Why Enterprise Social Collaboration Means Business
New research highlights the concrete business benefits that can result from social collaboration.
As global citizens, it seems that we are constantly confronted with a growing list of daunting challenges to our survival as a species and to our planet. It has become apparent to many that we can't do it alone; we've got to work together (apologies to fans of Ayn Rand’s "heroic individualism") to meet the challenges head on.
That's the essential spirit of collaboration. It's no wonder that according to Google, use of the term "collaboration" is at an all-time high, with 226 million results in Google Search.
Illustration: Aberdeen Group; Source: Google.com
In the business context, increasing global competition and the pressure to constantly innovate and adapt to changing conditions are the main reasons for the recent spike in interest in enterprise collaboration. It turns out that there's a sound business reason for this.
The September 2013 Aberdeen Next-Generation Communications (NGC) study of the communications practices of 126 organizations found that companies that had identified business collaboration as their top business goal saw significant business performance improvement compared to organizations that did not prioritize collaboration (see Figure 1).
Enterprise social collaboration (ESC) is a term that Aberdeen uses to describe the technologies, processes and services used to boost collaboration in the workplace. ESC typically uses social media and next-generation communications technologies (integrated voice, mobile, video, instant messaging/chat and presence) to promote teamwork and the sharing of ideas and knowledge specifically to improve business outcomes. To assess the business impact of ESC, we conducted another study, this one on the enterprise social collaboration practices of 629 organizations, from August through October 2013.
The year-over-year business impact of ESC on business performance was remarkable; Table 1 below tracks the performance of those organizations that had an ESC strategy in place.
Table 1: Taking Measure of Enterprise Collaboration's Business Value
Enterprise social collaboration vendors often use soft metrics such as "enhanced productivity and teamwork" to describe collaboration's intangible benefits, with concrete business returns remaining elusive. But as shown here, the business value of a well-executed ESC plan is no longer so elusive.
It is worth noting, however, that this study also showed that many of these business benefits do not happen for companies that take a laissez-faire or ad hoc approach to workplace collaboration. Laissez-faire collaboration happens when IT groups allow employees and departments to self-provision their own collaboration environments. Aberdeen's research shows that the best return on ESC investments come from an official ESC plan that is endorsed by executive leadership.