Only a few years ago, in major companies, IT departments would carefully select a collaborative platform which they then presented to (and imposed upon) their users. A collaborative platform typically comprised email, a collaborative intranet, an instant messaging application, and often a corporate social network. The goal was to make sure that all exchanges of information took place within this unique “corporate” platform.
The individual users within the corporation, however, adopted other tools, which they found to be more cutting-edge, easier to use, easier to deploy, and more collaborative, but which contradicted official IT corporate strategies. This resulted in several problems in the corporate environment, among them, the creation of many undocumented information silos. The arrival of tools such as Microsoft Access and Lotus Notes portended these issues 20 years ago, and the growth of the cloud has recently accelerated them even further.
It became a game of cat and mouse in which users sought a fast and effective response to their needs, while IT departments tried to keep users within the officially approved solutions that had stringent requirements in terms of maintenance and security.
Small businesses, on the other hand, often had to get by without any collaborative tool at all, due to the expense and complexity of platform solutions.
While today’s state-of-the-art collaborative platforms (such as Microsoft, Google, and Facebook) are now accessible to small businesses (thanks to the cloud), they must coexist with other tools that provide specific services to various departments within the company. The challenge is no longer to eradicate these tools, but to support their adoption and find a place for them in an everchanging environment.