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Oscar Berg is a senior consultant, working with strategy, business analysis, and architecture within Enterprise Collaboration. Oscar has been writing about how to use social technologies for business purposes on his blog The Content Economy since 2007, and since 2011 as contributing author for CMS Wire. Oscar is passionate about creating solutions that make work and life simpler for people. He has been a frequent speaker at various intranet conferences in the Nordic countries, and at European conferences such as the Enterprise 2.0 Summit, Social Business Forum in Milan, and Social Now in Portugal. Oscar is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 45 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

The State and Future of Enterprise Collaboration

12.08.2013
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More than a year ago, I wrote in an article for CMS Wire that corporations are starting to ask themselves the following questions:

 ”Now that we all have the tools, what shall we do with them? How can we use them to change the way we work? And even if we see the use cases and want to change our ways of working, how do our work environments encourage and enable us to do this?“
I think this pretty much sums up where a lot of corporations are today; they have implemented new communication and collaboration tools, but they still have a lot of work to do ahead to figure out how to use them to develop better ways of working, as well as to create good conditions for information workers that supports the change process.

Without a doubt, the importance and availability of social, mobile and cloud technologies will continue to increase. What will change is the focus; corporations will be shifting their focus from implementing  tools to how they can make productive use of the tools and make change happen.

Photo: The “flying machine” consisting of  45 helium-filled weather balloons that was used by Lawrence Richard Walters, an American truck driver, when he took flight on July 2 1982, reaching an altitude of over 15,000 feet.
As we are soon moving into 2014, it can be a good idea to take a look at some recent research related to Enterprise Collaboration. Below, I share links to some of the research studies I have come across recently and highlight some findings that I found interesting. I hope you will as well.

To start off, here are some interesting findings about remote working in a recent study from Virgin Media Business:

  • 7 in 10 organizations believe their employees would be far happier at work and more productive given the ability to work from home and on the move
  • 40 per cent of those surveyed said that they often overhear staff complaining about being tied to their desk. 
  • Organizations are being held back and nearly half are reluctant to introduce more choice because of security concerns
  • The technology they’d most like to see introduced into the workplace is wireless access to files over a 3G network, closely followed by the integration of voice and data over a single network
  • An overwhelming majority of CIOs and business decision makers agreed that giving their staff devices that could answer email, send files, make calls and communicate with others via IM on the go would boost employee engagement.

 “Social Business: Shifting Out of First Gear” from Deloitte:

  • Social is becoming more important across all industries. All respondents place increased value on social business and none reversed the course.
  • Change isn’t happening very fast. The top three tings that impede progress is:
    1. A lack of an overall strategy (28% of respondents)
    2. Too many competing priorities (26%)
    3. Lack of a proven business case or strong value proposition (21%).
  • More socially mature business are building momentum by applying social tools and technologies to specific business challenges and assessing the impact. To spur the effort, company leaders are cultivating new modes of communication and new patterns of dialogue. Sometimes that means modeling the behavior long before the tool is launched


A survey by IDG Research Services carried out on behalf of Jive:

  • The paper notes that enterprise collaboration software differs from its consumer cousin because it needs to integrate with the existing IT environment, protect the privacy of the users and corporate data and provide the tools the business needs
  • Improving productivity and internal communication now far outrank any other reasons for using social tools at work, with 72 percent of respondents each
  • 2/3 of the respondents complain determining ROI is difficult and nearly half are not currently measuring it in this respect.

"2013 Wisdom of Crowds® Collaborative Business Intelligence Market Study" from Dresner:

  • Top mechanisms for collaborating with business intelligence (BI) insights in 2013 are still email, face-to-face meetings and telephone calls.
  • In a larger organization when they say they want to collaborate, it’s really about driving greater efficiency within their internal organization. And they are more likely to be physically co-located with their peers and share information via face-to-face meeting.
  • In a smaller organization collaboration really means collaborating with external constituencies. They are more likely to leverage file sharing. 
  • Microsoft SharePoint is the most widely used framework, followed by Google Docs and Dropbox, which tend to be used more often in smaller organizations. 
Three Keys to Successful Digital Transformation” from Apigee:

  • This research uncovers three empirical patterns for successful digital transformation. An enterprise must make and broadcast company-wide commitment, appoint a senior leader with four key transformation leadership skills, and build capacity to experiment
  • Among Leaders 83% have “explicitly and formally” named a person to lead digital transformation; 79% report that digital projects are a company-wide priority.
  • Companies that implemented company-wide digital initiatives more than a year ago have already seen an impact on employees (73%), customers (80%), and their portfolio of products (77%)—almost two-thirds of these businesses have seen impact in all three areas.
"The Evolution of Social Collaboration within the Enterprise" from Avanade:

  • A majority are using social networking tools in the workplace, they may not be leveraging tools that have genuine enterprise collaboration capabilities yet
  • Currently the majority of IT decision-makers (87%), business leaders (67%) and end users (68%) report using enterprise social networking technologies, but most lack true enterprise collaboration capabilities
  • While time-savings and productivity are among top benefits of these tools reported by users, the top benefit across decision-makers and employees is much softer: more enjoyable jobs.
  • In the next 12 months, more businesses plan to adopt enterprise social collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint or Salesforce Chatter than popular social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. This is the opposite of today’s adoption rates, where use of popular social networking technologies far outranks enterprise social collaboration tools.
  • More than one-quarter (26 percent) of decision-makers say there is a lack of training to explain how to use such tools, and the same percentage (26 percent) report a lack of IT department resources to implement them.
"Becoming a Social Business: Integrating Social Software Assets Throughout the Enterprise"from IDC:

  • Organizations will not integrate disparate social networks in the short term as other areas of business investment will take priority. 
  • Organizations will start to target online communities as a way to incentivize ongoing conversations and to connect disconnected social networks inside and outside the enterprise.

Findings from the Aberdeen Next-Generation Communications (NGC) study, September 2013:

  • Companies that had identified business collaboration as their top business goal saw significant business performance improvement compared to organizations that did not prioritize collaboration 
  • The business value of a well-executed ESC plan is no longer so elusive...but many of these business benefits do not happen for companies that take a laissez-faire or ad hoc approach to workplace collaboration. Laissez-faire collaboration happens when IT groups allow employees and departments to self-provision their own collaboration environments. 
  • Aberdeen's research shows that the best return on ESC investments come from an official ESC plan that is endorsed by executive leadership.
Research from Harvard's Department of Psychology published in
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) finds that there is a deep relationship between cooperation and social networks:

  • There is a deep relationship between cooperation and social networks. If you allow people to re-wire their social networks, cooperation is sustained in the population.
  • People are more likely to form connections with people who are cooperative, and much more likely to break those links with people who are not.

Finally, here are some highlights from a study from University of British Columbia saying that social networks make us smarter.

  • The secret to why some cultures thrive and others disappear may lie in our social networks and our ability to imitate, rather than our individual smarts.
  • A larger population size and social connectedness are crucial for the development of more sophisticated technologies and cultural knowledge.
  • Groups with greater access to experts also retained their skills much longer than groups who began with less access to mentors, sustaining higher levels of “cultural knowledge” over multiple generations.
Published at DZone with permission of Oscar Berg, author and DZone MVB.

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