I try to follow ‘social collaboration’ trends within the enterprise. I have noticed there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. It’s like pitting a liberal against a conservative and expecting them to play well together. Some think it is the greatest invention since sliced bread and will solve all our business problems, others see it as something to be ignored and maybe it will go away. In some form, ‘business’ collaboration and social applications have been around for many years yet have never really caught on.
For those in the holy grail camp, mass collaboration is what every organization should strive for. But is it practical – or even useful? The biggest problem as defined by these gurus is end user adoption issues. I would say that in many cases, social collaboration is not really embraced by end users as a business enabler but as more routine work to address and fit into their already busy schedule. The pace of organizations today is fast and agile and will continue to be to stay competitive and achieve objectives. Perhaps in agreement with the gurus, many end users are actually stuck in their routines (think stop using email and use collaboration instead).
These tools, however sophisticated they have become must be adaptable in that they facilitate collaboration, not hinder it. They have to work within the boundaries of the business culture of the organization and are not a one size fits all. It has to accommodate the way teams work and provide rich and flexible ways to improve how they work, interact, and make decisions. It must not change the organizational culture but improve it.
It will be interesting to see if Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer will make a dent in the adoption rates of business social collaboration. End user training, organizational education, and the adaptability of the tools are an imperative. But for right now it’s appears to be placing a round peg in a square hole.