In these days of nascent communication and collaboration technology, businesses find themselves confronted with a plethora of choices, one of which is enterprise collaboration software. Well, that’s certainly a smart and savvy sounding term, but just what is enterprise collaboration, and how does the software support enterprise goals? The most prevalent incarnation of this technology is a community, but calling them simply “communities” carries a whole host of positive and negative associations that may or may not be accurate and doesn’t really tell the whole story. So here’s a list—high level and by no means comprehensive—of what this kind of platform is for and the purposes it serves:
Top 5 Definitions
1) Online communities exist to support enterprise document management (wikis and posting documents), a sense of community, storing and updating documents, helping manage and track projects, sharing knowledge, hosting open-minded discussions (that exist, for reference, in perpetuity), facilitating both external corporate communication (with customers, clients, and audiences) and/or internal corporate communication (to employees and stakeholders), and much more.
2) Enterprise collaboration offers a new, one-stop place where you can get all the things done that you do now.
3) These communities act as data, knowledge, document, and discussion archives, cross-referenced, tagged, and easily searchable.
4) Community platforms can be both internal and/or external, and can be manipulated to serve both employees and clients/customers for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways.
5) Communities can act as an information knowledge management tool, helping organize documents and wikis, and certainly supports both collaboration and social interaction at both entry and management levels, and beyond.
With any emerging technology come a number of misconceptions, too:
Top 5 Misconceptions
1) Enterprise collaboration does not empower employees to endlessly chat and goof off. (Unless you want them to goof off for whatever reason.)
2) Work does not take more time, and the software is not “just another tool to learn and have to spend time on.” This tool can replace many others, meaning it takes less time to accomplish the same tasks.
3) Enterprise collaboration cannot solve all problems and replace all other programs. Communities serve a variety of functions, but don’t overestimate their capabilities. Take the time to ask questions and get an understanding of what they really can and cannot do for you.
4) “Build it and they will come.” These communities do not become popular and 100% adopted overnight. In reality adoption is a slow, incremental process that requires top-down encouragement to get people to engage.
5) Communities do not replace Client Relationship Management (CRM) software. It can support CRM software and in many ways can enhance it, but cannot completely fill in for all the functions of CRM software.