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?