Communications and Collaboration Seen as Next Competitive Advantage

Tools and techniques of online and instant communication becoming an integral part of how companies function, finds Frost & Sullivan survey

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London — November 16, 2010 — The tools and techniques of online and instant communication are becoming an integral part of how companies functions, and with satisfying return on investment (ROI) and anticipated cost savings, companies plan to increase their budgets toward Web conferencing, instant messaging and other tools in the coming months, according to a recent survey by consultancy Frost & Sullivan.

In its survey on "Investment Decisions in Communications and Collaboration Products and Services among Decision-Makers in Europe," Frost & Sullivan's key analysts determined C-level executives' attitudes and strategic thoughts on these tools. The survey measured awareness, level of usage and recognized leading communications and collaboration companies while assessing future intentions for the use of communications and collaboration tools within organizations.

Awareness of unified communication and collaboration (UCC) tools has been significantly growing, as a C-level executive uses four to five tools on average per day. The majority of tools available, especially instant and unified messaging, are extensively employed at all levels of the organization.

"The C-level executives are conscious about benefits that communications and collaboration tools can bring, and 46 percent of the respondents plan to increase the budget for these tools in the next 12 months," said Dorota Oviedo, Frost & Sullivan industry analyst for the firm's Unified Communication and Collaboration group and co-author of the survey. Oviedo noted that the respondents cited instant messaging (73 percent), telephony presence information (71 percent) and enterprise Web 2.0 (63 percent) as the most popular tools used daily by the C-level executives.

Rapidly Expanding Market

The data gathered from the survey respondents give a clear picture of a rapidly growing and expanding market. "A large share of organizations plan to expand usage of the specific tools, ranging from 36 percent toward telepresence to almost 60 percent for video conferencing," added Anna Kuberacka, Frost & Sullivan senior research analyst for customer research and second author of the research study. "Among non-users, the largest proportion either plans to implement the tools within the next 12 months or in a longer term, within the next two to three years."

The majority of companies (65 percent) in the survey allocate up to 30 percent of total expenditures to IT and telecommunications, and nearly 60 percent of companies spend up to 20 percent of this budget toward new technologies and services. "Among the main reasons to extend the communication and collaboration budget in the future is productivity increase (46 percent)," reported Kuberacka. "The executives also noted less travel (43 percent), cost reduction (35 percent) and technology advances (35 percent) as key drivers."

The survey also shows that the communications and collaboration market is highly competitive. Most of the organizations use more than one provider, with a significant share (over 40 percent) using at least four providers. "The awareness of the major market participants is high, however the usage is extremely fragmented," noted Oviedo. "There is no clear leader in terms of market share overall."

Frost & Sullivan suggested that survey has confirmed that the positive view of communication and collaboration tools among C-level executives supports growing adoption of these solutions within companies. For those who have not yet introduced the UCC tools, it might be a competitive disadvantage in the fast-moving market, the consultancy said.

Communication and collaboration market players, including vendors, service providers and channel partners, are likely benefit from the market developments and significant growth opportunities in the coming years, according to the survey.