Enterprises Must Collaborate and Get Social Now (or Pay Later)
Jacob Morgan, author of 'The Collaborative Organization,' speaks passionately about what collaboration can do both inside and outside the enterprise. CIO.com talked to Morgan about the emerging trend and why it's important to act now.
By Kristin Burnham
It’s no secret that enterprise collaboration is on the rise: Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2015, 40 percent of large businesses will have the equivalent of a corporate Facebook network.
In “The Collaborative Organization,” Morgan explores the enterprise collaboration lifecycle, from evaluating and selecting the right tools, to deployment and adoption, to measuring success and more.
Morgan recently spoke with CIO.com about why enterprise collaboration and social business is so important now, what late adopters risk, recurring challenges business face and more.
CIO.com: You feel passionately about collaboration and how its effects extend beyond the workplace. Why is that?
Jacob Morgan: I believe collaboration can make the world a better place. When organizations invest in collaboration tools and strategies, it not only positively impacts the lives of employees at work but also outside of work. Employees will have more flexible work schedules, feel less stressed out about work and will feel more passionate and engaged about the work they do. We spend a lot of time focusing on how we can make our employees more productive at work, but this goes beyond that, this extends to positively impacting lives.
The notion of collaboration making the world a better place isnt really enough for executives, so in order to turn that idea into an action it needed to be supported by clear business value and a strategy, that is what the book does.
CIO.com: So why write this book now?
Morgan: Business leaders and executives today have a lot of questions around collaboration that arent being addressed, and there are many topics that arent being touched. I consistently receive emails and phone calls from people who are looking for resources around evaluating and mitigating risk, how to get started, how to evaluate and select vendors, how to market initiatives internally, and many other things. I decided to write this book to fill a major gap in what leaders and executives need to know, but which nobody is addressing.
CIO.com: Why is this type of collaboration—enterprise collaboration—so important for businesses right now?
Morgan: This type of collaboration allows us to do things that we were never able to do before, which is connecting employees to each other and to information at a global scale.
Collaboration helps us solve many of the problems that organizations are faced with today such as work-life balance issues, content duplication, disengaged employees, living in email, organizational alignment, innovation and many other things.
CIO.com: What do companies risk if they’re late adopters in this trend?
Morgan: Im not a fan of trying to scare organizations by saying that if you dont invest in these tools tomorrow, they’ll die off. But consider this: The new workforce grew up on digital technologies and the internet. They can learn new skills, get answers to questions, share their ideas and connect with people and information at will.
Now imagine this workforce entering the enterprise where currently many of these things are not possible. Would you want to work at that kind of company when there are others that are investing in these technologies and strategies? Probably not.
There is a huge competitive advantage for companies that invest in these technologies and strategies not just for talent acquisition and retention, but with the added benefit of being able to be more agile and adaptable in the world of business.
CIO.com: In Chapter 1, you talk about the convergence of culture and technology. Can you sum up these changes and why businesses need to be aware of them?
Morgan: Less than a decade ago if someone were to tell us that we’d be sharing all our interests online, posting our locations publically, sharing our ideas with the world and living such a public life—we would tell them they were nuts. But now look at where we are: Its easy for us to find things and connect with people on the internet. Our culture has changed, and this is one of the things that we are taking with us into the enterprise. The enterprise needs to adapt.
On the technology side, we have new platforms that support our ability to connect, communicate and collaborate in ways that just werent possible before. What is happening in the enterprise is largely fueled by what is happening in the consumer Web.
CIO.com: Gartner released a statistic that said that 70 percent of enterprise collaboration initiatives fail. Because you include a number of case studies and have spoken with a number of businesses, what are some of the recurring challenges businesses see in adopting social business?
Morgan: Challenges come in all shapes and sizes, but typically resistance comes from either employees, managers or IT. I actually cover this quite extensively in the book and provide a risk assessment framework that organizations can use to help overcome and mitigate any of these challenges.
Some of the common things we see and hear about at Chess Media Group are things like employees not using the tools, unsupportive managers, a corporate culture that isn’t collaborative, not knowing what technology to deploy, how to sustain collaboration and measuring business value.
These are just a handful of some of things we hear about, but each company has its own nuances and idiosyncrasies. Thats part of what makes it so fun—its like a game of chess.
CIO.com: How do you think this area will evolve in the next several years? What’s your ultimate prediction?
Morgan: Im not sure anyone can really predict that far into the future, especially when you consider that just a few years ago we didnt have many of the popular social media tools that we have today, such as Facebook and Twitter.
I do think we will get to a point where these types of tools and strategies will be much more commonplace. Im sure we will see more organizations adopt collaborative models and strategies and focus on building a collaborative organization. Its hard to imagine looking down the road a few years and seeing a company not using these types of tools to get work done. Of course, mobility is and will continue to be quite an interesting area around collaboration, as will what is being called gamification for the enterprise. I think the next few years will be a type of extreme collaborative learning for organizations.
CIO.com: What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
Morgan: I hope that readers will feel more comfortable and confident about collaboration. I want them to feel as though they have a resource at their disposal that can help them make collaboration successful. I want to create successes and help organizations avoid failures and stumbling blocks. The main purpose of the book is to provide a comprehensive strategy guide on emergent collaboration that leaders and executives can use to guide them on their collaborative journey. Finally, I want people to walk away with the notion that collaboration makes the world a better place.