The journey to the Cloud: The social and collaboration maturity model [guest post by Kate Johnson]

Version 8

    Hi readers,


    I'm happy to share the follow up article to our last post written by Kate Johnson. I hope you enjoy reading this one as much as I did (even if she does insist on spelling 'organisation' with a 'z'!)


    Kate is on of the Google Cloud Change and Transformation Specialist for North America, based in the Chicago office.   She has worked as both an external and internal change management consultant across a range of organisational sizes and industries. She has spoken at Google and external conferences on the topic of organisational culture and the future of work.







    In the last blog entry, ‘The Future of Work is Now”, I discussed the digital workplace as one which is flatter, more transparent, and better equipped to allow employees to communicate, collaborate and innovate.  


    This week, the focus is on getting to this future state, in which employees are using the tools at their disposal to get quality work done faster in the Cloud. It’s a mistake to assume that, by simply providing people with tools, they will organically change how they are working. Research and experience has shown quite the opposite.


    Becoming a digital organization is a journey; you can set up the technology, but changing decades-old habits and processes takes time and tends to progress in stages.  This journey is documented by Gartner Inc’s “Maturity Model for Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software.”  Gartner looked across eight disciplines (infrastructure management, governance,, adoption, culture, etc.) to evaluate an organization’s collaboration and social software maturity. They documented five distinct levels of maturity when it came to using social and collaboration software (see Figure 1 below).


    Organizations who are just beginning their digital journey (those who are at Level 1 or are “Reactive”) tend share a common ‘hands off’ approach. They typically use email only, do not have any policies or practices in place to manage or support collaboration and are culturally resistant to information sharing.  Organizations at this first level typically implement social and collaboration tools for individual projects, not wider organizational usage. 


    Next in Gartner’s maturity model is ‘Basic’, or Level 2, in which organizations provide only the tools that are considered essential (e-mail and calendaring), and only a select few might use additional tools, like a conference line.  Employees are generally unaware of additional social or collaboration tools and aren’t aware of opportunities to work more collaboratively.


    More common for many G Suite customers is to function at Level 3 or ‘Emerging’, in which organizations are “moving beyond using tools to simply communicate, and are now also planning, contributing and creating collaboratively.” At this level, we often see employees struggle with Drive and the Editors, especially when there is little guidance on how to use these tools (e.g. how to organize files in Drive or review others’ work in Docs/Sheets/Slides)


    When organizations begin to provide a more intentional, enterprise-wide approach to using collaboration and social tools, they move into a more mature stage that Gartner calls Level 4 or “Expanded.” At this maturity level, employees have access to a wide variety of tools, and the organization has effective management policies and procedures in place to support this usage. Experimentation with social software often starts here, including with people outside the organization.  That said, the tools aren’t generally integrated into how employees work on a daily basis; in other words, creating a new Sheet (instead of Excel doc) isn’t the default practice and team processes aren’t taking advantage of real time collaboration.


    The most mature, collaborative organizations are those who have fully integrated collaboration and social software into their processes and operations.  Level 5, or the “Pervasive” level, is when collaboration is completely integrated into the organization's culture and processes. In other words, it has become part of the organization’s social fabric; users do not have to think about how or when they should collaborate because the facilities they need are already incorporated in the systems and processes they use.  At this level, collaborating with external parties is as easy as with internal parties.


    Advancing in your social and collaboration maturity

    If you’re looking to advance in this maturity model and move your organization further into the Cloud, then you’re in good company!  There are several steps you can take, depending where you are in the journey. 


    If your organization is in the early levels of digital maturity, at Level 1 or 2, and people aren’t using much more than gmail and calendar, you may want to consider taking the following steps:

    • Talk to your team and leadership about making additional products like Drive available and building broader awareness of what it is and how to use it. For tips on how to communicate to employees in a compelling way - check out this post.
    • Educate employees and leaders on the full range of G Suite and the best ways to use them within their job roles. (more suggestions here for how to do this)
    • Identify how the organization is currently working, some of the challenges or issues in the way people currently work and some quick solutions using G Suite (the Transformation Gallery is a great place for ideas, or for tips on how to run a ‘transformation lab - check out this article).

    If you’re at Level 3, or “Emerging” level, with pockets of employees using real time collaboration tools, consider the following steps:

    If you’re at Level 4 and are looking to make Cloud-based productivity tools the way people work, consider taking the following steps:

    • Start looking at process improvement efforts. Are there specific points in common processes that require multiple people to contribute or work on a document? See if you can save that document as an Editor. Are there some known issues or quick wins you can address with cloud-based tools? You could use transformation labs to help with this.
    • Target areas of the business that are not participating in collaborative processes and work with them to increase their comfort and usage with Drive and the Editors.


    The journey to the digital workplace isn’t just about providing technology, it’s also about facilitating the change for people and processes. It’s not an overnight journey, but there are steps you can take to move your organization into the future more quickly. And the benefits of a more collaborative organization are significant.


    Does this maturity model resonate with you? I’d love to hear about your experience and discuss where your organization is in the model, the challenges you face as you look towards the next level of maturity, and any lessons learned from your journey to date.