Archive | Collaboration and Social Networking RSS feed for this section

Have You Named Your VPA’s Yet?

Rumor has it that the personal cloud and the digital workplace will, in the very near future, blend together to provide one source of information and applications, all from one tiny device. According to Gartner, “by 2018, 25 percent of large organizations will have an explicit strategy to make their corporate computing environment similar to a consumer computing experience.” For those who can also see the big picture, this presents some not so unique business problems – namely security, potential rise of data breaches, and inadvertent exposure of confidential information.

Who, or should I say what is going to pull all this together? The Virtual Personal Assistance (VPA) of course. I prefer to tell mine to shut-up unless it is giving me directions, but I’m not a power user. The VPA is supposed to provide pervasive support for both the users’ personal clouds as well as enterprise information. I suppose since Apple, Google, and Microsoft have jumped on the real and potential capabilities of the VPA who am I to say they are wrong?

Let’s get back to security again. Gartner sees the future as multiple VPA’s catering to my every whim. One for personal data, one for work, potentially one for teams or groups, and who knows what else. This approach is to provide IT some control over the enterprise or business VPA, yet allow the personal VPA to co-exist while preventing access to corporate information. What if one of my VPA’s spills the beans to one of my other VPA’s? Who is responsible, me or the VPA? An additional problem that has already come to pass, is the enormous amount of personal information, applications, and non business related data that is flowing freely in the enterprise Internet cloud, most of which, IT doesn’t even know that it exists.

I suppose I find some of this silly, but then I would never describe myself as a visionary. I will try to eagerly await the arrival of my VPA’s. I have already started thinking of names.

Comments are closed

Collaboration is Great! Says who?

A couple of years back, executives were very strongly against collaboration and business social applications. The tide has turned and they are gung how now. During this same period, end users became stubborn and for the most part refused to participate or engage in these approaches. This is still the biggest reason for lack of adoption and abandonment of tools expected to encourage communication and sharing of information. At least that’s what 99.9% of analysts tell us. No one will use them. The exception – Google.

I just read a Google survey, conducted by Raconteur, where results were consistently highly positive on the benefits of collaboration. In a nutshell, the survey found:

  • 88% of response indicated their company fosters a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration’ agree that ‘employee morale and job satisfaction is high in their company
  • 73% of respondents agree that their organization would be a more successful organization if employees were able to work in a more flexible way
  • 56% of respondents ranked a collaboration-related measure as having the biggest impact on their organization’s profitability
  • 53% of respondents are confident that collaboration is currently having a positive and tangible impact on their organization

I am often not able to connect the dots without assistance. In this case, I did. I then went back and looked at who the survey was sent to. Guess what? The survey included senior staff and C-suite executives at 258 North American companies representing a wide range of business sectors and sizes. So, the responses are not really surprising. I would like to see the same survey using the responses of the business users.

Interesting follow-up project.

Comments are closed

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

A new report, ‘Microsoft Collaboration Usage‘, written by 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 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 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”

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?

Comments are closed

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?

Comments are closed

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.

Comments are closed

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 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’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?

Comments are closed

Poor Yammer, Lost and Now Found – We Think

Yammer was acquired by Microsoft back in 2012, for the mere paltry sum of $1.2 billion dollars. The reason given was to compete with, Oracle, and IBM. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet. Big hoopla followed the announcement and everyone was on the Yammer bandwagon. Then silence. Somehow Yammer was being overshadowed by other Office 365 products. Where did it go and why? It appears it’s back again, but with not as much hoopla now. Many classify Yammer as a micro-blogging tool, Microsoft decided (June 2015) to call it a ‘team collaboration tool’. I’m not sure I know the difference. Subtle I guess. Clear as mud.

The issues with Yammer, and Delve for that matter, is that user acceptance is a problem, despite management support. That applies to all social business applications, not just Microsoft. According to usage, Yammer uptake is fast and then dwindles because users can’t seem to absorb it into their daily routine. Organizations such as ours, use it as the corporate post-a-note and post everything on Yammer – as a result, I don’t use it as 99% of the information is irrelevant. For a social business application to be a success, there has to be some value to the end user that makes their job easier, faster, more productive. Or, they just won’t use it. There are some highly sophisticated and robust social business applications available that do just that. Although, in Microsoft’s defense they recently did add a few features to Yammer, and I may add, business features.

In an excellent review of business social applications, in which Yammer is included, Real Story Group found, “Yammer tends to focus on microblogging for its own sake, rather than more advanced applications; thus it does not solve SharePoint’s application problems. Functional thinness and siloed streams means that many customers have seen a drop off in adoption after making the initial connection. Yammer usage can explode (at least initially) within an organization. However, be prepared for Yammer usage to become a kind of siloed stream within your broader digital workplace. Yammer is good for what it does, but after initial connections are made, sometimes usage drops off as employees struggle to place the service within the regular workflow of their daily work.”

The Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software Evaluation Report

Real Story Group

The problem described above, despite the industry problem of user acceptance, is the business benefits are not clearly articulated. For Yammer, it didn’t turn out to be as ‘intuitive’ as Microsoft first claimed. I remember months ago, Microsoft actually ran a contest that Yammer end users (a primarily Microsoft Yammer group) had to use the product correctly and they could win a prize. Not surprisingly I got quite a chuckle about that one. If a highly technical audience couldn’t figure out how to use it, who to use it to, and when to respond to whom, how are the rest of us?

I guess we’ll just wait and see what Yammer is to become next month. Unless it gets lost again.

Comments are closed