Communication key productivity factor: study
Munich, April 13, 2009
Communications barriers and latencies can cost small and medium businesses (SMBs) up to 40 per cent of their productive time, according to a Siemens-sponsored global study.
On average, 70 per cent of employee respondents of SMBs with up to 400 employees said they spend 17.5 hours each week addressing the pain points caused by communications barriers and latencies, according to a global study sponsored by Siemens Enterprise Communications and conducted by SIS International Research.
The research also showed that while SMB awareness of unified communications as a solution is rising, nearly 60 per cent of SMBs do not currently employ one based on the sampling.
In addition, researchers at SIS International Research determined that the time spent per week dealing with communications issues was more than 50 per cent higher in companies with more than 20 workers.
In hard costs, the study concluded, companies of 100 employees could be losing more than $500,000 each year by not addressing their employees’ most painful communications issues.
The Siemens-sponsored SMB study ascertained the top five pain points to be, in order of their estimated expense to an SMB: 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent loss in productivity is itself significant, but the true cost of customer dissatisfaction may be much greater.
5. Barriers to collaboration: Sixty-one per cent 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.
Another finding of the SIS International Research study is that SMB employees are highly mobile, with more than 50 per cent 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<