Key to Enterprise Collaboration Success

By CIOReview | Monday, August 8, 2016
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Breaking the shackles of on-premise confinement, Enterprise Collaboration tools have evolved to be light enough to sway along in the cloud. From initially being a licensed product, they’ve vastly changed to a mobile friendly subscription model, now integrating organization’s communication channel with social networks.

For instance, Slack, is a promising messaging app—readily deployable in workforce. While boasting its role in channelizing communications amongst the team behind NASA’s Curiosity rover, Slack’s creators claim it cuts short the usage of enterprise e-mails by a significant portion. However, tools like Slack in prospect, only serves as an effective means of communication that should already be occurring at the workplace.

According to a Gartner report, “Businesses might not be ready to take full advantage of the technology if they restrict communication, do not encourage enterprise collaboration across organizational lines or view social collaboration in connected enterprises as more of a community undertaking than a business advantage. Instead of rushing out to buy software, companies should first examine their existing culture. If that culture does not encourage collaboration, executives could explore strategies that would help instill a collaborative culture.”

Collaboration tools today are designed to work in tandem with a firm’s social media initiative. Social media strategies poorly aligned with the goals of an organization could backfire in terms of productivity. A synergic collaboration and social media initiative demands thorough research and continuous measurement of results to adapt and improve. Like an alpha testing on a permanent basis; it requires constant monitoring and tweaks. Besides, the nature of the business also plays a decisional role in defining a social media strategy. For instance, the degree of social media penetration for an enterprise’s service oriented section would be different from its research and development wing. Social media strategy for business is often as unique as an individual’s profile in the platform.

A fully fledged collaboration initiative must align itself with the communication channel of the enterprise. While the ability to give a green-signal for its implementation is at the hands of the top level management, they shouldn’t remain aloof from it. After all, a collaboration environment cannot serve its sole purpose without active participation from all units associated with it. Moreover,  mid-level executives play a crucial role to keep the momentum going especially for enterprises experimenting on collaboration initiatives. If managers fail to realize the benefits of the initiative, a successful implementation could be impossible to achieve. As a matter of fact, several firms even go to the extent of altering their interior design to encourage collaboration.

Steve Jobs famously redesigned the offices at Pixar, which originally housed computer scientists, animators and executives in separate buildings. Jobs believed that separating these groups, each with its own culture and approach to problem-solving, discouraged them from sharing ideas and solutions. Collaborative culture within an organization cannot be instilled over a day. It is a transition that requires continuous nurturing. A collaboration tool turning out to be indispensible for the workflow is indicative of its successful adoption by the workforce.

Enterprises should not be overwhelmed by the sheer number of collaboration tools that sprout frequently in the market. Proper evaluation of product offering while simultaneously weighing its pros and cons is crucial to identify the right tools. When the BYOD trend was lashing upon enterprises, stories of CIOs literally stepping inside the shoes of employees to gain first hand insights are not unheard of.

Enterprise Mobility further extends the accessibility of collaboration tools by placing them at the disposal of employee’s fingertips. Yet, like any consumer oriented app they are vulnerable to being neglected. Factors like ease of use and integration, interface and compatibility need to be checked thoroughly. Despite all the capabilities of enterprise collaborations tools, they may still turn futile if there if there isn’t a culture in the workplace that encourages communication.