Have collaboration tools tried to reinvent the wheel and failed?
Collaboration tools are designed to bolster productivity in the workplace, but according to UK SMB’s there is too much choice, deployment often doesn’t work and their use often leads to reduced productiveness.
While technology is often cited as a great enabler for start-ups, collaboration tools could be doing the opposite of their purpose and kill productivity.
Simon Morton, MD, Eyeful Presentations said on deploying Yammer: "It worked well, it was really strong for six months or so and then slowly but surely it died down. It didn’t become part of their everyday process."
One of the problems with collaboration tools such as Yammer and HipChat, is that they are trying to replace email. Email is ubiquitous in business, everyone uses it as a core tool of their business, so trying to implement an alternative is likely to be a near impossible task.
This hasn’t stopped many from trying though, which leads to the second problem – there are too many tools.
During a roundtable event hosted by Citrix and attended by CBR the topic of collaboration tools was raised, in a group of around 6 people, each person stated use of a different tool.
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said that small businesses often react, saying "Oh my goodness, it’s another tool." Many who have start-ups are doing it out of love for what they do, whether it’s making cupcakes or a new gadget.
A quick search will result in a deluge of collaboration tools, all of which will claim to be the best and essential for the business.
Undoubtedly for some businesses these tools work and are necessary for communicating across continents, but for a large part of the market it feels as if they’ve tried to reinvent the wheel.
Yammer declined to comment when approached by CBR, while HipChat hasn’t commented at time of publishing.
On Yammer’s site it declares: "Yammer team collaboration software and business applications allow you to bring your team together so you can have conversations, collaborate on files, and organize around projects so you can go further – faster."
While this may be the claim, the SMB’s that I’ve spoken to suggest that instead of being used for collaboration, the tools end up being used for office gossip.
A third problem that faces these tools is that they are often deployed as a great idea from the boss, they’ve discovered a new tool that they think will boost productivity, but inevitably after initial promise – enthusiasm tails off.
Email works because it is vital to the business, as well as these other collaborative tools may work, they aren’t necessary vital.