How to Pitch Collaboration Technology

As a Learning professional, you have an idea of how to help employees collaborate and the technology that could help you do so, but you also have to convince your company that the investment is needed. 

I came across this article last week in Tech Decisions, which sheds light on the best approach to take when pitching collaboration technology. 

The first tip is to see how the technology might fit into your employees’ natural workflow. The last thing you want is to introduce a technology that requires employees to adapt to a new workflow imposed by the technology, rather than the other way around.

“For an organization that is constantly sharing and working on files between different employees or departments, a cloud-sharing collaboration display would be a huge benefit. They can dynamically share content, and with some systems, they can even have two employees in different locations work in the same document in real time,” the article advises. “Organizations that have employees working remotely could benefit from huddle-space videoconferencing systems. This way, employees can get more face-to-face time with one another and still enjoy the benefits of work-life balance.”

Once you can demonstrate to decision-makers how the technology would fit in with, and enhance, your employees’ workflow, the next step is showing how the collaboration technology ultimately could benefit the company’s customers and profitability. “It’s about boosting collaborative efforts to get a better overall experience—which leads to better work and better outcomes,” the article notes. To do that, you could offer testimonials from other companies, or if you know trainers at another company, you could informally interview them yourself, taking notes on their positive experience with the system you’re pitching, including the return on investment that their company experienced. 

The value of customization is the third big piece of advice the article offers: “Take into account your unique needs. Don’t just try to pitch the most robust (or most expensive) solution.” That means not trying to impress the decision-makers with advanced technology, but, rather, just focusing on the technology in the system that is relevant to your company’s specific needs.

I, personally, would love a collaboration technology that enabled each individual, or at least each work group, to customize it. I’m not big on collaboration myself. My instinct is to include as few people as possible in my endeavors. I find that the more people are involved, the more difficult a task becomes, and the more dumbed-down the ideas become. The ideas often are washed down to the lowest common denominators of the group so no one will object. I prefer to engage in collaboration on my own terms, on an as-needed basis. Rather than getting a large group of people involved from the start, I prefer to see what I need as I work on the project. I then reach out to people on a limited basis for specific things, such as answering a question or providing me with particular information. On an informal basis, one by one, I might at the end get the opinion of others, but not in a group setting. In a group setting, you tend not to get honest opinions from people as the natural tendency is to look around the room to see how everyone else feels before voicing an opinion. 

A collaboration technology would only suit me if it could be used on an on-demand basis, enabling me to type in questions and information queries, and then directing me with e-mail, phone number, and seating chart to the person I need for each question and piece of information. 

Other people are strikingly different from me in their collaboration preferences—the more, the merrier. They send e-mails with a dozen people as recipients and have multiple meetings with all of those recipients present, in-person. While not my preferred way to tackle, and (hopefully) complete, projects, this seems to be the norm. 

A collaboration technology has to be capable of handling that norm, but ideally also should be capable of adapting to outliers like me, who prefer a limited and specified approach to “collaboration.”

What collaboration technology does your company currently use? What technology changes are you thinking of in the collaboration space? What have you learned to avoid in collaboration technology?

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