MT Expert - IT: Getting ahead of the curve

Cisco's Bernadette Wightman explains why SMEs should implement smart technology today...

In today’s tough economic climate, SMEs are quite rightly focussed on keeping their core business strong, increasing efficiency and cutting costs where they can. However, an understanding of new technology and what you need for your business will help you to develop the right IT infrastructure – thus ensuring that you’re ready to take advantage of the technology when it makes business sense to do so.

Many are talking about the benefits of unified communications (UC). While large enterprises have a high awareness of unified communications – a single network that carries video, voice and data to a business – SMEs across Europe are less informed.  According to a 2007 survey from the Enterprise VPN Users Association (EVUA), an independent, non-profit, global ICT network user group for multinational companies, nearly all large enterprises had ambitious plans for significant UC deployments. But SMEs are more circumspect: while nearly 30% are deploying UC in some form, another 30% have no plans at all – or have never even heard of the term UC before.

Large enterprises tend to see UC as a strategic move towards developing new workflow patterns, improving business processes and collaboration through virtual teams and reducing time costs, thanks to applications such as IM and presence. By contrast, SMBs are more tactical in their approach to the technology, focusing less on long-term technology strategies than they do on bottom line price and cost savings.  According to the EVUA survey, the SMB approach to UC is driven by short-term gains in how they can improve a business process.

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