Collaboration: no organisation could function without it. But can you measure it? Assess the extent of it? Quantify its benefits? Calculate the costs of poor collaboration?
Deloitte Access Economics has sought to do just that, and has presented its results in "The Collaborative Economy". It explains: "Deloitte was asked by Google Australia to quantify the value of greater workplace collaboration." And that number is big: "$46 billion per year – the value of faster-growing, profitable businesses with collaboration at their core; $9.3 billion per year – additional value if companies make the most of opportunities to collaborate more."
The bottom line was that there are 11.6 million collaborating workers in Australia and the 'Collaboration Economy' is worth $46 billion annually, but how is that figure arrived at?
"The value of the collaboration economy is the net value of collaboration, recognising that the alternative for most employees and managers would be individual work," Deloitte says. "This is calculated as the time saving productivity benefits of collaboration, the quality improvement benefits of collaboration, minus the costs of collaboration, such as wasting time in meetings and/or being distracted by other colleagues in the workplace. It is also based on the wages value of employee and manager time."
It found also that "Collaboration’s economic value can also be increased through improvements in time-saving and quality impacts." Collectively "These impacts alone represent a $9.3 billon potential – bringing the collaboration economy to $56 billion."
That's all rather abstract and academic.The study, however has useful findings for the individual enterprise. Deloitte went on to say: "Companies that prioritise collaboration are: five times more likely to experience a considerable increase in employment; twice as likely to be profitable; twice as likely to outgrow competitors."
It added: "Yet more than half of Australian businesses have no collaboration strategy. As a result they – as well as the national economy – are missing out on what are very significant benefits."
Perhaps not surprisingly Deloitte found that over 35 percent of respondents said collaboration helped them work faster and 18 percent said that their work could be impossible without collaboration.
The good news was that 36 percent of people surveyed said their organisation had become more collaborative in the last three years and only six percent said that collaboration had declined.
"The key drivers of this change were: progressive leadership and culture; workplace champions; technology as enabler to drive adoption," Deloitte said. It listed shared electronic resources and common areas for staff to socialise as the major contributors to greater collaboration. Perhaps surprisingly, collaboration software and video conferencing facilities ranked lower.
Collaboration is a core function of every organisation, but ad-hoc collaboration is one thing, an articulated collaboration strategy another thing entirely. Deloitte found that half of the businesses it surveyed either had no collaboration strategy or did not know whether they had one or not. Only 24 percent said collaboration was an important part of their strategy. Yet those in this segment were more than twice as likely to grow, worked faster and were more innovative.
Deloitte's advice to Australian businesses: "Convince key decision makers that collaboration should be an important part of corporate strategy; invest in the right technology and tools for collaboration; drive collaboration through HR policies, culture and governance; support transformation through a tailored approach involving employees."