Is enterprise collaboration an oxymoron?


Despite the proliferation of technology like unified communication suites, many enterprises are woefully behind when it comes to both internal and external collaboration. Although many options exist for fixing this shortcoming, the continued existence of legacy solutions and workflows ensures that unless dramatic shifts occur soon, many companies may remain mired in mediocrity.


Is work broken?” ZDNet contributor Tom Foremski asked in a recent article “It’s a good question and very current. The environment of work seems horrid in many organizations and the management unpleasant. Cooperation, teamwork, collaboration, and respect – seem to be on a long list of virtues that are absent from many workplaces. Can this be changed?”


Is technology to blame?
While some organizations may be quick to admit that their employees need to be more collaborative, determining the root cause of the discrepancy is often far easier said than done. In particular, many companies may not want to admit that the communications technology in place – a system that may have cost them thousands or millions of dollars – may be ill-suited on its own to handle today’s enterprise collaboration needs.


A key example of this is email, Anthony Bradley, a group vice president at Gartner Research, wrote in a recent blog post. He noted that many business end users are fixated on email at the expense of other offerings, which often inhibits collaboration. While email can be very effective for disseminating information to many people in one go, it is decidedly less ideal for collaboration.


In contrast to communication, collaboration involves the back and forth sharing of ideas and materials. It can be facilitated by technology like video conferencing equipment, but these kinds of enterprise initiatives will suffer so long as workers remain enamored with email and resistant to other communication channels, according to Bradley.


“It is ironic that our most ubiquitous collaboration tool, email, isn’t a very good collaboration tool,” he wrote. “It is a highly successful communication tool. It has been so successful that it has become the default for IT based human interactions. Regardless of whether or not it is an effective tool for those interactions.”


Why technology is the solution
Although some firms may see Bradley’s thoughts as another example of why technology impedes enterprise collaboration, the truth is exactly the opposite. Modern tools can dramatically improve these efforts, but only so long as the right tools are in place. For example, Ars Technica IT Editor Sean Gallagher recommended implementing a social collaboration suite in order to channel consumer-focused workflows into enterprise settings. However, companies should first take their own unique needs and interests into account before determining which technology is best able to address their situation.


Corporations looking to implement an IT solution to improve collaboration should partner with FlexITy, one of Canada’s largest managed services firms. By combining best-of-breed technology with in-depth internal analysis and thorough end user training, FlexITy can help businesses make the most out of their collaboration technology investment. No two organizations have the same collaboration needs, and FlexITy keeps this in mind by putting in place a custom solution that can yield a high return on investment today and in the future.