SMEs Buy what they are Sold

We did think for a while that it would all go quiet on the Campbell Williams front when the front man for Mitel strategy joined AT Comms as their sales and marketing director but no, he’s still as effusive as ever.

Speaking on the small PBX market Williams told Comms Business Magazine:

“TDM continues to dominate the sub-20 extension marketplace and it is a sector which tends to be characterised by three important traits: first, those within the sector are invariably single-site businesses; second, it is a rip-out-and-replace, cost-sensitive sector; and finally, the businesses are, in the main, not techno-literate so they often buy what they are sold by the channel.

Being single-site businesses means they will not benefit from the typical IP cost reductions on PSTN and WAN costs. This means that while such businesses might like the new capabilities offered by IP, they will only change phone system when the old one is dead or dying. The lack of knowledge endemic in such businesses means that they are often unaware that there are alternatives available to them, instead of just buying another traditional key system.

Until recently, there has only been a limited market for value-added applications in this sector. This is for the simple reason that if even if the customer could benefit from such applications, they could not afford them. Applications such as teleworking, mobile twinning and contact centres rely on servers and integration, which usually puts them out of reach of those businesses with less than 20 employees.

AT Communications believes IP will become the dominant technology in this sector and hosted IP will gain a significant percentage of the market. However, this will not happen until both the channel and the proposition evolves. If the debate remains around IP vs. TDM then Hosted vs. CPE, the customer will wait for the dust to settle and do nothing, and that’s not helpful for anyone.

As soon as the customer starts hearing messages about business and financial benefits, and not those about technology, the market will shift. We need to start talking about how we can provide the business owner with capabilities that will benefit his or her operation and improve its level of customer service. A business wants to know how a communications system can reduce its costs. Similarly, it wants to have a comprehensive communications capability – including calls, lines, broadband, telephony, voicemail, teleworking installation and maintenance contained within a single monthly charge that never changes. This bundled model of all products and services into a manageable monthly cost – not transmission technologies – is what will drive market churn.”