As an IT professional the one thing that you can guarantee is “change” and generally everyone is better off for it. However as more and more systems move to the cloud, the number of solutions available for use is expanding exponentially and as a result the organisational culture is becoming an essential component when making decisions.
The days when the IT department could choose a product, implement it and hope the business would use it has certainly gone. IT has traditionally tried to define its strategy through Domain Architecture which is still relevant for most bespoke systems however with regard to collaborative and cloud environments cultural acceptance is just as important.
Within the enterprise there are so many options for collaboration and social that even if a product is deployed users can still vote with their feet and start using different products which will segment the storage and regionalise collaboration rather than aiding global adoption.
A number of years ago Unified Comms was the “flavour of the month”, however this has now evolved to become Social Unified Comms as organisations now need to not only connect audio, video but now also social for a complete user experience.
The key to implementing any successful collaborative environment is involving the end users and documenting their requirements. Enterprise Social although similar to the Facebook experience is a completely different offering and culturally the allowed interactions need to be defined within a published user acceptance policy to ensure that the right cultural behaviours emerge from the beginning.
In addition to business requirements and organisational cultural considerations you also need to map your user base to ensure any offering is designed to appeal to the masses. Traditionally this has been done considering employee age segmentation i.e. generation X, Y, Z etc, however in recent years lifestyle mapping has also been recognised as an important factor.
The Social Unified Comms environment needs to be architected to ensure maximum global collaboration with conflicting products removed. Of course there is a shopping list of must have features that need to be included so any vanilla solution is accepted i.e device agnostic user ability (including tablets, mobiles) easy uploadable rich media content without encoding (pictures and videos), ease of use and easily customisable. The main criticism of social systems is the inability for small teams to be heard due to all the background noise of the information streams and groups.
Community Management is another “Must have” feature which needs to be considered with any social endeavour. Without individuals encouraging social interaction and creating business cases for use, social platforms wither. Direction and investment in success is always required
As Cloud and Collaborative environments continue to improve more and more focus will need to given to the end user rather than solely the product to ensure that adoption is guaranteed and the role of Cultural Architect will become ever more important to ensure successful deliveries.