Cisco Blogs

Small Businesses, Big Collaboration Needs

May 26, 2016 - 4 Comments

I have worked in the communications industry for over 20 years and never before have I been so excited by the amount of change I am seeing. Change can be scary, but it also brings new opportunities.

One of the topics I hear about most is new business models enabled by digitization. It seems that every industry is being disrupted in some way — some more than others, and some faster. Every business I speak to is worried about:

  • Who will be the next new entrant to their market
  • How they will be disrupted
  • What market shift could catch them off guard

Everyone seems to be up on their toes, ears pricked. This is scary for those being disrupted, but good for those that disrupt — and for their customers.

Recently I caught up with Zeus Kerravala, an industry analyst I admire. We talked about how the business landscape is evolving, how fast, and how our industry is helping organizations react or disrupt. We discussed the basic forces at play and Zeus agreed to research the top small-business challenges and how unified communications and collaboration solutions help with each.
Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 11.02.19

Zeus conducted more than 50 one-on-one interviews with small-business owners and IT leaders to understand their top business and IT priorities. He has now published his findings and his paper is a very good read. In it Zeus points to some key findings around:

  • Top small-company business and IT priorities
  • The benefits of unified communications as a service
  • Recommendations around cloud-based services, using Cisco Spark services as a lead example

For me, the golden nugget of Zeus’s paper is where he makes a vital connection between what small business are trying to achieve and the IT services that are available to them. This is a key observation, and understanding it is one of the foundations of success for any business. Zeus points out that technology alone isn’t the key. Importantly, he digs into how businesses deploy these services, particularly small businesses with limited IT resources. He recommends that collaboration technologies are critical, but extends this to suggest that maximizing the benefits of theses services requires that organizations adopt them successfully.

We are experiencing massive disruption in our own industry, particularly around the cloud. Zeus’s summary centers on his view that UCaaS delivers all the benefits of UC without the associated complexity of deploying and maintaining the technology. UCaaS is aligned with a cloud and mobile-first world, and it ensures organizations are working with the latest features instead of having to wait for IT-scheduled upgrades. He concludes that UCaaS should be a top initiative for small business leaders. I agree.

Download Zeus’s paper here. Use the comments area below to share your thoughts around his paper and the art of balancing small-business initiatives and technology.

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. Perhaps, int next future , we will see more transition from IoT to IoE and more connected the unconnected for small business also.
    Best regards.

    • Yes Mohammed. I agree. I think IoE/IoT and generally being more connected will help drive both the business priorities, and are part of the IT IT priorities.
      Thanks for reading and commenting on the blog post. Really appreciate it.

  2. Being a secure business can be a valuable market differentiator for small businesses. Although IT Security is only #3 on the challenges list, it should be somewhere in the top 5 priorities as well.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read the post and also commenting.
      I agree with you, security is a big business priority and for some is a massive differentiator. But perhaps what the research is telling us is that the other items are simply bigger priorities and while security is important, for those interviewed at least, other items are more pressing.