Thursday, June 25, 2009

SMEs in China: Promising in mobile UC

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: With a strong domestic market, SMEs in China are less exposed to the global economic climate than most of their counterparts in other countries. As a result, they expect to continue spending on telecoms during the downturn.

“They are price-sensitive and are more likely to adopt managed and hosted services in order to avoid up-front capital investments, however we recommend caution when looking at these expectations”, said Claudio Castelli, Senior Analyst based in Melbourne.

"Even in China, economic growth is slowing considerably. At some stage it is likely that cash-strapped SMEs will look to cut costs and that budgets may not be converted into actual spend”, advised Castelli.

Mobility is growing fast among SMEs in China -- currently 61 percent of their employees have some degree of mobility; but this high level of mobility is not yet reflected in expenditure on mobile services. As is the case in most Asian countries, SMEs in China don’t supply mobile devices to their employees; mobile users supply and support their own personal mobile devices when at work.

“We believe this practice has a high degree of risk for the business”, added Castelli. However this scenario is likely to change, as SMEs expect their expenditure to grow more on mobile services than on fixed services. “Moreover, recent reforms in the Chinese telecoms market and the release of 3G licences nationwide will promote more services and competition, further accentuating this growth”, he adds.

SMEs in China are also expecting to adopt new mobile applications. Considering the magnitude of the Chinese market, this is a major opportunity for vendors and service providers.

Mobile email has the highest potential to grow, while other promising mobile applications include mobile IM and mobile multimedia, which offer great opportunities for mobile UC providers. Applications that address the specific needs of mobile workforces, such as tracking of goods or vehicles, field service automation and sales force automation, will also be in demand.

In addition, there are a few companies deploying specific solutions for people moving around within the workplace, and we see potential for fixed–mobile convergence (FMC) solutions.

Many SMEs are willing to deploy PBX-like features on their mobile phones -– some expect these to be provided by a mobile service provider while others expect to deploy them at their own premises. However, it will be difficult to deploy integrated solutions based on users’ personal devices. “SMEs will need to take full control of their mobility solutions, including mobile devices”, concludes Castelli.

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