Is Your Communications Technology Framework a Patchwork or Tapestry? Why It Matters.
A research study conducted by Filigree Consulting in July 2012 found that only 3% of organizations have developed an optimized corporate collaborative environment. Equally surprising is that 72% of organizations have either “Non-Integrated” or “Unsupported” environments. Putting thought into your environment’s design and strategy is key to maximizing efficiency.
The benefits of an optimized Corporate Collaborative Ecosystem (CCE) for the 3% are significant. These organizations are seeing:
- An accelerated rate of innovation (3.1x)
- Faster & more informed decision making (2.3x)
- Meeting productivity (length, participant satisfaction) (2.2x)
- Enhanced customer experience (2x)
- Increased individual productivity (1.8x)
- Reduced environmental impact (1.7x)
- Improved information quality (1.6x)
- Reduced travel cost (1.6x)
All CEOs would find these statistics mouth watering. So why are 3 out of 4 organizations living with unsupported or non-integrated CCEs?
How Did We Get Here? Connectivity – the Great Unifier
If you look at the historical development of technology in an organization there were three different classes of technology:
- Information Technology
- Audio Visual
These technologies enjoyed rapid expansion and have become the standard in organizational functions. These historical roots are important because each of these technologies was once an island of technology within the organization. As the capability of each of these technologies increased, one of the obvious and universal requirements was to allow more people to connect to them. Greater connectivity!
- Users of IT services want access to data from any place, at any time.
- Users of Telecom technology, whose fundamental premise relied on connectivity to enhance their ability to communicate, want to communicate from any place with anyone at anytime. They also want a richer way to communicate than just using voice.
- Users of AV technology, primarily room systems in a corporate environment, need to add connectivity to expand the capability to include remote users in their meetings and to evolve the richness of the collaborative experience as well.
Connectivity enablers such as the network, the Internet, Wi-Fi, wireless carriers, Bluetooth and so many more, have changed the world. Connectivity has provided us with capabilities we could only have found in a Sci-fi movie. This has become a disruption of our personal lives.
Connectivity has also been a major, if not the major catalyst for disruption in industries and in politics.
Patchwork to Tapestry
As connectivity has increased over the past decade, the three technology “islands” are forced to unite into one framework. [Stay tuned for Part 3 of this blog for more info on a framework] The degree to which an organization has been able to move to a single unified framework where all the technologies harmoniously exist will determine where they are on the journey to an “Optimized” CCE. Filigree’s study indicates that most organizations have not even started this journey.
Every organization has an existing state of these technologies – their current state CCE. This current state is often in disarray because of the historical development of the three different islands of technology described above. The problems can be further compounded by the following factors:
- Distributed corporate model: Technology decisions are made independently throughout the organization at the divisional level.
- History of acquisition: An organization that has grown through acquisition tends to have many different technology platforms even within the historical islands of technology.
The bottom line is that more often than not, an organization is starting from a patchwork of technologies.
The carrot that hangs out alluringly for CEOs is to capture the numerous benefits (ROI) from an “Opitimized Collaborative Environment” with a comprehensive and cohesive Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) strategy.
To do that, the patchwork needs to be transformed into a tapestry.
This task is similar to efforts that many organizations have gone through for other large scale technology standards. If you think about the journey to a single Enterprise Resource Platform, like SAP, there is a lot of effort required but the payoff can be big. Moving to an optimized collaborative environment requires some of the same factors for success, as the implementation of a corporate ERP system.
- Executive sponsorship
- Key functional executive buy-in (or the silos will persist)
- A roadmap for the transformation
- End User adoption (this includes employee buy-in as well)
- Investment to facilitate the transformation
The interesting thing about moving to an optimized CCE is that your organization can capture the significant ROI that is available, but the overall technology spend after the implementation should stay about the same or go down.
Questions We Are Often Asked Include:
- How does my organization’s collaborative environment rate?
- How do I move my organization down the path to an optimized CCE?
If your organization would like to answer these questions and would like to start the journey from the 72% to the 3%, we can help. Contact us.
Is True Collaboration a 2 Pizza Team Rule?
Thomas Edison, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerburg have all had a common observation – smaller teams accomplish more. Far more, when it comes to creative or innovative work.
A recent book Midnight Lunch, by Sarah Miller Caldicott, the great-grandniece of Thomas Edison, talks about the approach that made him so successful. The subtitle of the book is “The 4 Phases of Team Collaboration Success from Thomas Edison’s Lab”, in which she details his approach to innovation.
