Want to improve collaboration ROI? Improve the user experience

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This entry is a guest post of J. Scott Tapp, SVP & GM of Global Collaboration Services at PGi.

P HOMEWORKER.gifI'm often asked about return on collaboration. Is it real? How do you measure it?  I'd like to share with you some real numbers that one large software company achieved through looking at collaboration as a whole system vs. separate pieces--and putting the user experience front and center.

The company was like many others in thinking they had improved collaboration just because they had web and audio conferencing. At one point a few years ago, they were actually advanced in the way they used the technologies. The problem was that the company's employees around the world were adopting the technologies in a siloed fashion and were finding them increasingly cumbersome to use. Set-up took forever--registering to get an account, waiting for a booking confirmation, scheduling the conference and then copying and pasting to get everything in one place so the invitation could be e-mailed. All for a 15-minute meeting! 

Not a good scenario for a company that was relying more and more on online conferences to meet customer implementation timeframes and other key demands. In addition, the company had growing concerns about the security of its patchwork conferencing system. So they set a goal to standardize the way its employees, customers and partners collaborate--ensuring everyone would meet the same way in a branded, secure environment. And they smartly understood that they needed an easy-to-use solution that its people would readily embrace so that various departments wouldn't seek their own vendors for online conferencing purposes.

This company decided to use managed services to create one system, manage it and support it.

A greater ROC--Return on Collaboration--is precisely what the company gained. Here are some metrics they shared:

• Increased productivity by reduced average meeting time from 46 to 37 minutes
• Faster start-up time for meetings--what used to take 7-10 minutes now takes a minute
• Increased collaboration--from 80,000 meetings a month to 300,000
• Across-the-board travel costs reduced by more than one third

Further, the company believes its employees' quality of life has improved because they don't have to hop on a plane as often. It's a softer metric, but one just as important, in my view.

There is greater consistency, too. Whether conferences are internal or external, the company presents the same face to customers and partners. It can't be measured, but there is value in the confidence and comfort factor that comes with that. People appreciate the fact that the company is easy to do business with.

The story is a good example of why standardization in a single, user-friendly portal is so important in today's new world of collaboration.

The collaboration market is changing rapidly. The world is getting smaller and more online meetings are a business reality. These online meetings are more cost-effective and are proving to be a productive way to do business. The challenge is that, in the market today, there are many different solutions, technologies and vendors. And when you are a company as complex and global as the one described here, you often find your departments wanting to 'do their own thing' when it comes to collaboration. The company took the right steps to standardize, and the results speak for themselves.

Perhaps the most interesting comment, which came from the global director of IT infrastructure, was that the old days where internal IT tried to solve everything on its own are long gone. He acknowledged that it makes sense to have someone else manage certain services, especially in a rapidly changing area like collaboration.

Yann Gourvennec

I specialize in information systems, HighTech marketing and Web marketing. I am author and contributor to numerous books and the CEO of Visionary Marketing. As such, I contribute regularly on this blog for Orange Business Services account on cloud computing and cloud storage topics.