Delivering on the Social Promise

Today’s social tools provide an opportunity to take a business where no enterprise has gone before. But, as a growing number of CIOs have discovered—sometimes the hard way—communication and collaboration don’t just happen, even with the best tools and technologies in place.

A recent study conducted by AtTask/Harris offers some interesting insights into social promise versus social reality.

The report, “The State of Enterprise Work,” found that, on average, enterprise workers spend only about 45 percent of their time focused on primary job duties. Almost six out of 10 said that wasteful meetings get in the way of productivity; 63 percent indicated that they feel there are “too many cooks in the kitchen”; 64 percent noted that there’s often confusion at their company about who is doing what; and 81 percent said that ongoing conflicts exist with other departments, groups and teams. Finally, about four in 10 reported that conflicts result in lost productivity.

The upshot? It’s increasingly difficult to determine where the boundary between innovation and distraction exists.

However, one thing is certain: It’s critical to establish a framework for approaching an assortment of activities, including email, face-to-face meetings, impromptu discussions, document sharing, instant messaging, project management and more. In every instance, the introduction of digital technology has radically transformed the dynamics of interaction.

The takeaway? CIOs and other executives need to examine and re-examine how they apply tools in an era of digital communication and collaboration.

Simply porting over legacy processes and infusing information technology isn’t enough, as the survey results show. Increasingly, business and IT leaders must examine processes—and then rethink actions, interactions and reactions from the keyboard and touch-screen up. The basic assumptions and tools used in the past—such as meetings and discussions—need to take place in very different ways, and involve different incentives and rewards.

One of the interesting findings from the AtTask/Harris survey was that one in five enterprise workers cited company leadership as the group with which they most often experienced conflict. Although some animosity and friction has always existed between senior executives and everyone else—and, to a certain extent, it always will exist—it’s clear that the margin for error is growing incredibly slim, and getting everyone in sync is critical.

Productivity, morale, confidence and efficiency are no longer simply desirable qualities. They are paramount. So squander them at your own risk.

Samuel Greengard, a CIO Insight contributor, writes about business, technology and other topics. His forthcoming book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press), will be released in the spring of 2015.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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