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Benefits of Electronic Communications for Business Team Members

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Introduction

Hypothesis

Research Methods

Primary Research

Secondary Research

Findings

Primary Research

Secondary Research

Conclusion

Recommendations

Appendix A- Bibliography and References

Appendix B- Transcripts for the Interviews

Appendix C- Screenshots of Our Presentation Slides

Appendix D- Group Reflections

Appendix E- Screenshots of Our WhatsApp Conversations

Executive Summary

Introduction

In recent years the development and evolution of technology has created a rise in electronic communication and changed the way individuals communicate with each other. People’s ability to communicate with each other is a major component of the glue that helps organizations run smoothly. In particular we will be exploring how these rises in electronic communication such as the implementation of emails, skype, social networks have made an impact on staff, managers and colleagues communicating with each other. Various new and innovative forms of media have been created with the intention of benefiting organizations and individuals with in it. With the introduction of such technology many of the limitation that existed previously have been able to overcome. We will be exploring to what extent the various forms of electronic communication have created a positive impact while also identifying any new limitations and problems faced by those using them within organizations.

This report will follow a structure of trying to test our hypothesis which will involve the methods used to obtain our information for our primary and secondary research. This will be followed by a summary of the key findings from our research and a conclusion giving us a final summary of whether our research had proved the hypothesis. This will then be followed up by recommendations for the target organization on how to communicate effectively and finally appendices.

Hypothesis

Our hypothesis for this report is going to be the following- Electronic communications is beneficial for communications between colleagues at a firm.

Our group feels that the implementation of new and innovative media in recent times has allowed firms to become more time and cost effective while also being able to improve their quality and standard of their work. Over all the introduction of such forms of electronic communication has elevated organizations as a whole while making the lives of individuals of such organizations much easier and better. We came to this hypothesis from observing how electronic communication has had an effect on our personal/academic life, hence we would expect colleagues to share many of our views.

Research Methods

Primary

For our primary research, we decided to interview various individuals from a wide range of organizations that would use electronic communication on a day to day basis. A wide range of people of varying position from varying industries were interviewed with the aim of receiving different perspectives of how electronic communication has created an impact on them.

Questions were created again with the aim of extracting specific data to help us write this report and many questions were asked to get an in-depth perspective. Everyone was asked the same questions and as expected we received various answers. The reason why interviews were very beneficial in extracting our research was because we were able to get a firsthand opinion and a proper in-depth insight into how electronic communication has an impact on them. Individuals of varying positions (partners, CEO, managers, employees) from varying industries (law firms, internet startups, banks) and varying size of organizations were questioned yet again to obtain a wide set of data. This method of research proved extremely beneficial.

 

Secondary

For our secondary research, we obtained many of our data through the internet. The internet allows us to access a large amount of website and a simple google search can give us plenty of data and information. Varying information through blogs, websites, presentations were accessible online hence with ease we were able to obtain enough information to assist us in testing our hypothesis and to answer our research question. Other than written information we were also able to obtain statistics and graphs of data to answer the research topic. Access to the internet has allowed us to obtain both qualitative and quantitative data. The varying opinions and conclusions made by the authors of the websites and blogs have aided us in making our own conclusions and findings. Having access to a large amount of varying information has definitely proven to be useful, although the process was elongated due to having to read through large amounts of information to extract what was needed for our report.

Findings 

Primary Research

The most common methods of electronic communication were found to be e-mails and instant messaging services such as WeChat, WhatsApp and Jabber. Companies use e-mails for sending important documents, contacting suppliers and colleagues overseas, and for communicating formal notices or on issues that are of less importance. Instant messaging services are used in situations where a colleague needs help. He or she can send a quick, short message and expect a quick reply in return.

Most senior executives said that by using different forms of electronic communication, their overall productivity has significantly increased. They also said that with electronic communication, they are able to communicate with their managers and employees more frequently and in a more effective manner as compared to using traditional communication methods.

The limitations of using electronic communication includes information overload, conflicts between work and personal time, the risk of classified information/documents being leaked, and the inability to effectively communicate emotions.

The rise of electronic communication has made it a lot easier for businesses to communicate with colleagues overseas, improving their productivity. Important information and updates can be constantly transmitted back and forth between the managers and the employees. The difference in time-zones can also be overcome with ease using electronic communication.

