If you want to fully maximize your investments in collaboration technology, you'll need to focus on your people and not just the technology. That's the assessment of Chris Dowse, president of Neochange, a research firm specializing in IT adoption.
Interest in the concept of "Enterprise 2.0" is now on the rise, but full adoption of the tools and technologies expected to make organizations more agile and collaborative has not yet occurred. As a result, many organizations have yet to achieve promised business value. Or, as Dowse puts it, we are still at the bottom of the adoption S-Curve — a pattern experienced in the early days of such solutions as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
What will it take to jump the S-Curve? [PDF] Well, first, greater understanding of what Enterprise 2.0 actually represents. While "millennials" may be more familiar with social networking tools than some of their older colleagues, it's clear that success in collaboration technology adoption lies in answering one simple question: What's in it for me?
Dowse sees three barriers that need to be addressed to get the enterprise on board:
- Organizational culture. This is an organization's set of beliefs, structures and practices. "Even though humans like to engage and share, the average corporate workplace is hardly conducive to care-free, selfless information sharing," argues Dowse. "The key is to focus collaboration efforts on the areas of practice that the company values most — whether that be product innovation, cost cutting in core processes or exceptional customer service."
- Competition between individual and organizational needs. While organizations may be focused on such matters as visibility or workflow control, their people may value education, mobility or personal productivity. These values can come into conflict. To create alignment, the organization's objectives and values must be credibly articulated and defined. "If employees do not believe that the organizational value being targeted is achievable, the quality of technology usage will suffer greatly," contends Dowse.
- The paradox of information sharing. The challenge here is that employees are far more likely to share common information as opposed to insights that are truly valuable. "To prevent this paradox, companies should start by setting the expectation that the organization is looking for unique information, rather than just the common banter that drives social cohesiveness," states Dowse. "Incentives should be focused on the nature of information shared, not the volume."
By considering such issues in their rollouts of collaborative and Unified Communication technologies, enterprises dramatically increase their ability to accelerate adoption and value realization.