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How Cloud-Based Collaboration Boosts Performance

Online collaboration has evolved during the last decade, delivering even greater value -- thanks to a new generation of business technology applications. Forbes Insights released "Collaborating in the Cloud," a Cisco-sponsored study examining the ways business leaders increasingly look at cloud collaboration as a way to increase productivity, accelerate business results and enhance innovation across borders and functions.

The research combines a global survey of more than 500 executives with 15 executive interviews.

"The ability to collaborate in the cloud is becoming a key driver of competitive advantage," says Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer of Forbes Media. "Leading companies are doing more to foster cloud-based collaboration -- not only internally, but also with an ever-wider swath of external groups including customers, suppliers, partners, and even regulators." The benefits of cloud-based collaboration, Rogers continues, include "greater efficiency, organizational dexterity, and innovation," to name only a few.

Key Findings from the Market Study include:

  • Cloud solutions accelerate business results. Sixty-four percent of respondents overall say that cloud-based collaboration tools help businesses execute faster than would be possible otherwise. This can shorten time to market, quicken product upgrade cycles and lead to faster responses to competitive challenges. The figure increases to 82% among leaders. Leaders, as defined in the survey (14% of the sample), are executives (CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, CFOs, vice presidents of IT and non-IT executives who are department heads) with significantly greater experience and familiarity with cloud-based collaboration tools and strategies than others in the survey.
  • Cloud enhances collaboration across time zones and functional boundaries. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed -- 87% of leaders -- say that capabilities enabled by cloud-based solutions represent a true breakthrough in collaboration. Cloud-based collaboration tools enable a wide array of enhanced capabilities in areas such as communication, product and service delivery, information sharing, tapping knowledge resources and group problem solving.
  • Cloud enables more-efficient business processes. Fifty-eight percent of total respondents -- and 90% of leaders -- report that cloud-based collaboration has the potential to improve business processes. Business processes include purchasing, manufacturing, marketing, sales and technical support. Organizations as wide ranging as D+M Global (sound systems), Virgin Media (broadband, cable, mobile) and the Essex County Council (UK government) are transforming business processes through enhanced collaboration that's enabled by the cloud. For example, D+M Group is using video and web conferencing to accelerate problem-solving by seeing where challenges exist and responding more rapidly with higher-quality interactions.
  • Cloud collaboration spurs innovation. Fifty-nine percent of executives -- 93% of leaders -- agree that cloud-based collaboration stimulates innovation. Indeed, enhanced innovation is an almost unavoidable consequence of providing more executives and workers with new and more effective ways of sharing information, enabling business model innovation and new service delivery options with more people both within and without their organizations.
  • Cloud is not solely an IT discussion. Seventy-five percent of those identified as "leaders" say that non-IT executives are becoming more involved in the selection, implementation, and management processes relating to cloud-based collaboration tools. In short, cloud collaboration is not an IT discussion but a broader business discussion.

"The survey results show that cloud-based collaboration acts as a significant enabler of business success, which is exactly what our customers tell us on a daily basis," says Eric Schoch, vice president and general manager, Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution business unit.

Clouds accelerate the roll-out of collaborative technologies such as voice, video, and conferencing so that companies can improve the efficiency of their decision-making and the quality of their customers' experiences. As clouds and macroeconomic factors increase the speed of business and collaboration, businesses look to clouds as a means to gain a competitive edge."

The comprehensive study is based on a global survey of 532 senior executives from companies with sales ranging from $250 million to over $20 billion. It includes commentary from interviews with 15 corporate executives as well as Q&A-style case studies from D+M Global, the Essex County [UK] Council, and Virgin Media.