Pro's and Cons of Business Communication Technology
Business communication technology refers to all forms of electronic communications, such as mobile phones, email and e-commerce/social networking websites. Traditionally, these were accessed from the desktop or laptop computer, but recent advances in multiplatform provisioning has enabled the mobile apps revolution. Always on and connected business communication technology has allowed us to take our tools for work where ever we may need it and whenever it suits us, accessed via tablet computers and mobile phones.
Most people would agree that the effect of business communication technology has been beneficial overall, as it has enabled us to be more productive at work and more effective in reaching out to colleagues, suppliers and customers. Whilst this is a good thing overall, critics have often argued there are also downsides to this ubiquitous technology presence.
Here then, are some of the pros and cons of modern business communication technology, listed in no particular order nor arranged in any consideration of importance. Although essentially this is just a working list, it is nevertheless important to consider some of the issues raised, particularly for those involved in decision making regarding selection, procurement, implementation and use of modern business communication technology.
Reduces cost of doing business
With modern business communication technology people don't need to be in the same physical location in order to be productive at work. Companies frequently hold teleconferences with multiple employees located in different time zones, and a flexible company-wide telecommute policy enables many people to work from home. In most cases, technology has enabled corporate cost savings in the form of reduced travel budgets and expenses, as well as other benefits for the employee such as savings in season tickets for not needing to travel in to the office everyday.
Speeds up responses and improves business agility
By improving communications within the company and with its wider network of suppliers, business partners and customers, business communication technology has enabled improved communication, coordination and collaboration for knowledge workers in companies across all types of industries. It is also more efficient and effective, reducing the time it takes to accomplish a task, which had to be done manually previously, thereby increasing productivity and saving money for the business. Increased speed of communication has meant a more responsive and agile enterprise too, achieved through using faxes, email, instant messaging and online presence systems bypassing traditional postal "slow" mail systems.
In theory having all this nice and modern business communication technology is supposed to raise our productivity and increase our working efficiency, but unfortunately in exceptional circumstances this may not always accrue. Having a high dependency on information and communication technology systems mean that on the rare occasion when it breaks down, business can come to a complete standstill until a partial or full recovery can be achieved. Add in the additional factor of disruptive change - whether technology initiated or not - and people's inertia to existing working practices, you can easily appreciate why having the latest and best communication system in place may not always lead to improvements. Indeed, resistance to change, including adopting and using technology tools has often been cited as one of the management challenges in any business and organisation. Effective communication and change management processes need to be put in place to ensure employees are empowered rather than disgruntled as a result of the changes.
Stuck in endless upgrade cycles
Another caveat with the latest and greatest technology is that it ceases to be so as soon as it is deployed. Just as consumers often wait for the next release of the much anticipated iPhone, your corporate information and communication system may be out-of-date as soon as it is deployed, which creates an endless need to upgrade. Vendors will also justify upgrade decisions on rational arguments such as additional features and functionality, improved security, and in some instances withdrawing support from older products forcing you to upgrade. Those that make decisions on corporate IT need to carefully assess what needs to be upgraded and what can be delayed, and not be swayed by vendor hype and jump on the upgrade bandwagon without sufficient assessment and analysis.
On balance then, technology can have both beneficial and detrimental effects on your business, and should be carefully assessed before a procurement decision can be reached.
Seeing how changes in businesses technology can affect you customers can be key to success or failure in any IT project. Some customers may enjoy the convenience of managing their account and paying bills online, yet others may see this as a possible invasion of their privacy. When customers call in with service requests, some may find navigating a telephone call tree acceptable, whilst others find it frustrating being passed from one menu to another without being able to speak to a real person. As a final reminder, don't forget to consult your customers as you embark on any new technology change project for your business.