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Irwin Lazar
Irwin Lazar
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Collaboration Trends ? Some Early Results

As I mentioned in previous postings I’ve been part of a team at Nemertes that has undertaken a project to benchmark how enterprises are supporting an increasing virtual workforce, including the use of tools such as VOIP, collaboration (both real-time and non-real time applications), and wireless/mobility strategies.  In developing this benchmark we’ve interviewed approximately 120 enterprise IT executives representing approximately 100 companies with an average annual revenue of over $10 billion.  It’s been an eye opening experience, and some of the early results are now in.

Here are some of the highlights:
• Roughly 90% of enterprises consider themselves “virtual”, that is, they operate organizations in which team members work in separate geographic locations

• The number of offices continues to grow, with 62% of enterprises reporting that they are adding offices in the next twelve months

• Revenue growth emerged as the biggest overall driver for IT spending, and revenue growth and boosting employee productivity were the biggest drivers for collaboration projects.  Cost reduction was important, but not as important as initiatives that grew the business rather than simply cut costs.

• Demand for collaboration applications is primarily end-user driven rather than IT developing tools and pushing them outward on the hope that they will be used.

• Enterprises are moving toward unifying their planning for collaboration and convergence.  While the majority still manage applications in separate silos, 43% have centralized planning within IT, while over 8% have established dedicated collaboration planning functions within their organization

• The business case for collaboration continues to be difficult to quantify.  We’ve discovered a number of concrete examples of how organizations have developed solid cost models to gauge the impact of their applications, but almost 70% of enterprises have been unable to quantify any business benefit.  Projects are moving forward primarily as a result of a perceived business benefit to improved communication, rather than a tangible return on investment.

The bottom line for enterprises and those wishing to sell into the enterprise market is that enterprises seem to understand the opportunity that collaborative applications present to improve their operations, and the demand is pull-based rather than push-based.  But there’s still a large demand for development of cost models to quantify specific business benefit associated with emerging applications such as unified communications and presence.  I’ll spend the next few days working on some of those models and report back next week.

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