Last week Ofcom released its annual Communications Market Report – something I greatly anticipate reading every year. This year’s report included statistics that showed traditional forms of communications are declining in popularity, with the overall time spent talking on the phone falling by 5% in 2011.Upon further reading I found, unsurprisingly, that this shift away from voice appears to be led by teenagers and young adults within the consumer market. But the question on my mind really was, is this the case in business?
The answer is, of course, no. In fact, the research proved that voice communications are no less important to businesses now than they were a decade ago. The research revealed that people like to communicate with businesses in different ways depending on the circumstances and verbal communication still very much has a place in the heart of the customer when people are dealing with more complex and personal interactions with the organisation. And let’s face it – it is these more dialogue-led interactions that are likely to be most critical to a business or organisation.
The report shed light on two more business telecommunication trends. The first is that there is a clear drive within the enterprise to achieve greater telecommunications efficiency and cost saving through consolidation of communications infrastructure. This is something that was highlighted by the results of the report which showed that the number of business lines decreased for the fourth year in a row during 2011, dropping by another 3.1% to 9.4 million. In my opinion, this may well be an indication that more enterprise organisations are choosing to bring telecommunications service delivery in-house.
The second is that there is a fixed mobile trend as smartphone ownership shot up by 12%. With an ever greater number of professional individuals and organisations adopting mobile devices as the main point of telecommunications contact, businesses and telco managers will increasingly find themselves having to build intelligence into their mobile call handling structures. I say this, because customers will expect the same levels of service as they would from fixed line call handling, regardless of where your employees are taking their calls. Also, CIOs will increasingly be focused on meeting the voice communications related compliance standards within their industries.
Ultimately, this year’s Ofcom report points to the fact that voice communication, especially with regard to inbound voice isn’t, as headlines suggest, declining. Instead, it remains important as stakeholders and consumers reach out to businesses to deal with increasing complex and personal transactions. I, for one, believe that this requires the attention of the enterprise and telco managers, who should be concentrating on finding ways of delivering value to stakeholders through building business intelligence into their communication networks.