If using collaboration technology is going to become a truly integral part of your organization, it has to become second nature to your employees. It has to feel as easy and intuitive as any other form of collaboration they engage in on a daily basis, such as using their favorite social networking application to share ideas and pictures with family and friends. The following four simple steps can provide a viral collaborative environment:
- Streamline Authentication and User’s Profiles: Employees won’t want to use a system if it requires using different log-in IDs and passwords for accessing the system or manually copying their user profile information into the environment. Instead, the collaborative solution must be tightly integrated with the corporate identity management solution. The collaborative solution should access the existing information to obtain user profile information such as the users’ names, phone numbers, locations, skills, and group memberships. Since collaborative capabilities will be embedded into numerous applications, a single sign-on solution should be implemented. This type of solution requires that a user complete the authentication process once for the application, thus eliminating the need to re-authenticate for accessing each service.
- Integrate Collaboration with Applications: If 90 percent of your people use one application, if you can incorporate collaboration into that application, then 90 percent of your people will be connected instantly. By taking an inventory of your most-used applications and ranking them according to which get the most use, you can create a good road map for rolling out collaboration. You can start to get a sense of which applications will get the most mileage out of having collaboration integrated into them.
- Choose the Appropriate Functionality: Determine which collaborative capabilities should be integrated into which applications—and where in those applications. Many times, the answer is simply to add presence awareness to the most-used web page (the main launch page or the summary page, for example) and web applications. This way, when users come in on Monday morning and log into one of these applications—just as they did on Friday morning—they’ll, be able to see that their colleagues are online and available to collaborate with via the various collaborative capabilities. With the click of a button they can open a chat room or an IM session with one or more of these users.
- Maximize Screen Real Estate: Try to avoid using a large section of the screen real estate for collaboration services at the expense of allowing users to do their jobs with an application that is already familiar to them. Just a small section of the screen with a scroll bar that shows a thousand users are currently online or shows your Buddy List will be sufficient to get their attention.
It’s important to realize that you are trying to bring collaboration to the user, not create a collaboration tool. Now that you have everyone connected, you can begin to add additional collaborative capabilities to allow employees to work more efficiently together.