Business communication in a global environment is a constantly evolving process. Today there are many options beyond conventional business letters and memos for sharing information, keeping in touch with peers and corporate management, and servicing clients. Unfortunately, promises of a paperless workplace have not been realized by newer methods of communication; in fact, some people think that businesses are generating even more paper faster.
Options for Business Communication in a Global Environment
Business requires constant transmission of information within organizations, business to business, and with clients and customers. Today electronic communications are essential and constantly improving.
Landlines and Faxes
Conventional telephone systems that use cables and wires still play a major role in day-to-day communications. However, these phone systems are typically computer driven with voicemail, automated answering and routing, and on-demand information. While the corporate receptionist is not yet extinct, these systems have reduced the need for human beings to route calls, take messages, and answer routine questions.
Facsimile (FAX) machines allow businesses to send document images over conventional phone lines. Contract drafts, drafts of legal documents, letters, and other communications can be sent on FAX machines. Fax transmissions are especially useful for diagrams, plans, and pictures. For legal purposes, FAX copies of contracts and other legal documents may have to be followed with original signed copies.
Cell, Smart, and Satellite Phones
Cell phones, smart phones that support Internet access and many other useful applications, and satellite phones that provide phone access in remote areas where cell and landline phones cannot be used.
Internet-Based Phone Services
Internet-based phone services may be especially attractive to small business people and for home-based businesses because of their low cost. These systems offer voice transmission over the Internet and some, such as Skype, offer video transmission as well. These systems are not usually used in large corporate environments.
Web-Based Meeting and Conferencing Software
Internet meeting and conferencing software, such as GoToMeeting, lets organizations conduct meetings using some combination of telephony, video, and web features. Using these programs, audio may be provided via telephone conferencing and images may be transmitted over the Internet. In addition, PowerPoint and other presentations can be transmitted using these programs.
Most large companies now rely heavily on their corporate web sites to provide information and product sales to their customers. Some web sites provide interactive chat with sales representatives and customer service personnel, providing immediate communication via these web sites. As communication is globalized, companies are now translating all of their web content into multiple languages.
Customer Service Call Centers
Customer service call centers typically provide support to customers twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It is not unusual for a call center to be located in a country remote from a company's corporate base. In fact, customer support is an area of business that has been internationalized to reduce the cost of these services.
Portals and Cloud Computing
Companies now set up portals where their outside sales, service personnel, and distributors can access corporate data and can use tools and software via the Internet. For example, an outside salesperson might use a web-based contact management system from a laptop computer and store the data the corporate server. Use of common tools via the Internet is known as cloud computing.
E-mail and Conventional Business Letters
E-mail has rapidly taken over much of the communication previously provided by conventional letters and memoranda. Organizations rely heavily on e-mail for internal communications, communication with outside sales and other external personnel, and with customers and clients. In fact, the United States Post Office has seen a major reduction in business communications via conventional (or snail) mail. Nonetheless, conventional letters and memoranda do have a role in the corporate environment and are especially important when legal issues are communicated.
Future of Global Communications
With new technology developing very rapidly, it is hard to predict where business communication in a global environment will go in the next few years. It's likely, though, that communications will become faster and more efficient, while using smaller and less expensive devices.