Monthly Research
& Market Commentary

Not just Geeks: Getting the Best out of a Sharing Organization

Adaptive Execution / 18 Jan 2016 / By Matt Ballantine

Despite all of the remarkable ways in which people can now use technology to share and collaborate with each other, there appears to be a significant disconnect within our organizations between the delivery of services, and the conscious management of change to deliver tangible benefit.  In the current shift of software delivery model from made in-house to sourced from the public cloud – a trend particularly prevalent in the world of collaborative services – we need to plug the gap to ensure that the business benefits.  

For example, here’s what I heard from the Global IT Operations Director of a major airline while researching The Sharing Organization: “We’re getting a push now… from IT literate, informed, buyer-type people, saying ‘Thanks for delivering this series of products that are clearly very powerful.  But could you tell us how to exploit them?’ – and all we can say is, ‘But we’re just geeks – we just manage and support them.’ There is now a grey area in between that needs to be filled...  I use collaboration as a classic example – we are spending multi-millions on stuff that everyone thinks is brilliant, but nobody really knows how to exploit it, or has it on their agenda 24/7 to exploit it.  It’s a complete void at the moment, and I’ve seen it in every company that I’ve worked in.  Everybody can see this problem as clear as day, but everyone is kicking it to someone else.”

Note this is from an organization being used as a case study by collaboration software vendors!  And from my interviews in the past few months, it isn’t an exceptional case.  Rather, it appears to be the norm, as technology groups grapple with the complexities of how the cloud changes the business model for the delivery of IT.  The value that traditionally came from providing the technical and human infrastructure to support software services within an organization is diminishing now so much comes from outside.  Yet the capabilities required to drive business value from software are more important than ever.

Sharing and collaboration across and outside of organization boundaries and silos isn’t just ‘nice to have’.  Intra- and inter-organizational networks are keystones for innovation strategies, staff engagement and customer acquisition and retention for enterprises in both public and private sectors.

Take the example of Clough, an Australian support services provider to clients in the primary industries across the globe.  As commodity prices have tumbled, increasing the sharing capabilities of the company’s business development teams has become crucial to maintaining revenue.  To be able to identify opportunities within customers engaged across different subsidiaries, and become better at understanding and servicing challenging new client requirements, Clough has deployed a combination of new technologies, learning and development, performance management processes and targets, clear leadership from the CEO and alignment between IT, HR and operational management.

For Clough, enabling sharing across the business development function has been a crucial business need.  That’s probably why it did not just roll out an enterprise social network and see what happened.  The ‘deploy it and they will come’ approach invariably means that no-one comes.

Later this Spring the LEF will publish the results of our research into sharing, collaboration and technology, The Sharing Organization.  The report will examine and describe approaches to increasing the success of projects aimed at improving the sharing capabilities of organizations through technology.


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