Cloud collaboration has come of age. A market that began with a handful of tools for online chat has now grown into a full-fledged industry, with applications that allow us to create, share, store and manage collaborative work. At Smartsheet, we’re excited by how far the market has evolved, and we’re working hard to introduce new capabilities that help teams work together in a more connected, collaborative, highly-transparent way.
We’re also intensely curious to learn more about how collaboration is deployed and managed on the ground. That’s why we surveyed more than 1,000 IT decision makers at businesses across North America to better understand the categories of collaboration tools enterprises are using, how they’re managed, and the impact they’re having on the way teams and organizations work.
We’re excited to release those findings today in our 2017 State of Enterprise Collaboration Report.
Some of what we learned surprised us. The majority of enterprises now have an overarching strategy to guide their use of collaboration tools - suggesting the era of downloading applications on an ad hoc basis is coming to an end. We also found that collaboration tools have actually led to increased use of email, not reduced it as we expected.
However, the overarching message was that cloud collaboration is seen as an essential category for enterprises. Most IT decision-makers believe that if you’re not creating and implementing a strategy for enterprise collaboration apps, you risk being left behind.
Here are some of the top-line findings from the report:
Productivity is King
There’s been much debate about whether collaboration tools actually increase productivity. Do all those applications help us get more work done, or do we just waste time jumping from screen to screen? According to the IT decision makers we surveyed, it’s very much the former. An overwhelming 90% of respondents said the use of multiple cloud collaboration tools has made workers more productive.
Enterprise Collaboration Has Come of Age
The earliest collaboration apps crept in through the back door, with employees downloading free tools like ICQ and HipChat without telling IT. Those days are coming to an end. Organizations now see the value of IT-supported collaboration in the cloud, and 71% of businesses say they have a defined collaboration strategy in place.
We’re Herding Cats
Collaboration tools might make us more productive, but they also create clutter. Almost half of respondents - 46% - said their organization was using at least six collaboration tools, and 16% were using more than ten.
More Investment Coming
While most organizations have a collaboration strategy in place, they’re not done building out their tools. More than half of respondents said they plan to increase their spend on enterprise collaboration apps over the next 12 months. That could mean adding new tools, or purchasing additional seats for existing applications. Either way, the growth continues.
Email Will Not Die
One of the unexpected findings in our survey was that collaboration apps have led to an increase in the use of email, not reduced it as you might expect. The challenge with many collaboration apps - particularly chat apps - is that they lack a defined organizational structure, and don’t provide an easy and effective way for workers to store and retrieve collaborative work files. Given the lack of structure of many collaboration apps, email becomes a fallback for managing work and tackling tasks like exchanging documents and securing approvals.