Asia hails document sharing key collaboration tool

Viewing and working on the same documents more important to region's enterprises than real-time chat and video-based collaboration, Forrester Research reveals, adding vendors need to market right.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

Asia-Pacific businesses value document sharing over newer collaboration technologies such as real-time messaging and video, Forrester Research said, adding that emerging markets are spending more on IT-enabled collaboration than their developed counterparts to level the playing field.

According to the research firm's Forrsights Strategy Spotlight Collaboration Survey for the second quarter of 2011, 71 percent of the IT and business decision-makers in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, indicated that document sharing is most important to the overall success of their business.

Comparatively, mobility came in second at 68 percent while real-time messaging and chat garnered 58 percent. Video-based collaboration ranked lowest with 53 percent, it revealed.

The study polled 535 public and private sector IT and business decision-makers from Australia, China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, New Zealand and Singapore.

Commenting on the key findings provided exclusively to ZDNet Asia, Michael Barnes, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said: "Overall, it's eye opening to see how low video scored across the board. Perhaps, this is an indication that the benefits of Web conferencing in terms of both improved collaboration as well as cost reductions in travel are overhyped."

He went on to point out that most IT vendors would not list document sharing as the No. 1 feature when marketing their collaboration products, and said it is an opportunity for these vendors to "realign their messaging" as the capability is "clearly top of mind" among businesses based in the region.

Emerging markets spending more
Zooming in on country-specific findings, Barnes said 60 percent of Indian and 58 percent of Malaysian decision-makers indicated that IT-enabled collaboration is "very important" to the success of their business. In contrast, only 30 percent and 39 percent of their Korean and Australian counterparts, respectively, felt the same way.

Barnes said that this sign of impending acceleration in demand for collaboration in the emerging markets of Malaysia and India is a way for organizations there to "catch up" with their competitors in the more mature IT markets.

In terms of planned collaboration-related investments, 70 percent of respondents from China were "unsure" of their strategies, while 60 percent of Korean respondents stated they plan to increase spending over the next 12 months.

"The implications for vendors with collaboration offerings are clear--vendor-driven education and evangelizing are critical in less mature markets like China," Barnes explained. "In contrast, vendors should be focusing on strengthening channel partnerships to drive local execution, fulfillment and delivery in more mature markets like Korea."

E-mail pegged to collaboration
The survey also found that e-mail is still a key element of enterprise collaboration strategies, the analyst added.

Up to 65 percent of respondents indicated that Microsoft's Outlook and Exchange is their primary e-mail client while IBM's Lotus Notes was cited by 8 percent of those surveyed. When asked which vendor they would associate with collaboration, 83 percent pointed to Redmond while Google and Big Blue accounted for 53 percent, and 50 percent, respectively.

These two sets of findings suggest that the region's decision-makers still associate e-mail with collaboration, Barnes said.

"In terms of vendor mindshare, Microsoft continues to dominate in the collaboration space across [the region], while IBM scored strongly in Singapore, with Lotus Notes in particular still strong in both Singapore and Australia," he added.

As for Google, Barnes noted that while its enterprise e-mail client "scores consistently well" in Malaysia and New Zealand, overall findings indicate that Gmail has not yet gained "anywhere near the traction within organizations" across the region as it has for personal use.

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