Seek More Mobile, Flexible Communication Systems

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When it comes to communication solutions, small and medium-sized businesses want freedom — from their desks and offices — according to a survey commissioned by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

The survey of more than 350 small to medium-sized organizations across North America revealed that upgrades to laptop computers are the No. 1 spending priority over the next year, followed by investment in wireless local area networks (LANs). The third-most important technology investment for these organizations is the replacement or upgrade of telephone systems.

But for companies with fewer than 100 employees, upgrading the telephone system is No. 1, followed by investment in wireless LANs.

“While the majority of businesses surveyed said their current communications system are easy to use and can be operated and maintained at a relatively low cost, these systems are not viewed as a competitive advantage,” said John Venator, CompTIA president and CEO.

He also said the companies reported that performance can take a downturn when employees do not have adequate communication systems.

“Businesses reported that with their existing systems, they find it hard to manage multiple sources of communications, hard to find people when you need them, and they are relying on devices that perform insufficiently to do their jobs well.”

Further, Venator said the companies that were surveyed think an improved or updated communication system will have a positive effect on their bottom line.

“Their spending priorities center on solutions that will make their employees more productive and mobile,” he said.

Other aspects of the bottom line also affected why organizations are investing in new communications systems — according to the survey, 46 percent said savings generated through streamlining business process was a major factor in deciding to acquire new or update current communication systems.

Another 30 percent cited cost-cutting within IT and communication spending was the driving force, and 23 percent said it was initiatives to launch services or capabilities.

This is the fourth time CompTIA has commissioned this survey, and its purpose was to determine current and future communications applications and systems at small to midsized businesses.

Many industries were represented in the survey — 38 percent of the respondents were from professional and personal services, discreet manufacturing and health care. Others included financial and real estate services, process manufacturing, construction, education, technical services, retail, banking, government, wholesale trade, insurance and transportation.

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