P2P to play bigger role in SME

Small enterprises form one of the largest segments in Europe. However, they have been left out of the march towards next generation communication technologies. Peer-to-peer (P2P) technologies hold the promise of bridging this gap by providing large system capabilities at much lower costs. Frost & Sullivan finds that the European Peer-to-Peer Telephony Markets enjoyed a 0.3% penetration in 2006 and estimates this to reach 3.6% in 2012.

“The availability of large system capabilities at the price of small systems is incentive enough to gain interest from small enterprise stakeholders,” says Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Shomik Banerjee. “What remain to be demonstrated are the fundamentals pertaining to ease-of-use and maintenance.”

The sub-20 segment of the enterprise communication market is by far the largest in terms of number of businesses. Moreover, this is one segment that has fallen far behind in the race to use the latest technologies. A significant opportunity exists in this segment, untapped by larger participants until recently.

Although the market size and scope is huge, it is highly dispersed. This, in addition to the lack of a common buying behaviour, is emphasising the importance of channel effectiveness in order to generate business.

“Far from large and small cities, a huge chunk of businesses are set up in areas that may not necessarily have electronics accessories stores,” adds Mr. Banerjee. “Supporting such businesses is bound to lead to high costs.”

Ultimately, the most pervasive telecom entity is the service provider whose network is the food pipe for communication. Partnering with them can help address a set of challenges that will otherwise restrain growth in the P2P telephony markets.