IT-enabled online collaboration is increasingly important for corporate reputation and brand management, according to study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The study surveyed senior executives worldwide on their views of how an emerging group of non-traditional stakeholders is impacting corporate reputation.

78% of the respondents agreed that interaction with special-interest groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or citizen groups is important to their business. 33% felt that online communities will be their most important category of ‘non-traditional stakeholder’ in five years.

The successful online collaborative methods include voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP), presence-enabled applications, converged fixed-mobile communications, online white boarding, team workspaces, blogs, podcasts and wikis. According to the study, the successful integration of these communication streams into corporate collaborative efforts is increasingly crucial if businesses are to survive.

Kerry Bailey, chief marketing officer for Venizon Business (sponsor of the study) said, “Our survey shows that corporations are now beginning to understand the importance of these new communities, and their influence on corporate success, but that there is still a way to go to establish a balanced environment where online stakeholders can be fully engaged in corporate communication.”