Everyone has a personal communication style and a favorite way to communicate. One person may enjoy a quick chat on IM with a colleague, but others see IM as an annoying interruption. Effective communications starts with knowing the best channel to reach out to co-workers and customers.

Unified communications (UC) lets people choose from email, voice, IM, videoconferencing and mobile, leaving the hard part—deciding which is best—to you. You may not know what a recent hire in the Toronto office prefers. A Japanese colleague may be more willing to videoconference than a colleague from North America or Europe. Similarly, younger hires may never pick up a voicemail message but respond to a mobile text in less than a minute.

Here’s a quick guide to how people of different ages and in different regions are communicating.

Mobile

More employees are working away from the office and rely heavily on their mobile phones for communications. IDC predicts that by the end of 2015, the world’s mobile workforce will reach 1.3 million.

According to “The Mobile Economy: 2015” by GSMA, an additional one billion people will become mobile subscribers during the next five years, reaching 4.6 billion subscribers in 2020. In developed regions such as the United States and Europe, the adoption rate for mobile devices is 80 percent or higher, which makes most people accessible by mobile phone. The adoption rate is much lower in African countries (39 percent), and workers in multinational companies in South Africa or Kenya are less likely to have a mobile phone. That’s changing fast as subscriber numbers are predicted to increase to 1.25 billion in 2019.

Videoconferencing

Asia Pacific (APAC) companies are using videoconferences more than any other region in the world, according to “Global View: Business Video Conferencing Usage and Trends” by Redshift Research. Business users in this region take part in videoconferences at least once a week (66 percent), compared to users in EMEA (55 percent), and the United States (59 percent). Video conferencing (59 percent) and email (58 percent) are forecast to share top billing as a communication preference in 2016.

Instant Messaging

India is a hotbed of instant messaging activity, with it being quite popular within businesses. In 2013, India saw a 113 percent increase in messaging apps. Messaging apps popularity differs significantly by country. China has 1.48 billion mobile instant messaging accounts. In Brazil, 90 percent of the population uses a messaging app, while Russia (70 percent) and Great Britain (50 percent) are less likely to rely on instant messages. All these regions are familiar and comfortable with mobile IM and are likely to be equally comfortable with desktop IM.

Voice

It’s true—you are receiving fewer personal and business calls. Call volumes in 2003 was 88 billion per year and in 2012 the volume dropped to 60 billion. The vast majority of these calls have been replaced with email, but for many communications, a call is the best choice. According to Research Now, voice is considered more personal than texting or email, and voice is used more often for sharing urgent news. Text ranks as more convenient than voice, and it ranks high for immediacy as people are more likely to respond soon after reading their messages.

Location and Presence

Knowing someone’s location or presence can prevent a person from wasting time trying to call or IM. Most regions and demographics like presence information, but they are not taking advantage of its benefits. According to “SMB Attitudes Toward Unified Communication Industry View 2014” by Software Advice, two thirds of businesses do not have access to presence information, and it’s keeping them from being efficient. These companies could be saving as much as 32 minutes a day in missed calls, according to Sage Research.

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