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Collaboration key to competitiveness across ANZ, new research finds

By Shannon Williams
Fri 19 Feb 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Technology-enabled collaboration is the key to remaining a competitive organisation, according to new research from Polycom, which says businesses across New Zealand and Australia believe collaboration can transform the workplace.

Polycom’s survey assessed how prepared ANZ businesses and employees are to compete in the ‘work place of the future’ – enabled by advances in collaboration technology.

The survey found that despite 97% of ANZ businesses believing technology-enabled collaboration is key to remaining competitive, most are reliant on 20th century collaboration technologies like email and phone to undertake more complex collaboration that other technologies might be better suited for.

Polycom says the findings indicate that only one in four (24%) of ANZ businesses currently measure their own collaboration utilisation. Without measurement, ANZ companies might be squandering opportunities by not understanding existing utilisation and therefore not realising the true value delivered by existing collaboration technology, the company says.

Polycom says the survey comes at a critical time for companies within ANZ as many realise transformational technology is no longer a ‘nice to have’ in today’s globally connected marketplace.

The survey found that while organisations rely on technology for daily collaboration, most employees are still struggling to transfer knowledge effectively. This is currently a challenge for four in five ANZ organisations, even though they understood the benefits of getting it right.

“In October 2015, the New Zealand Government announced a revamped innovation policy which included scaling up research from its current $1.5 billion allocation,” says Tony Simonsen, managing director Australia & New Zealand at Polycom.

“Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said the strategy was to support New Zealand's ‘very proud history’ of science and innovation. There has never been a more important time for New Zealand businesses to evaluate and invest in smarter workplace collaboration strategies,” he says.

“Polycom is passionate about enhancing the productivity and performance of Australian and New Zealand businesses, now and in the future,” Simonsen adds.

“We strongly believe this can be best achieved through improved collaboration, bringing in the skills, expertise and knowledge of a diverse workforce.”

The survey reveals businesses on both sides of the Tasman collaborate on a daily basis, both domestically and abroad. Australian employees spend 40% and New Zealand employees spend 43% of their time collaborating with people who are not in their immediate vicinity.

Despite this, Polycom says more work is required including facilitating widespread availability of simple-to-use collaboration tools that are accessible to every employee along with training designed to change outdated technology consumption habits.

Some key findings:

  • 54% of Australian and 47% of New Zealand employees believe the tools available in their workplace are not adequately optimised to facilitate collaborative working.
  • 65% of Australian and 53% of New Zealand employees claim they would be more productive if the right collaborative tools were integrated into their workplace and job processes.
  • Employees in Australia and New Zealand selected email as their preferred tool for a creative brainstorm when face to face collaboration like video conferencing or live content sharing may be more appropriate.
  • A third of Australian businesses, and a quarter of New Zealand businesses, revealed they have encountered expensive errors due to miscommunication with international colleagues, which they believe could have been avoided had the right collaboration tools had been in place.

“These findings were reinforced when looking at how businesses evaluate collaboration usage and measurement,” Polycom says.

Although the majority (89%) of ANZ employers described their organisation as collaborative, only 24% measure collaboration utilisation.

“From our research, it’s clear that ANZ employees and employers acknowledge the power that smarter collaboration solutions have to significantly improve productivity,” says Mei-Lin Low, director, APAC Industry Solutions and Competitive Intelligence at Polycom.

“However many businesses are still not measuring the true impact of this technology on their business.

“By simply establishing a baseline of collaboration and combining this with a strategy to address issues (such as the availability and type of tools, adoption programmes or workflows), employers could enhance collaboration significantly, and accelerate their journey towards the Workplace of the Future,” says Low.

Trends Influencing How Businesses Will Collaborate and Work in the Future

Across ANZ, Polycom says it is seeing significant increase in global teams, cross border collaboration and flexible working. Specifically:

  • Organisations are seeing a large increase in the use of global teams, 69% in Australia versus 71% in New Zealand
  • 82% of Australian and 84% of New Zealand employers are seeing an increase in tasks that require cross-organisational collaboration
  • Majority of employees believe that their employer prefers them to work from an office; 75% for Australia and 45% for New Zealand.
  • Employers had mixed views, 64% of Australian businesses prefer employees to work from an office versus 35% of those in New Zealand.
  • 81% of ANZ employees believe the quality of their work should be measured by what they do not where they do it.

According to Polycom, these findings suggest that for geographically distributed teams to be effective, organisations must find smarter ways to make distance disappear.

Furthermore, 82% of ANZ employers believe the labour market is changing. Key changes as seen by employers include an increase in the recruitment of freelance and contract workers.

This, combined with more flexible working, indicates that the workforce of the future will be complex, with vastly different collaboration needs compared to the workforce of today. On this basis, almost 70% of ANZ employers believe the ability to share knowledge freely will be critical to their success.

Making the Transition from Workplace of Today to Workplace of Tomorrow

“Looking to the future, it’s clear that the right collaboration tools are critical to the transition of a 2016 organisation into a Workplace of the Future,” Polycom says.

The study says businesses agree that where collaboration tools are accessible in the workplace, business can transform itself (79% Australia, 83% New Zealand).

Likewise, employers felt that being able to connect face-to-face (in person or assisted with HD video) on-demand will be crucial to increasing the speed of knowledge transfer within their organisation.

However, keeping it simple will be key to driving employee adoption. Approximately 58% of Australian and 48% of New Zealand employees would use a collaboration tool like video conferencing more frequently if it were as simple as using their own personal device.

“Having the right 21st century collaboration tools in place means that employers can retain valuable employees if they wanted to relocate,” Polycom says. A view shared by 74% of employers in Australia and 72% in New Zealand.

The business value of collaboration is continuing to evolve,” Polycom says.

“Integrating collaboration into daily workspaces, experiences and workflows, can help move organisations beyond basic information sharing to more complex, higher order evaluative (e.g. decision making) and generative (e.g. idea generation) collaboration activities, that truly give rise to real competitive advantage.”

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