Smaller communications resellers are in danger of missing out on VoIP sales to SMB as larger integrators take hold of the market, according to IDC.
The analyst firm conducted a survey that found VoIP adoption in the SME sector was less than half of that seen to date in the enterprise space. It estimated rates of 20 per cent in enterprise, 11 per cent among medium-sized companies and seven per cent for small companies.
"The problem for the smaller PBX resellers, often with only a few staff, is that the whole business is changing away from proprietary PBX to data-centric technologies," IDC research director for telecommunications, Landry Fevre, said.
IDC advised smaller resellers to embrace IP telephony now - rather than waiting 12 months when it could be too late because of increased competition from the dominant convergence integrators.
IDC divides the bigger players into network, equipment and data centric. Data centric integrators such as IBM-Logicalis [recently renamed Cerulean] were in the early ascendancy, Fevre said.
The way forward for SME level resellers was around forging partnerships, he said.
"Partnering with IP capable PBX vendors such as Alcatel allows the adoption of VoIP later and these big vendors would help resellers," Fevre said.
Gaining certification now in the relevant vendor technologies would equip them for the future, he said. Challenges facing SME resellers included both business and technical issues.
Procuring packaged VoIP solutions and minimising customer contact time to reduce costs were also issues, Fevre said.
IPL general manager, Robert Hastings, said he anticipated SME adoption as a natural evolution downwards from enterprise. But the communications distributor would take a wait and see approach for now.
Based on cost, the business case for VoIP adoption at the SMB level was probably still not quite there yet, according to Hastings, but the hardware was being put in place.
"We have 128 resellers and the majority are taking on IP PBX hardware," he said.