Back to Basics Again with Enterprise Collaboration

2014 was the year that we were supposed to get back to basics. We’re now more than halfway done, back-to-school shopping season is upon us and many of us are probably thinking about returning to the work focus after taking advantage of the lazy hot days of summer (on the other hand, who’s up for a sunset sail around the bay?). I’d like to take this time to do a midyear checkup on enterprise collaboration and technology goals.

Success demands that we focus on goals and objectives and check against progress on a regular basis. That way you can amp up in areas where needed, notice and shifts based on external changes, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done (who doesn’t need an incentive from time to time?).

That said, here are the “basics” I highlighted back in January and some things to consider, questions to ask yourself, and next steps to ensure you make strides in the second half of 2014.

Mobile and Smartphones

Have you made progress on your mobile strategies?

Next steps: If you haven’t taken action yet, start by assessing the business needs. Define mobile personas to the best of your ability, including device types and intranet applications. If you’ve already done that, then get feedback, refine and perform a gap analysis for what needs are not being met now.

Enterprise Social

Do you have a good idea of what’s needed from a social standpoint? Our general experience is that a lot of companies are still hemming and hawing about social, wondering how to capture the opportunities. We’re at a point in the enterprise social space where waiting is risky. Employees need these tools, and the frustration factor (the mighty disconnect between their experiences as consumers versus those as employees) can actually be degrading productivity.

Next steps: Look at the tools available and start your action plan. If you already have social tools, take a look at how they might be better included as part of the internal processes. I’ve seen many instances where the tools are not well integrated into processes, and thereby become an afterthought.

Speed of Business

As I pointed out in my back to basics call to action, we’ve got to be thinking about speed as a competitive differentiator. Do your users have real time access to data? How many steps does it take them to use the tools they touch every day? User experience has real business impact.

Next steps: Take a look at business processes across key user groups, with an eye towards how you can accelerate them.


If you’re an enterprise, somewhere in your organization you’re using SharePoint. Which version are you using? Do you know what you’re ready to implement? SharePoint 13 and online and hybrid -- the evolution continues at a breakneck pace. Office 365 is clearly a huge push for Microsoft.

Next steps: Have you looked into the capabilities and plans for Delve and Office Graph? There are some interesting opportunities dawning for information accessibility and relevance. It’s time to start considering those within your organization.

Personalization and Aggregation

The consumerization of IT has led your employees to develop real expectations of personalization and aggregation -- they know what’s possible and see it every day. The fact that “consumerization of IT” is now a buzz-phrase only serves to highlight the importance of creating a better experience for enterprise users.

We’ve been talking about this for so long -- how the consumer experience is vastly better than the enterprise one -- that it’s high time we made it the reality. This means actually taking the right steps for understanding the user experience: Develop personas and scenarios, map their journeys and hassles, and build real solutions using the full gamut of user experience research. That way you bring to your users the information they need to drive the business forward.

Next steps: Prioritize the needs of your key users (or personas). Take advantage of any low hanging fruit and build a phased plan with performance metrics to justify the project over time.


The cloud is no flash-in-the-pan. Your competitors are looking at taking advantage of the cost savings available by moving to the cloud, not to mention increasing the mobility of their workforce. It’s essential to take steps towards using it yourself, if you haven’t already. This comes back to the speed of business. Are you really prepared for the next wave? I hope data security issues aren't holding you back from moving to the cloud. If you already host your mail, why not the rest of your business? Let’s get moving on this together.

Next steps: Look at what your mobile workers need, talk to them and understand the importance of this move. Stop making excuses.

Search and Analytics

I called out search and analytics separately in my “Back to Basics” column earlier this year. I’m lumping them together here because they touch on everything I’ve already listed.

Next steps: Do you know what you know (in terms of your internal site analytics)? Find out what’s missing, and get some help if you have ambiguous data. For search, make sure that your data is properly indexed and keyworded, and that those search capabilities are available across platforms. What can make it better? Talk to users to find out.

Now is the time for the enterprise to close the loop on some of the nagging issues that have been holding us back. By making doing things better and getting things done priorities, we can prepare for the exciting innovations that lie ahead. Have you mapped out your next steps?

Title image by Edmund Lowe Photography (Shutterstock)