Avanade: Social collaboration tools such as SharePoint need to be used

9 August 2013

In the modern business world, more executives are starting to embrace social and collaborative tools to allow employees to better connect with coworkers and clients. As a result, many IT professionals are investing in Microsoft training, seeing the use of SharePoint, Lync and many Microsoft's other tools as the wave of the future.

However, corporate executives without a tech background appear to be marking social collaboration investments in the wrong areas. Instead of integrating enterprise-grade software and tools into operations, many leaders are confining their collaborative expansion to social media platforms. 

According to recent report from Avanade, 74 percent of enterprises that have implemented social technologies are using Facebook. However, just 39 percent have opted to install Microsoft SharePoint. 

Although social media can be useful in its own right, the source suggested that business leaders should be more interested in enterprise social tools, consumer-focused social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. However, Avanade reported that decision-makers are slowly starting to realize that SharePoint or similar collaboration software is much more beneficial for increasing collaboration and boosting productivity. 

"Forward-looking companies should analyze what they consider to be "social collaboration" tools in their businesses and look to promote true enterprise social collaboration with the right tools to yield faster, more productive teams." the report outlined. 

In fact, the source found that many executives plan to implement SharePoint into their operations in the coming year, more so than any other social tool. Close to a quarter – 23 percent – of businesses will start using SharePoint in 12 months. 

Establish an adoption plan
A separate report from Accenture backed up the sentiments outlined by Avanade. The source noted that simply using Twitter as the sole social tool at an enterprise will do little to solve the communications issues that many workers experience. 

Traditional social media tools are not useful for sharing information of complex data sets, something that is becoming a major priority and concern for most companies. Accenture noted that the amount of data the enterprises are amassing is expanding by between 35 percent and 50 percent annually

The source recommended that decision-makers and IT managers should create a well defined 100-day plan to create a strategy focused on integrating social technology.

The first step in the process should be an internal audit of current social applications used, in order to determine how effective they are. Next benchmarks should be set to determine what goals need to met with new software or services. Then, executives and IT professionals should pinpoint particular process that could benefit from using more collaborative features and deploy technology accordingly. Finally, corporate leaders should provide incentives for employees to use the new collaborative tools in order to encourage faster adoption. 

Training is necessary
SharePoint certification will be in demand, as 26 percent of executives cited a lack of collaboration software training as a barrier to adoption, one of the top integration concerns listed in the report. 

At large enterprises, it can be difficult to create a standard in-house training program that all employees can participate in. Modern business norms mean that many workers are conducting business from home or on the road, making it extremely difficult to find a time and place for all staff members to participate in a SharePoint training

Fortunately, companies can consult with a online training provider that offers a number of Microsoft certification courses that can be accessed from any location. With a wide range of schedules, these classes offer employees flexible training options. Also, some web-based learning firms provide guaranteed programs that will take place even if just a few individuals enroll, unlike many traditional classroom courses. 

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