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9/27/2012
09:14 AM
Jacob Morgan
Jacob Morgan
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What Collaboration Can And Can't Fix

Your collaboration vision must be grounded in real problems your business needs to solve.



Before your organization jumps to deploy a collaboration platform, it's important to understand why this deployment is even being considered. In research that Chess Media Group conducted last year, we found that only 19% of organizations developed a strategy before deploying a technology--shocking, but sadly not surprising.

Before we even start talking about use cases it's important to understand some of the common collaboration problems that organizations are faced with. Once we have these broader issues identified, we can begin exploring the specific use cases.

Too Much Time Spent In Email

Employees spend a good portion of their days in their inboxes. What was once an asynchronous communication platform has now become:

-- A glorified chat messaging platform (we send an email and get one back right away!).

-- An intranet where we search for old information or documents.

-- A way to find subject matter experts where we send a series of emails to colleagues who then forward those emails to other people, all trying to find this subject matter expert.

-- A calendaring and event management system where we set up meetings.

-- A note-taking solution. (I've been in many meetings where people literally type their notes in an unfinished email to be sent to all attendees.)

We use email for things which it is not efficient. This causes us to be overly dependent on email while wasting a lot of our time.


Jacob Morgan's The Collaboration Organization is a comprehensive strategy guide on how to use emerging collaboration strategies and technologies to solve business problems in the enterprise. It has been endorsed by the former CIO of the USA, CMO of SAP, CMO of Dell, CEO of TELUS, CEO of Unisys, and dozens of other business leaders from around the world.

More by Jacob Morgan

Inability To Find Subject Matter Experts

Traditionally if an employee needs to get find someone, for example a colleague who may be familiar with marketing positioning in Japan, they would need to send out an email. That person will then send out an email and so on and so forth until hopefully that subject matter expert is located. You end up with a whole team of people emailing each other, all trying to find one person! This technique needs to stop: it distracts many people at work and it's just no longer necessary.

Difficult To Find Content

It's so easy for us to use Google to find something nowadays isn't it? Then why is it so hard for us to find a document or piece of information within our enterprise? Employees spend around 30% of their time at work just looking for information they need to get their jobs done, that's more than one full day per week. For those of you thinking, "Hey, we use intranets," let's be honest--in most cases the intranet is where content goes to die and never be seen again.

Information Duplication

This happens A LOT! One employee will work on something only to find out that someone else either already did the project, or started it, or has information which could have been used in that project. Basically we see employees creating and re-creating the same content not knowing that it already exists. Of course this can lead to a lot of tension and frustration in the workplace--and many more emails.

Connecting Colleagues And Information Across Boundaries

Employees are the most valuable asset that any organization possesses, and right now those employees don't have the ability to stay connected with their peers and with information they need to get their work done. Most employees work in silos and never communicate or collaborate with people outside of their department. We also see employees having to email files to themselves just to make sure that they can keep working on them when they get home or switch locations. Employees today are only partially connected to information and their peers. It's sort of like having horrible Wi-Fi service that allows you to get bits and pieces of information--not effective and very annoying.

Other Common Collaboration Problems

-- Stagnant innovation.

-- Poor employee engagement.

-- Inability to effectively share and transfer knowledge. When employees retire or quit, they take their information with them right out of the company.

-- Difficulty aligning departments and the organization as a whole.

-- Inability to leverage collective intelligence to make decisions.

-- Poor overall employee productivity.

There are many other issues that organizations are faced with, but these seem to be the most common and frequent.

Once you understand what your business problems are, you can derive the use cases for collaboration and the features you need a collaboration platform to have. This will also help you understand how you should be measuring and evaluating success. Often organizations deploy solutions without really understanding why. As a result, they are unable to tell how effective their efforts are.

You'd look pretty silly walking around your house with a hammer, searching for things to bash in. You'd look just as silly deploying a tool and then trying to a find a problem for it to solve.

[ Make room for innovation: What's Your Unadoption Strategy For Enterprise 2.0? ]

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)

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