A research on Collaboration?

To us Social Collaboration is:

«A set of strategies, processes, behaviors and digital platforms that enable groups of individuals inside the organization to connect, interact, share information and work towards a common business goal»

Although not a new topic, the interest in Social Collaboration has exploded in recent years thanks to the diffusion of Enterprise Social Networks, but also of new organizational models based on employee engagement and more democratic, transparent and participatory approaches.

Along with the many projects recently carried out in Italy, the attention on collaborative dynamics and best practices is evidenced by the numerous international reports (Gartner, Forrester, MIT, Deloitte, Capgemini, Dachis …) who analyze the phenomenon from a human, organizational and technological point of view. While interesting, such data have rarely focused on Italy, on its network of small and medium-sized enterprises with its specific socio-economic conditions. The Social Collaboration Survey 2013, conducted by Stefano Besana and Emanuele Quintarelli, finally fills this gap by mapping collaborative practices and bringing to light their secrets and strategies for success.


Which topics have been analyzed?

Carried out online from July to September 2013, the Social Collaboration Survey has involved more than 300 Italian companies in an unprecedented X-ray analysis on 4 collaboration axes: culture, organization and processes, technology, measurement.
Among the main dimensions analyzed:

Relevance: To what extent is collaboration considered as a strategic topic both today and in the near future?
Drivers: What are the business drivers that lead companies to introduce tools and participatory approaches?
Sponsors: Which departments have the responsibility to launch and / or support collaborative initiatives?
Maturity: At what level of maturity are companies in our country?
Budget: How large are the available budgets and how are they spent among the different areas of the project?
Measurement: Which performance indicators and metrics are in place and how much is performance measurement already an integral part of existing initiatives?
Best & worst practices: Which strategies have been particularly effective in achieving high levels of adoption and what is important to avoid?
Processes: How deeply is collaboration intertwined into business processes?
Tools: Which tools are most often used by employees?

In search of those factors with the highest impact on enterprise communities success, the collected evidences have been compared based on the size of the company (in terms of the number of employees) and the level of maturity shown (in terms of the percentage of employees actively involved in the initiative).


How is collaboration doing in Italy?

The results of Social Collaboration Survey 2013 underline that:

Collaboration is much more than a fad. The importance that companies assign to it is high and most likely to grow over the next three years up to 75% of the sample.

Collaboration generates value for the company. A targeted deployment of social platforms increases the efficiency of the company (43%), facilitates knowledge reuse (40%), improves project coordination (30%) and allows employees to stay up to date on what is done by their colleagues (30%).

Without adoption there is no return. Although it cannot be considered the end goal, pervasive adoption of new ways of working is instrumental to materialize the economic returns expected by management. For the majority of respondents, this still doesn’t happen, since only a small percentage of employees (<30%) is already involved in 2.0 tools. Less than 10% of companies have instead reached the milestone of almost complete adoption (>75% of employees).

The secrets of top performers

What are the levers that strategically and tactically distinguish top performers (more than a half of employees involved) from the collaboration laggards?

Top Management sponsorizes the initiative. Even with bottom-up initiatives, real change requires a high level of sponsorship and a strong buy-in from the top management (70% vs. 34%).

No orphans. A careful, continuous and qualified cultivation is certainly not optional for those who aim to conquer the entire company. Successful projects show a lack of resources 5 times less (9% vs. 49%) than less mature initiatives.

Budget for change. Although still limited, the investment on collaboration grows hand in hand with its importance. The lack of budget (less than 10K Euro) is much rarer (36% vs. 64%) for the firms with proven experience on collaboration. This budget is also spent less on technology and more on people and strategy.

Measure to ROI. Measurement is correlated to success. Successful projects have metrics in plance 2 times more than others (91% vs 50%). More than participation metrics, business KPIs are core in the most advanced projects (61% vs 22%).

Does size matter?

How large is the distance between large and small sized companies when we talk about Social Collaboration? The survey has found meaningful differences in terms of culture, business results and adoption barriers:

A more collaborative culture. Large companies are more willing to recognize the value of collaboration (82% vs. 70% in 3 years).

More focus on business needs. Bigger firms have stakeholders most often positioned in specific units such as Innovation, HR, Customer Support, Training and Education.

ROI as the main barrier. Apart from the overall lack of understanding of the potential of collaboration by the top management (50%), the most clear resistance in the large company is the difficulty of measuring the return on investment or the impact of intangible benefits (49%). In smaller companies it is rather the culture to represent the most obvious obstacle (58%)..

How many companies consider Social Collaboration really important for their business?



In the next year


In the next 3 years




Social Collaboration Survey 2013 is an idea of Stefano Besana and Emanuele Quintarelli