When It Comes to Collaboration, Technology Is Overrated


Organizations tend to believe in collaboration as a means to make employees more productive and improve the way the institutions work. However, most businesses and vendors selling collaboration tools go about it the wrong way, according to David Coleman, managing director of Collaborative Strategies, speaking at the Net:Work conference held today in San Francisco. Instead of focusing on how people use the tech and aligning it with their overall performance goals, they focus on just the technology. Sameer Patel, managing director, The Sovos Group noted that, to get people to adopt collaboration technology, it needs to be part of how they work and part of their workflow.

For example, offer a technology-phobic grandmother the opportunity to video conference her grandkids via Skype and she will likely purchase a computer and learn how to use the application. Along those same lines, making sure an employee has an incentive to use a technology tool as part of their job will ensure they use it. To do that, companies have to think about collaboration first, before buying the tools. Let the workflow and people determine the technology, not the other way around.

However, companies do need to spend money on using collaboration to boost performance or productivity. “It’s hard to sell collaboration,” says Coleman. “It’s intangible and high on the list of what people want to improve, but no one wants to have a budget for it.” Perhaps as Patel said, “Productivity is so nebulous,” so perhaps the goal of collaboration shouldn’t be about reducing costs or increasing the amount of work that each employee can do, but about how well each person can now do their job once they are networked in the human cloud.

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