Several of my Redbooth colleagues and I were honored to have the opportunity to attend and participate in the conversations at Gartner’s Portals, Content, and Collaboration Conference earlier this month in Los Angeles. It was a great opportunity to catch up with a number of our current customers, and gave us the chance to hear first hand from attendees about their enterprise social collaboration challenges, paired with Gartner’s point of view on how to best solve them. I found four key themes kept coming up in the presentations and in our conversations with attendees: engagement, email, SharePoint, and experimentation.
Trend #1: Focus on Increasing Employee Engagement
Employee Engagement was a key theme across the three days, starting with the opening keynote speech, wherein analysts Jeff Mann and Susan Landry tackled the topic head-on, declaring, “disengaged people will kill your business.” They also shared that Gallup research has shown that companies scoring in the top fifth of engagement measures see 2.5x higher revenue growth, but unfortunately only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged in their work.
A number of surveys have shown that employee engagement is a key driver of employee productivity; similarly, active disengagement has a big financial drain on your bottom line. Gallup estimates that for the U.S., active disengagement costs US$450 billion to $550 billion per year.
While there are many facets to workplace engagement, the platforms and tools that employers provide for getting work done are a critical part of this. And with the emphasis on group-oriented output having grown significantly over the last decade, employers have to focus on technology solutions that are designed for enabling people working together, not just as individual contributors.
So what’s an employer to do? Look for solutions that enhance their employees’ overall work experience and make it quicker and easier for them to come together to solve a problem or deliver a project, regardless of physical proximity.
Trend #2: Email isn’t dead
The death of email has been greatly exaggerated by some in the software industry, but the reality is email isn’t going anywhere, and Gartner concurs. Email has a number of advantages that are unlikely to be supplanted any time soon, notably: ubiquity, being highly targeted, and optimized for personal use (it empowers the sender).
On the other hand, social collaboration tools like Redbooth excel at bringing teams together, reaching people that may be interested or have something to contribute to a project that’s outside their day-to-day, allows for easy reuse of processes and information, and, in many cases, becomes a single source of “the truth”, as both a corporate information aggregator and knowledge management tool.
The bottom line is that email and enterprise social networks are complementary – each has strengths that when combined better enable a workforce to get their work done. As such, companies should select tools that integrate well with email instead of trying to force people to exclusively use a platform they are uncomfortable with. Above all, Gartner urged don’t focus on “eliminating email” as a business goal; instead, work towards deploying technology in a way that furthers the actual goals of your business.
Trend #3: SharePoint is everywhere, but loved by no one
During our three sessions on the trade show floor, we had many interesting conversations with people from different industries, countries, and with different job titles. However, there were two things that just about all of them had in common:
a. All the companies were very large and, as such, had deployed Microsoft SharePoint.
b. We could not find one person that was excited by, or would defend the product in any way.
Contrast that with the kind of love our customers share with us every day. This theme carried through to the conference agenda, where one of the most popular sessions was “Should Microsoft Kill SharePoint?”, to which the position taken was “Yes”.
While it was acknowledged that it would be several years before Microsoft winds down this product, the call to action was clear to the audience – start looking for alternatives and start looking now. Of course, that may be easier said than done in the short term. Some companies have huge investments in their SharePoint deployments, with vast amounts of institutional information stored on that platform. To alleviate the difficulty in moving to a more modern platform (with a better employee experience), the suggestion was to consider alternatives that provided a migration path, perhaps by enabling users to reference and include files that were stored in an underlying SharePoint infrastructure, but to move users away to better designed and more useful interfaces. Essentially, by adding an online collaboration layer on top of your existing SharePoint deployment.
Trend #4: Large enterprises are open to experimentation
With competition increasing around the globe, companies are looking for any competitive advantage they can achieve. While large vendors such as IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft will likely always continue to exist in large enterprises, there is increasingly a place for smaller technology vendors that bring a more modern, up-to-date, secure application to market. That’s a big change from the recent past, where there was often hesitation amongst large enterprise IT organizations in trying out new, experimental approaches to corporate technology problems. But a lot has changed in the past decade.
People no longer use their computers primarily for work. Instead, many have their personal lives intertwined 24/7 with social networking websites, apps, tablets, smart-phones, wearable tech and more. And these solutions are all brand new, intuitive, with beautifully crafted interfaces and great performance…which directly affects these same people’s expectations in the way they use technology when they engage in work. Your employees aren’t going to get excited about opening up Microsoft Word or crunching through yet another user hostile application that uses a folder hierarchy. Not only is it uninspiring, it leaves people feeling dissatisfied.
Work Smarter and Faster
Hearing these points from the stage, and in our 1:1 conversations was great validation of our vision and focus. At Redbooth, we are working hard every day to create a platform that your employees will be excited to use to get their work done smarter and faster. But don’t just take my word for it, see for yourself: start a free trial of Redbooth today. And see how we can help you re-engage your workforce.