New ROI Metrics for the New Now

  • Measuring collaboration ROI requires digging to the source of the benefit.
  • Difficult to measure, collaboration weighs in heavy on innovation and customer retention.

How can you measure return on investment in communication-enabled collaboration? For most organizations, the answer is you don’t. In Collaboration Frontiers: An Integrated Experience, a 2013 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of AT&T, it was found that just 23 percent of respondents measure collaboration through established metrics, 38 percent rely on anecdotal feedback, and a surprising 39 percent have not measured the value of collaboration.

Why so little measurement when the same respondents ranked collaboration as key to critical business activities? Is it the difficulty of knowing how to measure or the problem of identifying what to measure?

Recognizing the benefits of collaboration ROI

For organizations that measure ROI, the current key performance indicators tend to be traditional metrics such as cost reduction, revenue enhancement or customer service improvements. While these may suffice for other investments, the criteria may be too narrow to assess the benefits of collaboration.

As leading collaboration experts suggest, the goal of collaboration is to obtain great results, not collaboration itself. So, maybe it’s time to dig deeper feeling scrambled puzzleand focus on measuring the specific activities where collaboration can make a real difference to organizations.

The September 2010 Aberdeen Group study, Sales and Marketing Alignment: Collaboration + Cooperation = Peak Performance, highlighted customer retention as a big plus for collaboration, with a 16 percent increase attributed to closer working relationships, faster sales response to customers, and quicker resolution of service issues.

Innovation is an important differentiator, and collaboration tools can make a measurable difference. The September 2010 McKinsey Quarterly; Boosting the Productivity of Knowledge Workers, found that 77 percent of respondents cited faster access to knowledge, while 52 percent reported faster access to internal experts. The Aberdeen Group study also found that respondents with a collaboration strategy enjoyed a 122 percent increase in delivering projects on time. That’s the impact collaboration can have on innovation or speed to market.

In the Forrester study, organizations ranked sales and marketing as key business activities where collaboration is proving important. The specific improvements seem to be in the way organizations develop marketing campaigns, carry out market research, develop sales proposals or process orders. The Aberdeen Group study found companies reporting a 12 percent reduction in sales cycle time, and a 16 percent increase in customer retention.

Effective collaboration’s noticeable benefits

Many of the studies noted collaboration can improve employee satisfaction and retention by giving people more scope to contribute, easier access to information, or boosting their personal productivity and improving work-life balance. The Aberdeen Group study reported a 15 percent improvement in employee productivity and 13 percent increase in employee satisfaction.

True collaboration can permeate every internal and external activity of an enterprise and positively influence everything from knowledge sharing to brand reputation. It can also influence costs, revenues, and customer satisfaction. However, to get ROI that is truly meaningful, getting closer to the source of the benefit is essential.

It’s clear that more lateral thinking is needed to create new measurement criteria for collaboration. The deeper we drill down, the more tangible the measurements become. And, what can be measured, can be managed.

Interested in collaboration solutions? Read more about AT&T unified communications.



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