All the collaboration solutions in the world don’t matter much unless they help your business grow, and tools are only as effective as the strategies they help execute. Web 2.0 technologies like chat, video correspondence, and other internet-based functions that transcend the webpage, are more than just instruments that speak to our need for connectivity; they’re part of an arena that helps us derive real business value from limitless end-to-end (or, request-to-delivery) collaboration solutions.

However, it’s not enough to nod your head and trust that employees are making use of these tools as necessary. They definitely are, and haphazardly, which means businesses without solid tool integration practices are missing out on increased productivity, bigger profits, and competitive advantage.

Enterprise Social Networking: A Better Idea Than You Think

According to a report issued by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, the last few years have been kind of a big deal for social networking. The study showed that more than 50% of adults in the United States turn to social sites to communicate and connect with friends, family, and professional acquaintances. Conversely, Forrester reported that barely more than 10% of information workers even have access to enterprise social networks, of which only a wee 8% of them actually use. Why the disconnect?

Companies are still reluctant to adopt ESNs because, frankly, they seem like they’d do the opposite of promote productivity. And, their newness means that implementing them is riskier than say, using email. There’s growth on the horizon, though — Forrester predicts that as much as 42% of companies will put an ESN in place in the next three years, because businesses are finally recognizing how valuable social can be for collaboration. Allowing employees a basically instantaneous way in which to exchange information, identify expertise, communicate with coworkers, and brainstorm solutions means that productivity soars and efficiency reigns. ESNs also push disparate people into a space where they can easily access the entire company knowledge beehive, something that will inevitably lead to that electric, disruptive, user-to-user atmosphere of innovation that we all want to be a part of.

Video Also Killed the Telephone Call, But That’s Okay

The vast majority of modern information workers use video to collaborate — geographical distance means little in the face of services like Skype, WebEx and GoToMeeting, amongst a ton of others. What’s particularly beneficial about video conferencing is that it brings project teams directly in front of their stakeholders — with assets and updates in tow — without having to spend a dime. And that’s just the obvious benefit.

We worry a lot about technology separating us, dehumanizing us, and in the business space, inhibiting our ability to truly collaborate. I’ve said before that human interaction isn’t something that should be stifled by a screen; that’s what makes this type of E2E collaboration solution so valuable. The mobility, freedom, software integration possibilities, and display functionality that video technologies possess are nothing short of liberating. It can always be argued that face-to-face collaboration is more powerful because of its physicality, but that doesn’t trump the fact that it’s given us the opportunity to collaborate across time and space, reach untapped markets, and build partnerships out of brilliance, not convenience.

Whatever your E2E collaboration strategy looks like, what your company gets out of it depends on what’s put in. Bridging the connectivity gap through the use of E2E solutions like video conferencing, enterprise social networking, and instant messaging is allowing organizations to reduce and reallocate costs, quicken the pace to market, and globally revolutionize their business — goals that all truly pioneering companies should share.