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Collaboration versus Social – It’s time to redefine the terms

A new report, ‘Microsoft Collaboration Usage‘, written by harmon.ie suggests the most common activity among business people using Microsoft collaboration tools is document sharing, and much of that activity occurs early in the week, on Monday and Tuesday. If you ask the typical end user they will define collaboration as email.

So, that’s what collaboration is all about? Something is wrong here. Not that I am against document sharing or easy access, it’s just in my mind I don’t associate that with collaboration. The definition of collaboration by Merriam Webster is: “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something”. File sharing and document access doesn’t seem to jive with the definition. The report, by harmon.ie is a very interesting paper and, although it focuses on Microsoft, it could apply to any enterprise cloud platform. I would assume the end statistics would be quite similar.

According to the report, the most popular activity conducted by users on mobile devices using harmon.ie was online and offline document access, both  81%, but I would have expected that percentage to be high. On the other hand, “business users opened documents 68 times more often than they participated in Yammer discussions. Just three percent of users conducted document searches, and less than two percent participated in Yammer discussions, viewed activity streams, or looked up a colleague’s SharePoint profile, according to harmon.ie.”

I think it’s time to redefine the term collaboration. Collaboration is much more than accessing documents. Social, on the other hand, the Yammer’s of the world, is focused on communication. If we really delineate the terms, social is pretty much of a bust, according to this report and the term collaboration, in reality, doesn’t even exist. I say call it what it is. Document access both online and offline. It is not collaboration as I see it.

Do you see it differently?

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Collaboration and Business Social – right now, pretty much of a failure. Why?

A couple of years ago, CIO’s were adamant that they did not want collaboration tools. Understandably, collaboration tools do open security issues, loss of control, costs, and management. But the tide has changed. Now, (I say because of constant vendor hype), CIO’s are willing and even anxious to jump on the collaboration and social bandwagon.

One moment please. It seems that end user adoption is a problem now – a real problem. It happens in many ways, no one adopts it because it just doesn’t fit into their day-to-day business activities, in some cases you have rapid adoption until end users realize that the tool really isn’t providing any value and usage drops off, leaving a ghost town, and sometimes management actually changes the processes so the tools is no longer doing what it is meant to do. You also have to deal with corporate culture, complexity of the tool, standardization, work-arounds, and on-going engagement.

What is collaboration supposed to do? Most CIO’s think of collaboration and social as something they must have, the “everyone’s doing it syndrome”, but don’t think of the why. It’s much easier to select a records management application than a collaboration tool. Let’s get back to the basics. Collaboration is supposed to make end users job easier, increase productivity, share corporate knowledge, eliminate emails, unnecessary meetings, and other time-consuming activities. Quite a laundry list. According to Joel Confino, CEO and Founder of the enterprise Q&A platform Haydle, “There’s a lot of failures in enterprise collaboration, loosely termed, because people don’t really know what they’re aiming for so obviously they don’t hit it.”

CIO’s need to step back and treat collaboration as a business application, with objectives, expected outcomes, and ROI. They also need to engage the end users, after all they are the ones who are going to be using it. A long term strategy also needs to be in place. Are they going to buy collaboration tools piecemeal and hope they all work together along with the integration headaches? Are they going to go with vendors such as Google or Microsoft and add functionality as needed, even if it doesn’t quite fit the objectives? Do they want an on-premise tool, or use the cloud? There’s a lot of decisions to be made.

Any thoughts on collaboration or social tools that were implemented at your organization and if they failed or succeeded and why?

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Choosing a Social Tool? Did you think of millennials versus baby boomers?

I was reading an article, “Why CIO’s can’t sell enterprise collaboration tools”, and one of the reasons given included the difference between how millennials versus baby boomers does come into play. To be quite honest, the thought never entered my mind. But, it is rather intriguing.

This may seem a minor point, but social and collaboration tool adoption is pretty dismal. And as the baby boomers age (unfortunately), sooner or later the millennials will be the majority and running the organization. According to the article, “Millennials are more comfortable with video, short messaging and have embraced newer collaboration tools like Slack and HipChat while older execs are still trying to master WebEx and GoToMeeting, and unfortunately there’s no common ground.” Rather brought a smile to my face, as the statement hit the mark.

I am a huge proponent of end user participation in the purchase of any type of collaboration or social tool. Since the primary problem with these tools is end user adoption – then ask the business professionals and end users to participate in the decision. How many times somewhere in your career, did you think of management as clueless as to what really happens in the trenches? Most likely, the baby boomers are the execs and the worker bees are the millennials. Acknowledge the differences and try to find common ground. It might make all the difference in success or failure.

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Facebook at Work – Joining the old boys club?

Facebook at Work, is joining the enterprise market. Will it succeed in becoming an enterprise tool, when its entire life has been focused on consumer social marketing? Although the product was released in January of 2015, it certainly isn’t making a splash in the news. In fact, it is almost impossible to find any mention of it at all. Finally, after wasting quite a bit of time, it seems it is still in its infancy and the company doesn’t want to share any information about it at all. So there we go.

