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This is the second post about adoption
barriers, with both being part of my broader series titled Collaboration
Insights. Overall, this is the fourth post in a five part series, where I’ve
been examining issues and opportunities to help enterprises move forward with
No matter which way you turn, there are challenges, but
vendors are doing a pretty good job of developing solutions that speak what
businesses need from their teams, as well as how people are communicating with
today’s technologies. There’s a lot of complexity for sure, but the biggest
barriers are internal, both in terms of your culture and how you think about
collaboration. The latter point is where this post picks up the thread.
Next steps – thinking boldly and differently
When you can position collaboration as an enabler for these
kinds of business outcomes, it becomes very strategic. Clearly, these are desirable outcomes for any
business, but are difficult to measure, which is exactly the holdup with the
collaboration concept. However, this difficulty won’t stop management from
allocating resources to achieve these outcomes, and by demonstrating the
strategic role that collaboration can play, the adoption barriers will become
much lower. Not only that, but if IT can craft such a vision for collaboration,
then IT will likely get to “own” it.
To do that, IT may have to think differently, and that’s the
impetus for this series. If you believe that “owning” collaboration is the best
way to drive adoption across the enterprise, then you better be able to
deliver. Creating such a solution is not normally the forte of IT, so the onus
then falls to the vendor community. If the path I’m advocating is new to you,
then you might need to reconsider your existing vendor relationships.
Most vendors do not have organically-developed collaboration
platforms; rather, they are an outgrowth from point applications they have been
selling forever. Standalone applications are not the answer here, and if that’s
their core DNA, you’ll need to carefully evaluate how well they understand your
need for collaboration to drive business outcomes. Otherwise, to keep your
business, they may try to make your needs conform to their offerings, but
that’s the opposite of what your vision requires.
Another aspect of thinking differently pertains to how you
would manage this. Presuming you have found the right vendor with the right
solution, you may face internal operating constraints, especially for your
network. If you’re accustomed to owning and managing your IT resources, you may
expect the same for collaboration platforms.
Given the complexity of today’s technology – and considering
the strategic benefits outlined above – you may also have to accept that your
collaboration platform is better managed from the cloud, especially if your
resources are being pared back. Now you start thinking in terms of the PaaS or
IaaS model, where the ability to integrate various communications applications
comes from offsite, but is still very much within your purview. Along with this
comes a shift from Capex to Opex, which could actually make your vision easier
to sell to management.
Now, this becomes a strategic IT consideration, where you
leave the complexity to the vendor, and focus instead on making a tighter
connection across the organization between your collaboration solution and how
it can drive business outcomes. That may be a big leap from your current
situation, and again, will impact the kind of vendor you’ll need to partner
You may think I’m asking a lot here, but the stakes are
high, and the results are worth it for everyone involved. If this is what you
believe collaboration can do for your business, then you have to make it
strategic for management and you have to be strategic when considering the
Part 1 talked about seeing the whole as more than the sum of
its parts when it comes to collaboration applications. This is not easy to do,
and poses an adoption barrier for truly effective collaboration solution. As
long as each application lives in its own domain, they will remain great point
solutions, but not part of something bigger – something that’s strategic rather
than tactical. The key take away from that post was for IT to make
collaboration strategic, and doing so involves tying this to business outcomes.
These are the results that management values, and their buy-in is necessary for
this strategic vision.
This post builds on that by addressing the need to think
differently. Status quo thinking is likely a key reason why collaboration
solutions have had limited impact to date. Making communications easier is not
enough to become strategic; collaboration needs to drive business outcomes and
to sell that vision, IT needs to think differently. Of course this entails
risk, but the upside is worth it, not just for the business but for IT’s future
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
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