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Dec 21, 2016

Why more Facebook style collaboration is not the answer to workplace productivity

by Fergus Ashe

In an already crowded market space, Microsoft and Facebook both recently announced new or new versions of their business collaboration software. In an apparent knee-jerk reaction to the attention Slack has been getting, both giants piled into the market to demonstrate their muscle. 

Are their products anything new or exciting? Nope. In fact, they are tweaks on what they already had running in a different guise for 5-10 years. TechCrunch called this out recently by remarking that it feels like “déjà vu all over again” .The term ‘Enterprise 2.0’ was coined over 10 years ago and it was to transform our working lives by removing the need for email. Well, here we are today still living in our Inbox – many are happy with this, others less so. 

All of these so-called ‘email killers’ are beginning to look and feel very similar to each other – they are essentially a big repository of smart enterprise Facebook feeds. Are they handy for sharing ideas centrally? Sure they are. Are they going to transform business workflows by bringing the right people together at the right time with the right information? I’m afraid not. 

For example, take a central marketing team for a global professional services firm with 20,000 employees across the globe who need to manage the request for materials from global to regional to local teams. Imagine if requests started coming in via Slack or Microsoft Teams and the feedback and decision-making cycle happened in these channels. It would quickly become one big mess. 

The reality is, the team need a framework for their collaboration, rules to control the process, the ability to ensure that the right people are involved in decision-making and above all, have a ‘lean – just-in-time’ way of working, whereby no collaboration would be performed until all the information to activate the collaboration had been collected. 

Source: Microsoft

Think about it – the Slack, Microsoft Teams way of collaborating is like going into a meeting to discover that there is no structure, no agenda and to realize that not all the decision-makers are in attendance. A complete waste of time!

We at Screendragon have set about preventing this wastage by allowing businesses to put intelligence into their collaboration behaviors – so using the same meeting analogy – we would not schedule the meeting to take place until all the information for decision-making had been captured and validated. And of course, if the information is slow coming through, ensure escalations are triggered in a smart way. It is this smart way of working that has the power to transform operational efficiency and yield true business returns – don’t be fooled by the chatter.

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