The Hype of Collaboration? I Could do Without It for One Day…

Another day, another release by a major vendor, another slew of hype and hyperbole thrown around.

Why, if the hype we bestow on new solutions as they are announced were to ever materialize we’d all be out of jobs and SkyNet would be fully operational by now.

Alas, that is not the case.

Today TIBCO threw their Social hat in the ring with Tibbr (sorry, not sure if I am doing their branding people a favor here — not sure which letter is supposed to be capitalized).

There are interesting features in the product that I like: focus on integration of anything with anything (well, it is a TIBCO product) that allow any system to talk to the platform, and to anything and everyone in it; it is not about following people or liking them or becoming fans – the focus is on systems and data (you can follow topics, systems, departments, even people if you want – the case studies they presented basically made the case that no one wants to follow people when collaborating inside the organization — I am not entirely sure that is true always, everywhere.); it has a very flexible filtering model to make sure that only the right information gets through (as they said in the presentation, don’t want to know that John had lunch, but I do want to know he closed the deal); has a very easy to use interface (think Facebook for business, as much as I hate that analogy); users access the platform to share data and collaborate among themselves.

Think of Salesforce Chatter, but in a very open model – no platform dependency, systems post information automatically, filtering and rules allow information to flow freely where it needs to go, it has a dynamic integration model, and a simple to use interface.  It is an interesting platform; still, it does not solve the main problem of collaboration.

A collaborative enterprise it is not about the act of collaborating, it is about the people who collaborate.

Will this platform help the people collaborate better? Maybe, maybe not.

What I do know is that the demo they did basically replicated very closely the way a company would work – not the way people work. Briefly, a person looking for information needed to follow a specific group of people to find the data he needed (which, of course, he did not know – he found out when someone else told him as a comment to a posting he made — are you following this? is this getting too complicated? is this reminding you of how your organization works today – not the way you wish it would work? does it sound that it is not collaboration, rather automating the processes you have in place today?) Of course, it is too early to tell – and this is a platform, not a closed system.  Thus my previous statement — no solution, no matter how good it is at introduction, can solve any problems until it actually is deployed, and used by the people.

Can Tibbr become a collaboration platform? Likely, it already is more of a collaboration platform that a lot of other solutions out there.  Is it the one? Again, too early too tell.

My recommendation, let’s stop solving all problems of collaboration each time a new product is launched, let’s focus on making flexible, dynamic, easy to use platforms that users can leverage to collaborate, and let’s use those collaborations to build a collaborative enterprise.  Let’s see how the users solve their own collaboration problems using a flexible platform.

Are you with me?

13 thoughts on “The Hype of Collaboration? I Could do Without It for One Day…”

  1. People (including analysts) sometimes fall into the trap created by vendors when launching a new product. The hype can help spread the news, but only the quality and the usefulness of the product make it relevant.

    Unfortunately, some decision makers can easily confuse reputation with hype, and select software based on what the vendor says it does, not on what it really does.

    1. Gabriel,

      Thanks for the read, appreciate you stopping by.

      I think that the hype is usually the answer to the user’s problems and fulfills their expectations, so they are eager and willing to believe it.

      Alas, even if the product were to deliver to 100% of expectations, most software packages are utilized to, at best, 40% of their capabilities and we simply assume that it can do it, but we are not doing something right.

      Seen that many times.

      I don’t think there is malice from the vendor, just not a complete honest true as to what the product can really do easily or out-of-the-box versus what it could do if the user were to invest in it.

      Thanks

  2. Hi Esteban,

    Thank you for sharing your insight on this topic. Your commentary really resonates with our approach here at Yammer. Like you, we believe that people are at the core of collaboration rather than systems. The real value comes from the conversations people are having – dialogs in which colleagues are working together to solve problems, innovate and share knowledge.

    Thanks again for sharing your perspective,

    Jessica Halper, Community Manager at Yammer

    1. Jessica,

      Thanks for stopping by, much appreciated. I agree with your approach, without truly making an endorsement for Yammer, and will say that open, flexible, and dynamic platforms that allow users to collaborate in any way they see and need is the only way I see collaboration actually occurring. The rest is just using technology to pretend to collaborate.

      Thanks for the read!

  3. Hi Esteban:

    Nice article, but I believe that you missed a great opportunity to call out an important component that realistically is required to have collaboration that produces real value: Metrics that measure and motivate interactions and outcomes of real value.

    Far too often the time spent writing and reading all this chatter, tweets and other thoughts of the moment are not justified by the value provided.

    I also see too many community managers who primarily are driven by getting participation and not concerned enough with measuring real value created. It’s kind of like in the dot.bomb days when people were more concerned about eyeballs and figured they would somehow determine a way to monetize the eyeballs later.

    Collaboration without metrics measuring value is just talk.

    Chuck, FuzeDigital Founder

    1. Chuck,

      Thanks for the read and the comment.

      Yes, I agree with you that there is an issue with lack of consistent or standardized metrics in collaboration – and it shows in the initiatives and in the results. Most projects will end up short or go too long without getting specific objectives – mostly because they were never set or were unrealistic from the start. First order of business should be to figure out what collaboration will bring to the business, how to measure, and put the pieces in place to create the measurement framework.

      I don’t see it happen – and I don’t expect to see it happen for some time. Metrics are a result of a certainty of the value provided by an initiative, and we are nowhere close to that with collaboration (sure, there are examples, and there are initiatives – but we need a standardized, flexible, adjustable an repeatable model – and that we don’t have).

      I don’t want to cover all topics in one blog, I was more focused on the hype that causes projects to fail in this one – but will cover metrics and measurement very soon.

      Thanks
      Esteban

  4. Hi Esteban:

    The perfect metric to measure value in collaboration will never exist, but some metrics should absolutely be used before any company allows such a potential resource suck.

    It’s about time for the hype cycle around “being social” to start having more accountability and involvement from the people actually paying the bills.

    I look forward to your future posts covering the options and importance of these metrics.

    1. I have said it for quite some time, and will continue to say so, social is another evolution of the business — why treat it differently? measure it same as you would any other initiative. once we discover a way to change the basic KPIs and business functions, we can talk about a different way to do business — until then, it is business as usual. and metrics as usual.

      thanks for the read and comment.

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