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Revelations from Online Collaboration Adopters

Cisco conducted one of the first comprehensive studies of the factors associated with successful adoption of network-based collaboration solutions. You can use the study results to maximize your return on investment from today's online collaboration tools.

One way is to implement business practices shown to lead to more enthusiastic collaboration. Another is to identify and then actively support the employees who are most likely to benefit.

Twenty First Century Collaboration
Collaboration is a process that brings people and information together to accomplish a common goal. What's new today is that in a connected world, people no longer have to be in the same location, time zone, or culture to collaborate.

Tools such as videoconferencing (or TelePresence) and web sharing enable real-time collaboration across distance. Blogs, wikis, and shared workspaces enable online collaboration across time boundaries.

Cisco conducted the first formal segmentation study of collaboration tool users. Their objective was to understand how workers choose to collaborate, which tools they use, and how they believe those tools positively affect productivity, innovation, and cost savings.

Study participant collaboration habits and attitudes placed them into one of four segments: Collaboration Enthusiasts, Comfortable Collaborators, Reluctant Collaborators, and Collaboration Laggards.

Lessons Learned and Best Practices
The results from the Cisco collaboration segmentation study suggest that organizations experience the greatest productivity benefits from collaboration when they:
  • Recognize that personal attitudes and organizational culture regarding collaboration are as important as collaboration tools.
  • Begin by introducing collaboration tools to people and groups meeting the characteristics of Enthusiasts and Comfortable Collaborators. These people tend to be managers or supervisors, have held their job position for 3 to 10 years, and are already using Web 2.0 tools at home.
  • Encourage executives to model the desired collaboration practices.
  • Reward collaboration by including it in performance reviews, offering rewards for successful outcomes, or both.
  • Implement formal collaboration processes. Provide the tools, IT support, and training needed to foster increased collaboration.
The survey studied 800 people in a wide variety of U.S. medium-sized and enterprise organizations who: spend at least 20 percent of time at work using a network-connected computer; use a mobile phone or handheld device; and participated in two collaborative activities within the past month.

Enabling the Early-Adopters to Thrive
The researchers conducted a segmentation analysis, separating individuals into distinct groups based on a large set of attitudinal and behavioral variables. Previous knowledge of collaboration habits did not include the personal or cultural factors that influence success.

Do you proactively nurture a culture of collaboration in your organization? What obstacles did you have to overcome before your employees could fully utilize the latest online productivity tools?