Ready access to ubiquitous communications services is starting to have a major impact on the way small- to medium-sized businesses operate.
These organizations have always prized flexibility and agility to compete with rivals that generally have more resources available to them. As such, small to medium businesses (SMBs) are often among the first to embrace any new technology that can give them a competitive edge provided that it is reasonably accessible to them. Unfortunately, until recently they generally had limited access to communications services beyond what they could get from telecommunications carriers that sold them the latest smartphone gadget.
But with the rise of cloud computing, we're now seeing more providers of communications services that are specifically being designed for SMB customers. These services are basically taking enterprise-class communications technologies, including a range of new video technologies, and making them available as a service to SMB customers. Case in point is Intermedia, a provider of a broad range of managed communications services aimed primarily at SMB customers. According to Intermedia Chief Operating Officer John McCormick, SMB customers don't have the time or expertise to master every nuance of unified communications. Instead, they prefer to take advantage of these technologies as a service that mirrors much the same way they consume software these days.
While the benefits of these communications services can be profound, they also have significant cultural implications for many of these organizations. Business leaders in these companies are generally working one way or another most of the waking day. Easy access to communications services means they can get a lot more done in a day, but also increases the potential for burnout because the sheer volume of issues that can be attended to will increase dramatically. And communications services don't distinguish between the time of day or night they are being accessed. As a result, business managers need to care about how obsessive they can become about the business when the business is literally the touch of a smartphone away.
There's no doubt that a new generation of communications services is about to transform the way business is conducted. The challenge is going to be making sure that it's the business that consumes these services rather than the other way around.