The increased use of social collaboration and new Big Data/Data Analytics and IoT technologies are transforming the workplace. Digital tools such as Enterprise Social Networks are becoming more accepted and increasingly replace the cumbersome search for information by telephone or “e-mail to all”. This is confirmed by the third German Social Collaboration Study. It is conducted annually by the information systems department of the Technical University of Darmstadt and the business consulting firm Campana & Schott. The results show: Social collaboration not only allows employees to complete their tasks more efficiently, but also promotes the innovative power in the company.
The study also provides an overview of the current expectations for digital workplaces, and outlines what must be done to ensure that social collaboration delivers the expected benefits. For example, companies using modern work methods can only develop an innovation culture if tools can be used intuitively, are introduced in a targeted manner and the added values are clearly communicated – and if management is leading by example. Major obstacles include the limited usability of the tools and insufficient mobile access.
The study asked 1,418 employees in Germany and Switzerland about their experience with social collaboration. For the first time, the study also asked about the extent to which trend technologies from the artificial intelligence, mixed reality and Big Data area are actually used in the workplace.
The results at a glance
Digital work is becoming more accepted
On a scale from 1 to 7, the maturity of social collaboration1 in German and Swiss companies increased from 3.28 to 3.96 compared to the previous year. A high level of maturity means that current digital technologies are frequently used for information and communication purposes, while a lower level of maturity would indicate the use of mostly analog approaches (e.g. asking personal contacts) or established technologies (e.g. sending e-mails). The differences can vary greatly depending on the application scenario, industry and the size of the company.
A higher level of maturity shows that employees are increasingly using current digital technologies to complete their daily work tasks. The main application fields include searching for information and news, and filling out applications and forms. The technologies are not used as much to search for experts and exchange information in interest groups.
But it is especially the latter segment that is gaining in importance in terms of social collaboration as more and more teams are geographically distributed, so that companies should be implementing the corresponding tools.
¹ The maturity of social collaboration can range from 1 (no use of current digital technologies) to 7 (exclusive use of current digital technologies).
Work efficiency increases by almost a third
People using social collaboration tools work up to 30 percent more efficiently. Since inefficient processes lead to high costs, companies should utilize the advantages offered by digital collaboration. This aspect has been recognized by the IT industry in particular, which is well ahead with a maturity level of 4.89. It is followed by the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry (4.22) and the communications sector (4.15).
Digital tools break through silo structures
Better connections between employees and intensive collaboration are two issues that are frequently invoked but not always turned into practice. Still, almost half of participants have noticed a change in the corporate culture as a result of digital tools. They report an increase in the collaboration between teams, departments and hierarchy levels, and in the implementation of innovative ideas and discussions of customer needs. As a result, employees feel much more motivated, and find it easier to take on new challenges. A higher level of satisfaction is an important factor particularly in times when skilled labor is in short supply.
Every second person is not satisfied with the equipment
Less than one in ten persons is satisfied with the technical equipment that is currently available to them. Almost half of them are only partly satisfied or not satisfied at all. The most frequently requested items are simple and intuitive tools and local access to documents, which could further increase work efficiency.
Companies rely on social collaboration as an innovation driver
Digital tools are becoming the instrument of choice for promoting innovations. This objective has become more important than improving the corporate culture, which topped last year’s list and is now in second place. Cost savings and increasing employee retention are in third and fourth place, respectively. This means that companies are under ever greater pressure to develop innovative solutions.
The digital workplace is characterized by Big Data/Data Analytics and IoT
Already now, 35 percent of all companies are using Big Data/Data Analytics technologies, and 21 percent use IoT technologies. In addition, 60 percent expect big changes from Big Data technologies in the future, compared to 48 percent that expect that same with regard to IoT. Every third person thinks that artificial intelligence (AI) holds a lot of promise for the future.
Work-life balance Social collaboration as a recruiting advantage
The importance of digital tools for recruitment will continue to increase: Employees expect that connectivity in the workplace will lead to a better work-life balance, more work enjoyment, the ability to follow up on new ideas more quickly, and flexible accessibility. These aspects can be improved using social collaboration tools. In addition, companies should do more to enable employees to work in a “home office”.
Successful implementation is driven by management
The increasing use of Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) significantly increases employees’ knowledge of their colleagues’ expertise and contacts. But this requires support from management and a clear communication of the advantages during the introduction phase. In that case, the use of ESNs increases by two thirds, and innovation is promoted.
Larger companies are the pioneers
The larger a company, the more likely it is to have implemented digitization projects in the past. It is particularly the small- to medium-sized business sector that has a lot of catching up to do. As a matter of fact, many projects clearly demonstrate the desired outcome: The use of technology and work efficiency increase significantly in companies that have completed a large number of digitization projects.
About Campana & Schott:
Campana & Schott is an international management and technology consultancy with more than 300 employees at locations in Europe, the US and Canada. For more than 25 years, we have been passionately assisting companies in managing complex change processes – with proven methods, technologies or simply the right people. The passion for all facets of human collaboration in organizations and projects has driven us since the beginning.
Further information: www.campana-schott.com