Social Collaboration Barriers in SMBs and Enterprises

April 19, 2015
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ImageSocial collaboration tools should be the way forward in enterprises of all sizes. Email is inefficient and broken. Social networks, by comparison, are too public, but we’ve all grown familiar and comfortable with how they function. Which makes social collaboration tools a natural fit, except many companies are still struggling with implementation and adoption.

ImageSocial collaboration tools should be the way forward in enterprises of all sizes. Email is inefficient and broken. Social networks, by comparison, are too public, but we’ve all grown familiar and comfortable with how they function. Which makes social collaboration tools a natural fit, except many companies are still struggling with implementation and adoption.

A Gartner study suggests that it could be until 2015 when those buying social collaboration tools will start to see any benefit. Carol Rozwell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner cites how these tools are implemented as the problem: “Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, followed a “push” paradigm. Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a “pull” approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can’t be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in.”

The study predicts that 50 percent of large organizations will have social collaboration tools in place by 2016, and in 30 percent of these they “will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today.” Which means even in two years time 70 percent of larger organizations will not consider the tools they have essential, and a further 50 percent still won’t have these tools.

One of our customers, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company, a joint venture between ICICI Bank and Prudential plc, felt differently, which is why they reached out to us.

They needed a social collaboration tool which would make it possible for different teams to function on their own, and for wider, cooperation between departments. They were facing a similar challenge to other enterprise customers. ICICI Prudential wanted to create a highly collaborative, fun online environment, with a smooth transition, mobile functionality and to get an ROI which would enable them to lay the foundation for enterprise content management.

Instead of going into more detail on the topic of that particular client, which we will do in a future case study, it is worth looking at the current barriers to entry for adoption of social collaboration tools.

1. Poor Management of Resources

Every system is a resource, bought in ideally for the benefit of the company. An ROI is expected from every business expense, so why do most enterprises claim to “have” a tool or platform if in fact they aren’t getting any use of it? Usually the following (incorrect) assumptions are made:

  • We have one, so we must be using it.

  • An off the shelf solution works for everyones job function.

  • No training, no problem. It was sold as intuitive.

Document sharing, through the likes of Google Docs, Dropbox or Box, doesn’t really count. Helpful though those services are, they aren’t fully fledged social collaboration platforms.

2. Poor Training

Social networks are built on the principle of social connectivity. For any social network to work it has to have high levels of user engagement and activity, which means in an internal scenario, everyone has to be using it.

If even a handful of people aren’t it is both damaging for the network and morale. Those who aren’t active online, either out of a reluctance or lack of training, will quickly feel left out of decisions and the information flow. Value is created when everyone participates, which means having both a system which is easy to use, mobile, and the training / processes in place to ensure everyone is using it.

3. Not Appreciating the True Opportunity Cost

Emilie Doolittle of Tibbr, a social collaboration tool, puts the ROI clearly in this blog: “If you wanted to study access to information, for example, you would simply measure how much time it takes to locate information before and after implementation of your enterprise social network. Tie this amount of time to the dollars spent on salaries of the respective employees using this time, and voila – you now have an accurate measure of the reduction in cost your social network brings.”

A Gartner study in 2012 supports her statement, which found that ‘77 percent of workers gained faster access to information via social collaboration tools (including from internal experts in the companies).’

Poor resource management, training, and not appreciating the opportunity cost are the three main reasons holding most companies back from fully adopting enterprise collaboration tools. These pitfalls are why ICICI Prudential came to us in order to avoid them and implement a system which worked for their staff. We look forward to be able to tell you in more detail how effective that was.

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