Enterprise collaboration needs cultural shift: Ovum

Collaboration should be seen as akin to gardening, not engineering

Major changes in organisational culture among many Australian business will be required before investments in enterprise collaboration technologies will begin to pay off, according to analyst house Ovum.

Speaking ahead of its Where next for Enterprise Collaboration seminar, Ovum's APAC government practice research director Steve Hodgkinson, said culture was the biggest roadblock keeping organisations from making the most of emerging collaboration tools.

“There is a big gap between these technologies and people’s ability to embrace them,” Hodgkinson said.

“There are a whole lot of behaviours that have to be created around these new collaboration platforms, and they aren’t necessarily natural behaviours in an enterprise context.”

According to Hodgkinson, many Web 2.0 collaboration tools entered organisations due to a desire by some employees to gain social status within the organisation with “showing and sharing” type behaviours.

“People gain a reputation in social computing world by showing and sharing information, participating and contributing in forums, wikis, blogs etc,” he said. “The more you share the better your reputation becomes.”

“However, enterprises tend to have more competitive culture where it is not necessarily acceptable behaviour to share information, insights or intellectual contribution. Information is power and people like to use it in a considered way to best advance their careers.”

As a result, organisations wishing to encourage a collaborative culture would needed to begin by a change management program and investing in collaboration tools and simply allow their users to explore and come to terms with them, Hodgkinson said.

“There is also a big case for encouraging the use of non-work related social networking and collaboration platforms just to allow people to participate and understand them,” he said.

[IT management] also need to move from a perception of collaboration networks as an engineering exercise to one which was more akin to gardening – finding fertile soil, planting seeds, nurturing and watering them and helping them grow, he said.

“That’s not something that comes naturally to many IT management so they may well need to partner with other parts of the business which are more in tune with the bahaviours and challenges of the business to help the adoption of the platforms that IT has provided.”

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