Last week I attended a Microsoft prensatation about “collaborative work optimization and information organization” based on their new SharePoint and Office packages.
Hearing concepts and premises I was satisfied Microsoft was going the 2.0 way. In fact I had some doubts after they started their “people ready” campaign, because at this time we didn’t know anything about the solutions that will embody the concept.
So, saying people are the main company’s wealth, Microsoft was to provide tools that allow people to create value the easiest way. And they did it. In fact their new solution allows to share everything and use what others have published, modify and embetter it with versionning abilities. Sharepoint also permits people to have their own publication space on the intranet, such as blog or wikis.
I do agree with them when they say people have to find in the company what they’re used to find outside such as IM, blogs, collaborative tools (like google docs for example 😉 ) and I’m happy such a software editors shows doubtfull people in which way things are now going.
On the other hand I’m not convinced on two points.
First about personnal information publishing. What’s important is not to make people publish things on the intranet, it’s to use what’s published to build things, to innovate and capitalize all the brainstormings that are born from exchanges. That’s, according to me, the difference between sharing and collaboration, between giving what you have and making things together. Furthermore I’m not sure it will help companies to win their big challenge: make collaboration be a lever of innovation. To do so you don’t have only to share documents but also thought, ideas, and confront them.
Second, I’m affraid their wrong when they say (I’d rather say when the Microsoft sales manager that made the presentation says) that there’s no need to provide a specific help to make people adopt the practices that will make the success of those new applications because they’re already comfortable with all that, considering everyone now use blogs, wikis, IM, web 2.0 services. Althought I’d like it to be true I’m affraid they’re too optimistic. Only a part of the population is familiar with that. And young newcomers in companies are not enough to make things change. They can help but as they will still be a minority for a few years, we have to work with everybody to make new practices appear. What is more we can’t left “1.0” people aside a major evolution that will change the way we work together and the way we use web services. I’m convinced those tools need change management to be fully efficient.
As a conclusion I consider this new offer as a very important step on the road of collaboration. But only a step as its more dedicated to share rather than to collaborate. This step is necessaryÂ to go further but not enough to build a real collaborative organization. It’s rather a Google docs like and seems to be still document centric and not people centric enough. But they’re going in the right direction…too slowly but in the right direction.