Email versus Collaboration Software

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Execs Weigh in on Collaboration

End users are looking to IT for tools that will help them increase productivity across what in many cases are sharply reduced work forces, but execs are expressing distrust of collaboration tools.

Like it or not, a lot of business workflow is tied up in our email systems. While everyone would generally agree that those systems are imperfect when it comes to facilitating collaboration, the only alternative seems to be the deployment of social networking applications for the enterprise.

The challenge with that approach, however, is that it creates yet another system for users to manage alongside all their email. No matter how hard any organization tries, getting 100 percent of the organization to do everything inside the confines of a single collaboration application is nearly impossible. What is needed is an approach to collaboration software that makes it easy to seamlessly integrate email within the context of the collaboration application.

Holly Simmons, SAP lead for StreamWork marketing, says SAP StreamWork, a Web-based collaboration application, allows companies to accomplish that goal within the context of an application environment that makes it a lot easier to bring order to the way people work with one another. As an example of that capability, SAP recently signed a pact with Autodesk under which StreamWork will be made available as a plug-in for AutoCAD. Rather than relying on email, the goal would be to give engineers the ability to coordinate their activities using StreamWork.

SAP also plans to add some basic business intelligence functionality into StreamWork in 2012 as part of an effort to bring analytics capabilities to the application, which is something you will never see inside an email application.

Slowly, but surely, the daily work experience of the average worker is changing as more collaboration tools enter the enterprise. While the approach to these tools may differ from enterprise to enterprise, the one thing that is for certain is that as the sheer number of projects that need to be worked on continues to increase, traditional email systems are no longer cutting it when it comes to helping people manage all the work that needs to be done.