Technology has been rated as one of the top three enablers driving Australia's AU$46 billion collaborative economy, according to research by Deloitte.
The Collaborative Economy report (PDF), commissioned by Google Australia, found that 69 percent of respondents believe shared electronic resources are helping people be more collaborative, followed by 43 percent that equally believe more collaboration software and video conferencing are also effective tools in encouraging collaboration. Thirty-six percent of respondents ranked social media as another tool that drives collaboration.
The report defined collaboration as: "People communicating and working together and building on each other’s ideas to produce something new or do something differently. A collaborative organisation, for instance, unlocks the potential, capacity and knowledge of its people to generate value, innovation and improved productivity."
Deloitte Access Economics director John O'Mahony said there are two main benefits to collaboration, with Australia's economic collaboration contributing to approximately 3 percent of the country's total GDP.
"By working together, people would save time and complete tasks faster, and by working together you could work more efficiently," he said.
"But the cost of collaboration is recognising sometimes when people try to collaborate it's going to be about wasting time and distracting others, which costs the economy about AU$5.4 billion a year, but that's a necessary cost of collaboration."
The report also revealed there's still AU$9.3 billion of potential collaboration that has yet to be unlocked, placing pressure on more Australian workplaces to be more collaborative. According to O'Mahony, workplace culture or management culture drives 45.8 percent of collaboration amongst organisations today, and it's an opportunity that more businesses need to look at.
One company that that has been able build its success so far on collaboration is New Zealand-based start-up Xero.
Chris Ridd, Xero Australia and New Zealand managing director, said the company has built its entire product offering based on the concept of collaboration.
"The collaboration culture certainly within Xero is driven from the top down. We're all about sharing information and sharing ideas to ensure we don't have to corporate structure and politics, or islands of information. Even in some cases, I find it amusing our CEO Rod Drury is transparent too," he said.
Ridd explained that the company's recent decision to rollout and replace Office 365 with Google apps at the end of December last year has helped spawn new ways of collaboration.
"It was a big shift, and initially we really struggled to move to Gmail. But about three months down the track it started to click, and now we have the whole notion of working anywhere, anytime, any devices, and it lends itself to making everything now accessible in the cloud," he said, highlighting the company's focus on change management really eased the company into adopting the new technology.
The report also identified there's a direct correlation between how collaborative a business is and its business performance.
"We asked the respondents how critical is collaboration in your organisation, and it came back quite obviously that organisations that valued collaboration were growing faster than their competitors. Businesses that were growing at the same pace as the competitors found collaboration was somewhat important, and the businesses that were struggling or growing slower than their competitors, 20 percent were saying collaboration wasn't important," O'Mahony said.