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SMEs take to tele-conferencing

Seema Sindhu  |  New Delhi 

IT services company Solutions Enterprise Pvt Ltd’s offices in Mumbai and Ahmedabad used to be connected with its partner companies in Britain over the Internet and a virtual private network (VPN). However, the quality of communication had always been poor.

“The voice quality was unsatisfactory and the entire solution was not very reliable, as there used to be frequent problems in one of the components. Besides, the need for additional features grew over time,” says Pratik Patel, director, Solutions Enterprise. To sort it out, the company deployed Cisco’s SIP-based IP phones and Analog phones.

“We now operate with more flexibility and ease due to efficient pickup and incoming call features. Conferencing is being used effectively for group discussions and support calls, giving users better control over outgoing calls. Soft clients (Cisco’s IP Communicator soft phone, which is a software integrated with Windows PC) are used by key executives, enabling them to attend their calls even while they are on the move,” says a happy Patel.

Unified communications (or UC, such as tele-conferencing and video-conferencing) is no longer restricted to large enterprises. Like Solutions Enterprise, many other small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have started adopting UC.

Anshul Dhingra, senior marketing manager, Polycom (India & SAARC), observes, “SMEs have been enjoying the benefits of UC solutions to collaborate with various stakeholders. Voice conferencing has found application across the segment. With increased awareness about the vast benefits of visual collaboration solutions, the market is fast adopting this technology as well.”

In today’s competitive environment, organisations of all sizes and across industries are trying to contain costs without limiting their ability to execute and innovate. The ongoing economic slowdown has forced many companies, including SMEs, to cut down on travel and go in for cost-effective alternatives such as teleconferencing solutions.

Reasons Rajesh K K, business development manager, Tele-presence Systems, Cisco India & SAARC: “SMEs are steadily increasing their exposure in global markets. Thus, we are expecting a lot of business from this sector in the coming year. Their investment in tele-presence and collaborative solutions is likely to take off soon and will continue to grow in the forthcoming years.”

SMEs require solutions that are easy to understand and use. But the multitude of application options available in the market makes it difficult for SMEs to choose the communications solution that fits their specific needs. With the demand for UC rising, companies are launching simpler, customised products. For instance, Avaya recently launched new version of Avaya IP Office, the company’s flagship communications solution for SMEs. The new version — Avaya IP Office Release 5 — is a software that simplifies UC and customer service for SMEs.

The industry believes that various factors like increase in broadband penetration, the rollout of 3G services, government efforts and initiatives by the banking, financial services, insurance, information technology and IT-enabled services sectors will help in catalysing the growth of the UC market in India.

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First Published: Tue, October 06 2009. 00:04 IST