Last week’s Enterprise 2.0 Conference: Business Powered by Collaboration in Boston (June 14-16) was a great opportunity to gauge the current state of collaboration for the Enterprise. There are still many challenges to be met, but it is clear from this year’s conference that collaboration software is moving forward at a faster pace and it is difficult not to get excited about the possibilities that these technologies offer for the Enterprise.
Collaboration is proving to be more than a buzzword
The central topic of the conference was “Business Powered by Collaboration” and the expo floor was crowded with technology vendors offering solutions; this year, however, we got to see more successful case studies than before, and we also noticed that the list of organizations adopting collaboration technologies continues to grow. We may be reaching a tipping point where tools such as the new collaborative workspace solutions are becoming the norm for the enterprise. This is definitely a trend that we need to keep an eye on; and Tony Zingale, CEO of Jive hit the nail on the head in his keynote session when he said that “when technology is not social it is a wasted opportunity”.
Measuring and evaluating effectiveness of collaboration tools remains a challenge
One of the main challenges that conference attendees seemed to agree on is defining metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of collaboration tools. Adoption rate remains the key metric for success but it is clear from both vendors’ and users’ perspective that it falls short in terms of building a framework for measuring ROI.
In his keynote presentation, Christian Finn, Director of Product Management for SharePoint at Microsoft, shared their experience with an internal trial for their new videoblog add-on tool. Microsoft reached an impressive million views for videocasts; this case study is relevant for organizations interested in best practices for driving the adoption of new collaboration technologies. However, we have yet to see in these case studies a solid framework that can help us understand how these tools can actually improve the way people work and share information.
This might be just a matter of time. As vendors and organizations gain experience with these tools, we can expect to see upcoming Enterprise 2.0 conferences case studies that will include more comprehensive metrics with data about the impact these tools can have in the organization.
Technology can help the organization, not fix it
The buzzwords at Enterprise 2.0 are clever: email addiction, breaking the silos, facilitating communication and collaboration. These are all real challenges that organizations face every day and real business problems that executives want to address, but by listening to some of the presentations, you’d think technology by itself will solve these problems.
Technology is certainly a key element of the equation, but it seems that we tend to forget or ignore the fact that effective change management deals with people and processes first, and then finds the technology to support them. This might be a matter of marketing buzz but style without substance does not build credibility.
All in all, a great conference with good insight from speakers and new and exciting products from technology vendors.
Do you agree that the moment has come for collaboration in the enterprise?
Are technology vendors addressing real business problems and what does it take for these technologies to actually have an impact on the organization?