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March 23, 2010

Businesses and employees get the collaboration bug

But firms alienate staff by banning social media at work


Businesses are embracing collaboration tools, but employees still feel they are too restricted by corporate policy to use the technology to best effect, a Cisco survey has found.

The research, which polled more than 2,000 end users and 1,000 technology decision makers across 10 countries, found widespread acceptance of collaboration technology. Some 69% of respondents were either enthusiasts or comfortable users of collaboration tools, happy using technology such as social media, web conferencing, teleprescence and video conferencing, alongside more standard collaboration tools such as phones, text and email.

A commanding 96% of respondents recognised collaboration tools would play a major role in the future success of their companies and this was reflected in the level of planned investment in these tools by senior IT folk. Chief areas for investment over the six months were pinpointed as video conferencing, web conferencing and IP telephony, and many intended to increase spending in these areas by 10% or more.

Despite this positive attitude towards the technology and that fact that both groups of respondents identified the contribution of collaboration tools to improving productivity and efficiency, employees were still frustrated by the restrictions put on their usage at work.

More than half the senior IT people said they banned some social media applications. Rather than accept the ban, employees were ignoring the prohibition: half admitted to accessing these applications at least one a week, while a quarter admitted to tinkering with their settings on their work equipment in order access the sites they needed to get their job done. They were also frustrated by the lack of integration between applications and the limited choice of tools available to them.

Cisco head of collaboration marketingTim Stone said that most existing policies for email and other communications could easily be extended to social media, without the need for an outright ban. “Our own policy has been to give people a tool, tell them the policy and then trust them, but it will depend on the industry,” said Stone.


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