The rising tide of online collaboration is highlighted by a new infographic. But why are businesses finally turning to online collaboration tools? 

Most businesses know that online social collaboration tools can form part of the solution to inefficient working practices, but they’ve been around for ages and, for various hotly discussed reasons, never seem to have caught on.

Until, now, it seems

According to a recent McKinsey Report office workers spend an average of 28 hours a week writing emails, searching for information and collaborating internally.

Apparently, most of us prefer to use email rather than actually speak to a colleague, resulting in companies like Debenhams having to store 13.8 million new emails a month – a figure that’s increasing 20% year on year for the retailer.

Clinked.com, a UK-based business collaboration start-up, has just published an infographic (below) which states that 75% of businesses say online collaboration tools will be “important” or “somewhat important” to their business during the next 12 months.

Clinked’s founder, Tayfun Bilsel, says his team has noticed a shift in attitudes during 2012:

We used to spend half our time educating clients about the benefits of social collaboration. These days, businesses are approaching us with clearly defined strategies for reducing overheads and connecting remote working teams. The market has grown up. 

These sentiments echo those of Aaron Levie, CEO of Box.com, who described how start-ups offering freemium, cloud-based solutions that also work across mobile have “exploded the size of the [enterprise collaboration] market”.

The rapid emergence (and acquisition) of start-ups in this scene is testament to the size of the opportunity. Box.com itself recently took another $125m in investment. It’s a rapidly emerging industry, and as Forrester understated somewhat in a recent White Paper “there is a real and growing market demand for these tools”. 

There are several theories as to why online collaboration tools are taking off. Firstly, there’s the recession, which is forcing businesses to do more with less including, in many cases, getting rid of the office and relying on shared working spaces for collaboration.

Secondly, with more than 1 billion people actively using Facebook, we’ve all become more familiar with news feeds, activity streams and @mentions – common features of enterprise social networks.

Lastly, the tools themselves have got better. Many now integrate with Google Drive, offer seamless synching with Google and Outlook calendars, have mobile apps and provide highly secure document storage. Most are easy to set up and use and come with simple monthly tariffs.

Now that it’s been put on plate for them, it seems businesses are finally taking to online collaboration.

Clinked.com State of Online Business Collaboration