VoIP complexities stall implementation for SMBs

VoIP sales in the SMB market are predicted to lead revenue in the next several years, but most SMBs are confused by the number of different solutions.

VoIP sales among small and midsized businesses (SMBs) continue to show great growth potential, but a recent report from AMI Partners found that most SMBs are confused about the different options for implementing VoIP.

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Most notable among AMI's results is the uncertainty most SMBs feel about VoIP. The study found that SMBs see VoIP as complex, in part because of the multitude of IP telephony solutions available. Limited IT resources are also delaying the rate of VoIP implementation among SMBs.

In terms of current services, many SMBs have opted for Skype or Vonage to meet their telecommunications needs. According to AMI, most SMBs think solutions like Skype and Vonage provide a cost savings benefit equal to or better than the larger brand-name VoIP solutions. The differences among the more sophisticated offerings from larger or brand-name vendors -- premise-based IP PBX, managed IP PBX, hosted VoIP, broadband VoIP, and Peer-to-Peer (P2P) VoIP -- have only increased confusion for SMBs that lack the IT resources to fully educate themselves about voice solutions.

Companies with fewer than 20 employees make up about 76% of businesses in North America. AMI's initial studies recognize the need for education among SMBs and set out to create an overview of the various VoIP product offerings available. The report also documents examples to help SMBs understand which VoIP service best fits their needs, based on company size and level of development.

Results also indicate that existing traditional phone systems continue to be reliable and work well for many SMBs, making those businesses unwilling to consider a replacement until it is necessary. AMI's report discusses how the different solution options can work for companies that should begin to consider the cost savings and improved productivity associated with both VoIP and a converged data and voice network.

Like other recent studies, AMI's report reiterated that it is imperative for vendors and resellers to keep their clients informed of the various voice solutions that are available for SMBs.

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