Communication is a crucial pillar in the operations of any organization. A break down in the passage of information within any company can be catastrophic and detrimental to the success of the firm. Apparently, a cursory look at the organization's operations can easily reveal how information flows from one member to another. Naturally, a smooth running organization has an efficient communication system. Similarly, most conflicts in a company are as a result of poor communication or lack thereof. Due to technological evolution and the constant changes in the workplace landscape, there is a need to align all the salient components of communication ("IBM Global Business Services," 2007). Integrated business communication is vital in resolving the various issues arising from complexities in levels of communication, challenges posed by technology, as well as dealing with the information gaps.
Issues in Communication
Basically, several reasons may lead to problems in communication both at the local and international scale. A breakdown in communication does not necessarily mean that no information is passing between the sender and the receiver. The situation may also occur when the message being delivered is a distorted version of the information that was intended by the sender. Often, this happens due to language barriers, personal biases, and insufficient knowledge of industry vocabulary, on the part of the recipient. Differences in organizational culture may also affect the ability of newly hired employees to grasp the messages being relayed to them. In this case, integrated business communication will involve relying on more than one mode of delivery to reinforce the message ("IBM Global Business Services," 2007). For example, a sender who is aware of some existing personal barriers between him/her and the recipient can follow up on an email with a phone call, to make sure there is no any misunderstanding. Consequently, this will ensure successful transactions.
Complexities in Communication
Integrated business communication recognizes the inherent complexities of the communication process. The reliance on specific mediums as sole pathways for various types of information greatly hampers the ability of the organization's employees to carry out their tasks quickly and efficiently ("IBM Global Business Services," 2007). For instance, a sales representative who wants to demonstrate to an overseas customer on how a technical product works is less likely to use a phone, since it limits him/her to the audio function. In this case, integration of the organization's communication tools will come in handy. If within the company there is a medium for video conferencing, a combination of the audio and visual will satisfactorily serve both parties in the communication process. This is because audio-visual aids have been proven to provide a better avenue for delivering manuals.
Integrated business communication relies on the unification of the traditional ways of telephony. That is, emails, telephones, postal correspondence, web collaborations, and video conferencing are all converged in various forms. By doing so, the organization significantly reduce the amount of money spent on communication processes. A good example is a firm that uses office telephones, computers, in-house meeting rooms, as well as postal and email systems. The cost of running all these means of communication concurrently can be high, and extremely difficult to keep track ("IBM Global Business Services," 2007). Even the information disseminated through these channels may be unintentionally replicated and stored, thus leading to wastage of time and resources. In addition to that, access to this information will require one to contact numerous individuals in the company. However, all these problems can be solved by establishing a central point of access, which is made possible through the integration of business communication.
Information gaps arise when some individuals have disproportionately higher access to data compared to others, due to a breakdown in communication. This is common where the labor roster of an organization is made up of members whose skill-sets and ages fall on a broad spectrum. Consequently, those at the lower end of this spectrum may be unable to adequately interpret and understand information relayed by those at the top. Similarly, people who are not members of the organization may also have a different understanding of information, besides the intended meaning. This discrepancy derails any attempts at collaboration within the organization ("IBM Global Business Services," 2007). However, integrated business communication can be the key to solving these collaborative problems, through the integration of voice, video, and web systems, to enable multi-channel and multi-modal collaborative efforts. As a result, the organization will reap an increase in the ease of collaboration between the employees and its external stakeholders.
In today's business environment, most organizations have already managed to set up a communication system that is integrated to ease both internal and external communication. However, it is essential to understand that combining different technologies and channels does not necessarily guarantee a successfully integrated business communication model. It is vital for companies to figure out what model works best for them, and ensure the integration strategy they come up with is successful in addressing their specific communication issues. Any organization that fails to integrate their business communication is bound to run into multiple problems, regarding relationships within and outside of the enterprise.
IBM Global Business Services. (2007). Integrated business communications: A force for business transformation. Retrieved from https://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/its/pdf/wp-gsw00431-usen.pdf
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