Facebook Ranks Top 'Enterprise' Collaboration Platform

Businesses beware: Employees prefer using Facebook to SharePoint and other IT-driven collaboration platforms, finds global study by Avanade U.K.

Gary Flood, Contributor

May 20, 2013

3 Min Read

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LinkedIn: 10 Important Changes

CIOs who allow their staffs to drive their entire social media-driven collaboration strategies risk endangering their organizations, warns the U.K. arm of the joint Accenture-Microsoft joint venture Avanade.

Why would they even let that happen? After all, companies like Avanade parent Microsoft have been successfully seeding enterprises with tools like SharePoint for many years.

The problem: while CIOs, aided by firms like Avanade, have been providing enterprise-caliber tools, no one's been doing much collaboration work with them. This has left a huge vacuum that Avanade says is being rapidly filled with homegrown, grassroots-driven, consumer-based technology instead.

"To be led completely by your workforce when it comes to collaboration is asking to end up with a completely undisciplined and unmanageable environment," Andrew Barber, deputy lead in the collaboration practice of the global consulting firm's British arm, told InformationWeek.

"It's very easy to let your corporate data end up on Facebook. Whether you should is quite a different matter."

[ Are we seeing the end of "social" as a unique category? Read Social Business Not Dead, Just Business As Usual. ]

Barber's team released on Monday the results of a global study of enterprise social collaboration trends that, if nothing else, backs up his observation that, "A lot of current collaboration is about people bringing the tools they work with at home into the office."

Indicating a sort of "bring your own software" dynamic, Avanade's data shows Facebook is a collaboration platform twice as popular as SharePoint -- 74% to 39%. It's also four times more popular than IBM Open Connections (17%) and six times more popular than Salesforce's Chatter (12%).

The study, of 4,000 users and 1,000 business and IT decision-makers in 22 countries, also said 77% of managers and 68% of users say they now use some form of enterprise social networking technology. IT decision makers said such social technologies make their jobs more enjoyable (66%), more productive (62%) and "help them get work done faster" (57%). All in all, said Avanade, of those businesses currently using social collaboration tools, 82% want to use more of them in the future.

But which ones? The study claimed, perhaps somewhat optimistically, that decision makers planning to adopt social technologies put SharePoint and Chatter (tied at 23%) at the top of their list of collaboration deployments planned in the coming year. Thus, though Facebook is ranked number one among social collaboration technologies in use today (74%), when asked what social tools businesses want to adopt in the next year, "Facebook fell to the very end of the list with only eight percent of decision-makers respondents noting it as a priority," said Avanade in a statement.

However, Barber admitted that IT-led, SharePoint-centric collaboration projects don't always succeed. Instead, he offered up Yammer, now also a part of the Microsoft technology stack, as a potentially more successful tool for CIOs to offer. "In many ways, that's a model of how grassroots-led collaboration can work really well, and add in the social flavor of workplace conversations in a much less dangerous way than letting people just go straight to Facebook," he said Monday.

For the study, Avanade interviewed 1,000 C-suite executives, business unit leaders and senior decision makers in the IT departments of organizations with at least 1,000 employees, in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the Nordics, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. It also polled 4,000 end users in organizations of 500 employees or more in all the same countries except for Brazil. All fieldwork was conducted between March 13 and April 16.

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