International collaboration: Essential for your business

International collaboration has always been important in business. Since the days of traders bringing spices from the East to Europe, people have been taking advantage of resources from other parts of the world in order to do business. In the digital age, we have another global resource readily available on tap – knowledge.
Digital communication enables us to collaborate internationally, using the best experts in a given field without needing to physically transport them to our workplaces. Voice over internet technology and screen-sharing enables us to collaborate in real-time and sharing documents in the cloud means we can collaborate internationally even when time differences might be an obstacle.
This technology is only useful, however, when the collaborators have the language skills to make it work. With 41% of people seeing English as the universal language of the Internet,1 English is a vital language for international collaboration.
This importance is reflected in business people around the world. In a recent global survey,1 81% of respondents from emerging economies stated that they need to use English every day and 90% believed that English would be useful to them in the future.
In an age where innovation is an essential part of keeping ahead of the competition, international collaboration can give businesses a competitive edge. In a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit,2 67% of respondents stated that the multicultural nature of cross-border teams breeds innovation and more than 90% stated that better international communications would improve profit, revenue and market share at their companies.
With such importance placed on international collaboration, one would expect employees to have the language skills to collaborate effectively across borders. However, even with such a large percentage of workers stating that they need to use English at work, only 37% considered themselves fluent or advanced in English.1
This is a surprising figure considering that on an international level so much digital communication relies on English. It’s also a big risk to the global reputation of a business and, when global collaboration is often seen as the cornerstone of business success, something that needs to change.
1Rise of the linguarati
2 Economist Intelligence Unit – Competing Across Borders