There is now plenty of research to support the business value of collaboration – particularly in terms of productivity and performance improvements. Some of the evidence comes from analysts of the caliber of Aberdeen Group, or respected consultancies such as McKinsey.
Organizations recognize this and many have embarked on the use of collaborative tools. Too often, though, they are disappointed by the results.
I believe that the problem is that many organizations are using collaborative tools that are ‘bolted on’ and not fully integrated with line of business applications and the processes that underpin them.
This less than satisfactory approach has a number of disadvantages:
• Departments can end up using different technologies and each extra tool adds extra cost, in terms of licensing, implementation, operation and maintenance.
• The task of integration with applications adds further cost and complexity.
• There is an increased risk of disruption to end-users unless each tool’s implementation is very carefully planned.
• Workers need initial and ongoing training in each collaborative capability.
• Documents and information can be hard to find, and duplication can arise, as each tool can constitute an individual information silo.
This piecemeal approach means that the people who need to collaborate may not be using the same tool, or even be able to locate one another. As a result, individuals do the best they can on their own: wheels get reinvented, and suboptimal wheels at that. As a result, the full benefits may never be achieved.
What an integrated platform should look like
Before they can obtain the promised benefits from collaboration, companies need to abandon the piecemeal approach and look for a collaboration platform that is built to provide fully integrated business process automation and task orchestration across multiple line-of-business applications.
With a platform that is designed and built with this approach as a prerequisite, collaboration is intrinsically linked with every part of the business: placing it at the heart of processes and ensuring that workers can concentrate on working with, rather than simply alongside, one another.
This type of platform needs to have a number of characteristics in order to meet your collaboration requirements across the board. For example:
• It must work in a way that reduces complexity, rather than adding to it.
• It must be an integral part of your business application, so that work processes become collaborative naturally and without additional effort.
• No expertise should be needed to implement or maintain it.
• It should be configurable to support your business’s specific processes.
• When you upgrade there should be no need to redo the configuration.
We’ve built our collaborative platform with these considerations in mind. The Hornbill collaboration platform and business applications are designed to enable enterprise collaboration from the ground up. By building business applications on top of the foundation of a collaboration platform, Hornbill ensures that collaboration is intrinsically linked with every part of the business.