by Matt Kapko

6 IT leaders share tips to drive collaboration

Apr 20, 20154 mins
CIOCollaboration SoftwareIT Strategy

Collaboration tools are destined to fail when IT leaders look to solve problems that don’t exist. Here’s how CIOs and IT managers ensure their collaborative platform efforts aren’t futile.

collaboration tools
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Driving enterprise collaboration is a tall order for CIOs and other IT leaders. The challenges don’t end after a new tool is implemented. If not done the right way for the right reasons, the headaches of deploying a collaboration platform can fester well beyond the technical hurdles.

The first thing to remember is that collaboration tool adoption in the enterprise is a journey, John Abel, senior vice president of IT at Hitachi Data Systems, told in an email interview.

“It has to be appealing or provide a value or information where employees find it more difficult to access on other platforms,” Abel says.

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Collaboration projects are almost destined to get bogged down when IT leaders pursue solutions to problems that don’t exist. So how can CIOs ensure success?

Empower employees and respect their needs

IT leaders should get insights into the tools employees already use and make sure they are personally invested in the selection process, Brian Lozada, director and CISO at the IT firm Abacus Group, told

When employees are empowered, they are more likely to use and generate excitement for new collaboration tools internally, Lozada says. Employees ultimately contribute to and determine the success of most collaboration efforts.

It’s also important to acknowledge what success in enterprise collaboration looks like. This is particularly important when employees use collaboration tools to get work done more effectively due to collaboration software, says NetScout’s CIO and Senior Vice President of Services Ken Boyd. “Freedom and flexibility are paramount to how most users want to work today.”

The less training required the better because tools that are more intuitive tend to deliver greater benefits for the organization and user.

“Faster employee engagement of a collaboration tool comes by addressing a pain point in a communication or productivity area, and showing how the tool, with a simple click, provides better or instant access to colleagues and information, shaves seconds or minutes off schedules, or provides greater visibility into a team project,” Boyd says.

Presenting the business benefit of integrating a faster and more widespread adoption of collaboration tools can be a strong motivator for many department heads as well, Boyd says.

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User experience is a critical component of any tool and its chances for success, according to Shamlan Siddiqi, vice president of architecture and application development at the systems integrator NTT Data.“Users want something they can quickly deploy with the same immersive and collaborative experience that they get when using collaboration tools at home,” he says.

Gamification is a leading trigger for adoption

“Employee engagement techniques such as gamification and game-design principles help create incentives for users to engage and embrace tools more effectively,” says Siddiqi, adding that NTT Data has seen significant increases in collaborative tool engagement internally through the introduction of gamification.

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Chris McKewon, founder and CEO of the managed services provider Xceptional Networks, agrees that gamification is the best way to encourage employees to use new tools.

“Gamification provides incentives for embracing the technology and to demonstrate how much more real work they can get done with these tools by selling the concepts in with benefits, not on features,” McKewon told in an email interview.

Collaboration and the art of seduction

Ruven Gotz, director of collaboration services at the IT solutions vendor Avanade, says his team drives adoption by seduction.

“Our goal is to create collaboration experiences that users clearly recognize as the superior means to achieve the results they seek,” Gotz says.

When CIOs and IT leaders get enterprise collaboration right, there’s no need to drive adoption, Gotz says, because “employees recognize that we have provided a better working flow and will abandon other alternatives.”