SMEs defy downturn with continued investment in comms

70% of small firms see communications technology as critical to their business and will invest now or within the next year

Despite, or perhaps because of the effects of the current recession, over 70% of small businesses in UK , France , Italy and Russia see communications technology as critical to their business and over 60% plan to make investments in technology now or within the next year.

These are the key findings of new research by Avaya which also revealed a small business environment that is still investing in communications technology, even during these tough economic times.

Most small businesses in the UK , France , Italy , and Russia indicated that they are investing in technology right now, or plan to do so within the year.  In the UK , 79% of businesses, 71% in France , 69% in Italy and 63% in Russia regard communications technology as critical to their business and something that they would spend money on.

When looking at keeping employees as productive as possible, communications tools won pout out in France (with 56 % of those surveyed rating it as most important) and Russia  (39%) over compensation and flexible work schedules, which were more deemed more important for productivity in the UK and Italy.

The small businesses have, however, revealed reticence in implementing some critical communications technologies, such as telecommuting and mobility.   A majority of those surveyed across multiple markets—80% in France, 78% in Russia, 65% in Italy, 59% in UK—, said they would employ technology to enable employees to work from home if they could trial it first and see the benefits.

Two thirds of respondents from the UK and 60% from France said the most compelling reason for allowing a small business employee to work from home is to increase productivity, while 74% of those surveyed from Italy and 65% from Russia felt that lowering overhead expenses were more important reasons for allowing employees to telecommute.

Yet the survey also revealed that most small businesses did not yet have the capabilities to equip employees to work away from the office. According to the survey, 57% of respondents in Russia, 46% in Italy and France and 42% in the UK say that less than a quarter of their employees – and in some cases no employees – are currently equipped to work away from the office (i.e. on the road, at home, while traveling, etc.). And when it comes to location, most small businesses 67% in France , 66% in Russia 65% in the UK and 61% in Italy , say they need employees at the office or job site every day. 

Commented Anthony Bartolo, vice president and general manager of Avaya’s Integrated Office Communications division,  “Even though they are ready to invest, [small businesses] still need guidance on what is possible, what is affordable, and what will get them the most benefit. More small businesses recognise the productivity and motivational benefits of being able to let employees work from home or on the road but many are still hesitant to take the leap or are relying on past practices. They need to gain a better understanding of how telecommuting and mobility technologies can deliver a competitive edge. The advanced IP and unified communications technologies available today are not just for big business anymore.”


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