When I got word that CMSWire’s editorial focus for the month of October would be “enterprise collaboration and communication,” I immediately smiled, as this in itself showed some real progress for our industry. There’s no doubt journalists covering our space will continue to talk about “social business” and the “social enterprise” for some time to come (I’ve used this phrasing myself more than once), but “enterprise collaboration and communication” really cuts more to the chase of what I think we’re all trying to do here, which is to improve communication and productivity within the enterprise.  

At one point we had a deck titled “changing the conversation on collaboration” … I digress, but my point is that there’s a heck of a lot more to this effort then applying the “social” buzzword. That said, how are we as an industry doing, as of October 2012? 

In a slight tip-of-the-hat to Clint Eastwood, let’s take a look at The Good, The Bad, and ... The Miscellaneous.

The Good:

Communication within the Enterprise is Changing:

Looking back into the not-too-distant past, a lot of people here on CMSWire and elsewhere were extolling the virtues of creating online environments for the enterprise in which employees and departments could have better, free-flowing communication than was possible via email. The goal was then and still is to improve collaboration and productivity.

We aren’t quite to the last two pieces mentioned (more on this below), but there’s no doubt that communication has already improved for many. I also don’t believe that email is destined for the path of the dinosaur: it’s gonna be here for a long time.

For several companies we have been watching, there’s consensus that new internal-facing solutions have enabled more open and immediate communication within the enterprise. Employees and other end-users we’ve heard from tell us of a perceived “flattening” of organizations to where people in varied levels --ranging from the C-level to administrative assistants -- are communicating in real-time and often in candid, productive ways, as peers, not just as boss/employee.

This isn’t ocean-parting change, these are just people communicating openly -- bringing ideas from the tarmac and shop floor to the executive suite. 

Information is Being Shared More Easily:

With the improvements we’re seeing in intra-organizational communication, there’s a direct relationship to information being shared more easily, which can again boost productivity in the bigger picture. That said, there’s still a confidence gap when it comes to sharing key documents or mission-critical information, all of which points to the need for better, more reliable document-sharing solutions. Consider how many companies out there still use terms like “lock downed” to describe their document sharing solutions -- this has to change.

Big Players are Stepping Up, as is the C-Suite:

Literally billions of dollars are flowing into the area of Enterprise Collaboration and Communication, whether we’re talking about deals like Microsoft’s purchase of Yammer or the huge investments individual companies are making in an effort to better understand and implement intra-organizational collaboration and communication programs.

While the investment taking place is exciting and promising in terms of funding the initial development and continued progress that needs to take place, there’s no doubt that C-level executives who are signing checks will be asking about ROI sooner rather than later! The ROI discussion will be left for another day, but simple reporting will not do when contemplating what it takes to compete in the 21st global economy -- our teams are more mobile now than ever, all of which is again discussion for a different article!