A lot of what's written about unified communications, the marketing blurb, product datasheets, independent reports and so on is angled towards the corporate market. Which is all very well, but smaller organisations have just as much to gain, if not more, from what UC has to offer.

Small companies need to be a lot fleeter of foot, to react quickly to new leads, answer queries faster than the competition and generally, project a professional image that belies their size. More than that, staff in small companies need to be able to juggle multiple roles, often with no permanent office base or help, making keeping track of what's going on and who's doing what absoultely crucial.

A unified comms policy can make a big difference here, even if it's not an all-embracing solution like that a large company might adopt. After all, if you've only got a few dozen employees in a couple of offices, desk-to-desk video conferencing may not have a huge impact on productivity.

A means of finding out where those employees are at any one time, however, is fast becoming essential. As is the ability to direct phone calls, email and other communications by the most effective means (presence) and for staff to be able to respond using whatever medium comes to hand.

Equally essential is being able to empower staff to work flexibly, from the office, home or on the road, and to enable them to collaborate with others and share information wherever they are.

If that means an integrated unified communications product from a company like Avaya, Cisco or Polycom, and they money's there, then fine. For those with shallower pockets, however,  it's equally fine to pick the most important bits and maybe deploy them using hosted services.

Bottom line - small companies need unified communications just like the big guys, but they don't necessarily need it all.

This article is written by Alan Stevens and sponsored by Avaya. The opinions reflected in this piece are solely those of Alan Stevens and may not reflect those of Avaya management