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What hurdles do enterprises face in adopting collaborative software?

Enterprises looking to maximize productivity may need to adjust their way of looking at collaborative software, says networking expert Zeus Kerravala.

What are the barriers to adopting collaborative software?

One of the things enterprises are missing is the incentive to change. The mentality is that employees work a certain way, so why try to make them do anything differently? They know the processes, and they typically work well.

In the call-center space, the call-center manager understands that if you shave a certain number of seconds off a call, it improves the process. Because they have clear goals that involve person-to-person interaction, call centers have been the early adopters of technology like collaborative software.

In any organization, you have someone who understands how these applications could help business processes. But there's nobody who's really investigating how the technology can improve processes, and therefore, there's nobody who's really driving unified communications collaborative technology forward.

A CIO friend of mine, at a bank, tried to figure out how to better use iPads as part of a field process. He went on the road for two weeks and learned how to do certain things, and, in the end, he was able to make some suggestions for how to speed up closing a decision. Cases like this are the exception. In general, companies don't have anybody overseeing whether productivity is being maximized.

Just because people get comfortable working with a certain process doesn't mean they don't want to improve that process. The problem is the lack of awareness of what could be done. People don't always realize they don't need to replace their existing technology entirely to make improvements. I think people would rather have more functionality in the apps they're already using, such as a click-to-call utility in a phone. If you have to leave the app you're in to dial someone, you're more likely to find yourself not making that call, so a tool like this can make a significant difference in productivity.

A CEO, or someone high-level, needs to be a process-watcher and understand how the company can implement and improve collaborative software. You have to find someone who owns the process. That person also has to be outside IT, because an IT department doesn't want to deploy more tools than it has to manage. I'm a former IT guy -- I can say that with an already busy day, I'm not going to want to throw more things on the desktop. A company needs to understand the collaboration value proposition and measure productivity as it adopts these applications.

This was first published in January 2013

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