Upon introducing new forms of electronic communication methods, senior executives responded by saying that majority of the employees feel reluctant at adapting and switching over to these new methods. But, the ones who are willing to accept the changes need to be trained by the company, which incurs costs and other resources. Other costs such as maintenance and set up costs are also involved in the process.

In addition, modern businesses today also face technical problems in terms of their servers crashing and them being hacked.

Majority of the senior executives responded by saying no, they will not consider converting to electronic technologies entirely. They argue that face-to-face communication is irreplaceable as it crucial for effective meetings and discussions on important issues, and for maintaining good relationships with their employees and subordinates.

Secondary Research

Today, manages rely on computer-mediated communication (CMC) in order to communicate effectively with their employees and other stakeholders of the company. CMC is a term that applies to all the methods that we use in order to reach out and communicate with someone by using a computer. E-mail is, nonetheless, the most dominant form of CMC in majority of the organizations today. E-mail enables a business to deliver messages instantly, reducing the need for paper correspondences. This enables a business to improve their productivity and increase their profitability by decreasing the time, money and other resources spent on paper correspondences.

New media refers to digital media that is “interactive, incorporates two-way communication and involves some form of computing” (In-Text Citation) – http://online.seu.edu/what-is-new-media/. Today, the advancement of new media gives businesses the opportunity to advertise more effectively as a result of being able to reach a far greater audience on the internet. According to a research conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (In-Text Citation), the recent changes in advertising has led to a decline in newspaper advertising, stagnation in television advertising and a rapid increase in digital advertising over the past couple of years, as shown in figures 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3. This offers us an insight into how the overall market for media is developing today.

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To tackle these changes, the general response of major news organizations has been to increase their investments in taking advantage of these digital opportunities, undergo dramatic cost-cutting and attempts at market consolidation.

Use of electronic communication prevents managers and individuals from communicating emotions effectively and therefore, it can often lead to misunderstandings. That is because employees reading emails, text or instant messages from their managers or colleagues are unable to measure the tone of their manager accurately or judge their body movements as points of reference. This can possibly portray mangers or their colleagues as being rude, and lead to drama and dissent within the company.

Using cutting-edge technology in the workplace is an ongoing expense and can therefore, pose a problem to the organization. The business incurs large initial setup costs including training costs for the employees, in addition to the ongoing maintenance costs.  If a system failure is to occur or if the servers crash, this can disrupt a business’ operations, possibly resulting in a loss of revenue due to the loss of services or the disruption in the production of a product.

Upon using technology in the workplace including smartphones and social media, individuals are prone to harassment. Technology gives individuals the power to send messages or make comments instantly and surreptitiously without them even considering the consequences.

More importantly though, the advent of smartphones has blurred the lines between work and personal time. Individuals often use their work devices such as computers for personal things and use their personal devices for work instead. In addition, individuals often receive personal messages during work which can affect their work place negatively and lower their productivity.

Conclusion

Recommendations

Business companies aim to make money, at the end of the day. Through effective communications, organizations can do things individuals cannot do on their own. To ensure that companies function properly, information must be made common among colleagues. Therefore, whether a company is successful depends on employees’ ability to communicate effectively. Since electronic communication methods foster more effective communication while lowering the costs needed, it is definitely recommended that all business companies adopt emails and instant messaging services.

However, to ensure successful internal communications, it is recommended that companies provide clear guidelines on how, when and for what these two channels are used for.  It is recommended that companies utilize emails for formal communications, for instance, sending important documents like formal notices or reports. Emails should also be used for issues where a proof may be needed in the future. On the other hand, instant messaging services should be used in less formal situations, perhaps for asking quick questions. Instant messaging is also useful for urgent situations like when a colleague requires immediate assistance. The adaptation of electronic communication allows colleagues to communicate with each other more frequently, resulting in more effective communication and higher overall productivity. Nevertheless, there are always two sides in a story, and digital communications do have certain drawbacks.

