Invest in Collaborative Tools, Get More Than Double Return, Study Says


Last week, I reported on the surprisingly low numbers of American information workers using collaborative technology (just one in four uses IM at work, for example). Another study, released today, shows why businesses should be adopting these tools: Businesses that invest in advanced collaborative technology perform better, and they net a good rate of return on their investment.

The Frost & Sullivan report, “Meetings Around the World II: Charting the Course of Advanced Collaboration,” sponsored by Verizon (s vz) and Cisco (s csco), surveyed 3,662 decision-makers in organizations in 10 countries. It found that 44 percent of organizations had deployed collaborative tools (VoIP, document sharing, videoconferencing and IM). The study found that as businesses invest more in these technologies, their return gets proportionally greater.

return on collaborative investment

While the study shows that companies investing in top-of-the-range telepresence and telephony systems get the most return, even organizations deploying just basic collaborative tools (like IM and web conferencing) reap a return on collaborative investment of over two times. The study suggests this is because teams using collaborative tools can benefit from a network effect — the more users on a network, the more value is realized from it.

The study revealed some other interesting findings:

  • Collaboration technologies can help reduce stress. More than half of respondents say collaboration tools allow for greater balance between work and personal life and help them gain more control over their busy lives.
  • Confidence in virtual meeting is growing. More than half think conferencing tools are a good alternative to visiting business contacts face-to-face.
  • Telecommuting is becoming more popular. Almost half (47 percent) of respondents report having a formal telecommuting policy in place. However, less than a third (27 percent) telecommute at least once a week, and 22 percent telecommute on a daily basis. This tallies with the numbers in a Forrester study, which reported that one-third of workers telecommuted at least some of the time.
  • The environment is top of mind. More than half (53 percent) say reducing an organization’s carbon footprint and other environmental concerns are important factors in determining collaborative technology requirements.

This report shows why businesses need to move with the times, start taking advantage of the technology and tools that are available, and improve on those numbers that I reported on last week. The good news is that more than 80 percent of organizations surveyed that have not adopted collaborative tools plan to deploy some form of them in the next two to three years.

Does your experience tally with these figures — has investing more in collaborative tools had a positive impact on your business?


Hyoun Park

Agreed. My own research in video conferencing in August showed that SMBs were getting value that rivaled enterprises on an ROI-based basis because of their increased adoption of PC-based video throughout the enterprise and B-2-B based solutions.

Collaboration is based on empowering end-users, providing work flexibility, and getting to a result more quickly. Everything else is feature bloat and it’s something that a majority of collaboration vendors still don’t seem to get. It’s not about technical superiority in specific types of display; it’s about providing technologies that actually drive value. The lack of value-driven analysis is both one of my frustrations as an analyst and an opportunity that I hope to take advantage to provide more transparent metrics of collaborative value over the next year.


The SMB section of the study is indeed a little hard to digest, if one compares it with numerous other studies which suggest that SMBs are the main segment leading the adoption of online collaboration tools.

Shim Marom

I’m surprised by the inclusion of IM in the same category as the other collaboration tools mentioned in the report. IM, while enabling fast and unstructured communication, is a disruptive tool that unless used in a highly regulated and disciplined environment can and does lead to waste of time and unnecessary and unproductive chit-chat.

Michael Malmborg

“is a disruptive tool that unless used in a highly regulated and disciplined environment can and does lead to waste of time and unnecessary and unproductive chit-chat”
What kind of achtung bitte attitude is that?! IM has a number of advantages which is so obvious, to most knowledge workers and people in the UC space, that I’m not going to list them.
I my company I have applied no regulation what so ever regarding the use of IM. We use Skype IM internally and externally… in all kind of situations… from group chats in projects to communication with Chinese manufacturers that are too shy to speak English. For example, yesterday I placed a USD 246 000 order for bathroom accessories after communication and file share conducted only by Skype.
Shim, If you are a Manager that apply these types of communication bondage I think you should rethink you standpoint for the sake of the company you work for. Therapy may help.
“highly regulated and disciplined environment”… my god…


A great collaborative web conferencing and remote support tool is a 4-in-1 Appliance by RHUB. It’s a hardware that you can deploy behind your firewall for greater protection and it offers web conferencing, remote support, remote access, and webinars. A few features are video broadcasting, ability to record meetings for macs and pcs, white board, annotation, etc.

Take a look at what they offer:

Jasper Westaway

The odd thing about the report is the difference between the return on collaboration between SMBs (low) and Enterprise (high). It’s difficult to come to any other conclusion than the profiled collaboration technologies were the kind of enterprise customers the sponsors like.

Simon Mackie

yes, sponsored reports like this do need to be taken with pinch of salt; the report does seem to think that high-end videoconferencing (like Cisco’s Telepresense systems) give the best results. I still think the underlying message — investing more in collaboration tools reaps results for businesses — is the right one, though

Jasper Westaway

I totally agree on the broader message that collaboration is a good thing – I’m a collaboration software vendor after all. But I dislike the positioning of conferencing as the definition of high end collaboration.

Just because it’s high-end tech, it doesn’t mean it is a high end solution. The opposite in many ways – we don’t know what good collaboration looks like so we’ll make it look exactly the same as working in the same room!

Successful (and truer) collaboration solutions like Google Docs and Basecamp are generally employed by SMB’s but I doubt they featured much in the survey (hence the poor returns for SMB;s)

Comments are closed.