The grapevine has it that news feeds, groups, likes, comments, and messages are all part of Facebook, except all the information is related to the organization. Business people follow each other and their newsfeeds are based on interactions with each other.

Security
Security will most likely be the major concern. Josh Lindenmuth, CIO of payroll and HR software company Payce, says Facebook at Work is interesting but it doesn’t currently meet his company’s needs. “Facebook makes it too easy to share information,” Lindenmuth says. “The reason it works for social applications is the same reason why many CIOs will be reluctant to use it.”

IT Resistance
Facebook will come up against heavy resistance around security, data sovereignty, control and trust, according to Stuart Barr, CTO of the software firm HighQ. “Consumer features don’t translate directly to the enterprise, and using social tools inside businesses is very different,” Barr wrote in response to CIO.com’s questions. “They require governance, configurability, careful adoption strategies and deep integration with legacy systems of record.” Facebook also has an advantage over competitors because it could gain a foothold in enterprise through slow adoption; other business collaboration platforms are typically all-or-nothing endeavors.

What’s the business model?
It seems, as of now, Facebook hasn’t figured that out yet. Rumor has it they are thinking about advertising, just what I want at work, is advertisements. Hopefully that will get a thumbs down. They also face a great deal of competition with services such as Yammer, Slack, LinkedIn, and Quip. And then there is still an aura of untrustworthiness associated with Facebook.

For Facebook the enterprise represents a huge opportunity. But, is the enterprise ready to embrace Facebook?

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Dysfunctional Search and the FBI, any of it sound familiar?

I think dysfunctional search is a great name. Unfortunately, it appears that the FBI wins the prize, but I am sure there are many organizations that also feel that their search is dysfunctional. An article in techdirt, ‘How The FBI’s Dysfunctional Search Systems Keep Information Out Of FOIA Requesters’ Hands’, did provide a chuckle, simply because it is just too late to take the US government seriously anymore.

To try to make this short, Trentadue versus the FBI, deals with a requested release of videotapes containing footage of the Oklahoma City bombing. Somehow during the first four days of testimony it was revealed that the FBI has ‘convenient’ information silos, instead of a cohesive repository for search. The problem is the person requesting the information must specify the correct records system for a comprehensive search to take place. The FBI typically only searches the main repository. In addition, the requester must specify in their request a ‘cross-reference’ check, which may mention the subject, but is not stored in the main repository. Again, the now beleaguered requester, must also send a request to the field offices involved, because the FBI ‘Records Information Dissemination’ has no cross-links to other than the original field office.

What about internal search at the FBI? The Central Records System (CRS), as it turns out, is not really a central repository and will accept three different methods of search, which will return three different sets of documents. One of the search methods, Automated Case Support (ACS) is used to search the CRS, but that search isn’t unified. To make matters worse the ACS is then split into three components. And, I think I’ll stop there as it just gets worse and worse, really it does. Oh, one more tidbit, the FBI decides what keywords to use.

I would imagine, or sincerely hope most organizations do not have a search environment such as the FBI. But enterprises do have silos of information and many have no integrated way to search across multiple repositories either via a software product that crosses repositories or through federated search. This should be a basic function. According to an AIIM study, only 18% of organizations have cross repository search capabilities. Maybe the FBI should provide training lessons.

Does your organization have cross repository search capabilities or federated search?

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Office 365 Compliance Search for eMail and Content -Good but not Good Enough

According to our third annual Microsoft Survey, the use of Exchange is almost a given. So is the rise of data breaches, which is most likely caused by your own employees. Security in Exchange for the identification of potential exposure can be done through the use of Compliance Search. This will enable administrators to search for common strings such as social security number, credit card numbers, or account numbers. The searches can be saved and re-executed. Concept Searching adds value to the identification of data privacy or confidential information, regardless of where it resides because it is not limited to defined descriptors such as a social security number, but can contain any descriptor and verbiage that you want secured.

Most security products, including Office 365 Compliance Search will identify the most likely, and standard descriptors typically used by most organizations. Sometimes that doesn’t always work. Confidential information, For Official Use Only (FOUO), new product information, competitive information, intellectual property, patents, or specific customer information may all contain confidential information, but it’s not easy as each subject may not have a common denominator to use as a rule. What to do then?

Concept Searching lets the organization quickly define rules that contain descriptors (social security number) and/or associated verbiage. Since we generate multi-term metadata that forms a concept the organization has no limit or bottlenecks trying to secure specific information. Once found, using Office 365 or SharePoint tools the content can be redirected to a secure repository, removed from search, and portability is prevented. Pretty cool. The rules are easily added, deleted if no longer necessary, and can be changed as the content the organization considers confidential may also change. In SharePoint, taxonomies can be deployed and when a document is found to have a data breach, the content type is automatically changed and classified against the taxonomy. Works when content is created or ingested, and in real-time. It works with diverse repositories, SharePoint, Office 365, You name it, you’re totally covered.

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