Social collaboration technology a priority for enterprises

News Jane McCallion Aug 6, 2013
Cloud social
Cloud social

IT leaders and staff want to use social collaboration, but need is currently unmet

The majority of IT decision makers, business leaders and staff are using social collaboration technology in their day-to-day working life.

However, few of the technologies they use are true enterprise solutions.

This is the primary finding from a new report published by business technology provider Avanade, which surveyed 1,000 business and IT leaders and 4,000 employees about the impact of social technologies on enterprise collaboration.

While 87 per cent of IT decision makers, 67 per cent of business leaders and 68 per cent of end users reported using enterprise social collaboration technologies, many are in fact using consumer social networking tools rather than specialised products, the report claims.

Business leaders were the most likely to confuse enterprise social collaboration with consumer social networking.

Seventy four per cent said they use Facebook for collaboration, with Twitter coming in at 51 per cent. What Avanade describes as “true enterprise collaboration capabilities” lag significantly behind, with only 39 per cent of business leaders using SharePoint, while use of IBM Open Connections came in at 17 per cent. Salesforce’s Chatter platform came last, at 12 per cent.

Anderw Barber, deputy lead for collaboration at Avanade told Cloud Pro there is a lot of confusion about enterprise social collaboration.

“Part of the problem is that ‘collaboration’ in general is a bit of a soft concept in terms of how it delivers value, and that can lead to some of this confusion,” Barber said.

“However, how collaboration is viewed varies from company to company. Facebook and Twitter undoubtedly have their uses, particularly when it comes to communicating with customers, and some companies want a seamless external and internal experience using these products. Others want clear walls between internal and external social collaboration,” he added.

Barber suggested these diverging attitudes may have had an effect on the results.

An additional influencing factor, Barber said, was whether or not IT departments were actually providing enterprise collaboration tools.

“There is a situation where employees have the ability to use other options if their company’s IT department does not provide collaboration tools that are intended for business use,” he said.

“Also, sometimes IT does bring in an enterprise social collaboration product, but does not engage with users and it will end up being used just to store documents, rather than for real collaboration,” he added.

Furthermore, Barber said there is a lack of understanding as to what social collaboration is for.

“The whole point is for employees to have conversations with each other about their work. However, to some that can seem unproductive,” he said.

Nevertheless, Avanade claims we are now at a tipping point in the adoption of enterprise social collaboration.

According to the report, in the next 12 months businesses plan to shift from consumer tools - such as Twitter and Facebook - to “true enterprise” solutions like SharePoint and Open Connections.

“Forward-looking companies should analyse what they consider to be ‘social collaboration’ tools in their businesses and look to promote true enterprise social collaboration with the right tools to yield faster, more productive teams,” the organisation concluded.