A Mori survey released this week suggests that small businesses are increasingly confused by the proliferation of voice, data and internet services on offer from telecoms operators and ISPs.
More than half of those surveyed said they would like to see all their communications costs - voice, data and mobile - under the control of a single service provider that found the best packages and services on offer to suit their needs.
The survey was conducted on behalf of Unica, an integrated communications service that acts as an intermediary between businesses and network opertaors.
Mori questioned 301 communications managers at 100 small businesses (those with 250 employees or less), and 201 large businesses (250 plus employees).
Only 25 per cent of small businesses said they were satisfied with their existing operator, while even fewer large businesses (17 per cent) registered satisfaction. Tellingly, 36 per cent of the small businesses accused operators' staff of failing to understand their own products.
Some 48 per cent of smaller firms and 66 per cent of large businesses want the flexibility to add and subtract services as their needs change. But few were able to move on immediately - one third of all respondents admitted they were locked into long-term contractual agreements with operators.
Noel Dunn, co-founder and managing director of Unica, said: "With this survey, we wanted to understand the needs and frustrations of business users faced with the multiplicity of fixed, mobile and internet services now on offer. This is a market that has changed dramatically with deregulation. The downside is that competition has generated confusion and complexity."
Unica claims businesses that stick with the big network operators are missing out on big cost savings. "By focusing purely on service provision, we challenge the view that the most efficient suppliers of communications services are the owners of infrastructure assets," he said.
However, smaller businesses rarely find time to work out which services are the most competitive and useful for them - nor do they find time to act. Barely 30 per cent had changed their operator in the past five years.
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