I’d argue that companies don’t actually fail at collaboration. They simply evolve along a multi-step, multi-year path with progress and setbacks. When a company finds itself giving up on collaborative efforts, it needs to re-set rather than resign itself to failure as an end point. Why? Gartner’s scary statistic focuses on a key term: “intended benefits” — which is what companies have to think about carefully. Just because goals that were set during a pilot or launch of an enterprise social network don’t materialize, doesn’t mean collaboration failure. In fact, it’s likely only the first step backward of many that will happen concurrently with a greater number of steps forward.
Why? It’s simple: employee behavior, ideas and actions can’t be contained, predicted or controlled inside an enterprise social network (ESN). When a business deploys an ESN, a relatively small team of collaboration strategists build the entire program for a much larger group of users. Despite conducting focus groups, building user stories, training leaders and power users, these community designers cannot account for — much less control — the majority of use cases that will arise.