‘The New Big’: The need for mid-size comms systems

Avaya extols the virtues of low-cost SME comms solutions

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‘The New Big’: The need for mid-size comms systems Nidal Abou-Ltaif, VP Middle East Africa and Turkey, Avaya.
By  Nidal Abou Ltaif Published  March 18, 2013

Following the recent news that NASDAQ Dubai is preparing to launch the first equity market in the Middle East dedicated to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), based on its estimate that around 72,000 SMEs generate 40% of Dubai's gross domestic product, technology companies are increasingly addressing this key segment of the market with solutions that enable SMEs to achieve their business and growth objectives.

With mid-sized businesses accounting for up to a third or more of the GDP in countries across the wider Middle East, Africa and Turkey, Avaya has deemed the SME sector to be ‘The New Big' for the region.  SMEs are less risk-averse than larger, more established organisations - they invest in new technology because they understand that in order for their organisation to grow, they need to take informed decisions about which solutions can make them more competitive and customer-centric.

Consulting group McKinsey & Co estimates that there are more than 10m SMEs in the Middle East, with an estimated growth of 14% per annum and the potential to double from $6bn in 2010 to $15bn by 2015 (source: Zawya). Mid-size enterprises in the region range anywhere from 50 to 250 employees, with staff managing a number of blended roles to complete tasks and meet customer demands.

Recent research conducted by T3i Group as well as Avaya's own insight into the regional midmarket indicates that companies with between 100 and 500 employees require similar features and functionality as larger businesses, but at a lower cost of ownership because IT budgets and resources are more limited and managed in-house. Considering that more than 90% of businesses in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey have fewer than 500 employees, there is a clear need for midsized business solutions to meet their specific needs.

Efficient, personalised communication with customers and effective inter-office collaboration are critical elements for SMEs fighting for market share and growth opportunities.  Avaya has found that it is important to offer this key segment of the region's business community with a wide range of options for communications and collaboration via voice, messaging, video conferencing, and Web-based applications, and ensuring employee accessibility and collaboration, whether they are in the office, working at home, or on the road empowering them to become "The New Big" enterprises of tomorrow.

Simplifying the complex business communications systems by providing built-in enterprise class collaboration features is what the mid-size market needs. Solutions that are highly scalable give mid-sized companies in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey a more cost-effective, simplified way to manage growing staff on a network across one or multiple sites. Another challenge faced by SME's is their networking and video conferencing requirements. They are looking for a time-saving, straightforward process that's ideal for organisations that may not have dedicated IT staff. Finally, we found that customers don't want to be confined in expensive video conferencing rooms to stay visually connected with their customers, peers and partners and that making video mobile and affordable to mid-size enterprises helps them stay constantly connected through their device of choice.

Just as traditional economies are looking to emerging markets for growth, so SMEs in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey are providing a much-needed boost to the GDPs of the countries in which they are located.  The days of complicated IT solutions, intended for larger enterprises, have come to an end - SMEs are looking for simple yet innovative systems which address their specific communications and collaboration needs. Recognising the role that mid-sized enterprises are increasingly playing in shaping regional economies, we found that not only do organisations have to deliver communication and networking solutions, but they also have to train and ready their channel infrastructure, demanded by the region's SMEs as they progress.

Take the evolution of the stereo home music systems as a metaphor for change in the business communication sector.  People would spend hours in the store trying to build all components of the system, the CD, amplifier, speakers, cabling, outputs, inputs, cassette...etc., and these were sold and serviced by salespeople who knew how to make them work.  Today, individuals can just buy an iPod that can hold thousands of hours of music with all the musical features you want, plug them in powerful docking station speakers, and you have your home music system, and the salespeople have had to evolve with the times and learn how to sell a simpler yet innovative product to the same customers.

The benefit of having a simplified solution enables mid-sized organisations to meet the demands of the market while still keeping costs low. Avaya's concept is to deliver simplicity with innovation, so SMEs can focus on growing their business because they have all the solutions needed to do so.

Solutions developed for the SME community require channel partners in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey with the market knowledge to help deploy these solutions.  Resellers need the flexibility and vision to adapt their businesses to address the needs of the mid-market.

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