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How can my company integrate a social collaboration platform?

Organizations must involve early adopters in the process when deploying social collaboration software to ensure widespread adoption, according to UC expert Jon Arnold.

The short answer on how to incorporate social collaboration software is: very carefully and with an open mind. Social collaboration is a broad term, and dozens of platforms are available with very little standardization to draw comparisons against each offering. Not only are new vendors entering the market all the time, but existing UC vendors are introducing their own social collaboration platforms.

To choose the right path, you need to let things unfold organically. Imposing an off-the-shelf social collaboration platform from the top-down will likely fail unless you have clearly defined workflows that everyone follows regularly.

That scenario isn't the norm, and many employees are taking it upon themselves to search the Web and try out social collaboration platforms on their own. The main reason employees look for tools on their own is that existing tools aren't effective, and, in many cases, they don't see any fixes coming from IT.

Since these social collaboration platforms are cloud-based and usually have freemium models, employees aren't facing any barriers to deploy them on their own. That's what makes this process so social. They are searching out and using collaboration services in a consumer-centric fashion, like they do with social media. By the time IT has decided there's a need for a social collaboration platform, many employees are well along the collaboration path.

Employees who take social collaboration into their own hands have already gone through several offerings and settled on one that is easy to use and meets their needs. This makes it harder for IT to add value.

IT will get further faster by involving early adopters in the process of deploying their preferred platform than by starting from scratch and trying to own the process outright. Early adopters have already done the hard work of identifying the shortcomings of what you have and matching a collaboration platform with their workflows.

To make deployment a success companywide, IT needs to ensure the platform can scale across the organization, be flexible to add new applications, and securely support all the network's environments and endpoints used by employees. These factors must be carefully considered, as many of these social collaboration offerings are new and have not been deployed extensively enough to support enterprise-grade needs.

Do you have a question for Jon Arnold or any other experts? Ask your enterprise-specific questions today! (All questions are treated anonymously.)

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