Teamwork, But Less TechnologyBy Allan Alter | Posted 03-05-2008
Teamwork, But Less Technology
Small and growing businesses are not technology laggards. Mid-tier companies are more likely than large companies to be early and midstream technology adopters, and they are increasing IT spending faster, according to past CIO Insight surveys.
But their spending on collaboration is the exception to this trend. Companies with revenues of less than $500 million use fewer collaboration tools than larger companies and are increasing spending in this market more slowly.
There's a case to be made that smaller firms don't need these tools as much: They have fewer employees, locations and processes to coordinate. But it's also possible they're overlooking factors that argue for more IT support, including the rise of telecommuting and a more mobile workforce, and the power of sharing and storing project, process and other kinds of information these tools offer. The lack of adequate training for collaboration software already in place also indicates neglect.
In our Top Trends Survey for 2008, IT executives at midtier companies rated collaboration and workflow the second most important technologies of 2008. Given that, CIOs at these companies should revisit these technologies, even in today's cost-constrained environment.
Investments in Spending and Training Are Low
Midmarket companies invest less time and money than larger firms in collaboration software. Larger firms are more likely to have global employees who must work together in teams. The low training figures for midtier firms also indicate that it's not just a matter of investing less in collaboration technologies, but also of neglecting investments already made.
Lagging Behind in Web 2.0 and Open Source
Web 2.0 and open-source collaboration tools are only beginning to make inroads in IT organizations. Midmarket companies are neither willing to cut the cord with proprietary vendors, nor to embrace Web 2.0 technologies. But given SMBs' strong interest in open source, and the widespread (albeit unsupported) use of Web 2.0, more midtier companies are bound to begin adopting these tools.
Use of Collaboration Technologies Doesn't Measure Up
Midtier companies are less likely than larger firms to use collaboration tools. These include videoconferencing, shared project management systems, electronic whiteboards, electronic meeting systems and knowledge management systems--tools well-suited for connecting global teams and sharing knowledge in large companies where employees are often unknown to one another.