International communication: the challenge for SMBs
It’s a challenge faced by many small-to-medium sized business owners – an employee travels abroad, and needs to stay in touch with the office and business contacts on the ground, only returning to face a colossal mobile phone bill writes Alex Blinko.
For many SMBs in today’s 24/7 connected world travel and communication are absolutely vital. Where a few years ago, voice was the key component to stay connected internationally, data has now risen to become an integral part of the business travellers’ arsenal.
Global mobile data traffic grew 81 per cent in 2013; making it 18 times larger than all Internet traffic in in 2000. A recent survey of Australian business travellers demonstrated the significant growth in reliance on email, with 54 per cent of businesses surveyed using it to stay connected while travelling internationally.
Not surprisingly, the cost of both data and voice charges are contributing to the roaming employee’s (and their employer’s) challenge when travelling or communicating internationally. And with Australian businesses travelling frequently – with 65 per cent travelling to North America, 54.9 to Oceania, 67.2 to Europe and 70.7 to East Asia, SMBs are seeking a simple and affordable solution to managing their international communications.
Mitigating the pain points for SMBs - A local perspective for international business
Time and money are often the prior- ity of small-to-medium businesses, and with some international mobile bills topping five figures in a single trip, managing or reducing costs can be a cause of concern for the SMB owner or manager.
For SMBs opening or operating in new markets, finding solutions such as using local SIM cards present additional challenges over and above cost alone. Using local SIM cards limits usage to that specific country, and means employees lose the ability to stay connected to people trying to contact them on their existing phone number.
Truphone’s patented SIM card allows an employee to store up to eight international mobile numbers on a single SIM, from any country in the Truphone Zone. This enables ‘always-on’ connectivity, with contacts able to reach the employee on a local numbers, at local rates wherever they are in the world.
The added value for SMBs is they have a real ‘ in-country presence’ with these local numbers being always active, and providing them a local point of contact – essentially their own shop-front – in countries where they frequently do business. This can help SMBs level the playing field, and remove some of the barriers of doing business internationally.
Shared bundles, at home and abroad
Another challenge for SMBs can be maximising their communications costs across all their employees that travel and communicate internationally.
SMBs should seek a provider which offers shared bundles that suit the needs of their entire fleet. Our shared global bundles have an allowance of calls, texts and data that can be used across a number of subscribers in 66 countries, and we’ve just recently announced the world’s first half a terabyte data plan. For SMBs with cost-savings top of mind, this enables them to spread the usage across a number of employees, so if one employee’s usage is reduced in a month, this can be utilised by another staff member.
Peace of mind without the policy
In an attempt to curb international communications costs, SMBs are also looking to policy as a potential solution. Often policies will limit usage to Wi-Fi hotspots, or prohibiting use altogether, however the impacts on productivity and staying connected whilst abroad are often felt, and for employees travelling internationally, often such policies are ignored.
Relying on Wi-Fi can mitigate costs, but the convenience factor is not always present. Looking for directions between meetings, or needing to check emails on the go are potential pitfalls of a reliance on Wi-Fi only.
So if policy or utilising free Wi- Fi is not the answer, how do SMBs get peace of mind in managing their international communications without limiting productivity? Shareable international plans can remove the need to curb usage, and give SMB owners and managers peace of mind, and control over costs for their employees travelling internationally.
One thing is clear: Australian SMBs looking to expand or operate internationally have an increasing need for affordable international mobile communications. To stay competitive and compete on a global stage, SMBs doing business abroad need to ensure all their staff have access to seamless, cost-effective global communications, and one that gives them peace of mind in controlling costs.
Alex Blinko is Managing Director, Truphone Australia.