One major problem that electronic communications bring is the blurred line between work and personal time. As technology advances, employees receive work-related messages even after office hours. This in fact hampers effective communications because employees have to reply even when they are tired, consuming alcohol or experiencing negative emotions. Under these circumstances, employees may not be able to write important messages in a clear and polite format. To tackle this issue, it is recommended that companies establish ground rules where staff are not obliged to reply after working hours. Allowing staff to take time off and to sleep on their emotions will ensure that emails are of high-quality and that messages are communicated effectively. Another problem that digital communications cause is misunderstanding. Normally, effective verbal communications depend on the context of communication as well as the communicator’s expressions, intonations and tones. However, through emails and instant messages, employees can only rely on pure texts to interpret the sender’s messages and may lead to ineffective communications. To solve this problem, companies are recommended to remind employees to use phone calls. Despite the benefits that electronic communications bring, phone calls are ideal methods for explaining important matters. This also brings us to the point where companies are recommended not to replace all face-to-face interactions by electronic technologies. Authentic human communication is irreplaceable for effective meetings and for relationship-building between colleagues. Last but not least, it is recommended that companies grasp the opportunities that electric communications bring. The rise of digital communications makes it much easier to work with people across time-zones, enabling a higher degree of collaboration work among people from various countries. This allows multi-national companies to expand to new markets more easily. Overall, keeping these recommendations in mind, communication can lead to a unified workplace community with closer relationships, deep understanding and mutual values amongst everyone.

Appendix A- Bibliography and References

Appendix B- Transcripts for the Interviews

Interviewee 1: Vice President of xiaozhu.com

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: WeChat, then emails. WeChat has been used in a lot of areas, including management and group chat for staff, managers, departments, temporary projects. On top of that, crisis dealing team and even company football team use WeChat. Emails are most used when the approval from higher authority is needed. Apart from that, sending formal reports requires emails as well which can be an evidence of the process.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

B: In terms of managing efficiency, electronic communication shortens the time taken to communicate and reduces the barriers. Employees of grassroots can find the CEO in the group chat easily. It largely benefits flat management structure. A crisis faced by the company can reach the CEO at the same time as the employees of the grassroots. As a result, a decision can be made within minutes meaning the time taken to decide can be greatly reduced. Moreover, mobile working can be achieved. For disadvantages, there is the danger of personal space and time of employees being invaded as the boundary between work and leisure is no longer clear

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

B: The development of the recent decade in china is called the coming of Informatization of Society. Modern communication technologies provide the technical support for the fast transmission of information nowadays. For instance, in the area of the sharing economy of real estate which I work in, the wide usage of smartphones and WeChat along with the insurance and commenting system have built the cornerstone for the sharing economy. In other words, without well-developed communication technology, there would never be the emergence of sharing economy.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?
 

B: Confidentiality, which is a difficult problem to deal with. A crisis in PR or other areas faced by a company usually starts with a screenshot of a chat record. Then, through social media, the initial problem spreads at an extremely fast rate, just like a virus. For the managers, although the advantages brought by the cutting-edge communication technology outweighs the disadvantages, there are more and more problems regarding information security and leakage.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: No, never. Face to face communication, including meetings, parties and brainstorm etc. normally has higher efficiency in decision making and accuracy in information. Such ways of communication make teamwork easier and create more human care which cannot be substituted by electronic communication.

 

Interviewee 2: Founder of sousouyo.com

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: In terms of usage frequency, on a daily basis and working conditions, the most used methods are WeChat, email and text message.

The most widely used way is WeChat. It is used in daily communication, work and even business communication and information checks. WeChat is used not only in communication, but also purchasing. As a tool, it has gone beyond an ordinary social media. Secondly, the application of emails is mainly in work. Other than communication, the most important application of emails is checking the validity of information.

Lastly, text messages usually have the job of receiving service codes and public information updates or communicate with strangers. Direct communication among people nowadays largely relies on WeChat.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

B: Electronic communication has enriched the methods of communication between managers and staff in a company as well as efficiency in communicating. In the past, contact between staff and managers was based on verbal and written communications. Due to the implication of electronic communication, the medium for communication has widened and the information exchanged has been multi-media. Nowadays, communicating in group chat or individually using WeChat has not only improved efficiency in exchanging information promoting a stronger managing power, but also made the communication more humane. The environment of WeChat extends and demonstrates each individual’s personality creating more opportunities to know each other. For disadvantages, these methods transfer lots of useless information which may even affect daily working efficiency. Besides, excessive use of online communication including validating information can cause managing problem such as misunderstanding and avoiding responsibilities.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

