JAA’s Analyst Blog is an award winning and an industry go to that chronicles Jon’s involvement and thought leadership in a variety of subjects in the fields of telecom and technology sector. Call today for more information - (416) 907-8659
JAA'S Analyst Blog - Current Posts
Since the relaunch, JAA's traffic has been really growing, and so is our following, and your support is greatly appreciated! For those who have signed up for the blog via RSS, we strongly encourage you to sign up here as well for an email-based subscription.
By signing up here, not only will you receive automated updates for our latest blog posts, but subscribers will also receive exclusive content not published anywhere else. Also, the vast majority of JAA's thought leadership is published on sites other than our blog, and subscribers will get bi-monthly digests so you can quickly access timely posts you otherwise might have missed.
This is the third post in my
Collaboration Insights series, and since effective collaboration eludes so many
companies, I wanted to examine the barriers to adoption. Despite the widespread
availability of so many applications that enable collaboration, the results
often fall short. While it’s easy to blame this on the technology being complex
and/or costly, or limitations on the network/IT side, there are other factors
at play. One such factor is tying collaboration to business outcomes, something
you might not have considered.
Generally speaking, the easier
something is to use, the more often people will use it. The same is also true
when the benefit is clearly understood. Think about the telephone – everyone
knows how to use it, and the benefits are clear. The same can be said for most
communications applications, such as email, messaging, many forms of
conferencing and even fax. They’re all easy to use, and each has a distinct
benefit – or use case – that drives their usage.
With today’s technologies, there’s
no reason why collaboration can’t be the same. Vendors understand the
importance of making these platforms easy to use, although some do it better
than others. The bigger challenge, however, lies in the benefit, as
collaboration results are hard to measure. After all, collaboration is the
collective result of using various communications applications in an integrated
Bigger than the sum of its parts
You can’t conclude that a
collaboration session was a success because the call quality on the voice
connection was great, or the presence engine made it easy to pull the team
together, or the conferencing features made it easy for everyone to join a
meeting despite using different endpoints and networks. All of these play a
role, but you can’t equate success with any one in particular.
In this regard, collaboration is bigger than the sum of its
parts, and that creates specific barriers to adoption. As noted in
my last post, the point applications that comprise a collaboration platform
each have their own standalone worlds within an enterprise. Telephony is
managed by one team, fax by another, video conferencing elsewhere, mobility
somewhere else, etc. Each is in a silo, with distinct performance metrics and
budgets managed independent of the other communications applications.
Each point application is owned, so to speak, by a team with
a budget, and that budget is based on hitting specific metrics. This is very
much a legacy model that keeps silos in place, but has no real strategic value
to the business. The value is very high tactically,
and that’s actually an adoption barrier for today’s collaboration solutions.
Collaboration is strategic, end of story
When you think of collaboration this way, it’s easy to
understand why adoption is challenging. Collaboration isn’t tangible like the
point applications that comprise a solution, and as such, nobody really “owns”
it. The IT group may own the collaboration platform that they acquire from a
vendor, but the results that come from collaboration are all driven by end
users. Since end users don’t have an economic stake in that platform, they
don’t have much incentive to use it, which creates a barrier to adoption.
This is where business outcomes come into play, providing a
path for IT to tie these loose ends together. The first step is to start
thinking of collaboration as being strategic. Point applications are tactical,
and don’t play well together inside the enterprise, which runs counter to the
collaboration concept. Strategic resources need to be evaluated differently,
using benchmarks that are strategic, not tactical.
The next step is to demonstrate how collaboration can drive
business outcomes that have strategic value to the business. Strategic
benchmarks can be based on
P&L-style metrics, but when management is focused on creating strategic
value for the business, other things will carry more weight, such as:
·Faster time to market for new products/services
·Better quality products that last longer,
perform better, don’t break down, etc.
·Easier to do business with – both for customers
·Improved customer satisfaction by providing
great experiences and personalized service
·Happier employees by supporting their preferred work
style – better morale, performance and retention
·Driving innovation to improve processes,
workflows, product quality, customer experiences, etc.
·Inspiring invention to create breakthroughs for
This is what you need to do to make collaboration strategic,
but there’s more to the story. When it comes to breaking down adoption
barriers, you also need to think differently. Old habits are hard to break, and
that will only happen when you can show there’s a better way with today’s
technologies. You’ll need a vision, and that’s where I’ll extend this topic in
my next post in this series.
For clarity, please note that this Collaboration Insights series is
sponsored by Cisco Canada, but the content is my own, and by design is
J Arnold & Associates is an Independent Technology Research and Analyst, helping businesses understand the strategic value of communications technology as they adapt to the digital transformation of work
Sign-up below and get my blog & exclusive content delivered directly to your inbox!