3 Reasons Why Collaboration Tools Fail To Make The Intended Impact

3 Reasons Why Collaboration Tools Fail To Make The Intended Impact
Summary: Social learning is not a passing trend. While some form of social and peer learning have always been a part of organizational learning, technology has made virtual collaborations possible in more efficient ways that make sure that employees from global offices all over the world can collaborate more closely and learn from each other. So, why collaboration tools fail to make the intended impact?

Why There Is Lack Of Enthusiasm Some Employees Have For Social And Collaboration Tools?

According to a recent survey by Brandon Hall group, among the top 5 learning technology priorities, social / collaboration tools are listed at the very top. Among a whopping 43% of respondents look forward to integrating social or collaborative tools within the organization structure to have more peer connections and a way to learn from each other.

According to another research, the pace of collaboration software development and innovation is very high and it is found that more than half of all companies have already implemented team collaboration solutions of one kind or another. Remaining 31% plan to adopt one of the many available collaboration tools in the next two years.

But it is also true that while many organizations have been full-heartedly adopting social or collaborative tools, these solutions work best when all members of a team use them. In most organizations, there is an evident struggle to get all employees interested in utilizing these tools to their fullest capabilities. There are many reasons for it:

1. Lack Of Value 

A top reason for the lack of enthusiasm for social tools is that a lot of these tools do not demonstrate true value and thus employees deem them vital for carrying out their work. For instance most employees need word documents or spreadsheet program to carry on their day-today work. In the same manner they do not need access to collaboration software to get their jobs done. Though the new crop of employees are of the generation that have grown up with technology adoption and are open to newer tools, most employees still need a compelling reason to take up a new tool. Otherwise, majority of the employees will simply not bother.

The quintessential question of "what's in it for me?" has to be clearly stated and demonstrated. If this is not articulated clearly then most employees fail to see the benefit of making an effort of adopting a new tool. So no matter how many wonderful features the tools has, Learning and Development managers have to demonstrate the value of the social tool to ensure an organization-wide adoption and full utilization.

2. Poor User Interface

Most users do not take new software on its face value but it is true that user interface of a collaboration software is probably the most important factor that influences user adoption. This focus on appearance may seem frivolous but if it does not look good, the software will fail to make an impact and persuade them to change their behavior. Many employees are more comfortable with existing tools like email that they utilize for group collaboration – but within limited boundaries. Even if the collaboration tool has more features and more utility, to change their behavior and move on to a new tool, they need to be impressed. And visual brilliance and an attractive user interface is the necessary push to achieve behavior change.

In addition to visual attractive interface, user interface should also be simple and logical in structure. Familiarity with existing tools also help people to migrate to a new tool. If the social tool looks good and has a simple, easy user interface, the chances of achieving a high adoption rate is a surety.

3. Too Many Features, Too Much Clutter

Developers are often too enthusiastic when creating social tools and integrate a multitude of features into social and collaboration tools. But the question to ask yourself is how much do the employees really need? If they will not utilize the video chat feature and are satisfied with audio chat, why include it at all? Many employees may not have cameras at their end and if others are engaging in a video chat, they may feel out of the network. Simple tools with clean and utilitarian features have a huge advantage over other collaboration tools as they are better adopted by all employees – irrespective of their educational or professional backgrounds.

While these problems are real, there are simple solutions that will help organizations get around them. One solution is to train employees better to adopt new collaboration tools. This will ensure all the features of the tool and utilize them without getting overwhelmed.

If a tool fails to demonstrate utility, many employees will tend to stick with existing tools or select other tools more suited to their needs — often without the knowledge or approval of the IT department.

Finally, organizations should not get over competitive over levels of adoption of collaboration tools. Even small groups within the workplace who utilize collaboration tools can together lead to significant benefits for the entire organization. So learning from it all is to have faith and continue to champion social learning within the corporate sector.