B: Modern communication technology is the basis of the current society. Without modern communication technologies, the exchange of information will remain in the primitive phase. Due to the inability of exchanging high volume of information, it is very hard for any technology to develop let alone innovation in different fields.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

B: For the managers, WeChat and email etc. are all managing and communication tools. Both managers and staff face the problems such as gathering, classifying, filtering, replying and backing up and so on. In short, judging what is necessary and responding in different situations are daily problems faced by people. As for the managers, the most important aim is to set up and improve the organization, deliver company culture and propaganda by utilizing these communication tools.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

 

B: No. Face to face communication is never replaceable. Rather than limiting communication methods to only electronic communication, a variety of communication method is what a company should aim for since it is not necessary to use only electronic methods. Setting up a more manageable communicating system using electronic methods is more of a key purpose instead of simply simplification.

Interviewee 3: Nurse of Huashan Hospital

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: Mostly WeChat apart from work.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

B: Electronic communication enabled work to be done outside the eight-hour-long working period in the way of which reporting work and solving difficulties using emails.

Cons: increased working hour and sometimes classified documents may leak.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

B: More opportunities than before. It widened people’s horizon and made information transparency possible.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: No. Electronic communication is limited. Face to face communication can go in depth and more holistic.

Interviewee 4: CEO of Huashan Urban Construction Company
 

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: Currently most used methods are text, WeChat and QQ. Electronic communication is used under various circumstances, including sending and receiving notices, replying messages, discussing work, sending documents, meetings and sharing information etc.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

B: Electronic communication technology built a more convenient platform for communication which enhanced the frequency of interaction between staff and managers. By discussing and sharing information, ordinary staff is able to understand manager’s’ thoughts and aims better than before, enabling managers to know the working methods, conditions and difficulties, which improves the efficiency and accuracy when solving problems. Disadvantages include too much useless information, uncontrollable negative information e.g. staff’s personal emotions.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

B: Modern communication technology bears the functions of transferring information, immediate discussion, assisting decision making and so on.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

 

B: Managers need to deal with the problems such as how to update on time, unify management and operate efficiently etc.

For the staff, they face the problems of adapting new technologies, regulating personal behaviors and changing habits etc.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: Yes

Interviewee 5: Deputy HR Director of China Daily

 

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: WeChat and email are the main methods of communication under almost every circumstance apart from face to face.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

B: It brought higher efficiency and better result in communication between staff and managers. Advantages include i) easy to backup information which can be checked or tracked anytime and anywhere; ii) break the boundary of time and space making international communication more convenient; iii) reducing the high cost of calling; iv) easy to discuss with lots of people and v) expressing some problems that are slightly inappropriate to discuss when face to face under some circumstances.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

B: Modern communication technology has evolved from a “catalyst” to an “infrastructure” becoming a necessity for the society.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

 

B: The elderly or some senior managers may be unfamiliar or unwilling to use electronic communication although such people are becoming fewer. 2. Stricter requirements on confidentiality.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: Considering efficiency and effect, the answer would be no. Sometimes, face to face discussion is Irreplaceable.

Interviewee 6: Senior Partner of Beijing Horizon Law Firm

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: WeChat: work and life; Email: work

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

B: Advantages: More convenient compared with the past; Disadvantages: May not express emotion accurately; Overall, advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

B: The speed and universality of information collection are greatly improved, which is helpful for understanding and analyzing the condition.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

 

B: Problems faced by management: precision positioning, unified management and matching and upgrading of corresponding facilities

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: No, face-to-face communication is still indispensable for discussion and meetings among lawyers. The management is not only to decorate the task and guide the work, what more important are the emotional exchange and interpersonal communication with the staff, only face-to-face can achieve the best results.

Interviewee 7: CEO of Gajah Mada Plastic in India

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: The most common used electronic communications are email, social networking and video chat. Emails are used when sending out important documents and this is fast compared to delivering the message to each and every employee. Social networking is used for finding out the latest information of the company. For example, a company’s Facebook page is useful to its employees as they will be able to interact with each other and discuss problems. Video chat is used for people who is working from home. This is the easiest way for employees who are in the workplace and people who are working from home to communicate with each other. This face to face communication is most preferred in the company.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

