SMBs say reliability is the first thing they look for when choosing a UC-as-a-Service solution.

There are a lot of good reasons for putting unified communications (UC) in the cloud. It saves capital costs, offloads much of the phone system management burden, creates access to advanced features and is extremely scalable. You could justify a move to UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) on the basis of any of these attributes.

However, none of those benefits will matter if the service is unreliable.

Reliability is a particularly critical metric for small to midsized businesses (SMBs) that often lack full-time internal IT support. Because any interruption of essential communication and collaboration services can negatively impact operations, dependability is a business imperative.

Reliability Is No. 1

A recent study conducted by research firm TechAisle found that reliability is the No. 1 factor of SMB IT and business decision-makers consider in choosing a UCaaS solution, cited by 63 percent of respondents. This was followed by price (57 percent), features (50 percent), quality (47 percent) and support (35 percent).

When it came to changing UCaaS providers, SMBs named call quality issues (46 percent) as the top reason, followed by cost (33 percent) and support (29 percent). This further emphasizes the value SMBs put on having a solution that consistently and reliably works.

Complex and Mature

SMBs represent a massive market that continues to grow, employing nearly half of the U.S. working population. Despite traditional notions of what small businesses looks like, today’s SMBs share many similar traits with their larger counterparts. For example, the average number of office locations for all SMBs surveyed was 2.4, and the move to a more mobile workforce mimics that of large corporations, with 91 percent of respondents having mobile employees.

With today’s workforce having an ever-increasing expectation to work in a more mobile, “virtual” environment, the tools that enable and support this mobile workstyle are no longer a “nice to have,” but are now a “must have.” Not surprisingly, the study shows that the adoption rate of UC and UCaaS continues to grow among SMBs.

In fact, 40 percent of SMBs are adopting some form of collaboration solution, up from 32 percent two years ago. In addition to voice communications, a cornerstone of workplace productivity, the four of the most commonly used communication and collaboration solutions today include document management and sharing (75 percent), web conferencing (72 percent), video conferencing (69 percent) and instant messaging (65 percent).

Support Challenges

Despite this growth, internal support for SMBs remains a challenge. Fewer than half (44 percent) of all SMBs surveyed were staffed with full-time, internal, dedicated IT personnel. Without in-house IT resources, SMBs need communication and collaboration tools that are reliable, secure and robust, yet cost-effective. They also need solutions that are easy to deploy, manage, scale and support.

That’s why it’s a good idea to work with a qualified solution provider that understands UCaaS technology and the challenges SMBs face. With years of experience in the design, implementation and management of UC systems, IPC can help SMBs architect a solution that provides the flexibility and mobility they need to grow.

Brought to you by IPC Tech — Platinum Certified Mitel Support Partner specializing in connecting your business applications to optimize your communication experience.