Mobile devices negate the need for fixed desks and workstation that access information, so companies can expand their definitions of what makes an information worker. "Now more people can access data and tap a deeper pool of knowledge as desk-less employees can contribute their expertise," according to Keitt.
Collaboration as an Efficiency Tactic
Keitt says getting people to work together shouldn't be the end goal. Instead the interactions between employees should advance an organization's underlying mission.
Collaboration tools can help businesses enter new markets, roll out new products and retain high-value employees. Goals frequently change, which makes finding the right tool for the task all the more important. However, little progress will be made without an enthusiastic user base that's committed to the challenge and opportunity.
"These tools should not just be an IT initiative," Sharma says. "You need to include all the people that are going to use this or have some voice in how it should work, and what it should be used for. It's not just about you, it's about all the people you're working with."
After a business determines its requirements and understands its unique challenges for employees, it can begin to search for the appropriate tools and capabilities, according to Sharma.
Many companies' plans get derailed during implementation. It's best for businesses to use simple, intuitive tools, but the need for training and ongoing support is also crucial, Sharma says.
Collaboration Represents Potential Threat to CIOs
CIOs can lead collaboration efforts and potentially elevate their roles in the process. Collaboration can help every employee within a company succeed when it's done well, so CIOs could help affect each staffer in the same consistent and cost-effective way, Sharma says.
However, many social technologies are being integrated into business applications that are not controlled by IT, and this poses a threat to CIOs.
These types of tools and collaboration apps "could potentially be part of a larger trend toward IT, and by extension CIOs, not controlling elements of the employee technology portfolio," Keitt says. To mitigate the threat, CIOs can argue for the unification of social streams, to eliminate information silos that prevent rapid decision making, according to Keitt.
"That would require either consolidation of social collaboration tools or the integration of disparate technologies, both of which provide a management role for the IT group," Keitt says.