There is no doubt that a new generation of Enterprise Collaboration tools are coming full steam to the corporate marketplace. As the Facebook generation(s) starts demanding modern collaboration tools and interfaces at the workplace, this new breed of “social” business tools are here to stay. Early adopters are already using one or more enterprise collaboration tools, while late adopters might take two or more years to get on-board.
Yes, we have had collaboration tools available for a long time, just look at how much time we spend with e-mails, desktop sharing tools and sharing of files on the good old intranet every day. The question that every executive who believes technology is the way to make a real impact on their organization should be asking themselves is; if e-mails, meetings, conference calls, employee surveys, HR-managed resource and phone lists are the best use of everyone’s time for the next 10 years or if a good amount of this communication could have a better home in a modern enterprise collaboration tool.
A successfully implemented (including executive sponsorship and cultural adaptation) enterprise collaboration tool could with ONE single web-based interface (not with logging in to 5 different tools) that works on any device help with the following:
1. Idea generation and nurturing
2. Finding and networking with key resources (people directory)
3. Facilitating and storing of important business discussions of any kind (that does not include communication like: “Hey Joe, do you want to go to lunch at Noon today?”). E-mails and instant messaging do a fine job handling that today.
4. Facilitating and storing of key information through built-in micro-blogs and wikis
5. Facilitating and storing employee (and partner/customer) surveys
5. Searching and finding historical information from all of the above processes
I think it is just a matter of time before modern enterprise collaboration tools are at a maturity stage and there are enough success stories that the technology becomes more important to growth and productivity than for example the company’s ERP system. This will not happen in 2012, but my guess would be by around 2014 or 2015.