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VoIP Uptake Continues To Grow Among Smaller Businesses, Albeit Slowly

Despite other pressing technology concerns, small and midsize businesses worldwide are creeping forward with their spending on VoIP communications systems, according to a new study from AMI-Partners.More than half of the $6 billion SMBs are expected to spend on all types of voice communications systems in 2008 will be on IP-PBX and converged PBX systems, says Sanjeev Aggarwal, AMI-Partners' VP for SMB infrastructure solutions. That $3.21 billion is up from last year's $2.99 billion and is expected to reach $4.32 billion in 2012. "The encouraging results from the early migrations from TDM-based PBXs [including key systems] to IP-based PBXs have positively influenced worldwide demand," Aggarwal says, though the report does acknowledge growth is slower than originally expected due to economic conditions.

According to's own research, potential cost savings are the No. 1 reason SMBs are turning to the unified communications space as a whole. AMI's report concurs. The leading reasons why SMBs are slowly replacing their old phone systems with VoIP -- even though enhancing security, data backup, upgrading network bandwidth, and improving collaboration are mainly on their minds, AMI says -- are:

  • to save money on local/long distance phone calls (cited by 72% of small businesses with 1-99 employees, and 68% of midsize businesses with 100-999 employees)
  • to improve employee productivity (25% small, 36% midsize)
  • to improve access and integration of their mobile employees (20% small, 33% midsize)

The biggest opportunity for vendors is among small businesses, which far outnumber the number of midsize businesses, according to AMI. Talk about timing: On Wednesday came word that Microsoft is partnering with 8x8 to offer the VoIP provider's phone service through Microsoft's Response Point small business phone system.

In and of itself, the teaming isn't earth-shattering, according to ITBusinessEdge. However, it does "point to the fact that VoIP is well on its way to becoming an everyday option for even very small businesses."