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Small businesses don’t think small.

Yet, many small and medium businesses (SMBs) have looked at unified communications (UC) – and decided that UC is a grand concept that’s too big to fit their needs and budget. But times have changed, and more solutions are being tailored to be the right fit for SMBs.

On behalf of small and midsize businesses everywhere, ShoreTel presents The SMB Manifesto for UC.

What gives us the right? ShoreTel has long served the SMB market with an award-winning UC solution.

  1. We want to leave the office, and stay in touch. Our employees don’t necessarily work in the office every day, and we often work from home or on the road. With UC, our employees can work from anywhere at any time. We want to use our desk phones, softphones on our iPads and laptops, mobile phones, and home office phones – and still be reachable via a single number. (And for those small business owners still striving for work/life balance, we want to control how calls are handled by time of day, caller ID or our calendars.) We want to get to our email, voicemail and faxes through a single inbox. Work must continue to flow, no matter where our employees are at the moment.
  2. We don’t want to sacrifice features because we don’t have big budgets. We don’t want to give up communications and collaboration capabilities just because we lack the deep pockets of a Fortune 1000 company. We want all of the UC capabilities that our bigger competitors have -- voice and telephony, conferencing, email and messaging, presence and instant messaging, clients, and communications applications. We don’t want to buy stripped-down systems and then pay big prices to upgrade to new platforms as our company grows.
  3. We are mobile. We want to be able to work from any network, cellular or Wi-Fi, simply and cost effectively. And we rely on our smartphones, both in the office and on the road, but we don’t want to be hit with huge cellular phone bills from our providers – or have poor in-building coverage.
  4. We want to collaborate easily. With intuitive collaboration tools, we can easily schedule conference calls, connect other people into our calls, and even turn an audio conference into a Web or video conference. Plus, we’ll save money by not buying costly third-party conferencing services and on unnecessary business travel. And that means more profits to re-invest in our business.
  5. We want to keep our customers satisfied. When a customer has a question, we want to be able to find the right person to answer right away. We don’t want to leave customers on hold while we call the three phone numbers of the five different people who might know the answer – and might be free at that moment. With presence, our employees can share their availability and see the availability of others. We can find the right person – fast.
  6. We want our phone system to integrate with our other applications and systems. We want the UC system to work with our other business applications, such as e-mail and salesforce automation, so that we can stay productive in our favorite applications.
  7. We want IT solutions that last – and are easy to manage. We have better things to do than install, configure and manage IT products. Like run a business. Nor can we afford to throw out last year’s technology for this year’s shiny new model. Any UC solution we buy should deliver lasting value.
  8. How you treat us matters. The buying experience is just as important – maybe even more important – than the technology. We appreciate straightforward pricing and good customer support.

Small and medium businesses can think big with ShoreTel. Whether customers have 10 employees or 20,000, they get the same rich feature set. We don’t ask small business customers to compromise. We provide features that small offices want, such as paging, but we also provide enterprise-class features such as advanced mobility and 99.99 percent reliability.

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