How CIOs Can Tame the Collaboration Conundrum

Remember several years ago, when “bring your own device” (BYOD) to work created security challenges for CIOs? Yet smart tech leaders realized personal devices were here to stay. Embracing BYOD presented opportunities to both rethink their security models and accelerate efforts to deliver more consumer-like applications to their increasingly mobile workforces.

How we work continues to change, partly fueled by an increasing number of younger people in the workplace for whom using technology to communicate via a multitude of channels is a sixth sense.

The result is CIOs are now dealing with BYOC—“bring your own collaboration.” In many ways, the same forces that married mobile devices and enterprise applications are powering BYOC: employees want a frictionless and open experience. That’s important to recognize, as we should always be on the lookout for better and more creative ways to structure and engage our workforces.

Still, CIOs are challenged to bridge the divide being created by BYOC, where the number of platforms to choose from is increasing exponentially. Already, many collaboration platforms make their way into the enterprises as freeware or under-the-procurement-radar charges on someone’s corporate credit card.

Without a good strategy for taming this phenomenon, organizations may find themselves mired in increased technical debt, workplace friction, operational costs, security risk, and ironically, new barriers to collaboration. So how do we go about managing BYOC?

Consider these five areas:

The Growth Stage of Your Company

Companies in hyper-growth mode tend to be more heavily focused on driving innovation and transformation. These quickly growing and changing companies are better positioned to use a best-of-breed collaboration solution where the cost and complexity of integrating platforms pales in comparison to the importance of creating an engaging experience to fuel employee productivity and innovation. Integrated, all-in-one collaboration solutions are often the preferred choice for companies in more stable growth modes, focused on balancing employee productivity and engagement with maximizing profits and shareholder value.

Where Information Resides for Workers

And, what’s their technical proficiency? Often, fewer collaboration tools mean it’s going to be easier for them to find information. If they have more collaboration tools, then the CIO needs to spend more time on making sure your team has developed an open integration framework enabling content to move freely and securely.

The Popularity of a Non-Core Collaboration Solution

When the footprint of a non-core solution grows through rapid, viral adoption, it’s time to listen and respond—after all, employees are often voting with their credit cards for something that makes their work life easier. I think it’s safe to say there are few organizations that aren’t faced with addressing the growth of at least one non-core collaboration solution.

By embracing a solution that’s already popular, you have the opportunity to support the platform in a scalable and secure manner.

This was the case for us at Workday with Slack. We ultimately gained support to embrace the popularity and openness of Slack, and earlier this year rolled out Slack Enterprise Grid companywide. We have since established a strategic partnership with the company.

By embracing a solution that’s already popular, in addition to showing employees that you’re listening, you have the opportunity to support the platform in a scalable and secure manner. And, very importantly, you can focus the IT team’s adoption and training resources so everyone in your organization is positioned to maximize all the benefits the solution offers.

How Different Communities Inside Your Company Work

Here at Workday, we conducted an employee persona exercise to better understand how to roll out a new video and phone conferencing solution. We then identified early adopters and incentivized them to spread their know-how throughout the company. We ran a small pilot of the solution and used our learnings to launch what has been a very successful company rollout.

More than 90 percent of our employees adopted the tool as their primary go-to solution within the first three weeks of deployment. It was by far the most painless collaboration solution deployment of my career, thanks in large part to our persona work. For example, that work challenged my assumption that most people within a specific function needed roughly the same things from a collaboration tool. We learned admins have different needs in a conferencing solution than people managers, who have different needs than technical folks, who have different needs than senior leadership.

The Importance of Change Management

Imagine if we found a great new language that allowed us to communicate faster, better, and more clearly. The only catch is we all had to learn to speak that language. If we decided to roll out the language without organizational change management, communications, and training, we’d fail.

I like to emphasize the importance of over-communicating and offering easy access to training and quick tips. Your new collaboration platform may be faster, cheaper, better, and even cooler, but if people don’t know how to use it and aren’t excited about using it, then it’s by definition useless.

Good luck on your collaboration journey. With an ever-changing workforce and technology’s continued advancement, the journey never truly ends.