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Workforce Enablement

How NOT to Pick Enterprise Collaboration Tools

Three big mistakes enterprises are making when equipping teams for collaboration.

Enterprise collaboration tools are entering their heyday as workers increasingly demand a varied set of channels to communicate and share with teammates. Wave after wave of new messaging, project management, and social apps are enticing users with ever-growing combinations of collaborative bells and whistles. Meantime, traditional productivity tools are progressively baking in similar features into their platforms.

Tools such as Slack, HipChat, and Yammer are often mashed up with old reliables, such as Office365 and WebEx. Different groups depend on different tools, often with loads of feature overlap and not nearly as much integration as they should have. It’s all adding up to collaboration chaos.

Enterprises must get strategic if they want to get the most out of this collaborative trend—especially if they want to do so without breaking the bank.

Digirupt recently spoke with Jimmy Carroll about enterprise collaboration. Carroll, a longtime executive in the unified communications space and partner with collaboration service provider TetraVX, Carroll says that enterprises consistently make a handful of mistakes when choosing and deploying collaboration suites. Here’s what they are—and why enterprises must avoid them.

 

Mistake 1: Letting One-Off Tools Become the Norm

Many enterprises build their portfolios without the left hand knowing what the right is doing. As a result, different departments—and sometimes individual teams—conduct their affairs on collaborative islands. Carroll says he runs into plenty of situations where marketing uses one tool, finance uses another, HR has its own platform, and IT is in yet another different orbit. Meanwhile, the executive committee might have a whole additional set of tools of its own.

“What you wind up having is multiple platforms inside an organization that don’t work well together,” he explains. “The problem is that not only do you have terrible spend, but there’s not a single ecosystem that unifies the organization as a whole.”

So when different tribes need to work with one another, they find that either their tools don’t integrate or individual users simply aren’t familiar enough with the other group’s tools to comfortably engage with them. As a result, workers fall back on older means of communication, like email and phone.

Carroll believes organizations need to take a comprehensive look at their collaborative portfolios for two big reasons: One, doing so will not only help them improve integration and cohesiveness across the enterprise, but, two, it will also help them avoid paying multiple times for the same sets of features in different packaging.

“There’s always corner cases. If somebody says, ‘We need this because it’s going to specifically help with XYZ,’ well, then, of course buy that if it makes sense,” he says. “But look at what you can choose that will work for almost everyone first and then fill in those gaps, as opposed to letting everybody make their own decisions in a vacuum.”

 

Mistake 2: Choosing Platforms With No End-User Reality Check

On the flip side, it does the enterprise no good if it builds up a beautiful, monolithic collaborative platform that no one uses. Strategically choosing a narrower range of collaboration tools shouldn’t translate into autocratically picking a platform without user input.

“Far too often it comes from the top down, where you’re making decisions around what we think people need as opposed to trying to understand how they work.”

Jimmy Carroll

TetraVX

“One of the biggest mistakes we see organizations make is that they don’t stop and look at it from the bottom up: How are my employees going to utilize this technology in order to make them more productive, give them a better work life, or whatever other objective there is for collaboration?” Carroll explains. “Far too often it comes from the top down, where you’re making decisions around what we think people need as opposed to trying to understand how they work. That’s usually the biggest mistake because it’s very expensive and you get poor user adoption.”

Not only should organizations be asking for users’ opinions about what they need before picking collaboration tools, they should also be auditing user behavior to gather as much data to support those end user opinions. Doing so will ensure the enterprise doesn’t lose the hearts and minds of users before they even send the collaboration suite live.

 

Mistake 3: Skimping On Internal Promotion and Training

Carroll often sees enterprise groups seeking out collaboration capabilities in new tools without realizing that these features are hidden in the ones their organizations have already paid for. To him, this is symbolic of a systemic mistake enterprises make after picking and deploying their sanctioned collaboration portfolio: namely, failing to promote the tools among the end users they’re meant for.

Carroll highly encourages organizations to put in place a team who can help explain to others why new tools are being put in place and how to use them. His firm calls this a “technical marketing group,” but whatever the name, it should have people who are good at translating technical jargon across various user bases and can help train each group to use the tools for their specific use cases.

“That technical marketing team has to have the ability to message throughout an organization, understand that organizations culture, and all the other aspects that go into making a good marketing message work,” he says, “but at the same time it needs to understand the technical capabilities of the tools.

 

 

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