This is part one of a two-part post - look out for the second part next week.
If you've ever thought that your company could do a better job communicating across borders, you're not alone.
As businesses expand into new markets to take advantage of opportunities for growth, many find it challenging to communicate satisfactorily across different cultures, languages and time zones.
And a recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit provides some revealing insights into the scale of the problem.
The report - 'Competing across borders: how cultural and communication barriers affect business' - looks at some of the challenges businesses face as they expand into increasingly international markets. In particular:
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe their organisation encounters difficulties with cross-border collaboration or communication at least "sometimes"
- Around half of the survey respondents believed ineffective communication or inadequate collaboration was to blame for obstructing major international transactions, leading to financial loss
- Almost 90% of those surveyed believe that if cross-border communication improved at their company, they would also see increased profits, revenue and market share
- Nearly half of those surveyed do not believe their companies offer employees sufficient training in language and communication skills
- The problems do not just apply to external communication - more than three-fifths of those surveyed think that a lack of clarity in their internal cross-border communication often results in lost productivity
The findings highlight the need for businesses to help their staff collaborate better with teams in other markets, and ensure nothing is lost in translation. But what can they actually do to improve cross-border communication?