Trends in Collaboration Solution Success

Collaboration is a specific part of business and public sector operations, not just a new name for telephony. These trends are pointing the way towards a new and different future.

Seems that lots of vendors are using (or stretching) the term “collaboration” to describe their products. Here are a few that have recently been on my radar: SMART Technologies, IBM and the ET Group.

SMART got my attention with their Interactive Collaboration Assessment (ICA) tool. Any enterprise can use this tool to answer a series of questions about the current status of their collaboration technology investments, methods, culture and results. In return for the time spent to take the ICA, the participants get a “self-assessment” within the total population of ICA responses, providing immediate feedback on a collaboration effectiveness scale. This ICA tool is available to any business on-demand here.

SMART has a report available on its website about the results from over 1,500 enterprises that have used the ICA tool. I got pretty interested in the report and had several meetings with SMART on the topic. My enthusiasm must have been obvious, since SMART Technologies then retained me (my full disclosure) to prepare a white paper, “Effective Collaboration Multiplies Results,” about ICA and the reported results.

The data are compelling. While the customers do not report the actual dollar amounts of the returns on their investments, they do report on whether their investments in collaboration technologies met, exceeded or fell short of their expectations. They also report on how the returns compare to other investment options in their firms – better, about the same or lower. Worth a look.

IBM got on my radar with their availability announcement for IBM Connections 5, their social software for business product suite. According to an April 2014 press release, Connections leads in enterprise social software market share, as that market grew by 28% from 2012 to 2013 to $1.2 billion. IBM Connections also ranks in the Leaders quadrant in the most recent Gartner Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace and in the Forrester Wave for Enterprise Social Platforms.

The key point from my perspective is that IBM has, essentially, merged its Sametime Unified Communications and Collaboration product line into the IBM Connections suite. At IBM Connect 2014, their annual January customer event, the Sametime capabilities became Connections Chat and Connections Meetings. While these products will interoperate with PBXs and the telephone network, it seems pretty clear that IBM wants communication functions included in its collaboration suite rather than trying to replace legacy PBX systems.

Of course, IBM has to compete with the other leaders in this market, including Jive, Microsoft, and Zimbra, but IBM Connections is an increasingly rich platform on which enterprises can organize work, information and communications for their employees and external partners, suppliers and customers.

ET Group may not be familiar, but this Canadian firm is making a name for itself by creating collaboration ecosystems for clients. ET Group is a channel partner of SMART, Cisco and other collaboration technology suppliers, but is going beyond the basic role of an audio-video integrator (AVI) that resells video room system equipment. ET Group is part of the new breed of integrators that brings their clients advice on how to create significant value and change using collaborative methods and cultures, in combination with technologies.

As part of a recent Cisco Workplace Webinar Series, ET Group described how it helps customers match work environments to specific work categories (focus, collaboration, socializing and learning). Surprisingly, the benefits came in two dimensions:

• First, the benefits of increased collaboration effectiveness as described in the SMART Technologies data (see above).
• Second, the very measurable savings in real estate space. ET Group contrasts the traditional “floor plate” of one cubicle per employee with three other designs matched to patterns of work categories, collaboration requirements and mobility. In the extreme case, the “floor plate” supports almost three times as many employees — i.e. reduces space requirements per employee by about 67%.

This creates a very attractive combination of tangible space savings and high potential for gains in business efficiency and profitability.

This is an example of the role that systems integrators can and will play in the future of Unified Communications and Collaboration, as noted here in prior posts.

Collaboration is a specific part of business and public sector operations, not just a new name for telephony. These trends are pointing the way towards a new and different future.

People, Place and Technology are Coming Together like Never Before

Technological advances are catalysts for change in any business, and those changes are happening at a faster pace than ever before. Technology is transforming who we are able to work with and how we work with them, so it can no longer be considered an afterthought when designing the workplace.

Historically, the workplace is where people come together to work. Relating the importance of the “Place” to design so that people could work more effectively was a natural progression of thoughtful study and experimentation. Design, furniture and furnishing organizations have steadily advanced over the years to better understand the relationship between People & Place and to bring those findings to bear in their products and services.

Does Rich Communication accelerate the velocity of collaboration?

Some communications technology tools will help us interact directly with others vs. simply having a passive connection. By identifying and using these tools, we can create stronger relationships between workers in different locations vs. creating isolation and loneliness.

Do Collaboration Technologies lead to loneliness and isolation?

The author of “The Innovation of Loneliness” explains “Loneliness has become the most common ailment of the modern world.” And what is the root cause of this loneliness? Our addiction to technology. Let’s consider which collaboration technologies can lead to loneliness and isolation and what technology allows us to build the best relationships.

What is a Corporate Communications Framework?

A corporate communications framework is a structured way to look at the communications tools your organization is currently using. What tools are you using? Are they the right tools? If not, what tools are needed? A Corporate Communication Framework (CCF) should not to be confused with your organization’s Corporate Communications Strategy, which is about what content to communicate and how that content is communicated. The difference between the two is important because they have very different meanings and are managed by different groups in the organization.

What is the difference between communication and communications?

Communication is a shared experience. Communications is how that experience is shared. Communicating is the core of every interaction we have. The relative framework for different types of communication enabled by different types of communications brings an insightful view to communicating and reveals the sweet spot that enables Innovation.

Building Community Technology Platforms for Collaborative Ecosystems

Systems are providing an Open Architecture, which allows for different technologies to be tied together in ever more meaningful and seamless ways. Building a technology platform in your Collaboration Ecosystem requires an architectural design approach. It is imperative that this design provides a platform that is common to all stakeholders.

The Benefits of Collaboration Between Institutions

Institutions have traditionally served as the organizing framework for bringing people together towards a common goal. By definition however, these institutions are exclusionary in their makeup. These institutional models are rapidly becoming limited models for the kinds of work and innovative solutions that are being demanded today.

Building an inclusive, flexible and innovative Community Collaboration Ecosystem

Our existing models of working together are just not as effective as they used to be, as a result there is often a lack of innovation, siloing and generally slow progress on requirements that demand ever faster solutions. A Community Collaborative Ecosystem is a new model that will enhance innovation.

Is your Communications Technology Framework a Patchwork or Tapestry? Why it Matters.

According to a recent study by Filigree Consulting, 72% of Corporate Collaborative environments are “Not Integrated” or “Unsupported”. The benefits of achieving an “Optimized” Corporate Collaboration EcoSystem are significant. Find out how to achieve an optimized Corporate Collaboration Ecosystem and why most organizations struggle to do so.