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UC - How will SMBs make the move?

Alan PercyBy Alan D. Percy, Senior Director of Marketing at AudioCodes

A few days ago I had the pleasure to visit Houston and Michael Cassady, VP of Sales and Marketing for The Via Group.  The Via Group has been one of our leading partners and almost always on the leading edge of trends in communications.

During our discussions, Michael and I were comparing notes about the adoption of Lync in the typical Small and Medium Business (SMB).  The SMB business is usually less than 500 employees with from one to a dozen remote offices.   Many of these businesses do not have dedicated IT staff, often relying on contractors or Managed Service Providers (MSPs) for their communications and IT infrastructure.

Michael Cassady (480x640).jpgIt’s well recognized that this community stands to achieve some of the most significant gains from the adoption of UC and Microsoft Lync, but without a dedicated CIO and IT team, there can be a lack of strategic vision and skills to achieve those gains.

A 2013 report published by T3i notes that  52% of SMBs are planning on doing a trial of Microsoft Lync, but of those,  54% were planning to implement the Enterprise Voice features of Microsoft Lync.

So the question is – how will those SMBs move from their legacy PBXs to voice-enabled UC?

Michael provides some insight: “It almost always starts with a Lync pilot that includes instant messaging and presence. But that is just the starting point – once IM and Presence are implemented, the collaboration and conferencing features are the next big draw.  Once there, it’s a natural progression that leads the business to full Enterprise Voice and eventually abandoning their PBX.”

We too have seen a similar pattern where collaboration is a strong incentive to implement UC – and as noted in previous blogs, there are plenty of examples where conferencing/collaboration features of Lync can be the motivation to implement voice.

“The next big value is to implement the conferencing features, which can save hard dollars avoiding the use of the 1-800 conference bridge services” notes Michael.  “Then the ability to add outside parties or provide a call-in number to conferences is a high-demand request – from there comes the need for PBX integration”

Integrating the business PBX brings the full value of Unified Communications and Lync, allowing for seamless interaction with internal employees, remote and traveling participants and external parties.  Keeping the PBX is a popular waypoint for SMBs and in line with the T3i survey, reporting that 44% of SMBs plan to retain their existing telephony system while making a gradual or life-cycle replacement. 

Making PBX integrations successful requires expertise – expertise that many SMBs just don’t have in-house.  This is just the job for partners like Michael and The Via Group who see the opportunity in bringing Lync to the SMB marketplace.

Would love to get your thoughts and feedback by commenting below or catch me on Twitter @AlanDPercy or email

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