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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: The Value of Social Collaboration Within the Workforce with Kari Woolf, Novell GroupWise

November 15, 2012 No Comments

Although some may think that email has become a prehistoric method of communication, what they may not realize is that due to its flexible nature, email can actually be an ideal place to introduce collaboration tools.

In the below interview, Kari Woolf from Novell GroupWise accentuates the value of email, and outlines steps that companies can take to begin improving social collaboration within the workplace.

Q. Some say that email is going the way of the dinosaur. What are your thoughts on this theory?

A. While the demise of email has been predicted for several years, it remains the personal productivity “home base” for millions of knowledge workers today. In fact, there are 2.9 billion active email accounts today, and this figure is expected to grow to 3.8 billion by 2014. In addition, a recent study by Osterman Research indicates that the amount of time the average user spends in email each day eclipses the time spent in all other collaboration tools combined. Does this mean that instant messaging, texting, social streams and other, newer forms of collaboration aren’t important? Of course not. But Novell views them primarily as complements to—and not replacements for—email.

Q. How is Novell working to extend the value of email and make it more of an asynchronous communication tool?

A. Email is fundamentally an asynchronous communications tool.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t serve as the repository for more social or real-time collaboration capabilities. In fact, because of its ubiquity, email can be the best place to introduce new collaboration tools. This is why Novell has added several social tools to GroupWise 2012, including presence and instant messaging; social icons or “badges” on messages coming from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter; presence and click-to-call integrations with Skype; and the ability to embed team workspaces and team collaboration capabilities from Novell Vibe, a sister product in Novell’s portfolio, right in a user’s GroupWise Home View.

Q. How can combining email and a chat feature into one interface work to improve social collaboration for companies today?

A. Novell GroupWise includes an entitlement to Novell Messenger, an instant messaging and chat tool. The two products are tightly integrated, which brings social collaboration tools right to a GroupWise user’s fingertips. For example, presence indicators automatically tell users whether an intended email recipient is online and available for a real-time chat. Users can then open an instant messaging window right from the GroupWise interface. This allows users to choose the right collaboration tool for each task without having to leave one program and open another.

Q. With the evolution of BYOD, the protection and accuracy of data on mobile devices is of utmost importance. Can you tell us a little about Novell’s Data Synchronizer tool, and how it can help facilitate this?

A. Mobility is one of the most pressing needs of our customers—and virtually anyone’s customers—today. In fact, the world may call it “mobility,” but Novell simply calls it “life.” Users need instant access to the information that drives their creativity and productivity on the go—and much of this information is housed in email. To meet this need, GroupWise includes an entitlement to Novell Data Synchronizer, which synchronizes GroupWise data with any ActiveSync-enabled mobile device. We also have a strong partnership with Research In Motion to deliver the same service to BlackBerry devices. For organizations that prefer not to synchronize data directly to mobile devices due to security concerns, we address mobile needs with a full-featured Web interface and templates designed specifically for today’s popular iPad, Android and PlayBook tablets.

Q. In your opinion, what steps should companies take to begin improving social collaboration, and therefore, overall productivity?

A. Novell believes that integrating social collaboration capabilities directly into a tried and true tool like email can deliver the best of both worlds. By keeping collaboration centered in one product, companies save software licensing costs and eliminate the time and hassle users would otherwise spend switching from app to app. This also enables them to effectively meet the needs of a cross-generational workforce. Introducing social tools in a familiar setting—where they complement a user’s modus operandi instead of competing with it—can deliver the productivity that leads to organizational success.

Kari Woolf is a Senior Product Marketing Manager and Collaboration Marketing Lead for Novell. She has been with the company for more than 14 years in a variety of marketing and communications capacities. In addition to her high tech marketing experience, she served as an account manager and content director for a creative agency specializing in live events. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Brigham Young University.

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