Collaboration technology adoption in the enterprise can be a daunting pursuit. 

Many great tools have been designed to better facilitate team cooperation and productivity, while also contributing to a company’s bottom line. A survey found that 75 percent of businesses are using (or planning to use) enterprise collaboration tools.

Yet, these tools are not one-size fits all. With the workplace rapidly changing, it can be ever more difficult for businesses to discern precisely which tools would provide the best ROI. Collaboration solution providers must offer guidance based on the specific business needs of each customer – depending on that customer’s environment, applications and use cases. 

In view of this, how can one make enterprise collaboration a success for employees, IT and management? Here are five things to ensure your collaboration deployment gets off on the right foot.

1. Get Executive Buy-In 

You've heard this before, but it bears repeating: Executive buy-in is one of the most crucial aspects of getting your company to embrace any new technology. If executives do not see the value in the collaboration solution, find it to be too confusing, or feel it doesn’t generate the desired impact, then it is far more likely your company will not see the anticipated return on investment. 

The best way to get executive buy-in is through numbers. By showing executives the ROI of enterprise collaboration tools and other concrete cost savings – not to mention productivity enhancing benefits – buy-in should be a no brainer. Getting your executive team to embrace the tools themselves and be seen doing so publicly within the company is gold. Give them advanced access and personal support to get them up and running just prior to general rollout. It will pay dividends.

2. Train and Engage Early On 

Once you have executive buy-in, it is important to make sure that collaboration can become pervasive. If enterprise collaboration is pigeonholed, and only used by the development team or the sales team, for example, don’t count on this technology sticking around very long. However, if you train and engage your employees (from the beginning stages of their jobs) using the same enterprise collaboration tools, it will be easily engrained into their everyday work habits. 

3. Experience Must Be Excellent

You get executive buy-in and your employees are on board, and then all of a sudden, no one can log in to the system come Monday morning? Or worse, the technology goes down during an important meeting? Now the future of your enterprise collaboration technology is in jeopardy, and restoring trust is very difficult. 

Make sure you invest adequate time up front to eliminate as many potential areas of failure as possible. Make sure the enterprise collaboration tool you implement is well regarded – get references that you can speak with prior to purchase. Beta-test the technology in your own test lab (or speak with those who did). Run the tool with a subset of your employee base for feedback that will help you guide expectations and training. Also, be sure that you have qualified IT specialists available to support organizational ramp-up, to make sure employees are trained properly and to quickly resolve any perceived issues with performance. 

It should be noted that the evolution of modern workspaces (mobile, work from home, huddle rooms, etc.) also gives rise to new challenges with lighting, sound quality, background noise, and the ability to quickly and easily share content. All of these issues can be addressed by choosing the appropriate supplier for your collaboration solution.

4. Make it Easy … and Invisible  

Good training and tip-top performance are steps in the right direction. And while it’s important to have enterprise collaboration tools part of the day-to-day tasks, it doesn’t mean you have to constantly see these solutions. Keep the technology invisible (e.g., don’t expose any cables and wires) so employees can simply focus on the outputs and not the “foreign” tools that deliver them. Remember that feeling uncomfortable with all the technology surrounding them is part of the reason people avoid new technologies and why some businesses are slow to implement enterprise collaboration tools. 

Achieving successful collaboration using these technologies means all your team needs to worry about is engaging with the people and information that is shared in the HD monitors, much the same way they see past the conference room speakerphone when making a simple voice call. Collaboration tools are critical to business processes. If integrated properly, workflow should continue just as seamlessly when the right tools are deployed. 

5. Must Play Well With Existing UC Technologies

If your company already has a Unified Communications program in place, new enterprise collaboration tools should sync up with your existing investments as natively as possible. Your employees will be confused if the tools and techniques they have been using for years are suddenly obsolete once a new strategy is put in place. If done properly, integration with new collaboration tools should be seamless to the end-user.

If you’re starting from scratch, consider the needs of your team before you select or install any new technology. What are your critical business initiatives, key applications and core use cases? Think of all the areas that would need collaboration tools, then think about your budget. There is a wide variety of tools available to fit any set of team needs. 

Also consider price and payment. When integrating new collaboration tools, companies sometimes need more flexible payment options with lower barriers to entry. At Polycom, we work with all businesses to help get them up and running right away. Companies can select the method of payment that aligns best with their financial strategy – an opex model with low/no capital expenses upfront, a capex model with a single outright purchase, or even a cloud-based model that is purchased as consumed. Businesses can align to any financial strategy and overcome potential economic challenges that might arise from an alternate form of purchase.

If you follow these five guiding principles, your company will have far greater success the next time you bring a new collaboration technology to the table. The benefits are clear. And if done correctly, you will see an instant difference in productivity, new ideas and improved bottom line. 

You will be the hero, and your company will thank you for it.