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Conference Call Global Minutes - Examining the 2013 Data
April 24, 2014 @ 02:15 PM | By Dennis Collins

There hasn’t been a bigger force changing businesses in the last 10 years than globalization. To make the most of that level of globalization, firms around the world have to work together. From Shanghai to Cape Town, companies must be able to connect with each other.

That fact in turn has driven demand for more sophisticated conferencing and collaboration tools.  We were curious if conferencing usage would identify any trends or even reinforce notions about regional and cultural nuances in the global economy. So InterCall reviewed and analyzed more than 20 billion conferencing minutes across 197 countries in 2013 to see what the data could tell us about international work habits.

We accumulated all the data in an infographic which is broken down below.
Click here to see the full infographic.

Here’s what we found:

October Is the Busiest Conferencing Month on Earth

Three busiest conferencing months of 2103.View and embed full infographic here.

Across the world, the busiest months for conference calls were, in order, October, April and May. October takes the top spot thanks to a few common business practices. First, it marks the start of a new quarter, likely leading to a flood of quarterly update calls. Many of those may also be annual earnings calls for those on July fiscal calendars. Finally, October is a popular time for companies to begin planning and budgeting for the following year. All of these factors add up to the busiest conferencing month of the year.

April is also the start of a new quarter, but has the added pressure of a tax deadline. With U.S. taxes due mid-month, the first few weeks of April are likely packed with accounting and tax team meetings. April is also the most likely annual earnings call month for those on a regular calendar fiscal year.

December Holidays Make It the Quietest Month

Three slowest conferencing months of 2013.View and embed full infographic here.

As one might expect, the December holidays put a huge dent in conferencing minutes. This makes it the least active time of year for calls. February comes in second, with much of the credit simply due to the fact that it is the shortest month of the year. The Chinese New Year and corresponding Spring Festival holiday also occur around this time, likely dropping conferencing minutes in that country. November rounds out the bottom three, with the Thanksgiving holiday likely attributing for a slow-down in calls.

December Breaks Are Not Universal

Conferencing drops during the holidays.View and embed full infographic here.

Looking across global regions, December declines were common but the extent of their impact was literally all over the map. On a regional level, Central America & the Caribbean experienced a 35% decrease in minutes, the largest decline we recorded.

When focused on specific countries, these were the five biggest December declines:

  • Switzerland (29.5 percent)
  • Belgium (29.2 percent),
  • Singapore (28.5 percent),
  • Australia (25.9 percent) and
  • Finland (23.1 percent) rounded out the top five biggest drop-offs during December.

By comparison, The United States experienced a 19.9 percent minute reduction in December.

China and Japan, however, were two countries noticeably absent from this December trend. China’s conferencing minutes fell just 1.5 percent of the norm while Japan’s minutes actually rose 2.2 percent. Much of this is likely due to the countries’ traditional holiday schedule differing from those in the Americas and Europe. Among those differences is the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival), which typically falls in January or February rather than December.

Lots of Vacations Leave Little Time for Conferencing

Conferencing dips during summer vacation.View and embed full infographic here.

Outside of North America, August is a popular month to take a break from work and enjoy the summer (for the Northern Hemisphere). This proved true in a breakdown of conferencing minutes as Europe experienced a 27.7 percent drop in minute usage during August. Central America & the Caribbean dropped 20.6 percent and the Middle East/North Africa fell 17 percent. Not surprisingly, North America saw no such decrease. In fact, minute usage was up 9.5 percent in August.

When broken down by country, we can further see the European concentration of this cultural habit.  

The top five biggest decreases in 2013 August minutes were:

  • France (55.1 percent)
  • Italy (52.5 percent)
  • Spain (49.5 percent)
  • Belgium (33.5 percent)
  • Switzerland (30.7 percent).

The location of each of these countries, as well as the significant decline in conferencing minutes, unveils just how popular August vacations are in Europe. The United Kingdom experienced a similar, yet less dramatic, drop of 13. 5 percent.

Unsurprisingly, countries in many other regions of the world saw no such decline.

Many saw an increase in minutes during August:

  • United States (up 1.9 percent)
  • India (up 1.8 percent)
  • Mexico (up 11.5 percent),
  • Australia (up 12.4 percent)
  • Brazil (up 13.7 percent)

For Australia and Brazil, August falls in their winter, meaning employees may be more likely to stay in the office than enjoy the beaches and other outdoor activities.

Can Conferencing Minutes Reflect Economic Trends?

Conferencing minutes correlate with GDP.View and embed full infographic here.

A country’s or region’s economic growth is certainly a result of a combination of factors but as business activity increases and decreases so should conferencing minutes. While there are other economic indicators at work, a few interesting correlations did occur between regional GDP growth and the number of conferencing minutes used in 2013.

Europe, for example, is struggling economically and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated their 2013 GDP growth at zero percent. Conferencing minutes reflected that failed growth as the calls actually decreased by about 2 percent over the course of the year.

North America experienced only a slight 1.5 percent GDP growth according to IMF and conferencing minutes remained almost exactly even, reflecting the relatively small growth.

Finally, the South American economy has been strong. The IMF estimated a 3.2 percent GDP growth in 2013 and as the economy improved, conferencing minutes skyrocketed. In fact, minutes were up around 100% through the year.

Overall, it’s an interesting trend as we continue to monitor the economies around the world. We plan to run a similar study of the world’s conferencing data at the start of next year, focusing specifically on how these trends change over time.

What are your thoughts? Does your conferencing schedule fill up and slow down at certain times? Let us know what trends you see and if they match up with last year’s data.

Dennis CollinsDennis Collins is the director of marketing for Conferencing and Collaboration at InterCall. In this role, he directs a team that provides strategic marketing support for product launches, external communications, competitive positioning and channel/sales communications. His career spans a wide range of communications, marketing and operations experiences including being a digital video pioneer as well as spending 13 years with technology PR firm as partner and COO. Entrepreneur does not escape the list; Dennis also started his own ad agency and founded an award-winning gourmet dessert café.

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