Posted on Feb 20, 2012 | Tags: | Comments (0)
Indeed, I was interested to read last week that O2 had closed its HQ for a day to test employees’ ability to work remotely. With events such as the Olympics this summer and the UK’s increasingly unpredictable climate, enterprise organisations are assessing the best methods to ensure constant productivity and minimal workplace disruption. In a very bold move, another organisation reviewing its internal communications is the French IT Company ATOS, having pledged to remove internal email entirely from its organisation by 2014.
In my role as Internal Systems Engineer for brightsolid online technology, I’ve been looking at several different social collaborative tools recently, as we are looking at deploying one internally. These include Huddle, Campfire and Mango Apps to name but a few. We are looking for a provider that offers a broad range of tools that will improve our internal social collaboration.
But for me, many questions remain and below are just some of the considerations that CIOs should be making when looking to embrace social collaboration in the workplace…
Buzzword or Added Value beyond your existing Intranet – CIOs need to consider what of the added features will really add value to their organisation. Are intranets really fit for purpose nowadays? I think most employees are looking for more than an area where daily communications are only one way, with limited ability to contribute or add value.
Will it actually increase productivity – One consideration for CIOs is whether this software will take collaboration too far in the other direction. Stats recently released highlighted that people spend on average 15.5hours per week on Facebook. Given that the normal working week is about 40 hours, anything close to this amount of time would surely not amount to an increase in productivity. I suppose it would depend on your definition of productivity and what value you put on this? Is it more productive to post an article, link or comment to an open forum and share knowledge with your colleagues, or is it more productive to send an email directly to a colleague and make a decision without lots of endless input and discussion from others? Most likely there’s no clean cut answer, and there’s an education piece to be done for users to know which tool is appropriate to use.
Security and Privacy – Arguably the most critical considerations for an organisation. CIOs need to consider who has access to this information, the potential for rogue employees to cause destruction and where the information would be hosted? “Generation Y” is entering the workplace with expectations that they will be able to access the same or equivalent tools that they use in their personal lives and regulating their ability to access these will more than likely force users to look for work elsewhere or find ways to circumvent these policies in some way or another. Therefore, the obvious solution is to implement a company vetted solution in a controlled environment.
Increased Personal Identity – I’ve always thought email is often impersonal and a rather faceless means of communication. For many people, work is becoming less somewhere that you have be and more about who you are and what you do. Social collaboration is structured towards increasing personal identity and commitment to an organisation through ease of information flow and feeling more involved in the business and its decision making.
Social Media Overload – It seems that hardly a day passes when I don’t get told I need to join another social network. At the moment I’ve got a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Kiltr, Foursquare and Yammer account, while I’m being told I now need a Pinterest account. Where does it end? I struggle to keep up with all of these as it is, never mind having to setup another account for a work collaboration tool.
Is your workforce best suited to this means of collaboration – Possibly of less importance but still worth considering is how tech savvy your workforce is. Of course, as employer it’s your responsibility to be developing an innovative and tech savvy workforce that gives you a competitive advantage but not every industry or workforce maybe suited to this method of collaboration. CIOs need to consider the training costs involved and work closely with HR to develop an employee policy that ensures everyone is competent and confident in using the software.
Costs – (The CFO was panicking for a moment there!) Last, but by no means least, Cost is of critical importance to any business and is often the key driver in any decision making process. The costs for Huddle and Mango Apps are relatively similar - Avg $10 Per User Per Month - if you host it internally. In most cases this would be in addition to email and one thing I don’t expect to see happening in the immediate future is social collaborative tools ability to replace external email. Therefore, this software will be an additional cost to your email platform.
It seems likely that many CIOs will be watching this space very closely in the months ahead. As is typical in the adoption of technology, many will be waiting for an enterprise organisation to utilise one of these tools and then assess their success in doing so. I think at the moment, wide scale adoption of tools such as Mango Apps is probably a few years away.
Companies wanting to engender open communication and make the most of their incoming talent pool are inevitably going to need to implement in-house, or secure cloud based solutions offering the same methods of knowledge sharing and communication as the Gen-Y crowd have grown up with and use naturally in their personal lives. If not, the natural effect will be users finding their own solutions through public cloud tools, wilfully contravening security policies in order to better perform in their jobs.
We’d be interested to know anyone’s experience in the adoption of such platforms and please feel free to leave a comment below or follow us on twitter @brightsolid_tec
Internal Systems Engineer