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Collaboration: The Productivity Wave

August 27, 2009 - 1 Comment

“Productivity and the growth of productivity must be the first economic consideration at all times, not the last. That is the source of technological innovation, jobs, and wealth.” William Simon

Continuing in my series of blogs on the study, Collaboration: Know Your Enthusiasts and Laggards (.pdf), we now come to the fourth finding: productivity is the highest perceived benefit of collaboration. Interestingly, in all collaborator segments, productivity is valued more than innovation and cost savings for their companies. In our top two segments, Collaboration Enthusiasts and Comfortable Collaborators, over 98% surveyed indicated that productivity is the main motivation to using collaboration tools. Likewise, 76% of Reluctant Collaborators and 85% of Collaboration Laggards indicated productivity as a motivator. Response consistency pervades our study. Survey respondents agree that the top three uses for collaboration are day-to-day project work, business process improvement, and new product development. However, one notable area of difference resides with the Collaboration Enthusiasts; 73% are using collaboration tools for new product development in comparison to only 48% of Comfortable Collaborators, 39% of Reluctant Collaborators, and 36% of Collaboration Laggards leveraging collaboration tools for the same objective. This suggests that in highly collaborative environments, co-creation occurs more frequently.Also, the top two segments use collaboration tools more frequently for business process improvement: 83% of Collaboration Enthusiasts and 87% of Comfortable Collaborators. An example of business process improvement is when a sales person is on the phone with a customer and uses instant messaging to get an answer or uses a virtual workspace to capture and share knowledge that helps close the sale.Every network based collaboration tool cited in the study held more appeal for productivity than for innovation. 68% of those surveyed responded that web or data conferencing influenced productivity more than innovation. 65% indicated productivity gains for instant messaging were more valuable than innovation. Video conferencing at 63% and shared workspaces at 62% followed closely. Finally, internet forums or discussion boards and wikis were at 56% and 46% respectively. At Cisco, in less than 3 years we have recognized 107 million dollars of productivity gains with the use of TelePresence alone. In fact, since October 2006, employees have logged 486,353 TelePresence hours, collectively avoided 71,630 trips, and in turn saved 154,721 metric tons of carbon emissions. 31,012 customer meetings were conducted via TelePresence. Based on the sample analysis, TelePresence reduced the time to close a sale by almost 10%. Meeting virtually, real time, across the globe enables more efficient, instantaneous connections that previously would have required days of travel away from work. Speed matters. Speed and productivity go hand in hand. As the great science fiction writer and futurist Isaac Asimov noted: “I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander.”

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