by CIO Executive Council

CIOs Deploy Different Social Tools for Different Types of Collaboration

Jan 23, 20154 mins
Collaboration SoftwareIT StrategySmall and Medium Business

Jive, Jabber, Yammer, SharePoint, Lync--CIOs roll out a variety of collaboration tools to fit the work styles of various types of far-flung employees

Learn how three CIOs rolled out a variety of collaboration tools to fit the work styles of various types of far-flung employees.

Robert Fecteau, CIO, SAIC: Mix the Personal and the Professional

We have top-down support for a variety of collaboration tools from our leadership, and each has a different level of promotion and acceptance among the workforce. We often see a groundswell of use among younger employees who want various collaboration services, and we have a communications plan that advises all employees on what’s available, how to use the services and the etiquette necessary in a corporate setting.

Our employees use OneSAIC, a social computing environment that runs on Jive. Employees can earn points for participation and badge ratings for their expertise in the communities of interest. This drives use of the platform–to be seen as a knowledgeable employee is something of an informal currency that is valued by both leadership and peers alike.

We allow employees to tweet through Twitter and even retweet from the company Twitter account. It’s important to allow access to Facebook, Instagram and Google accounts on employee desktops, since these tools are an integral part of their daily lives. Letting employees access their personal environments from the corporate network in a controlled way reduces work disruption and infuses a new level of interest in the corporate collaboration efforts.

John Swieringa, Senior Vice President and CIO, Dish Network: Make It Consumer-like

We have approximately 22,000 employees, and we know that individuals consume information differently. Yet because we’re a large, vertically integrated company, most departments rely on the help of other departments to get their jobs done. The IT department takes an active role in boosting productivity by testing new collaboration tools. For instance, we began using Jabber in IT before rolling it out to employees. By evaluating the benefits and seeing how the tool functions within our organization, we can determine which tools will help with communication.

It’s critical that team and department leaders use the tool–adoption will then scale up very rapidly. Once we deploy it, we let employees know the tool is available; with leadership participation, we only need to communicate the presence of a tool once to drive adoption. Delivering tools with intuitive, consumer-type experiences allows people to get up to speed quickly and can also boost participation.

It’s important to ensure that people and skills are discoverable within the enterprise and also allow employees to stay informed about their interests and projects. By enhancing communication among offices spread across the country, collaboration tools help improve the overall work experience.

Trent Gavazzi, Senior Vice President and CTO, Availity: Cater to Generational Differences

As a midmarket company with dispersed teams of employees, we find that it’s extremely important to facilitate real-time communication not only to help people get work done, but also to foster the social aspect of bringing people together. Many of our employees use tools like Twitter or Facebook as a matter of course, even more so than email, while other employees may need a training session when collaboration tools are deployed.

Different generations have differences in how they view collaboration tools; some share everything, while others want to control everything. Employees will not necessarily adopt tools in the same way, yet mandating their use will not work; forcing adoption goes against the sense of trust we are trying to encourage. Also, different groups of employees prefer different types of tools. Developers use Confluence for sharing project information and SharePoint, while other employees use Lync.

It works best to introduce a tool and tell employees about it, and if it’s useful, it will go viral. This has happened with Yammer–I introduced it with little campaigning, and now two-thirds of employees use it regularly. Another strategy is to make sure a tool loads automatically every time employees log on to their computers.