Developing a Collaboration Strategy: Takeaways from Executive Insights
As we wrap up Executive Insights at IT/Dev Connections at the Aria, in Las Vegas, there are some key learnings and takeaways I want to share from the sessions on Collaboration. During the sessions and workshops, we really dove into developing a collaboration strategy. What we uncovered is that there are a myriad of considerations to include around forming enterprise collaboration strategies.
Focus on People
While it would seem like a no brainer, it is amazing how so many enterprise collaboration planners get caught up on technology that they forget the real purpose for the technology. It is to support how people work. Collaborative interactions happen internal and external to the organization. This leads to a major focus of our discussions this week; there has to be heavy focus on the different stakeholders involved in enterprise collaborative interactions.
Stakeholders span from employees, to your extended workforce and includes partners, suppliers, customers and the public at large, that now has tremendous access to your company via social media. I spoke to business leaders from a Latin America division of a major beverage company who intimated that they launched a local Facebook page to interact with customers and the public at large, but failed to factor in steps to manage those interactions. There was no monitoring or management function to communicate with the myriad of people who were posting questions and comments. The failure was also that this initiative was not aligned with the global social media strategy of the company. You have to factor in people and all the various stakeholders that the company interacts with.
Focus on Use Cases and Outcomes
The other key takeaways dealt with understanding user requirements and then focusing collaboration technology decisions on specific business outcomes. I do a lot of collaboration strategy reviews for enterprise planners to help develop and refine their strategies. I remember reviewing one such collaboration technology roadmap plan from an enterprise IT group, that was very thorough on the technologies they wanted to invest in. The key thing that was missing was a defined plan on user adoption in relation to specific user requirements gathering.
Collaboration planners have to work with business users to understand requirements and how people are actually working. One of the biggest challenges to successful collaboration technology initiatives is lack of user adoption. That is caused from not understanding what people need and how they work. You have to ask them! That results in better employee engagement and adoption.
When we get to outcomes, what we discovered in discussions at Executive Insights, is that each line of business has specific measures and targets. There has to be a focus on what outcomes we are trying to achieve. How can collaboration be brought to bear on specific business processes to achieve specific outcomes? What are the content and data flows involved? How do you include discovery capabilities that will enable you to discover the right content and people for collaborative interactions in context. Context is key! So there will be defined outcomes for sales, marketing and HR that should impact the overall collaboration strategy. What companies are dealing with now, is that lines of business are going out and buying their own tools because their needs are not being met. This creates an environment of overlapping collaboration technology investments and tools. It also results in duplication of efforts.
Emerging Collaboration Providers (The Rise of Mobile Collaboration)
As we discussed people issues around collaboration and getting to outcomes, we also spent time on looking at technology and providers. Clearly there is a new thrust around mobile collaboration as providers look to rethink their product strategies from a mobile first design perspective. And more importantly, from a user experience design perspective.
There is a new focus on providing persistent collaboration spaces so people have context, including direct integration with their content. These spaces will be a window to social activities, tasks, asynchronous and real-time interactions with presence and identity. Also providers are moving to a Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach to providing collaboration capabilities. This will enable collaboration to be embedded directly into business applications and processes.
There were tremendous learnings from Executive Insights on making strategic collaboration decisions. Attendees really came prepared to discuss collaboration in depth and were challenged to bring back key findings to their respective organizations. Also, in speaking with attendees, they expressed that they found the balance and alignment from other sessions on Mobile, Predictive and Cognitive computing to be essential pieces in their overall enterprise strategies as well. I’m looking forward to the continued interaction with everyone to see the progress made on developing and refining strategies for collaboration.