Collaboration’s ROI

Collaboration is like motherhood and apple pie.  Who will publicly say that it’s a bad thing?  Nevertheless, many knowledge workers have private work habits that inhibit collaboration.  Further many of their organizations don’t do enough to change these behaviors.  Why?  In many cases, because they have not yet realized the enormous benefits that can accrue to an organization that fosters collaboration.

Not convinced?  Looking for some hard numbers?  Take a look at these results from Cisco’s implementation of Web 2.0 and collaboration technologies in fiscal year 2008:

  • US$691 million saved
  • 4.9 %  increased productivity
  • The technology investments, which cost US$81 million to deploy, provided a 900 % return on investment (ROI).

Now your firm may not be as large as Cisco and you may not have the same access to state of the art technology or a workforce that is tech friendly.  Nonetheless, wouldn’t even a fraction of Cisco’s ROI be welcome at your firm?  Further, wouldn’t your firm benefit from improvements in the way information and expertise are shared among employees, customers and partners. What more do you need by way of incentives?

If you’re interested in learning more about how Cisco used Web 2.0 and collaboration technologies to achieve these impressive results, read their guide,  Creating a Collaborative Enterprise (PDF), which explains their framework for achieving collaboration with significant ROI.

[Thanks to John Tropea and Oscar Berg for letting me know about this resource.]

[Photo Credit:  Bee-side]


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5 thoughts on “Collaboration’s ROI

  1. It's about building capacity, capability and resiliency in an environment of turbulence and complexity .. see Thomas Stewart on Intellectual Capital and The Wealth of Knowledge.

    1. You're absolutely right, Jon. Nonetheless, I expect the bean countersprefer to focus on the financial aspects of ROI.- Mary

  2. You're absolutely right, Jon. Nonetheless, I expect the bean countersprefer to focus on the financial aspects of ROI.- Mary

  3. I agree that Cisco’s example is a notable one, but have some reservations:
    1) I would be more curious to learn about the costs of deployment than the return, as I wonder how scalable they are for organizations with much smaller budgets.
    2) I get nervous when ‘cost savings’ is one of the focal points of an ROI analysis of Enterprise 2.0 tools. Business leaders do not typically refer to collaboration as a cost-savings strategy, so why is that the right metric to measure?
    3) 4.9% increased productivity as compared to what and to what end? Firing 1 person so 2 people have the job of 3 is also likely to lead to increased productivity, but that’s not necessarily a good choice.

    I’m a strong believer in the power of enterprise 2.0 strategies and tools to make organizations more effective and efficient – regardless of their size – but have only seen a handful of truly compelling cases for ROI. Would be curious about what other scenarios you’ve seen about good use of outcome measurement in this space?

    For more on this topic, see  

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