Outsourcing: SMBs are Doing It, Too: Page 2

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IT doesn’t satisfy most collaboration needs

More than one third of C-level managers say they’re dissatisfied with the level of collaboration support from their IT infrastructure expected in three years:

• Very satisfied: 13 percent

• Moderately satisfied: 39 percent

• Neither satisfied or dissatisfied: 18 percent

• Moderately dissatisfied: 21 percent

• Very dissatisfied: 8 percent

• Don't know: 1 percent

How to get ahead of the collaboration demand

IT managers should view the growing need to support collaboration as a multifaceted opportunity. The C-level interest in improving the ability of IT to enable collaboration gives you a chance to clean up some long standing architecture issues. In addition, collaboration is the excuse you’ve been looking for to get involved in the new generation of Web 2.0 technologies.

Understand that one of the biggest barriers to successful collaboration is complexity. Having too many systems and too many processes is the bane of any collaboration effort, especially if they’re not based on industry standards and best practices. Time to clean the IT house.

If your organization has too many databases, too many ERP platforms, an applications portfolio census that goes beyond 100 and other examples of excessive technology overlaps, now you have another argument to begin the consolidation.

And while you’re thinking about simplifying your IT architecture, collaboration is a great door-opener for a services oriented architecture discussion with your CFO. Depending on the size of your organization, SOA provides an ideal platform for providing secure access to information, systems and processes that should be shared with external organizations.

Simultaneously, you need to provide a pallet of Web-based collaboration tools and choices. Relying on a virtual private network (VPN) as a gateway for external individuals to gain the appropriate access to key systems takes too long and costs too much. You need to move quickly and inexpensively.

Think corporate use of wikis, social networking tools, blogs and other Web 2.0 tools as key building blocks of a collaboration tool set. The criteria include easy to use, easy to manage, easy to deploy and low cost, since there are a wide variety of individuals now involved in collaboration with third parties.

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