Visitors descended in their thousands for London Technology Week in June. It’s a spectacular week of events that celebrate London’s pivotal role in technology innovation, entrepreneurialism and creativity. The scale of this event, and others like it that also bring technology specialists and enthusiasts together is growing as is London and the UK’s reputation as a hotbed of technology expertise. The role technology plays and has played in making the world a smaller place, bringing communities and businesses and clients and customers closer together cannot be overstated.
We have come a long way from the time of news being reported a few times a day through newspapers and television broadcasts. Now, we have always-on, constant sharing of information. We’ve been on a fast track that’s taken us from news reports compiled only by professionals and shared through tightly controlled channels, to today where anyone and everyone around the world shares events, opinion and updates instantly through social media.
Formats have also evolved. From the traditional written and spoken word we’ve seen an explosion in the volume of images and videos that are captured, uploaded, downloaded and shared every day.
Our lives are becoming more connected, and it’s a phenomenon enabled and driven by technology. How this level of connectivity affects the way we behave, live our lives and alters our lifestyles is an interesting point of debate, and one that featured at London Technology Week.
What is clear, is that technology opens up channels of communication and also gives us tools we can use to learn, which in turn gives us the skills we need to communicate effectively. Digital learning has started to transform education at all stages of life – from school to the workplace and beyond.
Technology transcends borders, making learning accessible to more people, regardless of time zone and study environment. With the proliferation of devices – from computers to portable smart devices – and ever-increasing connectivity more people are able to take advantage of digital learning opportunities and the chance to connect, communicate and collaborate.
Online learning and virtual learning environments are not isolating for learners, rather they open up access to high-quality content driven by well-qualified teachers and tutors.
Language learning is a case in point. Through technology, dynamic learning programmes provide the opportunity for learners to immerse themselves in other languages; learning not only how to communicate but also how to relate to and understand the intoxicating variety of other cultures.
With this knowledge comes employee confidence in communicating across language divides, connecting with colleagues, customers and suppliers.
For the business, there are compelling reasons to encourage and support greater levels of communication. Language training works to promote:
- Productivity and business growth – inter-cultural and virtual communication can be an obstacle to employee and team productivity. In-house language skills help employees communicate effectively with customers and partners in target international markets. This can cut costs by reducing reliance on translators and result in more efficient, higher quality negotiations. Through a survey of executives responsible for language training in large enterprises across Britain and Germany, we found that 72% believe language skills help increase sales opportunities
- Customer retention – employees who can speak to customers in their own language will be able to build relationships and trust and increase customer loyalty. From our survey, 79% of respondents told us language skills help improve relationships with customers
- Motivation and engagement – good quality employee training programmes demonstrate a commitment to staff. Employees who see benefits from this investment feel motivated and more engaged. 68% of the executives we talked to said language skills help employee productivity.
Technology opens up channels of communication, making it faster, easier and more enjoyable for people to connect. Employees and businesses embracing the exciting opportunities this presents can use technology to build the skills that make communication effective, more comfortable and more enjoyable.