Collaborative technologies are great and all, but right
now we’re not terribly satisfied with them at our
business. That’s the report from more than half of 400
CIOs and IT decision makers surveyed by Avanade, an IT
consulting firm, about the use of collaborative
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Examples covered in the survey included e-mail, instant
messaging, video conferencing and intranets. In most cases,
respondents gripe about a lack of integration between the
collaborative applications, which in turn frustrates end users,
says Larry LeSueur, Avanade’s vice president of
technology infrastructure solutions.
“Only 11 percent of them had some strategy around how
to implement these technologies with their existing
environments,” he says. “It’s not that e-mail
isn’t driving value or that IM isn’t. It’s
that both those technologies aren’t
As a result, he adds, end users deal with too many windows
on any given workday. “The information worker really
bears the brunt of these technologies not being
integrated,” LeSueur says.
CIOs also struggled to identify the value of collaborative
technologies with hard numbers, like ROI. “It is the
hardest thing to quantify,” LeSueur says.
“Sometimes you can get a hard number, but that only tells
a piece of the picture.”
It’s also tough to measure worker productivity gains
as a result of these technologies being present. But while
collaborative technologies don’t always give the business
(or more specifically, your CFO) the hard ROI typically
demanded for IT investments, 95 percent of CIOs say they see an
increase in worker productivity, LeSueur says. That alone
should encourage further investments.
“Right now, it can be hard to justify,” says
LeSueur. “But in the end, they know these technologies
are paradigm changing,” he says.
Best Practices for Adopting Collaboration
Start smart. Before you invest in
collaboration, take a sober assessment of your other
productivity applications (even e-mail). If complaints exist,
you may want to tie up those loose ends first.
Emphasize integration. Try to think of
collaborative technologies as one big picture or even as one
application. More and more, vendors design systems to be
agnostic toward other software.
Play up soft benefits. Hard ROI will be
tough. One simple way to quantify value can be speed: Perhaps a
group can use an IM chat room to devise work plans in an hour
instead of taking a day using e-mail threads.
In Search of Better Collaboration Technologies
The Avanade survey found that just 45% of U.S.
companies say they are currently satisfied with the
impact of collaborative and communication technologies.
One contributing factor: Only 11% have a fully
documented and implemented collaboration and
communication strategy across the enterprise.
Planned Fixes: 71% of U.S. companies say they need
to add new technologies to enhance their digital
collaboration capabilities. For examplem, 79% will
implement enterprise search tools, compared to 59% that
say they have these implemented today. And 68% will
implement virtual work spaces, compared to 48% that say
they’re using them today.