Modern business is predicated on collaboration, but most companies struggle when it comes to creating and managing the technologies, processes, and people that enable the effective exchange of information within a company. According to McKinsey, the disconnect is huge, with close to 80% of executives believing collaboration is critical to growth, but only 25% describe their organization as being effective at collaboration. It’s startling that so few executives are satisfied with their collaboration efforts given that what these executives want is remarkably simple – for employees to be able to collaborate on demand. Imagine if collaboration was as simple as making a phone call where anyone is able to pick up the phone, hear a dial tone, and know that there is a ubiquitous network capable of connecting them with people around the world.
How can companies achieve the promise of collaboration on demand? There are countless tips on improving employee collaboration, but here are three that should be considered the fundamental building blocks of internal collaboration.
First, companies should analyze pre-existing forms of collaboration, no matter how flawed, to learn how employees collaborate currently. Simply talking to employees about the technologies, processes, and people they currently depend upon for collaboration will expose a variety of networks, both formal and informal, that employees already use. Management should be prepared to find a mess, especially when it comes to the jumble of technology and processes that have developed organically inside the company. At the same time, management will likely find that some incredibly smart and motivated people are already sharing information and knowledge with each other in an effort to make the business better, albeit not at a company-wide scale. And therein lies the promise of any internal collaboration effort and effort which can be greatly improved via scalable social technology.
Second, executives should adopt enterprise social technology that makes collaboration not only available on demand, but also at scale. Employees expect today’s collaboration networks to make the information they want easy to access. A new generation of collaboration software makes this possible. Rich with features that make the creation, distribution, and consumption of information knowledge easier than ever, these applications are revolutionizing how employees access knowledge in much the same way that Facebook and Twitter transformed how people connect with each other. Furthermore, these enterprise social networks are easy to use, making it possible for employees with no formal training to start collaborating right away. Whether cloud-based or on-premise, these applications are easy to roll out across the enterprise. These factors make it possible for companies to invest in collaboration networks that scale across the entire organization in a matter of days. This scale makes it possible for companies to rapidly achieve a collaboration “network effect.”
Third, networks are only as good as the nodes that plug into them. For just about every company investing in a collaboration network, these nodes obviously include employees. Most collaboration today takes place among employees who already know each other, so one of the great promises of modern collaboration applications is to connect workers with people they don’t know but with whom they share processes or interests. It’s critical that any technology rollout span multiple roles or departments in a company, as well as geographies. Additionally, most companies now maintain a variety of systems that are bursting with information. These systems should be viewed as potential nodes in the network as well. Adopting a collaboration platform that can integrate with these, often disparate, systems only amplifies the effectiveness of a company’s collaboration effort. This integration is easier said than done, but well worth the effort.
Employee collaboration can have a profound impact on critical business metrics such as productivity and revenue growth. At the same time, it’s critical that companies use a well-thought out methodology to reach those desired objectives. It’s also critical that they use modern collaboration technologies that are capable of delivering internal collaboration on demand in much the same way that the phone network has done for the last century.
Learn some of the best solutions organizations are making available to improve internal collaboration in today’s webinar at 1 p.m. PT: The Blueprint for Employee Engagement and Internal Communication