An enterprise collaboration strategy can help make organizations more productive, flexible and responsive.

As the pace of business continues to accelerate, and employees become increasingly mobile, new communication tools have become critical to success. After all, employees don’t sit at desks all day with access to a traditional phone set. Email remains useful but lacks the immediacy of real-time interaction. In this environment, organizations need collaboration tools that allow for more productive engagement and interaction among employees, managers, partners and customers.

Increasingly, however, business executives see collaboration as key to digital transformation — which refers to the modification of business models, strategies and processes, in a way that takes full advantage of modern technology. Organizations that fully embrace technology and evolve to maximize its value become more efficient, agile, innovative and responsive, and better equipped to create competitive advantages.

Digital transformation depends upon effective collaboration among everyone in the enterprise. Organizations need modern collaboration tools that support an on-demand world and give employees the resources they need for faster, more effective decision-making.

However, many organizations that have made significant investments in collaboration tools aren’t seeing the expected return on investment. The problem is often the lack of a clearly defined collaboration strategy that addresses business needs, user adoption and metrics for defining success.

Driving User Adoption

In many organizations, collaboration is a piecemeal affair involving multiple tools and processes. Teams may waste several minutes at the start of each meeting distributing access codes, launching content sharing tools and struggling with call quality issues. Even if the organization has adopted an integrated collaboration platform, many employees will continue to use their preferred collaboration platform. Other users simply won’t embrace the concept of collaboration, limiting the organization’s ability to achieve its digital transformation objectives.

User adoption is the primary metric used to determine the success or failure of an enterprise collaboration strategy. Everyone needs to be on board and actively participating, from the C-suite to the reception desk.

In order to increase user buy-in, an enterprise collaboration strategy needs to be aligned with the organization’s overall business processes and objectives. That’s why it’s important to understand the needs and workstyles of various users. The strategy should also consider generational differences — Millennials tend to prefer instant messaging while Baby Boomers are more comfortable with traditional phone calls, for example.

User needs can help to define technology requirements that will drive the evaluation of various collaboration tools. Tight integration of the collaboration toolset and a consistent user interface can help streamline adoption of the technology. Scalability and flexibility will also become important as the collaboration strategy takes root and grows.

How to Measure Success

A pilot project can give users an opportunity to get comfortable with collaboration tools and provide feedback that will help fine-tune the strategy. When people see firsthand how collaboration allows them to save time and do their jobs better, they’ll become more active users.

In addition, managers must lay the foundation for collaboration by creating and nurturing a culture that’s conducive to collaboration. If the organization encourages and rewards the sharing of knowledge and information, as opposed to having employees work in guarded silos, the strategy is more likely to work.

Measuring the success of an enterprise collaboration strategy is difficult but critical. In addition to tracking adoption, usage and engagement metrics, it’s also important to analyze the depth of communication and the relationships that result from collaboration. Reductions in communication gaps and breakdowns are signs that collaboration is working.

People have been collaborating for thousands of years. Modern technology simply provides a mechanism for capitalizing on collaboration to improve operations. That’s why business requirements and real-world user needs should drive the development of an enterprise collaboration strategy.

IPC has years of experience helping organizations deploy unified communications and collaboration platforms. Our experts help create and implement smart strategies that enable organizations to advance their digital transformation initiatives.