How Do You Collaborate?

How Do You Collaborate?

By Michael F. Finneran April 9, 2012 3 Comments
Michael Finneran JPG 125
How Do You Collaborate? by Michael F. Finneran

At the recent Enterprise Connect in Orlando, there was much discussion on the topic of collaboration and the impact it was having on the enterprise. One of the most insightful sessions was “Building a Unified Communications and Collaboration Roadmap,” run by my old friend Irwin Lazar, VP and Service Director at Nemertes Research. I was doing another session at the same time so I missed the live show, but after seeing a post by Gary Audin on NoJitter, I downloaded the PowerPoints.

While Irwin does get around to the roadmap, the most interesting part of his presentation may have been the introduction where he summarizes the results of the Nemertes 2011-2012 “Communications and Computing Benchmark” study of 240 organizations; of the respondents, 58.1% were from organizations with 2,500 employees or more. As always, Nemertes did a great job, and their research is always on point as they survey enterprise organizations directly.

To illustrate the current status of the collaboration market, Irwin introduced the results of two case studies in collaboration. In the first, employees at a global organization were asked how their business units collaborated today. What strikes you is how little things have changed. The top three collaboration techniques were email (99.2%), in-person meetings (91.6%) and audio conferencing (83.1%). Probably the single biggest surge is in Web conferencing that was cited by 64.3% of respondents. Despite all of the video products we saw at the show, video teleconferencing was cited by only 26.1%.

Nemertes Case Study 1

Source: Nemertes Research - Enterprise Connect 2012

In a second example, Nemertes asked what collaboration tools really mattered to the CEO. Once again, email topped the list at 87.2% followed by phone at 71.6%, and audio conferencing at 51.1%. In a very interesting comment, “social networking” ranked low in importance at 9.8%, however, it was a project initiative that was funded corporate-wide by the CEO! That seems to indicate that while the adoption of social networking may be gaining little traction in the trenches, it is on the CEO’s radar.

Nemertes Case Study 2

Source: Nemertes Research - Enterprise Connect 2012

Of course, the question that most drew my attention related to mobile UC. It read, “What are your plans to integrate mobile devices into your UC deployment?” Anyone who has read my laments on the slow adoption of mobile UC tools will not be surprised to find only 1.7% reported them as “Fully deployed” and 11.1% “Limited” deployment. Another 34.6% are “Evaluating” and a total of 29.6% plan deployments in 2011 or 2012.

User Challenge

Source: Nemertes Research - Enterprise Connect 2012

This pretty much jibes with the informal surveys I ran at Enterprise Connect. Every one of the keynotes at Enterprise Connect highlighted “mobility” as a key factor (as they have at every Enterprise Connect [and VoiceCon] in recent memory). However, when I asked several hundred attendees at different mobility session how many of their organizations were actually using these mobility offerings, a significant number (I’d estimate 20 to 25%) of the hands went up. When I then asked the vendor reps to lower their hands, a pitiful few (i.e. less than 5) remained. It seems that year after year, we see the same pattern: lots of “Evaluating,” but little in the way of adoption.

So what should these factoids say to VARs and SIs? First, don’t quit your day job, because legacy tools like email, voice, and audio conferencing are still highly valued by enterprise customers. However, the new options are clearly starting to catch on. That would include web conferencing, document sharing, and IM. Also, the rather limited adoption of video teleconferencing may add fuel to the question of whether the vendor community is getting too far ahead of the curve in rolling out video products.

For me, the most interesting note was that while the organization as a whole did not value social networking tools very highly, the initiative (and funding) was coming right from the CEO. This is very much in line with what we heard from IBM at Lotusphere earlier this year and in IBM’s keynote delivered by Alistair Rennie, General Manager, Lotus Software and Collaboration Solutions, IBM Software Group.

The question for VARs and SIs, however, is how quickly to transition from the tried-and-true tools to the ones that will propel organizations to the next level. It reminds me of a great line that Gurdeep Sing Pall, now corporate vice president for the Information Platform & Experience team at Microsoft Corp, used in an Enterprise Connect keynote a couple of years ago. He said, “The problem with our industry is that we grossly overestimate the degree of change that can occur in three years, but underestimate the degree of change that can occur in 10.”

The problem with video and mobility adoption might be the “three year” problem, but you don’t want to be left standing out in the cold when the “10 year” reality sets in.


3 Responses to "How Do You Collaborate?" - Add Yours

Pankaj T 4/9/2012 1:52:48 PM

It is incredible how actual adoption has lagged behind availability of new technology and approaches. What to speak of "social collaboration", companies are still lagging in the adoption of collaboration software. Email seems like a habit hard to get over.

However, it does represent, a vast untapped opportunity for vendors.

Dave Michels 4/10/2012 12:12:46 AM

Interesting. Nemertes Research is always interesting. I can't say I am surprised by this as my customer engagements always involve a shock of reality. I spend so time monitoring the vendors and the latest technologies, that it's always shocking to find that it isn't all deployed.

One of my F500 clients is still using analog phones on the desktops and asked me if it was too late... they missed the digital generation, they assumed they missed the IP one too.

But what is misleading is the the communications taking place to these social sites that aren't enterprise sponsored. When the boss says find someone that can twirl a spoon - do we do a quick spoon check on LinkedIn? I think social networking, IM/presence, and even video are taking place a lot more than enterprise surveys may reveal.

The funny thing about email - is all of these new services expect and often require an email address to create an account. You can't do Google hangouts, Amazon shop, or even create an account on FB without an email.
Blair Pleasant 5/31/2012 9:48:44 AM

i bet the results would be even more shocking if you survey contact centers - most of them are so far behind the times it's laughable. technologies that were introduced in the 90s are still barely being deployed. but mobile capabilities in the enterprise will probably do a hockey stick growth in the next 2-3 years.

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