Collaboration is the essence of teamwork and probably the most important reason businesses build teams in the first place. Ironically, however, many companies struggle to embrace and enable collaboration among today's digital workforce?
Analysts, CIOs and other IT executives at Gartner's Portals, Content and Collaboration Summit last week discussed why businesses are failing to meet this challenge and offered advice on how to develop a more enriched digital workforce.
"Because we have access to very good tools in our private lives we expect the same level of functionality and performance in business," says Jeffrey Mann, a vice president of research at Gartner.
Workers are often disappointed by legacy applications that can drag down productivity and workflow. As a result, Mann says, many employees have stopped using these ineffective apps or at least avoid using them as much as possible.
These issues are ignored at every business's peril, Mann says. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 13 percent of employees are engaged at work. "What you'll find is that disengaged employees will potentially be killing your business," he says.
Content can become the "connecting tissue" between employers, customers and business goals, but if company data is not available at the right time in the right context it will slow down the machinery of an entire business, says Mann. "Just like oil, if it stays buried underground well there's not going to be any value created from it."
Susan Landry, managing vice president of Gartner Research, reminds her colleagues that IT has been digitizing business since the dawn of computing. "We've been spending billions bringing things together, [but] our data and logic is scattered all over the place," she says.
Experiment With Mobile, Social, Cloud and Data
Enterprise collaboration is being transformed by the nexus of mobile, social, cloud and data, says Monica Basso, a research vice president at Gartner. While the hurdles to success may be daunting, she encourages businesses to not be shy about experimenting with newer tools and resources.
"Collaboration can turn into something more contextualized and more impactful in terms of the business," she says. "This new collaboration is going to be a differentiating factor for the competitiveness of your company going forward."
Basso says four trends -- mobile devices, BYOD, mobile apps and personal cloud storage/sharing services -- are driving the adoption of mobile collaboration today.
By 2017, Gartner expects 3 billion new device units to be shipped annually, bringing the total installed base to more than 8 billion connected devices by then.
"Collaboration styles or apps that used to be available on PCs are going to be transferred or need to be transferred to the mobile environment," she says.
IT Must Embrace Mobile Apps
Gartner's latest research concludes that 60 percent of organizations have already deployed BYOD as an option to the more traditional corporate programs. The average adoption rate of BYOD smartphones in these organizations is at 33 percent while the average BYOD tablet adoption rate is at 47 percent, according to Gartner.
By 2020, 45 percent of all CIOs surveyed by Gartner said they expect to be supporting BYOD programs and only half of them are expected to still be running a corporate device program at all by then.
Mobile applications are driving collaboration and disrupting the market because they often take the user's perspective into account first and foremost. "We think the mobile apps paradigms will have to be adopted by IT organizations in their systems," Basso says.
"This is the new standard that consumer apps have set for the workplace, for individuals," she adds. "For enterprise, it's important to think about mobile apps as an enabler for a more accessible and easier access point to their employees."
Within two years, Gartner projects more than 300 billion mobile apps a year will be downloaded from mobile app stores. "This is where the work is moving so mobile is becoming the primary access point for IT resources and solutions," says Basso.
Don't Block Cloud Storage Services
Some of the biggest organization tensions between IT and users today come from the prolific use of personal cloud file storage and sharing services at work. While these services make it easier for employees to find and share content, they also create a number of challenges like potentially creating an open door to bring corporate data into the wrong hands.
"Don't try to block this. Try to exploit this phenomenon," says Basso. "You shouldn't deny the existence. This is what we see in many cases is that many companies ignore how many employees have installed Dropbox, for example."
By 2016, Gartner expects every mobile device will be connected to at least five different cloud file storage or sharing apps. The number of mobile social users is expected to reach 2.5 billion by that time as well.
"Collaboration is enabled by technology, but collaboration is not just about technology," Basso says. Organizations still need to identify and remove the roadblocks that are preventing a more collaborative environment from taking flight.
Next section: How Deutsche Bank Embraced Collaboration at Scale