B: Improvement in technology has changed how the people in the company communicate with one another. The most obvious change is that employees talk lesser to their colleagues as they prefer to use emails to interact with each other. The advantage of electronic communication is that it has low cost as employees will not be printing papers to let their managers to see what they have done. The other benefit is that it is easy to communicate with headquarters outside the country as we can use Skype to communicate with employees out there. However, there are drawbacks as well such as employees rarely check their emails which is a waste of time and cost. This will delay the message getting to the employees. Since employees talk less face to face this may result in a bad relationship with each other. In the last few years, organization do not operate in this way as they think that communicating face to face and having meetings is useful for the development of the company and the employees itself.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

B: This has made emerging opportunities change because the two parties would not have to meet to discuss the contract as they can do this by video conferencing. This will make decisions faster.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

B: Employees will have difficulties in changing their way of using the old technology as they have get used to how things work. This will waste time and resources as employees need to go into training to use the new technology. The other problem is that new electronic communication may be difficult to implement as some employees are attached to the old method and so they will resist the change.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: No. This is because by changing the entire communication to electronic this will create a gap between employees and its managers. Having communication face to face is important as this will keep a good relationship between managers and employees. If employees feel happy this can reflect on the work that they do.

Interviewee 8: CEO of Akshay International Co Ltd. in Japan (Jewelry Company)

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: The main methods of electronic communication in my organization are email, fax, phone and sometimes WhatsApp. I send and receive emails and WhatsApp messages when I want to contact a supplier or my client overseas whereas I use a fax machine, when I want to send or receive important documents from someone that is within the country. I use my phone to call a client or a supplier that is local or within my area.
A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

B: Electronic communication has really made our lives a lot easier by making it possible for us to contact each other within seconds. Today, I can easily contact one of my employees, for example if he or she is not in the office, through WhatsApp or a phone call. In the past, that was not possible. So, one obvious benefit of using electronic communication is that the time that is spent waiting to get the response from the other person is significantly reduced. However, by using electronic communication, all of us need to rely on technology but technology is not perfect. For example, email servers can go down, phone lines can go down, or simply the battery of your phone can die, which can all cause disruptions in the business operations.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

B: Using electronic communication, you can easily get access to markets that were restricted to you before. It allows you to meet a lot of new people over the internet, and expand your current network, which might good for your business.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?
 

B: Big companies often face the problems of technical difficulties such as their servers crashing, them being hacked and so on.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

 

B: No, I will not consider converting my entire communication to electronic technologies simply because of the fact that my company is rather a small one. To set up an effective electronic communications network, it requires a lot of capital and resources which I’m not willing to invest in, just yet. However, I might consider doing so in the future.

 

Interviewee 9: Director of Marketing & Communications of Microsoft Hong Kong

 

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: At Microsoft, we mostly use emails and Skype for Business. We use emails when we want to keep a written record of our communications for future reference. We also use emails when communicating with colleagues from different countries on issues that are less urgent. Whenever we are dealing with pressing issues, we turn to Skype for Business. Its instant messaging function is similar to WhatsApp, but in a professional manner. Whenever we have a problem to ask our colleagues, we can simply send a short, quick message and get a quick reply. Moreover, Skype for Business supports video meetings with up to 250 people, which allows us to organize group meetings across national borders much easier.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

B: I have worked for many years and have certainly witnessed the change that electronic communications bring to the workplace. In the past, staff and managers relied on phone calls and face-to-face meetings, which were quite time-consuming. When you wanted to communicate with someone, you had to make a phone call to check whether they are busy. The process of waiting for the phone to ring, leaving a voice message was indeed tedious. The quality of phone calls was also a major problem. As business people, we are often travelling and the background noises often disrupt effective communications. Moreover, it was a nightmare to receive phone calls when I am working on something important. Often, phone calls disrupt my progress of work and can really affect my work schedule.

Now, with applications like Skype for Business, the mentioned problems are solved. We can easily communicate through typing messages, which can be done quickly anytime and anywhere. This also eliminates the problem of ineffective communications due to bad phone call quality. Whenever I am busy, I simply change my Skype status to let my colleagues know that it is not a good time to find me. I can concentrate on my priority tasks before getting back to my colleagues.

