It’s hard to be productive if you’re not sure who to work with

A Webinar goes over the common pitfalls that bedevil IT teams that try to get staff working better together with collaboration technology

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It’s one thing for an organization to invest in advanced communications technologies—and another for employees to embrace them. Sometimes even the most powerful new IT system fails to help its intended user base.

In a recent webinar, technology analyst Blair Pleasant, alongside representatives from unified communications vendor Interactive Intelligence and magazine No Jitter, discussed how businesses can use enterprise social media technology to improve employee productivity. In that discussion, they uncovered some of the common pitfalls that prevent people from using enterprise social networking systems effectively.

Benefits are hard to define

One challenge: users might not understand how the technology can help them do their jobs. To avoid that situation, organizations first have to understand the specific collaboration difficulties workers face. Most IT decision makers already know they should spend a significant amount of time learning about users’ demands before buying any technology. It’s no different with enterprise social media.

Ask around your organization and you’ll probably discover a number of problems to which enterprise social networking speaks. Pleasant recalled a situation in which a group of workers in one part of a company realized the project they had begun actually mirrored an initiative already underway in another division. The employees would have benefited from using an enterprise social networking platform to learn about activities throughout the business.

Each organization has its own reasons for installing enterprise social media. By researching users’ real needs, businesses can tailor their collaboration technology investments to address employee requirements. This focused approach makes it more likely that employees will share more information, more quickly—and probably improve their productivity.

Too many steps to collaborate

Some people find enterprise social media difficult to use, especially in the early days, when tasks such as creating groups and communicating within the system are new and not yet routine. The webinar’s hosts recommended two ways to address that problem. First, establish certain permanent groups from day one. Create a group for all project managers, for instance, so if a PM needs to reach out to others who do similar work, she can make that link quickly. Second, integrate the enterprise social network with unified communications. That way, if a user wants to send a message or establish a call with someone on the social system, he can do it with a click of a button inside the social platform—no need to jump to a different screen. Fewer steps mean simplified connectivity.

Pleasant pointed out that according to a report from The McKinsey Global Institute, 20 percent of employee time is wasted trying to find the right colleague. That alone may be all you need to know to identity a collaboration platform in line with users’ requirements. But as you investigate potential solutions, pay close attention to your client’s concerns and keep simplicity in mind to ensure success.

Image via Death To the Stock Photo

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