses are different than big businesses, since they have a more flexible, entrepreneurial mind-set that can help them thrive, even in current conditions,” said Anthony Bartolo, vice president and general manager of Avaya’s Integrated Office Communications division. “But, even though they are ready to invest, they still need guidance on what is possible, what is affordable, and what will get them the most benefit.”

67% of respondents from the UK and 60% from France said the most compelling reason for allowing a small business employee to work from home is to increase productivity, while 74% of those surveyed from Italy and 65% from Russia felt that lowering overhead expenses were more important reasons for allowing employees to telecommute.

When it comes to having the capabilities that let employees work away from the office most small businesses are not yet equipped for this. According to the survey, 57% of respondents in Russia, 46% in Italy and France and 42% in the UK say that less than a quarter of their employees – and in some cases no employees – are currently equipped to work away from the office (i.e. on the road, at home, while travelling, etc.). And when it comes to location, most small businesses 67% in France, 66% in Russia 65% in the UK and 61% in Italy, say they need employees at the office or job site every day. A reason for this could be the lack of understanding of how telecommuting technologies enable remote workers to function exactly as if they were in the office.

“More small businesses recognize the productivity and motivational benefits of being able to let employees work from home or on the road,” added Bartolo, ”but many are still hesitant to take the leap or are relying on past practices. They need to gain a better understanding of how telecommuting and mobility technologies can deliver a competitive edge. The advanced IP and unified communications technologies available today are not just for big business anymore.”

Technologies such as Avaya IP Office offer small businesses a cost-effective way to implement advanced communications capabilities in their workplace, beginning with an enterprise-class communications and customer service operation, and easily migrating to more advanced technologies. Avaya IP Office telecommuting and mobility options enable work-at-home employees and travelling road warriors to remain seamlessly connected and in touch with colleagues and customers.