Quite rightly customers of IT solutions over the years have seen the use of collaboration tools as ways to improve how their business operates. It can provide competitive advantage, it can make their business more agile, able to scale more easily, to share the experiences of others to the common good. All of these things are possible and I believe essential if an organisation is to remain competitive in today’s market.
Employees entering the employment world today consider using email in the same way as we would now consider the telex or, perhaps, the fax machine. It’s an unusually old-fashioned way of communicating with each other. Yet, as we all know, business thrives on email and it is not the default communications mechanism for companies the world over. Many of us are struggling under the weight of email we receive. Bring in a new member of staff, less used to an email-focused culture, and you immediately burden them with something they are uncomfortable with.
Social collaboration solutions bring the best of social networking technologies to a business context. They fuse status updates, comments, recommendations and sharing with more “traditional” collaboration tools like document sharing, wikis, blogs, and so on.
We have highlighted here, and in many other places, the need, however, to not only implement social collaboration solutions in business, but also to address the culture of the organisation. Unless your business wants to be better, wants to share, wants to compete, then the best laid plans will surely fail. That culture change must come from the top of the organisation. The senior leadership needs to recognise that business is changing again. They have probably overseen the move from paper to email and now they must adapt again to a socially-connected organisation.
As if implementing culture change is not enough, another barrier stands in your way towards becoming more profitable, more agile and having better staff stay with you – adoption.
A social collaboration solution must have a purpose – it needs to be there to solve a problem, or many problems. The requirement for its use must be clear and simple for people to recognise without being convinced too hard. Line of Business solutions like a purchase order management system are now the only way purchase orders can be raised in your business. A social collaboration system remains an optional part of communicating at work (we could still actually speak to each other or pick up the phone). Thus, finding the purpose and driving the adoption of social collaboration is vital to ensure success.
Indeed, increasingly customers will connect their purchase of a solution to the success of its deployment. In cloud-connected worlds “deployment” means “people using it”. In the traditional sense “deployment” meant “installing it”. It’s here that the fundamental change in our mindsets must happen.
Your organisation must recognise that in order to be successful with anything, people must actually use it. You must drive benefit from a technology solution in order for it to be worthwhile implementing. Getting people to use it requires adoption techniques which involves thinking about the business processes, the communications, engagement and support of the people who will use it.
If you are considering rolling out any new solution in 2015, please consider how you will involve your users in the uptake of it. If you don’t, you might find this time next year that you have paid a lot of money for something and still haven’t managed to make that fundamental change your business needs to compete in 2016.
And with that, I’d like to wish my readers my compliments of the season and I hope that your 2015 is prosperous, healthy and exciting.