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Monday, March 2, 2009

Small Businesses Could Lose More Than $5,000 Per Employee Per Year to Inefficient Communications

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.

Telephony World

On average, 70 percent of employee respondents of small and medium businesses (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 percent 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 percent 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.

Key Findings. The Siemens-sponsored SMB study ascertained the top five pain points to be, in order of their estimated expense to an SMB ...:

1. Inefficient Coordination: Sixty-eight percent of respondents have trouble coordinating communications among team members... They ... 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 ... The average delay is 3.5 hours per week per knowledge worker. ...

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. ...

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.

... 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. ... The resulting fragmentation of the SMB communication fabric can create a barrier to effective communications and collaboration.

... “With the SIS research suggesting that unified communications can help SMBs eliminate as much as 20 percent of hidden costs due to fragmented communications, it’s clear that the return on investment is significant,” [said Frost & Sullivan analyst, Vanessa Alvarez.] ...

The study surveyed a total of 513 knowledge workers, in Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, United States, and United Kingdom. The knowledge workers also represented eight key vertical industries: communications, finance, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, professional business services, real estate, and wholesale or retail trade. For an executive summary of the research, go to [www.siemens.com/us/open/smb].