Enterprise Collaboration Platforms

PDF version of this report
You must have Adobe Acrobat reader to view, save, or print PDF files. The reader
is available for free

Enterprise Collaboration Platforms

by Faulkner Staff

Docid: 00021940

Publication Date: 2011

Report Type: TUTORIAL


An enterprise collaboration platform provides the tools needed by members of
a team to work together regardless of their physical distance. These
like Microsoft SharePoint, include not only communications vehicles and personal
and team organizational tools but also mechanisms to organize and share files.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

[return to top of this report]

When poet John Donne said "No man is an island," he could
well have been talking about employees in the modern enterprise.

Faulkner Reports
Enterprise Collaboration Software Market Trends Marketplace

Not only must they work together, they often must do so while at a
considerable distance from each other. Distributed teams mean that individuals may
be in different time zones or different countries and report to
different business units. 

Their salvation can be an enterprise collaboration platform that
allows them to share information and documents in a secure, stable
environment regardless of whether they are separated by large
distances or work side-by-side in the same office.

Prominent examples of enterprise collaboration platforms include:

  • Microsoft SharePoint (an enterprise favorite)
  • IBM Notes (formerly Lotus Notes) and Connections
  • Google’s G Suite
  • Jive
  • Yammer (now owned by Microsoft and part of Office 365)
  • Salesforce Chatter1
  • Slack


[return to top of this report]

An enterprise collaboration platform (ECP) provides the tools needed by members of
a team to work together regardless of their distance from each other. These
like Microsoft SharePoint, include not only communication vehicles but personal
and team organizational tools as well as mechanisms to organize and share files.

The ECP may be composed of a single package, several products from one
vendor, or a mix of components from multiple vendors. There are both commercial
and open source options and solutions that vary from the simple to the
sophisticated. A typical platform includes one or more
communication methods such as e-mail and instant messaging, plus a sharing mechanism for files,
calendars, and tasks.

In keeping with current trends, most of the
leading enterprise collaboration platforms have integrated mobile clients as
well as social networking features.2
Often identified as "enterprise social platforms," this new direction is
consistent with the way in which most modern employees have become used to communicating
in their personal lives. IBM has even begun marketing a "Social Edition" of its
Notes solution. Technology adoption surveys conducted by Forrester Research reveal "a shift in software investment growth from more mature software categories
– like enterprise resource planning (ERP), human capital management (HCM), and supply chain management (SCM)
– to more people- or network-centric software.3

Enterprise Collaboration Is a People Process

While an enterprise collaboration platform may
help facilitate collaboration and cooperation among enterprise employees and
business partners, analyst Dion Hinchcliffe reminds us that an ECP may not –
indeed, probably will not – perform to expectations if its "rollout is conducted without the
requisite supporting
behavioral, cultural, and process changes. We forget at our
peril that collaboration is a fundamentally human activity. This implies that
any use of enabling technology without taking into account how people actually
conduct their work, their inclinations to share information and interact with
each other, and in particular how the proposed technology will
empower them and alter their collaborative behavior for the better/worse,

is bound to disappoint."4

Essentially, the introduction of collaboration
software into a team environment can be as much a detriment as a benefit if it
is not handled properly. To this end, software and hardware must be introduced
in such a way that it combines naturally with the team dynamic, improving the
ability of the included employees to communicate effectively and share the
necessary data in order to complete their work more effectively. If, however, a
system is implemented which the end users do not understand, or are unwilling to
take full advantage of, the results will be a reduction in efficiency as the
collaboration platform becomes more of an obstacle than anything. 

Microsoft SharePoint

Certainly the most prominent – and probably the most representative –
enterprise collaboration platform, particularly among large
enterprise adopters, is Microsoft SharePoint.

The current edition, SharePoint 2019, is a collaboration platform for customized
Web services, which offers social media features
that expand upon previously offered capabilities
for Web site management (including shared
calendars, blogs, wikis, surveys, document libraries, and
shared task lists). SharePoint 2019 includes a
community forum for users to engage in and
categorize discussions, a microblogging
capability, and enhanced search capabilities.

Released in July 2018, SharePoint 2019 includes
new features such as modernized sites, pages, and lists, as well as new support
for larger file formats, character restrictions,
and tweaked file and folder naming conventions.
It also retains Sharepoint 2016’s unified search field for direct and hybrid searches of a
business’ cloud storage drives; support for durable links and large file
formats; a revamped UI; and support for "zero downtime patching,"
allowing for updates to be applied without needing to take a customer’s ECP
offline for the duration of the installation.

SharePoint users with this version and older editions can:

  1. Upload files to Microsoft’s OneDrive, a personal online document library.
  2. Open a document in
    a document library.
  3. Work with others
    on the same document, at the same time.
  4. Share documents
    with people inside the enterprise.
  5. Share documents
    and sites with people outside the enterprise (SharePoint Online only).
  6. Create a team
  7. Add a list or
    library to the team site.
  8. Keep previous
    versions of a document while changes are being made.
  9. Search for data.
  10. Share information with the entire

Current View

[return to top of this report]

Facebook Will Not Be Denied – At Least for Now

First, it
was "bring your own device" (BYOD). Now, the dynamic (as dubbed by analyst
Gary Flood) is "bring your own software" (BYOS), as enterprise employees exert
their influence to collaborate via Facebook over their personal iPhones.

