More Collaboration Means Less Collaboration Software

More Collaboration Means Less Collaboration Software

I was reading a post this morning that asked the following question:

More BI Packages Add Collaboration: Who Needs It?

(http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/bi/231903450?cid=nl_IW_daily_2011-11-21_html)

Good question.

Organizations need to focus on deploying a set of collaboration tools that connect with other technology, not collaboration tools within other technologies. People only have so much time, and there are personal switching costs involved in deciding which tool to use to share something. There are also costs involved in remember where you shared something, or even in remember to check various locations to see if people have shared something you need to know about.

The best implementations of collaboration software should have a single interface that brings everything together for the end user, and makes the same conversations available on mobile devices that are accessible on larger clients.

People live within the conversations they hold as mental models. If those models get fragmented in the real world, then they have to start fragmenting and managing their internal dialogs, which takes effort and prioritization. Two tasks that may loose with people’s busy schedules and overloaded work expectations. Making it easy to integrate the way people think with the tools they use will result in much more effective collaboration.

What this means for technical architecture:

  1. Implement a single collaboration solution (or as few disparate components as possible – first choice is a single vendor contextual collaboration solution)
  2. Don’t implement application specific collaboration, but rather wrap applications in the collaboration solution.
  3. Keep active repositories to a minimum so people can easily reference content outside the collaboration environment without incurring search costs on top of collaboration overhead.
  4. Look for collaboration solutions with good mobile access and interfaces.
  5. Get out of the mindset that e-mail is collaboration and start migrating away from it for internal communications (OK for notification, but if you want people to collaborate, don’t distract them with e-mail management).

Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.

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