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Look to Employees When Selecting Collaboration Software

With the recent explosion of collaboration software a legitimate and growing concern of organizations is selecting the right tools, for the job and getting employees to use it. So how do you select the best tool?

For most companies, the responsibility of answering the age old question of software selection resides in IT department. Strangely enough, this may be changing. When it comes to collaboration software, we’ve all heard the mantra of “adoption, adoption, adoption” – I know that I’m even a preacher of this philosophy – however, according to a blog post by Craig Roth of Gartner Group, that while “lack of adoption is certainly a symptom (not the cause) of a failing collaboration initiative and worth investigation. There are many possible reasons that adoption can be spotty or non-existent.” Roth argues that “purchasing and licensing have little to do with whether a technology will be used…without IT even involved.” And the best way to determine which type of collaboration software shouldn’t remain solely in the hands of IT.

So, if the traditional role of IT in software selection is no longer advisable, then how should we select collaboration software? In a post from Econsultancy, Patricio Robles tries to answer this question. He suggests that it may be as simple as giving employees a greater say in the adoption process. But if that is too challenging, the he suggests that at the minimum looking to them for cues as to which ones they may be leaning towards. For example, Robles believes that “the rise of the iPhone and iPad in the enterprise, for instance, is being driven in large part by companies wise enough to implement a BYOD (bring your own device) model. If fewer companies were letting their employees decide which devices they use, we’d probably see greater usage of Blackberries.” Which, if you think about it, is kind of true. For example, several years ago I was issued a corporate Blackberry. However, if it wasn’t for the sudden rise and acceptance of bring your own device, I think it’s safe to bet RIM wouldn’t be in the sad shape it currently is in.

Robles believes that the good news is that “increasingly, software vendors are now looking at the consumer market for inspiration.” Despite this, the “consumerification” of the enterprise is far from complete. Because this gap still exists, companies should not assume that the IT department is infallible. It’s important to remember that when selecting collaboration tools, overlooking a “reality check based on what employees are using personally outside work risks failure.”

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