Five common myths about social collaboration

CEO Dr. Eric Schott about key factors of successful social collaboration projects.

We recently attended a Social Collaboration Workshop with the IT managers of a global market leader from the automotive industry. One of the senior IT managers surprised me with this statement: "We have already been doing social collaboration for 10 years". Really? Well no. The company had simply equated social collaboration with a new form of document filing system. To achieve real change - and hence improvement - I would like to address the five popular myths regarding social collaboration:

1. Social collaboration is just a substitute for shared directories. Not so. Social collaboration is much more than the shared ability to work on documents. New forms of communication and collaboration, ad-hoc video conferencing and enterprise social networks, the search-based provision of relevant contents and personal connections through expert profiles are just some of the elements, which go far beyond the "alternative to a shared directory". Practice has shown: When such collaboration is implemented and introduced correctly, our customers profit from a new level of collaboration.

2. Social collaboration is just a question of technology. No, even if technologies play an important role (see above), and if tool selection ("Which Social Collaboration platform should we buy?") is often the more tangible decision: additional productivity is only created through new forms of collaboration, through practiced and intensified connections between staff and their knowledge. In short, through the comprehensive transformation of the company.

3. Social collaboration happens by itself. No, transformation requires an enormous amount of effort and a continuous change process. The process of change management towards a collaborative organisation is an on-going management task.

4. Social collaboration does not cost anything. No, organisational change is complex and expensive. In addition to investments in new technologies, it requires a lot of time and energy on the part of those involved, particularly management. Similarly, regular course adjustments or corrections of de-velopments that have gone wrong are not free but necessary. Our experience shows: The result by far outweighs the work involved.

5. We do not need social collaboration. Wrong again. There is no alternative to social collaboration. To stay competitive, companies cannot afford to forego investments into changing forms of collaboration in the long term - at the company itself or with regard to the changing collaboration between companies. Massive developments in the area of digitisation, along with an increased demand for experts ("shortage of skilled labour") will only increase the pressure to change.

And last but not least, the good news: Once these five myths have been moved out of the way, there is nothing stopping a company from bringing about successful change. By the way, that was also recognised by the aforementioned automotive company. After the workshop, the managers adopted the following objectives:

  • Improve collaboration with and between the functional divisions.
  • Reduce expenses through the use of technology and standardisation.
  • Achieve more needs-appropriate results with a more intensive knowledge exchange process.

An attractive vision for social collaboration!