A survey conducted by Avanade U.K. of 1,000 business,
IT decision makers, and
4,000 employees revealed that the majority of large company users prefer
Facebook and Twitter for business collaboration. The contest wasn’t even close

  • Facebook being preferred by 74 percent

  • Twitter – 51 percent

  • LinkedIn – 45 percent

  • Microsoft SharePoint – 39 percent

  • IBM
    Connections – 17 percent

  • Salesforce Chatter – 12 percent 5

Platform Selection Schemes

Today’s enterprise collaboration platforms offer
a wide variety of price points and feature sets. According to analyst Dion
Hinchcliffe, enterprise officials normally view the selection process through
one of two lenses:

  1. A desired set of target features such as document sharing, microblogging, file syncing, application integration, search, and
    platform governance – a "bells and whistles" perspective.
  2. A more abstract set of
    business requirements
    designed to
    address a list of long-standing functional challenges like poor
    collaboration, better access to knowledge, reducing travel costs, or
    speeding up business processes.6

Successful ECP vendors, like IBM, offers options to satisfy both sets of


[return to top of this report]

Enterprise collaboration is a growing trend
as enterprise officials increasingly engage teams that are
geographically dispersed. Users unable to collaborate in person resort to
technology to assist them in their work. They share documents, carry on
discussions, manage calendars and tasks, and gather expertise in wikis.

Collaboration Trends

As one might predict, the design of enterprise collaboration platform
products is heavily influenced by trends in non-enterprise collaboration. According to analyst Blaine Mathieu, these trends include:

  1. Integration – "The pendulum
    is swinging from point tools to integrated collaboration solutions."

  2. Simplicity – "The war in
    [the enterprise collaboration] space is not being won by complex
    features; it is being won by usability."

  3. Platform Supplements – More
    than one "solution" may be required, as with SharePoint.
    "Although SharePoint has been a strong tool for document storage,
    sharing, and basic task management behind the firewall, external
    collaboration has never been its strong point. Now many organizations are
    beginning to supplement SharePoint with other tools to break through that
    barrier and generally improve the usability of SharePoint."

  4. Mobilization – "The majority of web-based collaboration
    platforms today have a mobile component. For many knowledge workers,
    mobile will soon shift from being the exception to being the rule, and
    successful collaboration solutions will reflect this."7

Collaboration Planning

An enterprise collaboration platform is implemented as the principal
instrument of an enterprise collaboration program. Importantly, two essential elements of an
enterprise collaboration program are:

  1. A Documentation Audit – intended to discover (and render available)
    relevant enterprise information.
  2. A BYOD Accounting – intended to identity those mobile assets that
    enterprise users will exercise to share information.

As described by analyst Will Kelly, a
documentation audit "means cleaning out e-mail inboxes and doing away with the
‘secret stashes’ team members have on their local hard drives; those project
documents need to migrate to [the enterprise] collaboration platform in a
methodical manner."

The BYOD accounting "includes any access and
policy changes limiting or restricting BYOD access to workspaces and document
libraries. The policy and restriction changes need to be communicated to BYOD
users, especially those who may lose access to the [enterprise] platform or a
particular workspace due to BYOD policies. This takes on added importance if
[the enterprise] must be in compliance with regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley
(SOX) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)."8

"Smart" Platforms

Analyst Jacob Morgan envisions the development of what he calls a "smart"
platform. "A smart platform will make certain decisions and take actions on our
behalf. For example, this type of a platform might be able to allow us to
drag and drop a document into our file storage system which then creates any
necessary project groups (with proper taxonomy and naming conventions
already built in) and invites all the right people without us having to do
any of the work; it just ‘knows’ who needs to be a part of that project. Another example might be that the platform
‘sees’ the type of work that an
employee is doing and automatically recommends a person to collaborate with
or suggests additional relevant information that the employee might benefit
from (with context around why). This platform will be able to, for lack of
a better word, ‘understand’ how individual employees work and will adjust
accordingly. Another example might be that the platform dynamically adjusts
what the user experience looks like or feels like based on how the employee
uses the platform."9


[return to top of this report]

Like other major IT and
business initiatives, selecting and deploying the right enterprise collaboration
platform requires the development of a sound implementation strategy.

Analyst Karthik Chakkarapani believes that strategy development begins with a thorough
understanding of the collaboration environment:

  • "Assess the leadership support and paradigm. What type of support exists
    from the leadership team to have an open and transparent collaboration
    platform in the organization?
  • "Conduct surveys, interviews, and focus group sessions with stakeholders
    to understand the challenges and issues they are currently facing,
    communication and collaboration issues, work flow issues, project delays
  • "Assess awareness of [the] social media
    environment – Facebook, Twitter,
    LinkedIn, etc.
  • "Assess readiness [for] enterprise collaboration in the organization.
  • "How is the job getting done? Projects, day-to-day tasks, communication,
  • "How is the content created, updated, managed, and shared? How is the
    content consumed?
  • "What type of relationships exists?
  • "Is there [a communications] overload or lack of communication? How is communication
    consumed and shared?
  • "What are the current tools and modes of communication
    and collaboration? How [are they] used? [Are they] productive? [Do they] overlap?
  • "What are other peer industries doing in this space? What’s the
    collaboration benchmark? This assessment will be helpful to know your
    current state and measure the progress over time."10

[return to top of this report]


[return to top of this report]