Online collaboration: about measuring, knowing and integration

Emailing is not the same as online collaboration

More and more companies are become aware that, nowadays, (online) collaboration needs to be facilitated better. At Engage Dialog, we talk a great deal about (what’s in a name) the role of Employee Engagement in a company’s success: an engaged employee produces more.  Combined with digitisation and more flexible, place-independent and time-independent forms of working and collaboration, this gives rise to different needs in terms of collaboration solutions. Email is no longer the collaboration medium for us: it is hopelessly inadequate in terms of the traceability and availability of the right information. Many companies are therefore considering the implementation of a social or interactive intranet. But there is quite a difference between the available options!

The reasons for market leadership: scalability, availability and security

In our view, it is no longer profitable to build an intranet yourself, for example on SharePoint. Out-of-the-box solutions are available that combine a far lower total cost of ownership with far better functionality and user-friendliness. A SharePoint can be very useful as a storage/work flow tier, for example.

The cloud and other intranet solutions have sprung up like mushrooms in recent years. Many local players now have solutions: in the Netherlands alone, there are already dozens of parties that offer (social) intranetting. But again, there are considerable differences between these: a need to separate the sheep from the goats. At Engage Dialog, we made a conscious choice for a partnership with a major American player (Jive Software), which has been a pioneer in this field since as long ago as 2001 and has one of the biggest development teams in the world for both internal and external (support) communities.  This provides a number of major advantages, such as scalability (from ‘25 to 2,500,000 users’) and compliance with the very highest standards for availability (99.99x%) and security. There is also a difference in functional and integration quality. Below, I discuss a number of elements where solutions such as Jive make the difference.

 

The reasons for market leadership: support for integration

Within the IT sector, and particularly in the cloud, technological development is advancing fast. The integration of an online collaboration solution into a complete (online/hybrid) application landscape calls for a great deal of ‘back end’ work on the part of the supplier. For the IT workers among us, this could include Single Sign On/Multi Factor Authentication, ADFS, Office, Office 365, CRM, storage such as Onedrive/SharePoint/Box, Enterprise Search and much more. And of course support for add-ins and plug-ins. An average online portal will provide only limited support for this. This makes Jive’s vision, in which a supplier positions itself as a real communication hub, relevant. For example, the integration with Office and email is crucial. For companies this leads to substantial productivity and efficiency improvements, because matters such as version management are fully automated and the connection works transparently for the end user, while he or she can continue to work from a familiar environment.  New versions of external products must also be supported quickly. This calls for a considerable amount of development capacity on the part of a supplier, and good contacts with major players. Ultimately, this creates more possibilities for the user at lower integration and other costs.

The reasons for market leadership: measuring and knowing

Quite rightly, increasing emphasis is being placed on the return on investment of an online collaboration environment. It costs a great deal of effort to build and maintain a productive online community. Good measurement data on the use help to improve the adoption. They also mean that the value of the investment can be shown. For example, they can show that many hours can be saved for a help desk if people help each other or if earlier answers for the same problem can be found. The ability to measure this means that the efficiency improvements can be calculated.

Knowledge and skills are costly assets in companies. The ability to find these quickly (and measurably) is also very valuable. A good online collaboration tool should therefore have an extensive analytics environment in order to be able to measure both insight into and the return on the environment. This makes continual improvement possible and creates management support.

There is plenty of choice, but for how long?

As in other software and office software markets, we at Engage Dialog foresee a consolidation wave in the field of online collaboration within five years, which only a number of major, primarily international players will survive. After all, for email we all use Outlook, Notes or Gmail and perhaps one or two other players. Ultimately, Hyves, the Dutch-language Facebook, did not make it either. And ultimately, only a few companies will be able to afford the costs of supporting complex security requirements, integration and further development. Larger companies will certainly set higher standards for the above elements.

We are convinced that Jive Software will retain its leading role (see Gartner Magic Quadrant, Forrester, Aragon Research, among others), so that we and our customers will be able to keep up with all new standards and developments in online collaboration. For large and medium-sized companies and for corporates, this is a must if they want to offer future-proof solutions. We would be happy to discuss this with you!

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