Collaboration Technology and the Tug of War Between IT and Employees

Guest Blog by Farzin Shahidi, CEO, NextPlane


Last Edited: June 15, 2019

Guest Blogger

Organisations of all sizes live and breathe on the ability to communicate and collaborate. Not so long ago, collaboration existed solely within the office or over the phone. That has all changed.

Technology has evolved to provide us with a myriad of collaboration options, from messaging services to video collaboration to product management software, the choices are abundant and seemingly endless.

It’s no surprise that with the all of choices in ways to collaborate, workers and teams are developing their own preferences in how they communicate and work together and are introducing these preferred tools into the workplace — with or without the approval of I.T. In today’s workplace, this means that there is a proliferation of tools and platforms, from embedded UC platforms from Cisco or IBM to newer team collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook and others.

A new report from NextPlane examines the extent of this growing rift and its impact on collaboration and productivity. We surveyed 750 people across multiple industries to find out more about the tools professionals use to collaborate.

We found that 63 percent of respondents expressed loyalty to the technology products they use for their jobs. And it doesn’t stop on an individual level — 42 percent of teams have loyalty to technology products, with some citing that they’d prefer to use tools outside of what their company provides, and some citing that they only use the products they’re familiar with.

But do these preferences bleed into the workplace? Yes, they do. In fact, nearly half of professionals (46 percent) said they or their team have introduced new technology into their workplace. Unified collaboration tools, like Slack and Microsoft Teams, are examples of the types of technologies workers are organically introducing into the workplace and building strong allegiances toward. Just look at the tremendous growth of Slack.

Professionals are circumventing I.T. to use their preferred technology.  And it’s working. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents said they’ve been successful in implementing their choice of tech tools.

Not only are workers and teams taking action in dictating which tools they use to do their jobs, but they are also becoming more vocal in their disapproval of I.T. having full reign on the technology used in the workplace. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they would be resistant to IT or management dictating which software or tools they use, and 40 percent said their team would be resistant to such a mandate.

The reasons for pushback against I.T. reflect the notion that individuals and teams know how to do their jobs best and should have a say in the tools they use to do their work.

When it comes to the reasons individuals specifically would be resistant to strict IT mandates:

  • 25% of individuals said they know which software or tools work best for their role and work
  • 13% said they would be resistant to learning new software

When it comes to the reasons teams would be resistant to strict IT mandates:

  • 26% said they have an established workflow with our current selection of software and tools
  • 14% said they don’t want to relearn software
  • 13% said management and IT doesn’t understand how our team works best

No matter the preferences of employees or reasons for pushback, I.T. must regulate what technologies are used within a company for a number of reasons, including controlling the cost of subscriptions and ensuring company information is secure. And I.T. is not backing down from this responsibility. More than half (54%) said IT has the final say on all of the programs and technological devices used, and only 10 percent of employees said they have full say in the technology they use.

But workers aren’t going down so easily. In fact, more than half (53%) of employees said they or another team have pushed back on IT or management when they tried to dictate the technology they use.

This push and pull comes with mixed success for both sides, but the tension is showing no signs of stopping unless communication and collaboration strategies change to reflect the wants and needs of both IT and employees.

Collaboration tools are a prime example of how business professionals are bringing their own brands into their workflow. Teams have displayed a clear appetite for WSC (workstream collaboration tools), as there are now well over 100 vendors offering their own unique take on the perfect platform. In fact, a recent study showed that nearly half of 1,000 business leaders surveyed said their organisation was using at least six collaboration tools, and over 1 in 6 were using more than ten. If a company is going to successfully implement these collaboration tools and allow teams to utilise their tool of choice, they must develop a collaboration strategy that opens up communication across different tools and platforms and also gives IT control.

While there are no one-size-fits-all options for all types of technology employees might bring into the workplace, federation is one possible solution that can allow companies to deploy a comprehensive and open collaboration strategy that allows multiple collaboration tools to be used within the same organisation. Federation allows companies to link their user collaboration platforms together with those inside and out of the organisation, even if those platforms are different. This creates an opportunity for teams and individuals to be able to collaborate however they want, and for IT to maintain security and control on IT systems – a virtual win-win.

Guest Blog by Farzin Shahidi, CEO, NextPlane



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