Taking care of business

How can software and unified communications help you run your business?


The recession is prompting a growing number of companies to consider the software as a service (SAAS) model, leveraging low initial cost and a pay as you go approach to minimise costs and create a highly flexible operation. But how do the cost arguments stack up? In some areas, such as CRM, there is little differential in cost between the traditional and SAAS model. However, when it comes to the adoption of unified communications (UC) the differentials are significant.

Not only can an organisation completely remove all capital expenditure, but operational costs are typically reduced by one third and are based on actual user numbers, enabling the business to ensure fixed costs are aligned with resources. Critically, the technology delivers the enhanced communication and improved productivity required to sustain business today, whilst providing an excellent platform for profitable expansion in the future.

Simon Paton, managing director of CommuniGate Systems UK, outlines the advantages unified communications delivers using the SAAS model.

Flexible business model
There may be no sure fire strategy for riding out a recession, but there is some consensus: organisations need to minimise fixed costs and create a highly flexible operation that can respond rapidly to the forthcoming business highs and lows. As a result, many SMB companies are putting capital expenditure on hold and looking closely at the costs associated with ICT.

There is a pressing need to maximise productivity and effectiveness, especially with a reduced head count. As organisations retrench, individuals are increasingly taking on expanded roles, and companies are looking to introduce flexible working practices that minimise employee expenditure and ensure retention of the best, most profitable staff.

With fixed IT costs set in stone, organisations have no spare resources to upgrade or exploit new technology, or even consider new investments. Fixed IT costs are becoming a major barrier to recession-busting strategies.

So just how can an SMB attain these without the massive up front investment and on-going cost that is typically associated with UC?

Low cost
While the high price tag associated with deploying a UC solution has deterred many SMBs until now, the reduction in broadband connectivity costs enables organisations to implement UC as a hosted service. As a result, the SAAS model is making UC accessible and affordable across the board. In addition to removing the need for capital expenditure in the area of telecommunications, SAAS offers significant potential operational savings.

Without a doubt, one of the most compelling aspects of SAAS is the low initial investment. There is no need to embark upon expensive and time consuming comparisons of hardware and tests for system compatibility. The expenses associated with planning and constructing the system are minimal, and license fees lower.

But it is the on-going, highly flexible cost model that will prove a real boon during a recession. When compared with standard maintenance and support costs for an internal PBX, for example, the move to an SAAS model can reduce operational costs by a third.

With a hosted solution, there is no need for experienced onsite staff to manage the system. The service provider is responsible for the availability of instant messaging, shared calendars or VoIP services around the clock. Furthermore, hosted UC ensures predictability in the IT annual budget: the SAAS solution can work on a pay per user basis or monthly fixed price, enabling the company’s costs to change in line with business expansion or contraction.

SAAS priority
Many organisations are now considering the compelling cost and flexibility benefits of SAAS. But it is important to prioritise investment. Communication costs are one of the highest facing any business, and an SAAS UC service offers far greater savings and operational benefits than any other area of the infrastructure.

By migrating to a robust SAAS UC platform, organisations can save money, improve flexibility and achieve a low cost route to innovative technologies as and when required by the business.