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How can an enterprise social collaboration platform benefit business?

The influence of social media is clear: Today's users want to collaborate. Answer these questions to determine if social collaboration software is right for your business.

With an enterprise social collaboration platform, teamwork makes the dream work -- especially if the dream is smoother, more efficient workflows and better communication among employees.

Organizations today have a number of different collaboration tools at their disposal, from document-sharing platforms to group chat apps. In this FAQ, get the answers to your burning social collaboration questions and decide whether this technology is useful for your business.

Why collaborate?

Social technology is already part of people's daily lives. Most of us reach for our smartphones before even rolling out of bed in the morning, checking Facebook and other social networking apps first thing. Social collaboration is a natural extension of that. We're already sharing our lives on social media; why not bring that instinct to the workplace?

When social collaboration is successful, it creates a collaborative environment among co-workers, through document sharing and instant messaging. Ultimately, enterprise social tools should change the way we work in a good way.

Some companies are reluctant to join the party, though, because of security concerns and resource constraints. Organizations hesitant to adopt social tools can try an enterprise file sync-and-share (EFSS) platform, such as Citrix ShareFile, that will still allow employees to share and collaborate on their work while keeping corporate data safe.

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Won't collaboration hamper productivity?

A social collaboration platform should create new lines of communication for employees.

Not if it's more than mere chitchat and meme sharing. The idea behind a social collaboration platform is to create new lines of communication for employees. When they don't have to leave their desks or pick up the phone to get in touch, they may be more likely to participate on a group project.

Dominic Namnath, CIO at Tri-Counties Regional Center, a nonprofit based in Santa Barbara, Calif., explained that the right social collaboration tool can lead to less meetings and faster decisions. "It opens the doors for people to collaborate in a way that's comfortable for them," he said.

And with EFSS platforms such as Box and DocuSign, Namnath said there is more widespread adoption of enterprise collaboration tools than ever before. Some collaboration tools may have less of a social component without, say, an instant messaging feature, but organizations without any such tool could use an EFSS platform to kick-start collaboration among employees.

Where does social collaboration fall short?

Social collaboration sounds appealing, right? So, why isn't everyone in the workforce on board? If your users are reluctant to use the social collaboration tools your company offers, it's time to tweak some things. There are four epic fails to avoid:

  1. Failing to communicate. What good is a cool new collaboration tool if users don't even know about it? It's up to admins to let them know what it is and how they can get it.
  2. Choosing the wrong tools. If you pick a niche tool that's only useful to one department, no one else in the organization will utilize it. That's a waste of company time and effort.
  3. Using something static. Steer clear of software that isn't scalable; find a tool that workers can use right now and in the future.
  4. Throwing in the towel. Adoption takes time, so don't expect 100% of users to jump on board the moment a social collaboration platform is available.

Ready to go social?

It's important for everyone involved in the implementation process to keep an open mind. With multiple social collaboration vendors and products to choose from, it may take time to find the right fit for your business. It may also be tricky to force a certain platform on employees, especially if they manage to find an effective tool on their own and have already incorporated it into their workflows.

IT may want to take note from employees who have taken the DIY approach to enterprise social collaboration software. Involve those early adopters in the decision-making process and let their experience guide you; then, you'll know exactly what worked and didn't with their chosen platform.

Again, reaching out to employees at every level is key to finding out what users need to improve their workflows. Tap into that team spirit to make social collaboration tools work for you.

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