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Study Shows Using Collaboration Technologies Improves Business Performance

The highest Return on Collaboration was exhibited in Sales, R&D, and Marketing.

Recently, Frost & Sullivan released the results of a study it conducted on behalf of Verizon Business and Cisco. The key finding is that companies that use advanced unified communications and collaboration technologies gain a clear competitive advantage.Companies' faith in UC&C technologies is strong: Of the organizations we surveyed that have deployed UC&C, 40 percent of them say that they will increase spending on the technology despite the current economic conditions, and 29 percent expect spending to stay the same.

More than 80 percent of those organizations that have not yet deployed UC&C tools plan to deploy some form of them in the next two to three years. IT managers in these organizations list the top tools as collaboration-enabled business applications, in which a worker can launch collaboration tools within an existing software application (21 percent); presence-enabled applications (18 percent); and immersive video (18 percent).

Of those companies that have deployed collaboration tools, 72 percent say that they have experienced better performance, compared to only 46 percent of companies that did not deploy them. The differences in gold standard performance between those that deployed and those that did not were most apparent in Innovation (68 percent versus 39 percent), Sales Growth (76 percent versus 50 percent), and Profit Growth (71 percent versus 45 percent).

But more benefits accrue as companies deploy more-advanced collaboration applications. "Advanced Collaborators," which deploy more mobile and integrated communications, have significantly higher overall performance than "Basic Collaborators," which use only conferencing, IM and simple mobile communications.

To measure the return on a collaboration deployment as it relates to improvements in business-critical activities, my colleague Brian Cotton worked with the Verizon team to create an index we call the Return on Collaboration (ROC), which measures the impact of deploying collaboration solutions on these areas. Unlike a traditional Return on Investment (ROI) index, which tracks the amount of money directly gained or lost on an investment, ROC captures the "improvement" that is directly due to collaboration being used in the given functional area, relative to the overall amount of money invested in that functional area.

Basic Collaborators--companies that have deployed communications tools with a minimal range of IP and collaboration capabilities--enjoy almost a 2.8 return on that investment. The impact grows as the UC&C deployment becomes more advanced. Intermediate Collaborators, which typically deploy fixed-mobile convergence and IP enabled communications and collaboration tools, see a 25 percent greater impact than Basic Collaborators. And Advanced Collaborators see more than 2 times the impact as Basic Collaborators, at just over 6 times the return on their UC&C investment.

Not surprisingly, collaboration has the greatest impact on those processes in which large numbers of people interact to produce value. Using the ROC index, the highest Return on Collaboration was exhibited in Sales (5.2), R&D (5.1), and Marketing (4.4).

Meetings Around the World II, a survey of almost 3,700 professionals in 10 countries on four continents, is the first study to determine a model for measuring a Return on Collaboration and the impact of IP-enabled advanced collaboration on business performance. For the full report, please go here.The highest Return on Collaboration was exhibited in Sales, R&D, and Marketing.