The benefits of workforce collaboration have been known for some time; what is more of a mystery is understanding what knowledge workers do and which tools are best suited to boosting their productivity. Even modest improvements in productivity among knowledge workers make a big difference. Especially when you consider that at least 20 percent and as much as 50 percent of collaborative work results in wasted effort, according to a recent survey by McKinsey & Co.
Some companies have already figured out ways to cut costs and increase productivity. Cisco, for example, uses its own video technologies along with other collaboration tools to reduce in-person meetings. Over 18 months the company saved $100 million in travel and business expenses, reduced carbon emissions by 24 million metric tons, and 78% of its employees reported increased productivity and improved lifestyles.
For its part, P&G was able to use Web-based technologies to improve its links to partners and customers and to improve the flow of ideas into the company. The company met its goal of increasing product innovation from outside the company from 35 percent to 50 percent.
Not every company has figured out how to increase collaboration inside and outside of company walls. As the number and value of knowledge workers increases—in the U.S. their wages are 18 percent of GDP—companies will need to get better at understanding how to improve their performance.
A McKinsey & Co. article at “What Matters”, authored by James Manyika, Kara Sprague and Lareina Yee, tackles this subject and provides a useful interactive graphic to help people assess the best tools for each type of knowledge worker. The authors identified 12 types of knowledge workers, such as administrators, managers, creators, salesperson, etc. For each type they identified the tools that this group needed overall and then drilled down into typical day-to-day tasks and showed which tools best supported this workflow.
As technologists you can add value to your organization by drilling down and truly understanding the different types of knowledge work that go on in your company and how technology can make their collaborations even easier.