In last week’s webinar with Rob Koplowitz, VP over at Forrester Research, we asked attendees to tell us how many people they collaborate with on a daily basis. As it turns out, not that many. While asserting the anywhere and anytime benefits of cloud-based collaboration solutions has often lent the impression we’re busy interacting with everyone in the world, the truth is that most of us are only communicating with 10 people or less:
“[They’re] fairly in line,” said Koplowitz of the results. “I think the more interesting question is not how many people you’re collaborating with, but what is the nature of those collaborations and what is your core working group? If we go out and we ask folks: how many people are you collaborating with? and how are you finding those people? and what is the manner in which you’re collaborating with them? what we’ll find is given the nature of the tools that we use mostly today, that we tend to collaborate with those who are geographically close to us and we tend to collaborate with people who are organizationally close to us.”
“That’s sort of the crux of of the [collaboration] issue. We know these tools around collaboration and around social should begin to break down these barriers. We should be able to find people that are outside of that inner circle.”
Adoption and Expanding our Networks
Breaking down barriers such as these requires adoption across the org, but as Koplowitz points out, people generally prefer to keep using the tools they’re used to. To get them out of their comfort zone, he suggests integrating these platforms into existing environments (such as SharePoint), considering different incentives for using them, or simply proving to employees that they work. (Check out the webinar in its entirety here to hear success stories from sales, customer service and manufacturing departments.)
Additionally, what can you think of that would make you want to expand your own core group? Collaboration definitely isn’t about interacting with tons of people at the same time, but we won’t get the best out of the supporting platforms if we’re only using them to talk to the same people over and over. Personally, I think it would be helpful if they could pull keywords from tasks and recommend different people across the organization who might be able to contribute. Sort of like the People You May Know function on LinkedIn but for projects. What do you think?