Cost ver­sus pro­duc­tiv­ity: the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions chal­lenge

Tech­nol­ogy can as­sist businesses to re­duce costs, im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity and reach new eco­nomic mar­kets, but in an in­creas­ingly glob­alised world, many businesses are chal­lenged to man­age in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions sim­ply and cost ef­fec­tively. A re­search p

Business First - - CONTENTS - by Alex Blinko

Re­search con­ducted by Tru­phone found that more than one in 10 em­ploy­ees in or­gan­i­sa­tions sur­veyed had a mo­bile roam­ing bill higher than $5,000 from a sin­gle busi­ness trip abroad. Man­ag­ing costs was by far the big­gest chal­lenge iden­ti­fied for Aus­tralian businesses with em­ploy­ees who travel over­seas, with 40.1 per cent of re­spon­dents cit­ing this as a ma­jor busi­ness is­sue.

This puts or­gan­i­sa­tions in a very dif­fi­cult po­si­tion. Man­agers are seek­ing to give staff the tools they need to ade- quately com­mu­ni­cate with stake­hold­ers in over­seas lo­ca­tions, as well as re­main pro­duc­tive while away on in­ter­na­tional busi­ness trips. But given the high cost of in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions, many businesses are fac­ing sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges in find­ing a so­lu­tion.

So how can Aus­tralian businesses bet­ter man­age their in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions? The re­search re­vealed some in­ter­est­ing in­sights into how or­gan­i­sa­tions are man­ag­ing these chal­lenges, and the im­pli­ca­tions on cost and pro­duc­tiv­ity. Main­tain­ing con­nec­tiv­ity A key find­ing of the re­search was businesses with staff trav­el­ling in­ter­na­tion­ally have a de­pen­dence on email as the pri­mary method of stay­ing con­nected. Of businesses sur­veyed, 63.3 per cent iden­ti­fied email as a key busi­ness tool for em­ploy­ees to com­mu­ni­cate when trav­el­ling over­seas. Close to half the re­spon­dents iden­ti­fied free Wi-Fi as a pri­mary source of con­nec­tiv­ity for busi­ness trav­ellers, fol­lowed by use of cur­rent mo­bile providers’ roam­ing ser­vices (39.9%).

The same can be found for businesses with fre­quent in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions from Aus­tralia. Re­liance on email for com­mu­ni­ca­tions to over­seas con­tacts is high, with 54 per cent of re­spon­dents us­ing email to stay con­nected to con­tacts abroad. Cost the key con­cern More than two in five re­spon­dents said cost had caused prob­lems for their busi­ness. Of the businesses sur­veyed, al­most a third (27.2 per cent) of their an­nual mo­bile spend is on in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions, with nearly one in five (17.7 per cent) spend­ing more than 40 per cent.

By com­par­i­son, the equiv­a­lent fig­ure for US businesses shows only 11.4 per cent of US com­pa­nies spend more than 40 per cent of their to­tal an­nual mo­bile bill on in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion - ac­cord­ing to re­search com­mis­sioned by Tru­phone and con­ducted by CCMI in Oc­to­ber 2013, In­ter­na­tional Mo­bile Com­mu­ni­ca­tions: How to Bal­ance Con­nec­tiv­ity, Pro­duc­tiv­ity and Cost Con­cerns.

With Aus­tralian businesses seek­ing to ex­pand glob­ally and con­duct busi­ness abroad, the chal­lenge is to bal­ance the de­mand for con­nec­tiv­ity with op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency. One of the ways or­gan­i­sa­tions are try­ing to ad­dress this is through poli­cies to man­age in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Bal­anc­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity con­cerns vs pol­icy To strike the right bal­ance be­tween man­ag­ing the high cost of in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion and en­abling em­ployee pro­duc­tiv­ity, Aus­tralian businesses are turn­ing to pol­icy in an at­tempt to find a so­lu­tion.

Over a third of re­spon­dents sur­veyed (35.4 per cent) have in­sti­gated an in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions pol­icy re­quir­ing em­ploy­ees to only use free Wi-Fi hotspots when work­ing abroad. Sim­i­larly, 29.3 per cent of or­gan­i­sa­tions sur­veyed use poli­cies to limit em­ploy­ees’ use of their de­vices en­tirely.

The im­pacts, whilst harder to mea­sure are most felt from the trav­ellers them­selves. Re­spon­dents to the sur­vey re­ported that they have lost im­por­tant clients due to re­stricted mo­bile ser­vices, and that re­stricted com­mu­ni­ca­tions with col­leagues over­seas have im­pacted de­ci­sion-mak­ing and pro­duc­tiv­ity.

By con­trast, more than a quar­ter (27 per cent) of re­spon­dents have no poli­cies around the way staff use de­vices while abroad. Whilst ac­cept­ing roam­ing charges as a cost of do­ing busi­ness, these businesses are still chal­lenged with man­ag­ing the costs, even though pro­duc­tiv­ity is not hin­dered. Find­ing a so­lu­tion The need for sim­ple, cost-ef­fec­tive in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions is para­mount to the suc­cess of Aus­tralian businesses op­er­at­ing on a global scale. Key to this is pro­vid­ing businesses with an al­ter­na­tive that en­ables them to em­power staff to com­mu­ni­cate in­ter­na­tion­ally, whilst main­tain­ing con­trol on costs.

The re­search in­di­cates there’s an ap­petite across Aus­tralian businesses for an in­ter­na­tional mo­bile provider that pro­vides in­ter­na­tional mo­bile ser­vices at lo­cal rates in mul­ti­ple coun­tries, with a fo­cus on re­li­able con­nec­tiv­ity and ef­fec­tive global cus­tomer sup­port.

And for those Aus­tralian businesses that do em­brace new ways of com­mu­ni­cat­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally, the ben­e­fits of in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity and re­duced costs will pro­pel their busi­ness for­ward glob­ally. Alex Blinko is man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Tru­phone Aus­tralia. Ref­er­ence: ¹The re­search was con­ducted by in­de­pen­dent re­search firm CoreData in Fe­bru­ary 2014. Find­ings are based on re­sponses from 300 in­di­vid­u­als em­ployed in Aus­tralian businesses across a va­ri­ety of sec­tors. Re­sults are based on small-to-medium-sized (40-199 em­ploy­ees) and large-sized (200+ em­ploy­ees) businesses.

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