Increased Collaboration or Technology Noise? Working Together in the Digital Age

On Thursday, August 13, Joe Smucny (Centric Cleveland Practice Lead) and Aaron Aude (Centric’s Portals and Collaboration Practice Lead) presented at the PolyOne Executive IT Summit on the topic, “Enabling Enterprise-wide Collaboration through Technology.” In this article, Centric Consultant Kindra Helm recaps the event and shares some important takeaways.

Increasing collaboration to increase productivity is nothing new, and the Internet has made this much easier with the growing popularity of social media (Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn), business collaboration tools (Jive, Yammer, SameTime) and more. In theory, these tools alone should make everything more productive, but somewhere along the way all of these collaboration solutions started creating a lot of unnecessary noise.

So How to Collaborate Effectively?

PolyOne, a global plastics material and resin manufacturing company, recently asked this same question. Centric Consulting was asked to conduct a workshop for its IT executives on best practices for creating a collaborative environment across a global enterprise.

Key Takeaways

The presentation was brilliant! Really! But rather than inundate you with enlightening insights, here are the key takeaways. 

  1. Collaboration is not just the technology. Collaboration is not just the latest communication tool; it’s a way of working, supported by technology.
  1. Users drive ROI and no slick tool will force participation. True enterprise collaboration allows and rewards open conversations between colleagues, partners and customers. 
  1. It cannot be just one more tool AND it must integrate. Remember that acronym? Users don’t want one more place to do their work AND have to contribute their thoughts to something they see marginal value in. A collaborative solution must integrate information to serve users’ productivity needs. 
  1. It doesn’t need to be expensive. Starting small and building critical mass helps users drive ROI while keeping licensing and tech costs low. It’s also important to figure out if your goals largely can be met with an out-of-the-box tool, or if a more custom solution will be required.
  1. Make sure your users have a consistent experience. This involves everything from a secure, scalable and stable architecture to a consistent look and feel.

True collaboration truly does lead to increased productivity, but unless your company is one that builds and deploys collaboration tools it’s typically not recommended that you go it alone.

Here’s what you should look for in a partner: industry expertise, technical know-how, and special attention paid to human factors, information architecture and change management.