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Cisco commissioned Forrester Research to survey 374 companies to quantify how unified communications (UC) affect the small and medium-size business sector. The survey asked participants how certain UC capabilities affect their operations but survey participants were not given any information on any specific product or company. Organizations surveyed were limited to companies with 125 employees or less with no more than seven locations to determine the significance of UC in this market segment. Survey participants included decision-makers from LOB (73%) and IT (27%). Decision-makers in six countries participated in this survey from countries including, the US (34%), France (16%), the UK (19%), Italy (13%), and Australia (18%). The survey included organizations from manufacturing, financial services, and professional service firms. This document focuses only on the financial services segment. See parts two and three for detailed findings on the manufacturing and professional services firms.
Responses were generally consistent among the companies, but there were some variances by industry. In general SMBs have several requirements for UC within their operations, although some drivers for larger sized organizations, such as the ability to locate others with a single address, were less pronounced. The study indicates that UC helps SMB improve responsiveness to its customers, decrease problem resolution time, reach decision-makers more quickly to speed approval processes, and build organizations that make it easier to attract and retain employees.
Forrester interviewed 133 SMB financial services companies in six countries (the United States, the UK, France, Italy, and Australia) to evaluate the benefits of UC for their organization. Questions provided to the participants asked how UC capabilities would apply to issues and were provided a choice of responses for each situation including a negative response. Key issues for FS firms include: high competition for customers, rising costs for facilities and staffing, and slow response to customers using the Web and phone channels.
The survey provided senior managers a description of UC capabilities across several business areas and asked them how these capabilities would affect their current business processes. Key findings from this global survey for financial firms include:
Small and medium-size businesses face challenges unique to their size and environment. They need to respond quickly to their customers and build long-term satisfaction. Additionally, the employees require effective communications to improve project completion and reduce business delays. UC addresses the needs of these smaller businesses by improving business agility, accelerating project completion, and increasing overall worker productivity. Across all industries interviewed, UC benefits include: