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.
The benefits of collaboration technology are many, from increased productivity and flexibility to reduced travel and communication costs. However, the people who use the technology and embrace the concept of collaboration will ultimately determine whether your company sees a return on investment. As a result, it is critical that you implement a strategy that enables your company to realize the benefits of collaboration.
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. If only certain individuals or departments are collaborating, the strategy probably won’t meet your business expectations.
In order to increase user buy-in, your strategy needs to be aligned with your overall business processes and objectives. That’s why it’s important to understand the needs and workstyles of various users. You should also consider generational differences — Millennials tend to prefer instant messaging while Baby Boomers are more comfortable with traditional phone calls, for example.
Once you’ve identified user needs, evaluate tools that can fill those needs. Look for tight integration of the collaboration toolset and a consistent user interface to streamline adoption of the technology. Scalability and flexibility will also become important as your collaboration strategy takes root and grows.
Consider running a pilot project to help users get comfortable with collaboration tools and fine-tune your 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 your company 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 isn’t easy, but this shouldn’t derail the strategy. Adoption, usage and engagement metrics can be tracked, but 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.
Remember, people have been collaborating for thousands of years. Modern technology simply provides a mechanism for helping you capitalize on collaboration to improve the way you do business. That’s why business requirements and real-world user needs should drive the development of your enterprise collaboration strategy.
IPC is a ShoreTel Gold Champion Partner with years of experience deploying unified communications and collaboration platforms. Let us help you create a smart strategy and explain which tools, services and applications make the most sense for your organization.