Small Teams Were a Central Component of Edison’s Approach
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com’s founder in a 2004 interview with Fast Company recalled an offsite retreat where people were saying that groups needed to communicate more. Bezos stood up and said, “No, communication is terrible!” shocking everyone in attendance. When it came to innovation, Bezos’ experience was that small groups could innovate and test their ideas without becoming entangled in a centralized corporate approach.
The “Two Pizza Team” Rule
Bezos came up with the “Two Pizza Team” rule. If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas the team is too large.
Edison had a similar approach at his Menlo Park operation. The “Midnight Lunch” was the small team coming together for a bite to eat while working together, informally in a collegial atmosphere through the evening.
Mark Zuckerburg also believed that small teams gave him a huge advantage over competitors like Yahoo! But for Facebook it was not just the size of the teams but also the focus of the team that made the difference. Caldicott cites an example from Michael Schrage, from the MIT Sloan School.
“Zuckerberg’s software design teams focused on higher-order functions such as robustness, scalability, ease of use, and maintainability – qualities that drive leading-edge performance in the Innovation Age” compared to Yahoo’s small teams who were focused on more traditional metrics like – lines of code written per day.
Additive Vs. Multiplicative Productivity
The result of this varied focus Schrage points out is “additive” vs “multiplicative” productivity. Two companies with 3 teams of 5 would have vastly different results.
Productivity of Additive Approach: 5 + 5 + 5 = 15
Productivity of the Multiplicative Approach: 5 x 5 x 5 = 125
That is more than 8 times more productive! Small teams + high-order focus – a ‘deadly’ one-two punch!
The “2 Pizza Rule” and “Higher-Order Functions Objectives” will accelerate your organization’s collaboration and innovation in today’s Innovation Era.
Technology Driving Small Teams
But what technology tools can turbo charge these small teams and higher-order focus objectives even more?
- Is suited to smaller teams
- Supports group work dynamics on higher-order productivity objectives
- Accelerates creativity and innovation
In one of my recent blogs I talked about the 4 different conferencing technologies that support real time collaboration and how you increase the velocity of collaboration in your meetings (both physical & virtual) by combining the 4 conferencing technologies to provide a collaborative richness, which supports your organizations objectives.
Collaboration Through Interactive Whiteboards
Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) are one of the 4 conferencing technologies. And IWBs meet the three requirements listed above, which enable small teams with higher-order focus to increase the velocity of collaboration even more. This doesn’t mean the other 3 conferencing technologies should be ignored. The more you can effectively combine them, the richer the experience.
But IWBs are the ONLY category of conferencing technology that:
- Is just as useful without remote participants (the other 3 are not required if there are no remote participants). Also referred to as an “In-room only Meeting”.
- Is truly suited for brainstorming and idea flow
- Facilitates the capture of the output of the sessions
IWBs were once more of a novelty item and had far more traction in the K-12 education sector as they are the evolution of the blackboard. The IWB technology has had significant further development to serve the needs of businesses, but be careful of the IWB platform you invest in.
As demand goes up, new IWB solutions are popping up all the time. Don’t be fooled by IWB solutions that are focused primarily on annotating on top of images – most solutions. These solutions are good for emphasizing a point on a PowerPoint presentation in a WebEx type content sharing tool or making annotation on top of any image shown on the IWB display. They will not turbo charge your small teams to greater heights of collaboration and innovation.
Invest in an IWB platform that truly facilitates collaboration and innovation. The technology must be able to:
- Accelerate meeting flow
- Support remote connectivity to IWB sessions
Accelerating Meeting Flow Using Interactive Whiteboards
How do you tell if the IWB solution will accelerate meeting flow? Although the hardware component of the IWB is important, the architecture of the IWB software is the most critical factor.
What does a good IWB solution do to provide good meeting flow?
- It is easy to use
- Facilitates seamless and smooth navigation
- Between applications and the whiteboard
- Within the whiteboard pages
- Within the whiteboard canvas
- Is object oriented so that pictures, graphic images and annotated writing can be easily manipulated as desired, e.g. move, copy, paste, etc.
- Annotation “lives” or “persists” on the application vs on a layer “on top of” the application
- Is integrated directly into industry standard software solutions, e.g. Word, AutoCad, etc. Annotations are saved in the application files.
Technology should be an enabler, not a point of focus in and of itself.
An IWB solution that meets these design points will quickly blend into the background and enable greater innovation and collaboration in your organization.
To learn more about interactive whiteboard technology solutions or our new hybrid work experiences, and how they can be combined with other collaborative conferencing technologies to accelerate innovation and collaboration in your organization, contact us.