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February 24, 2009

Companies Having Communication Issues Could Be Losing More Than $5,000

By Jessica Kostek, TMCnet Channel Editor


Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) seem to always be the ones trying to catch up, more recently in communication effectiveness and that’s probably because they are. Large enterprises (LEs) usually have the advantage over SMBs mainly because of their extensive budget plans and fancy equipment. However, according to a global study sponsored by Siemens (News - Alert) Enterprise Communications and conducted by SIS International Research by Siemens Enterprise Communications a surprising factor found in both areas, is that communications pain points between SMBs and LEs are similar.

 
On average, 70 percent of employee respondents of small and medium businesses with up to 400 employees said they spend 17.5 hours each week addressing the pain points caused by communications barriers and latencies. The study also showed that while SMB awareness of unified communications as solution is rising, nearly 60 percent of SMBs do not currently employ one.
 
The Siemens SMB study found the top five pain points to be:
 
  • 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.
  • Unwanted Communications: Unwanted communications, including low-priority calls and voicemail, were experienced by the survey group by 77% 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
 
In comparison between SMBs and LEs the cost per knowledge worker per year for money lost for each listed above is as follows: Waiting for Information: $9,970, $9,806; Unwanted Communications: $7,254, $6,793; Inefficient Coordination: $6,609, $6,712; Barriers to Collaboration: $6,009, $7,454; and Customer Complaints: $5,354, $5,678.
 
Hidden costs is $26,041 knowledge worker/year, $5,246 employee/year
What theoretically means an SMB with 100 employees could have up to $524,569 annually in hidden costs (Assuming $5,246 per year per employee and 100% of the time reported addressing these issues is unproductive).
 
In regards to how SMBs are fixing their communication pains within their company is mostly with Unified Communications (News - Alert). Eighty-three percent have at least heard of UC while 41 percent currently use a UC product.
 
Another finding 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.
 
The study was performed by SIS International Research by: telephone survey methodology with 513 respondents in 8 countries over 8 vertical markets among four company sizes (1 – 400) between September – November 2008.

Jessica Kostek is a channel editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Jessica’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jessica Kostek

 
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