A week ago, I wrote an article for CMS Wire on The Long Hill for Enterprise Collaboration. Normally I put an announcement at the top of my blog sharing the link, but I wanted to write this post, and I’ve just been a tad busy…
You should read the article before proceeding much further. In the article, I talk about the challenges facing the adoption of collaboration tools, an important one being the desire to perform one activity in one interface. Email is a classic example because, for all its faults, you can collaborate with anyone with an email address. People will tend to stick with one tool and not keep switching unless they are the “stopper” that is always on a mission to convert people to the good of collaboration platforms.
Well, this scenario is something I have seen quite a bit. There is one example that really drives home the need to get people not just out of email, but to get everyone into something that can transfer collaborative data between systems just like email is transferred using SMTP today. That example….me.
Pie Said What?
That is correct, I am a violator. I am not always compliant. I have been implementing collaboration solutions for a long time. I almost always play the role of a stopper in any organization or project that I join. In the last six months, I’ve noticed something….
I am working more with people outside my organization than I ever have in the past. Doing a lot of work in the Federal market, my company is frequently teaming with other companies, and not always the same ones. For each effort, we have to find different ways to share content and track actions. Rather than supply the collaboration solution for everyone, we tend to use email. Why? Simple, our partners use it as well.
It doesn’t stop there though. I have also been working with people at AIIM and vendor companies on CMIS efforts. More users and more reasons to collaborate, but still no single system. Once again, we all use email, so that is where we work.
Doing all of this in email, I have found myself collaborating with colleagues on purely internal efforts via email. I’m just cruising along in my workday, and before I know it, I’ve sent documents via email rather than sending an alert or a link to a document in an email.
What Can Be Done?
Well, like any good American, I’m going to blame someone else for my problem. There are two solutions which would solve the problem:
- Universal Collaboration: So we need an incredible, kickin’, collaborative platform with no storage or user limits that is online an free to everyone. Let’s not forget security because I want to collaborate in one place on all my efforts, not just the public ones.
- Universal Communication: Bad name, I know, but the point is simple. If my collaborative artifacts could be sent to anyone for interaction the way I send email, but they do their work in their collaborative environment and I am staying in mine, that would be great!
I think it is pretty safe to say that the first will not happen in the foreseeable future. The second sounds like a lot of work. Well, the efforts we expend to push Collaboration and Enterprise 2.0 adoption is a lot of work as well.
Fun fact, one old, and lovely feature of eRoom is the ability to email content to a room. That was a first step in the right direction. If collaborative packages could just be emailed between systems in a standard format, that might solve all the problems.
There is no easy path. Maybe instead of trying to get over the hurdles by creating new features, selling, and evangelizing, maybe we should make the tools the obvious in-process tools.
But why solve it? There is a lot of money to be made telling people how great the software is now.