The major dimension that comes to my mind is the distinction between ‘push’, or ‘command’, driven collaboration versus what I call ‘value’ driven collaboration. When I go to social collaboration systems, I go because I expect to find and leverage value there. Primarily information I need. Nobody is telling me to go there. If I don’t access a particular community, activity or forum for months, nobody is holding me accountable for being a no-show. The value is in my results. But every business also needs a ‘command’ channel for the “you-must-review-the-Business-Conduct-Guidelines-and-certify-before-x-date” type of communications. My manager holds me accountable for being up to date with my e-mail because that’s where ‘command’ communications happen today. As we think of integrating collaboration, we have to be careful to allow appropriate separation, or filtering, of these types of collaboration. The last thing I want is an overcrowded message stream resembling an overcrowded e-mail inbox. I need filtering that makes it easy and intuitive to separate the ‘command’ and ‘value’ driven forms of collaboration.
The UCC/Social relationship is another interesting dimension, which focuses on whether you need the answers instantly or not, and whether you know who to ask. As much as technology allows you to ask a group of people the same question, it would clearly be too interruptive if we all sent out multi-person polls every time we needed an answer. When it comes to the value driven information exploration work, I often go to a social collaboration system without knowing who the author is of the information I seek. [See my blog post entitled “How Connections helped Connections” for an example]. Yet, when I find the information, I may want to contact the author for additional perspective. UCC is more acceptable (less intrusive) when used for 1:1 communication. It’s also great for many:many collaboration, but that would be for meetings, etc. So the synergy between UCC and Social technologies bridges that spectrum, with Social focused on the many players and UCC focused on fewer players. I may use the social software to search a great many authors & docs & tags, and then use UCC software to gather context, chat with the author, or have a synchronous meeting with the team using the information.
No doubt we need the explicit communication facilitated by UCC. But as we integrate UCC into the social collaboration models, one of the keys is to pay attention to the different modes of collaboration (1:1, many:many, information exploration, information dissemination, decision making, etc) and integrate the right technology for the right task in the right place; not just offer ubiquitous presence awareness, or every capability in every place, but offer the right capability in the right place. This is challenging because the social software usage models are not always well defined. Vendors write their software to be configurable and adaptable to appeal to the widest possible set of enterprises, yet often fail to offer more prescriptive guidance to their customers in best practices and best usage models. Which means UCC software has to be very flexible allowing for efficient integration into different usage models. System administrators need to be enabled to configure what integration points to surface, and which ones to keep dormant, based on their preferences and the trade-offs they’re willing to make between functionality and performance.
What do you see as critical success factors for integrating UCC into Social Business solutions? Please submit answers via Fernando’s blog.