Of course, such benefits come with drawbacks. Sometimes, words can be interpreted differently by colleagues and this may create a misunderstanding in communication. Moreover, the rise of electronic communications has made it more difficult to distinguish office hours and personal time. Since electronic communications applications can be easily accessed through mobile devices, colleagues often expect an instant response even after “office hours”.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

 

B: The rise of electronic communications makes it much easier to collaborate with colleagues from different countries. As the Director of Marketing & Communications, one of my main tasks is to ensure that the local brand image of Microsoft Hong Kong aligns with that in Redmond. To do so, a lot of communications is needed to communicate marketing materials.

In the past, this was difficult as we had to organize conference calls across up to 20 different countries (A LOT of time zone problems), meaning I had to wake up at 4 am. This was in fact quite inefficient as my mind is not in its clearest state at midnight. Nowadays, we have group conversations on Skype for Business where we can share documents (marketing e-mails, promotional materials), making it much easier keep up with the various marketing campaigns in other countries.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

B: At big companies, there are definitely people from different generations. Using cutting-edge electronic communications is certainly exciting for the millennials, but for us baby boomers, switching to innovative technologies was definitely difficult at first. There were a few colleagues who were reluctant to adapt to the changes and preferred sticking to the traditional methods of communications, while some faced obstacles in using innovative technologies.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: I wouldn’t consider converting all communications to electronic technologies. After all, Microsoft is a people-centric company. Creative ideas come from the collaboration among face-to-face brainstorming sessions and discussions, which keeps the company up to its game. Electronic technologies are ideal for communicating on relative trivial issues, but I definitely prefer having meetings for important matters.

Interviewee 10: Global Business Development Manager of Discover Hong Kong

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: At work, we usually communicate using email and Jabber (instant messaging). We use email for sending documents and for communicating formal notices. I usually communicate with colleagues from different countries, we rely on email communications to ensure that we our global strategic initiatives are clear for everyone. Email also ensure that we have a formal record of our conversations that we can refer to if needed. To communicate with colleagues from the same time zone, we use Cisco Jabber for instant messaging. On Jabber, we can change our status to Available, Busy or Away so that colleagues know when is a good time to talk. Outside of working hours, we also use WhatsApp for communications.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

B: In the past, we mostly relied on email communications. Email are often written in formal language like “Dear”, “Yours sincerely”, “Thanks and best regards” and somehow create a distance between managers and staff. With instant messaging, these are no longer required. We use short, succinct sentences and sometimes put emoticons to communicate. This actually reduces the gap between managers and staff, which helps to foster better relationships among colleagues. However, instant messaging also gives rise to private communications between colleagues. Some relative young colleagues may use Jabber to chat for leisure, which might be undesirable.

 

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

B: In the current society, we often talk about globalization. For example, in our company, we hope to expand our credit card business to more countries so as to increase revenue. The rise of electronic communications has made this easier as we can easily communicate with colleagues across national borders. When I first joined the company, communications with international staff was extremely difficult. We could only rely on emails and it was really difficult when we had questions about our projects. International phone calls were expensive, and the quality of calls was always bad. Nowadays, with more advanced voice/video calls and instant messaging, we can really communicate much more efficiently.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

B: In my company, many colleagues are reluctant to switch to innovative electronic communication methods. They hope to stick to the old ways of communications and do not want to change. In fact, I also had similar feelings in the beginning, but as I tried to use these new communications methods, I discovered the benefits of it. I would say it takes a few months or even a year for every employee in a global company to feel comfortable in a new communication method. During this period, the company may receive a lot of complaints and colleagues may have misunderstanding about the new communication methods.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: In fact, I believe this is possible in my division. As I work in the global business development division, I mostly communicate with international colleagues and rarely have any collaboration with local teammates. We hardly have the opportunity of meeting face-to-face and often discuss ideas through email, voice calls or instant messaging. So for me, adopting electronic technologies entirely is actually alright. However, I wouldn’t want this to be done for the whole company as I have witnessed some very inspiring group discussions among local colleagues. This is hard to achieve through electronic technologies.

Interviewee 11: Corporate Planning Director of Securities and Futures Commission (Hong Kong)

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: In our company, email is the only official channel that we use to communicate for all matters.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

B: In the past, email could only be accessed on computers so we could only communicate during office hours. Now, the rise of electronic communication has made it possible to access office emails on smartphones and tablets.

