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Posted by TJ Keitt on June 30, 2014
Businesses invest considerable sums of money with vendors like Box, Cisco, Google and Microsoft for a collection a technology we call collaboration tools. As an analyst, though, the question that has dogged me in watching this space is "why?" As in "what is the actual value a business gets from investing in collaboration technology?" The vendors' rationale for acquiring collaboration tools has shifted in emphasis over time, going from a conversation on cost savings to one on productivity gains. However, cost savings is an undifferentiated and limited message while "increasing productivity" can feel ephemeral because it is difficult to measure. Yet my inquiry queue remains full of companies trying to figure out how best to deploy these technologies and my briefings calendar is filled with startups and incumbents pitching new offerings in this space. This brings me back to my original question: Why?
We've recently opened up a new stream of research on the use of collaboration technology in customer experience ecosystems that is beginning to give us a clear answer. Ecosystems are networks of people (employees, customers and partners) who collectively contribute to the quality of a customer experience. To ensure all parties in these networks are on the same page, they must be able to access information and work on it with others. This is where collaboration tools come in handy. We're early in this research, but already we're seeing collaboration tools ensures business leaders can:
What technology managers and customer experience managers should both note is we can begin drawing a direct line from these capabilities and revenue. For example, Red Robin's accelerated iteration process led to the most successful hamburger launch in its 44 year history. We think this is the case because collaboration technology -- particularly cloud-based collaboration technology -- contribute to giving a business's constituents three freedoms essential to building a successful ecosystem: the freedom to access and use information, the freedom to interact with individuals who can help solve problems, and freedom to move as necessary. However, the relationship between collaboration tools and healthy customer experience ecosystems won't flourish until: