10 Observations on Changes Due to Social Collaboration

By Christian Buckley posted 06-21-2014 09:50


With Microsoft and Salesforce announcing a partnership that will align the former's collaboration and communication platform powerhouse, Office365, with the latter's leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, one thing is clear: collaboration continues to be a primary focus of enterprise application providers. While much of the terminology that we use around 'collaboration,' 'social,' and even 'communication' technology has become meaningless platitudes -- words and phrases that have lost their strength and meaning -- certain "truths" about collaboration continue to persist:

  1. Social is all about finding the right "fit"
    While it may be easier for an IT team to conduct an RFP and select a single device or laptop, or approve a particular piece of software, the likelihood of that one-sided decision meeting the needs of every team or individual in your company is slim to none. Within the social collaboration space, its not about single-vendor solutions or single platforms, but about finding the tools that fit the way you do your business, and about what makes you productive.
  2. Different departments seem to be managing different collaboration platforms altogether
    One of my peers spoke with a technical architect who used to be on the SharePoint admin team at his company, but he now owns the IBM Connections platform. SharePoint didn't go away -- different teams came to different conclusions as to the tools that best fit their needs. What this gentleman was now preparing for was integration of the teams, and figuring out how they were going to manage two very different (and largely duplicative) collaboration platforms.
  3. Mobile is the next "big thing"
    There is a lot of data showing how fast the mobile market is outpacing PC and tablet growth, and organizations are moving quickly to support this growing demand. There are some analysts who point out that the rise in mobile does not necessarily mean the death of other formats, with some analysts even claiming that laptops could see some moderate growth in the next couple years. But what is definitely happening is that end users are purchasing multiple devices rather than displacing one with the other. 
  4. The EDU sector is adopting social collaboration at an incredible pace
    Due to the low cost of many of the leading platforms, combined with powerful feature sets, the education sector is fast moving to cloud and social-based platforms.
  5. The words 'Collaboration' and 'Social' are often used interchangeably
    The problem here, of course, is that they are very different. Collaboration is about sharing content and ideas through various methods, usually generating some kind of structured output, such as a project or a document. Social, on the other hand, is about communication through social networking tools in an unstructured way. Social is one communication method within a collaboration platform or strategy. 
  6. Big Data is getting even bigger
    More and more companies are recognizing the need to capture, retain, and utilize this data -- much of it being generated from unstructured social collaboration tools, like Yammer. Companies that can do this well will have a distinct competitive advantage over those who cannot. 
  7. Enterprise social collaboration has begun to mature
    The technology itself has been around for a decade or more, however most large enterprises are fairly new to the game. Even so, there are starting to be models of complex organizations using enterprise social networks (ESNs) from which we can learn. 
  8. Innovate quickly, learn from it, innovate again
    During a keynote presentation in late 2013, Yammer co-founder and GM of Engineering Adam Pisoni drove home the message that they key to success in the social collaboration space is rapid build and release, which has allowed then to quickly experiment, test with consumers, and then roll out quickly, with two releases per week.
  9. Employees are better at self monitoring than we thought
    With proper end user education and oversight, there are surprisingly few posts or actions that break collaboration policies and need to be removed. When left on their own, employees generally do the right thing.
  10. The power of social is not about the technology at all
    Many organizations believe they can improve internal communication and collaboration simply by rolling out social collaboration tools. However, many find instead that the platforms actually change the company culture. As people connect and share ideas, process and products across the board improve, as will employee job satisfaction.

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