The winner is… email!
How it could happen that there are so many solutions to sharing and publishing documents and content online, but people in organizations continue to send documents attached to emails, with all the problems of email collaboration? You need to ask somebody for a fresh version of a document, you are asked to re-send the document you have already published, and CEO letters are left unread because there are too many messages in the inbox.
If you are a CEO, you should be sleepless. Information is the main asset of many organizations, and it is stored, managed and actually owned by your employees. If, one morning, everyone woke up with an evil idea to clean up their hard drives, many companies would just disappear.
Why has Santa failed?
What mistake have all these smart product managers made that has resulted in users being reluctant to use product with long feature lists, astonishing designs and huge advertising budgets?
I think the answer is obvious if you try to putting yourself in the user’s shoes. How do you publish your document in SharePoint? You go to the SharePoint portal, you try to find the relevant section, and than you may need to ask for user rights to be granted. You may need to ask to create a new section if the one you need does not yet exist. Then you upload the file. Done deal? Nope. You need to notify your colleagues, so you have to write an email saying: “Hey guys, I’ve uploaded my document here <link> “. Wouldn’t it be easier just to create the same email with an attached document?
Now put yourself in the manager’s shoes. Imagine you are a CEO trying to make sure that all your important company information is stored in one safe place. Any solution costs above $10K (and goes up to a five-digit number easily). It would take a few weeks’ effort for your admin to find an appropriate solution by comparing enterprise portals, document management systems, enterprise wikis, etc. Hopefully he picks up the right one, but now another couple of weeks must be spent to install and configure it. And now you have to use all your management power and authority to make your employees actually use it!
If you are lucky, you have a decent CTO to lead this effort. But even when you feel it is a success, I have a secret for you… Just look at people’s emails… Yes, they continue sending attachments hiding this sin from the CEO’s punishment. 🙂
A light of hope?
Is there any chance this situation will improve? I think engineers did a fantastic job in inventing all the nice features for their groupware products, enterprise portal solutions, and document management software, trying to satisfy demanding customers. The last step to win against emails is to make the solution as simple as sending email.
In fact, there is a clear evidence of success in using this method. Just look how quickly enterprise wikis emerged. Dion Hinchcliffe hints in his brilliant posting:”…wiki presents itself as the most likely target for the initial adoption in the enterprise.”
Wikis do not offer any new features: they have just made portal creation significantly easier by giving user the ability to edit pages right in the browser. A product that removes the rest of complexity will turn the enterprise collaboration world upside down just like Google turned the search engine market. Google did not create any new features, but instead made the search really useful.
Any guesses to nominate the winner?..