North American and European businesses waste at least GBP 85 million a year on connectivity
The world’s largest commercial Wi-Fi network iPass Inc recently released the Business Traveller Connectivity Cost Index by Rethink. It reveals international business travellers from North America and Europe are overspending by at least £855 million on connectivity charges when travelling each year. In 2014, business travellers from North America and Europe made 78 million international business trips, according to travel researchers IPK International. The direct and indirect costs of keeping these business travellers online through cellular roaming, pay-on-demand Wi-Fi and free Wi-Fi would have been at least £1.42 billion for all of these trips. In contrast, providing business travellers with access to an unlimited global Wi-Fi network would realize savings of at least £855 million.
“Failing to have a practical and convenient policy for mobile connectivity can be a costly mistake for businesses," said Gary Griffiths, iPass president and CEO. "The amount of mobile data consumed by business is growing rapidly, as more employees adopt the use of cloud-based mobile applications of all kinds and look to replicate enterprise working environments on their smart-phones, tablets, and laptops. Although there are millions of free and pay-on-demand Wi-Fi hotspots, connecting to them often poses multiple annoyances - from having to enter personal and credit card information repeatedly - to the threat of exposing sensitive business and personal information on unsecured networks. Providing unlimited access to iPass' global mobile network of wireless hotspots solves this problem.”
Of the £855 million being wasted, £275 million stems from business trips within Europe, a further £243 million comes from Europeans travelling outside of Europe, and £337 million from North Americans travelling internationally.
The cost of connectivity varies for international business travellers across both Europe and North America depending on the methods they use. Using a cellular roaming-only approach would cost North Americans travelling internationally £531 to £1,141 per month. For Europeans travelling within Europe, the cost would be £55 to £273, and for those travelling outside Europe the cost would be £935 - £1,366. These staggering costs are a result of both cellular roaming charges, and an increase in data consumption by business travellers, which currently stands at 4.5GB per month. Most business travellers understand the cost implications of consuming their data using cellular roaming and have naturally adopted a “Wi-Fi First” approach to connectivity as a result.
Though free Wi-Fi is widely available, the term is often misleading. Slow connectivity speeds prevent data-hungry business applications from working properly. Additionally, obtaining free Wi-Fi often involves a lengthy registration process and limited usage periods on unsecured networks. These issues can result in lost productivity for business travellers; the Rethink Research report suggests that this loss in productivity can cost businesses £562 per business traveller, each month. Pay-on-demand Wi-Fi services dispel some of these issues due to generally being faster, more reliable and more secure. However, business travellers are expected to pay a premium for such services; the cost for North American and European business travellers could reach up to £83 each month. This figure only considers the purchase of services from frequently visited locations such as the airport, in-flight and hotels so the real figure could well be higher. In contrast, iPass offers unlimited global access to a network of 20 million Wi-Fi hotspots for a subscription starting from £16 a month.
"It may be counter intuitive, but using Free Wi-Fi is one of the most expensive things you can ask your employees to do. There are long periods, like In-Flight, when they cannot work, or where they are wandering around looking for a free connection. Also, around 50 percent of hotels who say they offer free Wi-Fi charge a premium for a service fast enough to actually work on. Employees forced to go down this route certainly won’t be as productive as they should be and they may well feel underappreciated and be more likely to leave," said Peter White, Principal Analyst and Founder, Rethink Technology Research.
Access the Business Traveller Connectivity Cost Index in its entirety here.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”