Linear roadmaps unrealistic for collaboration tools

Linear roadmaps unrealistic for collaboration tools

IT workers need to accept that people work differently in a collaborative environment

Companies working on a collaboration and unified communications strategy need to accept that it will not be a linear process, according to Forrester analyst, Tim Sheedy.

During his keynote at the Skype for Business conference on Thursday morning, Sheedy said too often when IT departments plan social collaboration projects, they anticipate a linear roadmap.

"We start off with an idea that gets built into a business case, we build it, integrate it, test it then roll it out to go live, that's the usual linear cycle we go through," he said.

"The reality is, with collaboration and unified comms, that roadmap isn't a linear process ... instead you'll start with an idea, you'll start to roll it out and then some employees will come back and say,' did you know we're already using this other tool? And it's actually much better than the one you're trying to roll out'."

In trying to maintain traditional linear process, this reality might be ignored, and organisations will continue rolling out what's in the budget. Then issues crop up when you end up with a new tool that isn't being used because employees have found another, better one, said Sheedy.

"It requires flexibility from everybody, when putting collaboration tools in place, you have to accept that people do work differently, according to their preferences and job roles, to make this work.

"The organisation might need to start to change some of its rules around the way it shares data internally and externally around these processes.

"Technology is going to have to be more collaborative within the business to understand that perhaps you will need to be able to change direction a little, because this isn't a traditional IT project."

Sheedy likened the process to the challenges of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs where disruptive new technologies are always the preference of customers.

"Often we're coming up against the big new technologies, like the iPhone, or a particular web based app that they're already using to do something. Then we're asking them to move from that, which really helps them get their job done, to one that might not be as good as that, which won't really work. So we need to show that flexibility in this process too."

Sheedy also discussed how, in "the age of the customer", it's important to evolve current unified communication strategies into new customer-activated communication and collaboration (CACC) techniques.

"We need to become a more customer-obsessed organisation, we can solve our customer problems faster by taking the friction out of everything. We can actually start to increase our business agility " he said.

"It gets more people involved as we start to put customer information out to more and more people who have different views and who can bring different skills to solving particular challenges.

"Too often in organisations, that customer data sits tightly with the marketing and the sales team and a lot of other people don't have access to that and aren't in a position to help solve those problems."

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