Communications barriers and latencies can cost small and medium businesses up to 40 percent of their productive time, according to a Siemens-sponsored global study, which I quote below.
I would advise you to use a grain of salt with any study, however, not being able to efficiently communicate with co-workers inside the office and vendors, customers and others outside the company can be a huge waste of time, lost productivity and lost customers. In the end its a loss of money.
I don’t think that investing in a $50,000 or $10,000 unified communication system will solve all of your needs, any more than buying 10 BlackBerry’s will boost sales for a sales team that can’t sell. However, technology is a power tool that can be used to assist in the growth of your business.
The Siemens’ study ascertained the top five pain points to be, in order of their estimated expense to a small-medium sized business are: inefficient coordination; waiting for information; unwanted communications; customer complaints; and barriers to communication. Specifically, they obtained the following responses to each of these pain points:
1. Inefficient Coordination: Sixty-eight percent of respondents have trouble coordinating communications among team members, affecting their ability to respond quickly to time-sensitive customer requests. They also average 3.7 hours per week attempting to coordinate communications across team members, slowing the realization of goals and deadlines.
2. Waiting for Information: Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they experience work delays while waiting for information from others that they have attempted to reach live multiple times using multiple methods. The average delay is 3.5 hours per week per knowledge worker. This is a considerable amount of time to spend before making progress on a particular task, which could negatively affect critical business processes.
3. Unwanted Communications: Unwanted communications, including low-priority calls and voicemail, were experienced by the survey group by 77 percent of respondents, who said they spend two or more hours per week dealing with unwanted communications. These interruptions create distractions and disrupt workflow, leading to lower productivity and missed deadlines.
4. Customer Complaints: Seventy-four percent of respondents said they average 3.3 hours per week dealing with negative comments or complaints from customers, specifically because the customer was unable to reach them in a timely fashion. This eight percent loss in productivity is itself significant, but the true cost of customer dissatisfaction may be much greater.
5. Barriers to Collaboration: Sixty-one percent of respondents find difficulty in establishing collaboration sessions with colleagues and average 3.3 hours per week attempting to address issues of inaccessibility or lack of full collaboration with colleagues.
Other Findings. Another finding of the SIS International Research study is that SMB employees are highly mobile, with more than 50 percent identifying themselves as mobile workers, either traveling outside the office, roaming inside the office, or working from home some or all of the time. Overall, SMBs placed a high or very high priority on improving communications for mobile workers.
Researchers also confirmed that SMBs are increasingly using various communications technologies, including phone, instant messaging, and video conferencing, in an effort to increase productivity. However, they found that the proliferation of these technologies has created multiple points of presence for individual employees with which other employees must contend. The resulting fragmentation of the SMB communication fabric can create a barrier to effective communications and collaboration.
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