A new study released by Avanade, Inc., a global IT firm, reveals that fewer than half of Stateside and Canadian businesses -- 45 and 49 percent, respectively -- are satisfied with the results of their existing collaborative and communication technologies. These include intranet solutions, email and video conferencing services. “Enterprises are excited about digital collaboration and the advancements in business productivity," acknowledges VP Larry LeSueur of tech infrastructure solutions at Avanade. "Still, they’re struggling to realize the potential of their existing technology investments which makes planning for the next wave challenging.” The study, conducted by Coleman Parkes, surveyed over 400 CIOs and IT directors in North America and Europe. The respondents were chosen among the top 250 companies in each geographical territory. But while most US and Canadian enterprises are unhappy with the results of their communication and collaboration tools, they foresee benefits in the new wave of these same technologies. In fact, the majority of these companies expect to invest in new collabo-oriented technology over the next two years. Of particular interest are VoIP, enterprise search tools and virtual workspaces. We've already seen strong financial interest in the latter, such as when virtualization firm VMware filed headlines with its IPO last week. And perhaps anticipating growing interest in enterprise search, Interwoven is attacking that niche with vigor. While study sponsor Avanade considers digital collaboration a broad mix of email, portals, presence and VoIP, enterprise response appeared more narrow. The study finds both US and Canadian companies closely associate "digital collaboration" with email and intranet services; video conferencing and extranets follow close behind. But enterprise search and presence drew little association to the phrase. Research also suggests a few reasons why enthusiasm about the results of collaborative technology from North American firms may be lacking: * Only 11 percent of US firms fully document and implement a given collaboration or communication strategy across the enterprise * The majority of surveyed US and Canadian companies -- 88 and 91 percent, respectively -- feel digital collaboration should be scaled across a business' operations to maximize the technology's productivity. However, the survey also acknowledges the vast number of solutions to choose from, making it difficult to implement one across the board * 22 percent of Canadian firms can't concretely define collaborative or communication activity * 67 percent of Canadian and 71 percent of US organizations believe they still need to add new technologies in order to enhance the potential of digital collaboration in their firms. That last point in particular bodes well for ambitious enterprise CMS vendors seeking a big void to fill. For those seeking more encouragement, the next two years show serious dollars, both Canadian and State-issued, flowing generously into the sector: * 68 percent of firms expect to install a virtual workspace, versus 48 percent who already have the technology in place. (It would probably be safe to say the popularity of out-of-the-box virtualization "solutions," such as JumpBox, will enjoy much interest.) * 79 percent will implement enterprise search tools, versus 59 percent who already have them in place. * 80 percent will have gone in the direction of VoIP, versus 55 percent who already utilize the technology in some capacity. Per the survey, improving productivity is a major reason for implementing collaborative and communication technologies in the first place. This may suggest that some New Media solutions have proven more distracting than helpful (ahem, Central Desktop's Twitter function), which may reveal another reason for executive dissatisfaction with results. To note: 95 percent of US, and 98 percent of Canadian respondents, perceive productivity as the most crucial factor for investing further into the market. Not far behind is information management, cited as second-most important by 88 percent of US and 95 percent of Canadians, respectively. Read more about the research at the Avanade website.