Some 93 per cent of business leaders believe internal collaboration is either crucial or very important to what they do, with 59 per cent believing the same to be true of external collaboration.
The study looked to assess how organisations have managed two growing collaboration needs: quickly and easily linking external users into the content-sharing environment and giving users access to collaborative content from their mobile devices.
An alarming 89 per cent of respondents said that a formal collaboration system was a vital piece of infrastructure, yet 54 per cent found the rapid convergence of collaboration and social tools to be very confusing. External collaboration was particularly problematic, with 71 per cent feeling their organisation has shortfalls in technical support for external collaboration. Meanwhile, four in ten feel that external collaboration is badly supported.
The three biggest strategic drivers for improved collaboration were: general productivity (47 per cent), knowledge pooling (46 per cent), and pulling together a dispersed workforce (36 per cent). It was also seen as important to speeding up review processes, customer responses, and project completions.
The most important features to support collaboration were: sharing of documents (74 per cent), workflows for comments and approvals (49 per cent), and content access from mobile devices (37 per cent).
Document and content sharing is highly likely to involve external collaborators beyond the firewall, yet traditional on-premise systems will have been deliberately set up to be secured against access to those outside of the business. This means many users will turn to consumer cloud file-sharing services such as Dropbox, Skydrive, i-Cloud, Google Drive and YouSendIt.
However, such consumer file-share and sync services are banned in more than half (56 per cent) of organisations, with 27 per cent actually restricting access. Only 23 per cent currently provide an approved business grade alternative.
The convenience and ease-of-use of consumer file-share and sync services make them very attractive for collaboration,” said Doug Miles, Director Market Intelligence, AIIM. But such tools have security implications and organisations must look to provide flexible and easy-to-use collaboration functionality across the business if they really want to discourage use of consumer tools.