The 2014 International Trade Survey from Trade & Export Finance Limited has revealed some interesting perspectives on the state of the UK export market. The Government’s drive to expand exports seems to be having an effect with 50% of businesses having a turnover in excess of £1m per year now having an export strategy.
Despite that, there still seems to be further opportunity for export growth with only 16% of respondents being aware of the Great Britain advertising campaign and 93% of respondents not having taken advantage of UK export finance assistance. The report also suggests that the visibility of UKTI export involvement and support also needs to be increased.
The report concludes that exporters’ confidence has increased over the past year and looks like doing so for the next five years, a comment which was echoed by the Director General of the Institute of Exports, speaking to IB Times.
If the UK is to meet its export targets there is, however, still some way to go and not only will success rely on the expansion of pure export businesses, it will also look to organisations which have made the leap and set up offices in other countries. Whilst in theory the internet, allied to the ability of virtual telephony systems to switch calls across the world, has done away with the need for overseas offices, there are still some areas where it pays to have a physical local presence. But overseas offices should not exist in isolation and if the maximum gain is to be extracted it is vital that strong internal and external communication systems are set in place.
One such solution merges internet telephony (or VoIP) with a virtual switchboard. Because VoIP calls run over the internet they are often free of charge. This means that with every office set up on the same VoIP channel, inter-office calls are free to run, helping to keep information flows smooth and to keep the entire organisation running on the same track. VoIP to landline calls are generally cheaper than landline to landline calls as well which means that calls to customers across the globe need not be prohibitively expensive.
Linking a VoIP system with a virtual switchboard opens up multiple call pathways. For example, calls from certain countries could be diverted to language specialists in any office whilst incoming calls could be set to “follow the sun”; diverting seamlessly around offices which are open at any time of day. Developing new markets, keeping in touch with customers is key to meeting export targets. With the right communication streams in place, organisations will have made an important step in this direction.