We’ve been thinking about multiple reports (both from analysts and consultancies) and considering actual case studies of social and collaboration tools in the enterprise, including this report:
Gartner estimates that 80% of social business projects between now and 2015 will yield disappointing results because of a lack of leadership support and a narrow view of social as a technology rather than a business driver.
There’s some interesting findings in another report published by Deloitte and the MIT Sloan Management Review.
1. Establish clear business value
2. Identify some small problem areas that social can help with
3. Experiment with small scale solutions before scaling up
The last point is especially important. There is nothing better than deploying a simple tool that facilitates a range of simple use-cases amongst an identified group of people. Both financial and political risk is minimised, and the business gets enough information to devise metrics that achieve real, bottom-line results.
The report goes on to highlight stages of maturing in social business deployments, as well as strategies to get things right, including the absence of an overall strategy or motivation at all levels of the business.
The corresponding infographic is also illustrative, in particular – pointing to the use of best-of-breed tools (or a variety of tools) which serve specific, defined use cases and problems:
This is precisely why we think that highly usable, fit-for-purpose tools will succeed in the long run. There’s simply too many business risks and too many platform-specific issues with technology-driven enterprise investments around collaboration. Starting small, proving that a tool works for a simple job has always been the way to lay the groundwork for any successful system that delivers all the intended business benefits.
The key understanding here is that collaboration requires pull/involvement from everyone. This involvement cannot be forced or needy. The only way to solve this problem is to provide simple, highly usable and engaging tools, which do a defined job. That is – to serve selfish use cases.
The collaborative element within tools is a network effect that arises from wider usage and adoption. This seems common-sense, but it’s surprising that the current environment has caused a shift to feature-rich/technology-focused thinking, rather than attention to the problems we actually need to solve.
Whilst we aim to integrate with common platforms at Amiweb (we are part Microsoft’s BizSpark for example) – we believe that careful use of simple, easy tools – which target wide and well-defined problems are the future of collaboration.