Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Indian SMBs to spend $48.8 million on unified communications in 2009

Here's a report from AMI Partners on Indian SMBs.

BANGALORE, INDIA: Small and medium businesses (SMBs, or companies with up to 999 employees) in the Indian subcontinent are set to spend $48.8 million on unified communication (UC) in 2009, up over 2008, according to a new study by Access Markets International (AMI) Partners Inc.

Medium businesses (MBs, or companies with 100-999 employees) will account for over 40 percent of the country’s total SMB expenditure, while small businesses are increasing their adoption of basic UC solutions.

“India SMBs are looking at UC as a low-cost tool to communicate effectively with customers and suppliers as well as facilitate communication across multiple branch locations,” says Sumeeta Misra, AMI’s Bangalore-based Research Associate.

“These SMBs seem to be finding smarter ways to cut travel costs, maximize operational efficiency and improve business & customer strategies by streamlining their communication infrastructure. Conferencing and collaboration tools such as video, audio, web conferencing and instant messaging will account for a majority of the total UC spending.”

As India SMBs become more willing to invest in new technology, vendors are developing alternative modes and platforms in UC. The rise of hosted unified communication and offering UC in open and interoperable platforms are a few examples.

Communication-as-a-Service, which is an extension of the SaaS model, will provide UC over a service provider’s network. Knowing the current economic constraints, the India SMB market is attracted more to on-demand collaboration applications and network-based solutions for delivering a seamless business-to-business partnership. Hosted VoIP spending among India SMBs will be close to $18 million in 2009.

Many vendors feel that the open source UC suite will raise the interest of users that are looking for a solution with a minimal initial investment. System integrators are migrating to a solution-selling approach for UC from their conventional box-pushing strategies.

India SMBs are beginning to adopt UC solutions to enhance the customer experience and enhance business continuity. For unified communication to become the accepted best practice for India SMBs vendors and channel partners must overcome some significant challenges such as clarity in TCO, the need for higher bandwidth, maintenance of IP networks, and hardware expense to list a few.

Unified communication being a collaborative tool is no longer a point solution that businesses look at like a voice or a video conferencing solution. Today companies start off with IP telephony, and then add video application and finish off with an application to integrate both audio and video. India SMBs are progressing from using IM and click-to-call services solutions that will enhance business processes and line-of-business applications.

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