Back in October I wrote about SMBs' interest in unified communications, or at least in aspects of it. Most SMBs were adopting a piecemeal, rather than a platform, approach to UC, said several of the experts I cited in my post.
As I wrote then, SMB awareness of UC continues to grow. Vendors no longer have to convince SMBs of the benefits of UC, said panelists addressing attendees of a Web conference last week, because many of them use tools such as instant messaging and various mobile applications for non-work activities. Yet they remain intimidated by the technical challenges.
Software-as-a-service is a good way for SMBs to avoid the technological hurdles associated with a piecemeal approach to UC adoption, such as integration issues, said the experts. As with other applications delivered via SaaS, the advantages include low upfront cost and quick and easy deployment, according to an internetnews.com article about the conference.
A key caveat: SMBs should look for "an agnostic platform" that will allow them to use technologies from different tool providers, said Simon Edwards, British Telecom's UC project director.
While it can be tough to estimate costs of the SaaS approach due to the various networking and mobile devices that may be involved, Edwards said SMBs can get a reasonable estimate by adding up their current communications costs.
If you tally up what's in use with e-mail, messaging and phone and the maintenance of all that as well as mobility costs, that's what the UC cost should be.