Workplace Communications Favoring Real-Time Tools

In a recent article on Information Today, a survey developed by Robert Half Technology found that more than half (54%) of chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed recently said real-time workplace communication tools will surpass traditional email in popularity within the next 5 years.  According to Robert Half Technologies, this shift will benefit the workforce through speed, convenience and social networking. What should CIOs consider when looking for real-time workplace communication tools to ensure that their use goes “viral”?

If your organization is like most, you have access to collaborative technologies but technology isn’t used to it’s potential.  The most common reason that collaboration technology rarely seems to get much use in most organizations is because most business and government leaders think of collaboration technology as a product instead of a service. Collaboration technology doesn’t have the same characteristics as a specialized application, such as an accounting application. It’s something else entirely. What would happen if we thought of collaboration technology as fitting into an organization horizontally rather than vertically.

For example, organizations use an authentication service such as Microsoft Active Directory to manage entities and relationships within a network and provide information security for user access to network-based resources. Other applications on your system can connect to the authentication service using Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), and the service does the authentication and provides authorization information for the entire application or various features of the application. It provides one location for managing user information for authentication and authorization. The IT department manages user information in one location and the end user experiences a single user name and password to access network resources. With a single service, chaos is replaced by ease of use.

The Active Directory service works horizontally across the entire organization. Whether a user is launching a human resource application, an accounting application, a sales application, an engineering application, or anything else, the authentication service is integrated so that the user’s unique log-in works across all applications.

If you buy a new accounting program, it solves a very specific problem for the Accounting department alone. It fits vertically into the architecture of your organization so that it affects only that one specific problem without influencing other parts of the organization. It doesn’t interact horizontally with the HR software or the sales software—or anything else, for that matter. And that’s probably a good thing in that context. It doesn’t need to interact with other pieces of the puzzle; it just needs to do its singular job well by serving the needs of the CFO and the accounting staff. Conversely, the singular job of collaboration software is to interact well. So why have we gotten accustomed to accepting it as a vertical puzzle piece that plugs into the architecture without touching anything else? When you think it over, that doesn’t actually make much sense.

Imagine collaboration as a horizontal software application, connecting all those independent applications. Imagine collaboration performing the same way authentication services function. The same service is embedded in your HR application, in your accounting application, in your sales application, and so on. Now these applications can function in conjunction with one another. More importantly, employees using these separate applications can interact with one another.

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