Collaboration tools help businesses reduce travel, meet environmental goals

“Meetings Around the World II” study sees VoIP and other technology tools changing the way we work
As organizations increasingly arm a global workforce with more sophisticated technology tools, their employees are changing the way they get their jobs done and are driving stronger business returns, according to a new Frost and Sullivan study.

“Meetings Around the World II: Charting the Course of Advanced Collaboration,” sponsored by Verizon and Cisco, follows up on an earlier study conducted in 2006. The new study constineus the examination into how professionals in businesses and government agencies get their work done by using advanced collaboration tools such as voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), instant messaging or meeting via high-definition video or Cisco TelePresenceâ„¢. While the study measured the impact of using collaboration technology on business performance and established a model to measure a return on collaboration, it also identified emerging business technology adoption trends and attitudes across the globe.

 “While professionals overwhelmingly reported the benefits of deploying advanced IP-enabled collaboration tools for their competitive advantage, the study also uncovered interesting developments related to work life today,” says Blair Crump, Verizon Business group president of worldwide sales. “We identified trends related to telework and how professionals around the world like to use technology to become more productive while meeting their goals of balancing life and work and reducing business travel.”

Collaboration attitudes around the world
The new study showed how collaboration tools are playing a vital role in work life today and how attitudes can vary by region. Key trends included:

• VoIP is leading the way for delivery of advanced communications and collaboration applications. IT managers, once skeptical of VoIP compared with traditional telephony, today are leveraging IP networking investments for more advanced forms of communication and collaboration tools. In fact, 92 per cent of IT managers surveyed indicated VoIP quality is at least as good, if not better than traditional wireline phone systems. Chinese organizations are embracing UC&C technologies with 89 per cent using some form of VoIP as their primary phone service.

• Busy professionals report collaboration technologies can help manage stress and strain. More than 60 per cent of survey respondents around the world say they lead busy professional lives with that sentiment highest in the United States, followed by India and Australia. More than half of respondents say collaboration tools allow for greater balance between work and personal life and help them gain more control over their busy lives. More than half of professionals say communications technologies help them stay in the loop and keep business moving forward, allowing them to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, because they are connected wherever they go.

• Workers sometimes have a love-hate relationship with technology. The study showed professionals today want more control of their lives with 58 per cent reporting there are times they don’t want to be reached. At the same time, 52 per cent of respondents said the new communications devices allow workers to gain more control in their lives. Also almost half (47 per cent) said they could not do without the ability to conference remotely.

• Confidence in virtual meeting technologies is growing. Some 61 per cent see collaboration technologies as reducing the need to travel for business (virtually unchanged from 60 per cent in 2006). More than half think using conferencing tools – such as an audio conferencing, web conferencing or video conferencing – is a good alternative to visiting business contacts face-to-face. Regionally, European respondents like to work in the office (as opposed to working from home) and prefer in-person meetings and business travel over using conference calls. However, respondents in Asia Pac and in the United States see conferencing as a good alternative to face-to-face meetings.

• Telecommuting is gaining traction. Almost half (47 per cent) of respondents report having a formal telecommuting policy in place. However, less than a third (27 per cent) telecommute at least once a week, and 22 per cent telecommute on a daily basis. At the same time, 61 per cent of respondents say they like to work from anywhere. The results show India is the most telecommuting friendly country, with 59 per cent of its organizations having a formal telecommuting policy, and 48 per cent of its workers telecommuting daily followed by Hong Kong, with 54 per cent of its businesses having a formal policy, and 26 per cent of its workers using it on a daily basis. The United States and China are tied for third with 47 per cent of U.S. organizations and 64 per cent of Chinese firms having formal telecommuting policy and 25 per cent of U.S. workers and 21 per cent of Chinese workers using it daily.

• The environment is top of mind. More than half (53 per cent) say reducing an organization's carbon footprint and other environmental concerns are important factors in determining collaborative technology requirements. That was most prevalent in China, followed by India and Sweden.

• The culture of collaboration has regional personalities. While the study identified global trends, it also found professionals worldwide displayed regional differences in how they like to work.
 “While advanced collaborative technology adoption can be an equalizer in helping to tear down geographic boundaries, there remain cultural differences that must be taken into account to make the most of our business interactions on a country-to-country and region-to-regional basis,” says Carlos Dominguez, senior vice president with the office of chairman and CEO, Cisco. “Just as no two countries are alike, no two collaborators are alike, and we see this diversity driving innovation going forward.’’

In May 2009, Frost & Sullivan conducted an online survey of 3,662 Information Technology (IT) or line-of-business decision-makers in organizations in 10 countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America. Asia-Pacific was represented by Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, and Japan and Europe was represented by France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The survey gauged attitudes and practices within small- and medium-sized businesses (50 to 999 employees) and enterprises (1,000 or more employees) in the financial services, government, healthcare, high technology, professional services, manufacturing or retail industries.

To access more information about "Meetings Around the World II",  visit To view a video discussing professionals’ attitudes about collaboration visit