Let's start with the good news: user adoption of online collaboration tools is increasing. Last year, research published by IT services provider Avanade revealed a growing interest in social collaboration technologies among businesses.
The survey of 5,000 IT professionals found that 77% of decision-makers and 68% of end users had reported using enterprise social collaboration tools. Of those currently using them, 82% said they would like to use more of them in the future.
Avanade's director of collaboration Andy Hutchins spoke to ComputerWeekly.com about a "tipping point" for new approaches to collaboration in the workplace. He said the convergence of increasingly mature technologies such as cloud and mobile, together with movements like BYOD, meant it was "the right time" for online collaboration platforms to thrive.
Now, the not-so-good news: user adoption of online collaboration tools is still way below where it should be.
For every survey declaring a growth in uptake, we hear another piece of anecdotal evidence about organisations struggling to implement a new collaboration tool. How many collaboration solutions are implemented with great fanfare and high hopes, but quickly abandoned as users revert to more familiar ways of working?
You may have seen this image (courtesy of Swedish lean management coach Hakan Forss) being shared across LinkedIn earlier this year. It's a neat encapsulation of a common scenario, when people feel too busy (or too comfortable with the status quo) to accommodate a new idea - even a revolutionary idea with the power to deliver vast improvements.
Often, the same can be said about online collaboration and social technology when it is first rolled out in an organisation. Some employees will always be reluctant to leave a comfort zone comprised of email, Excel spreadsheets and traditional project management software. Of course, you're likely to have some early adopters as well - the people who disrupt conventional notions of corporate IT by bringing their own devices and social networks into the office. However, with less dynamic employees - who may or may not belong to the older generations in your workplace - securing user adoption can be challenging.
So what’s the secret to getting every member of staff on board with your online collaboration tool? You may be unsurprised to find that it's all in the leadership. However, the traditional top-down model of rolling out a new technology will not work here - as Gartner analyst Carol Rozwell noted last year.
She explained: "Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, followed a "push" paradigm. Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a "pull" approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can't be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in."
So firstly, organisations hoping to secure widespread user adoption of a new collaboration tool need buy-in at the top. Secondly, those leaders must help to build a culture of improving working practices through collaboration and social interaction - to the extent that workers feel compelled to join in. In order to encourage behavioural change among end users, organisations may well have to achieve a cultural shift at the highest level.
If this sounds like a tall order, there is some more good news - online collaboration tools like Kahootz are designed to support user adoption. The exceptional reliability and security features give senior figures the peace of mind and confidence needed to drive uptake throughout the organisation.
Kahootz is a secure collaboration platform that has been penetration-tested to the satisfaction of UK government departments and major businesses, as well as offering 99.95% up-time. Once managers feel confident their data is secure - and always accessible - they're much more likely to use the tool themselves and start creating the culture of collaboration your organisation needs.