724 — Cutting phone costs is first priority for European businesses, research shows

Jul 7, 2003 | Conteúdos Em Ingles

Almost six in ten businesses in France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom had cut costs in the last year, of which a third highlighted telephony costs as the number one cost saving imperative according to research conducted by Benchmark Research. In terms of priority, telecommunications savings (31 per cent) came first ahead of job cuts (28 per cent), reduced IT spend (20 per cent), and employee benefits (18 per cent). Nearly twice as many SMEs as big corporates prioritised telephony as an area in which to cut costs, 41 per cent compared to 23 per cent respectively.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, the majority of European businesses surveyed have earmarked further cost savings to come from telephony budgets. Three in 10 said they would prioritise cost cuttings in this area before shaving expenditure from other budgets.

“The much publicised operating costs for a converged system is significantly lower than the conventional separate voice and data networks, however, the capital expenditure is much higher. What makes the converged system a viable solution is the ongoing management of the single network which reduces costly maintenance, administration and staff support time,” Caroline Bryan, Datamonitor, commented.

The European Business Landscape

According to the survey, firms hardest hit by cost saving measures have been in the UK and Germany. Two thirds of British and three quarters of German businesses underwent cost cutting exercises last year, compared to just over half of French and only 4 in 10 Italian firms. The trend looks set to continue with 72 per cent of German and 44 per cent of UK firms still actively planning to make cuts. Forty-three per cent of French and a quarter of Italian firms are also looking to do the same.

Compared to the other markets surveyed, Italian businesses made the most redundancies with just over half of Italian firms making some head count reductions, compared to four in ten in the UK, less than a fifth in Germany and only nine per cent in France.

Italy was also the country most focused on preserving budgets through more measured use of the phone with 45 per cent of Italian firms cutting telecommunications costs. Thirty-three per cent of French and approximately a quarter of UK and German firms opted for this method. Compared to its European counterparts, UK businesses were more likely to cut jobs and corporate hospitality above their telephony spend in a bid to improve bottom lines.

Benchmark Research found that in the past 12 months over half of firms in the SMB (52 per cent) and large enterprise space (65 per cent) had cut costs. This is a trend that European businesses see continuing over the next year, but the figures quoted by respondents were approximately 10 per cent lower for the coming year. For larger businesses, redundancies were more widespread that amongst the SME community. A third of corporates compared to just over a fifth of SMEs had made redundancies.

Across Europe the average time spent on the phone each day equalled 34 per cent of a seven-hour working day. Over the course of a year, this amounts to more than 567 hours per employee.

This research debuted May 2003 and was completed in August 2003. The sample involved 500 office workers across UK, France, Italy and Germany

Filipe Samora

Em Foco – Projecto