Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

A study commissioned by Siemens revealed that small and midsize businesses have some serious communications agita. The good news—if it can be called that—is the SMB agita is exactly the same as what large enterprises suffer.

The report, “SMB Communications Pain Study: Uncovering the Hidden Costs of Communications Barriers and Latency,” conducted by SIS Research, shows that the top five areas of concern, in order, among the SMB crowd regarding communications mirror those of their enterprise brethren:

  • inefficient coordination
  • waiting for information
  • unwanted communications
  • customer complaints
  • barriers to collaboration

What’s more, the cost of downtime per employee in the SMB space parallels the large enterprise space—a cost that might be easier to swallow for enterprises, but not so easy for those with smaller staffs and smaller budgets.

Among the results, the survey noted the time spent per week dealing with communications issues was more than 50 percent higher in companies with more than 20 workers. In hard costs, companies with 100 employees could be losing more than $500,000 each year simply because of the pain points, according to the survey.

“We realized when we conducted the study that certain pain points—unwanted e-mail, for example—weren’t going to go away, so we asked SMBs how important it was to address those issues,” said Tricia Cooper, director of strategic marketing at Siemens. “In other words, does it matter enough to these people to want to do something about it?”

Survey results, she said, were astounding: Forty-one percent of respondents said having a solution to reduce the time spent addressing those top five pain points is a very high or extremely high priority.

“That was an important point,” Cooper said. “You can talk costs per employee and how well a solution will work all you want, but they have to want to do something about it [to make a difference].”

Also, the study noted that SMBs are increasingly using multiple technologies to increase productivity. But the proliferation of these technologies has created multiple points of presence for individual employees with which other employees must contend, according to the study.

“So now to reach someone you have a person leaving a voice mail, sending an e-mail and calling a cell phone, which reduces productivity not only for the person who’s leaving all these different messages, but also for the person who later has to go and erase all the redundant messages,” Cooper noted.

The survey was intended not only to discover the SMB space’s communication problems, but also to demonstrate how solution providers can use unified communications technology to help those problems, she said.

“There is no silver bullet to alleviate human latency, but we can use technology to help lessen the pain,” Cooper said.

The survey was conducted globally with 513 respondents from Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Each country had a 12 percent participation in the survey with the exception of India and Brazil, which each made up 13 percent of the participants. All the respondents worked in the communications, finance, health care, insurance, manufacturing, professional business services, real estate or wholesale or retail trade vertical.