This is beneficial as I can get access to my staff’s work anytime anywhere and I can answer their questions even after office hours. This helps to push things forward and accelerate the time needed for a project. However, this also blurs the work-life balance as we are now expected to reply to emails even during our personal and leisure times.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

 

B: My company mainly focus on solving issues related to the local financial industry, so we don’t actually have colleagues from other countries. However, sometimes we do send colleagues off to USA or UK to different conferences to learn about ways to keep up with trends in the global financial industry.

In the past, as email access was rather limited, we would usually wait until the colleague is back to discuss some key findings. In recent years, we receive daily updates with photos and videos on inspiring talks as colleagues can now send out emails easily with their phones. This allows colleagues in the local office to have discussions and start planning out steps to improve our company prior to the colleague’s return.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

B: People are often the greatest resistance. In our company, we actually tried to adopt cutting-edge electronic communications such as Skype for Business or Slack. However, our company is a relatively traditional one so our colleagues are reluctant to accept the change. Employees’ unwillingness to adopt new technologies is a major problem.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: I wouldn’t consider doing so. In our company, we have group meetings two or three times a week and this really helps us to make sure that everyone is on track and understands the next steps in a project. This also helps for maintaining good relationships among teams. Converting all communication methods to electronic technologies would really reduce the time of face-to-face interactions among colleagues, which is very important in our company.

Interviewee 12: Fund Manager of AUSPACIFIC Property Investment in China

A:  What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization?

 

B: e-mail, telephone, message, communifire, drop box

A: Under what circumstances will you use each one?

 

B: Among colleagues and between staffs and customers

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other?

B: More effective and timely.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

 

B: Sometimes we don’t catch up the new method in the industry as it may spend heavily to introduce the new technology. This will lead our clients to think that we are not professional enough.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: No.

Interviewee 13: Co-Founder of OzStudy Group

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

 

B: Message, E-mail, phone call, WeChat, Yammer, Facebook, Skype, Basecamp, Skype for real-time messaging. Yammer and Facebook group for following and engaging content. Basecamp for project management.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

 

B: Employee adaptability, introduction cost

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: No, as electronic technologies may be inaccessible

Interviewee 14: Investment Office Head Manager of H&T Property (in China)

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

B: WeChat email Google Drive and Dropbox, Communicate with colleagues and clients

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?
B: Under the old way, we communicated using mobile messages and calls which are costly and inconvenient. Our target clients are mostly Chinese, so sometimes we need to teach them how to use Dropbox and Google Drive.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

 

B: We are getting closer to our clients, as we are able to know their needs and serve them specifically through following their social updates

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

 

B: We need to train employees and sometimes teach our client how to use the new method, which take time and incur costs.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies entirely?

B: Never. Any revolution takes period of time to be effective.

 

Interviewee 15: Front Office Manager of Hotel Windsor (in China)

 

A: What are the most used methods of electronic communication in your organization? Under what circumstances will you use each one?

 

B: Email; Phone calls and Mobile message; Dropbox; Google Drive

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the way of which staff and managers communicate with each other? Compared with the past, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

 

B: We used to waste lots of times and papers to communicate. Under the new communication method, less labor hours and materials are consumed. New technology enhances our operational effectiveness.

A: How has the rise of electronic communication affected the emerging opportunities in the current modern society?

 

B: For customers, the use of emerging technologies will enhance our reputation. Company will be more adaptive to the development of the industry.

A: What problems do big companies and organizations face when using cutting-edge electronic communication?

 

B: The cost to adapt the new communication method, e.g. cost of training employee, software and maintenance cost.

A: If possible, will you consider converting communication method to electronic technologies       entirely?

B: No.

Appendix C- Screenshots of Our Presentation Slides

Appendix D- Group Reflection

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/GfqTFYU8g1LeLNsJRo3MemPihAWMJoQ7Bk72OZjo54O6zC3GAgq_4YppZK-N_Eo5rIEaZmyJysVTWsQLd2l4ShwlGcCWXy36OpK8sUe1YLELiD3LmGcPUVhexxQkUqmd0zCqGpKOhttps://lh5.googleusercontent.com/jNUSmFVzIVncGxcpsMwF06-SkV-34BSqLgUfBXkF9UFLaUjGR3zWWpNuevcmqKD4NWlZM2j6Y7_gzQkVR-REDmDCoI30cr1aRk9xMUsDuIrnXzIl2LbbfDAYJ1lGKJs1iMsW8RYdAppendix E- Screenshots of Our WhatsApp Conversations



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