Lessons From Enterprise Collaboration Experiments In China In The Wake Of COVID-19
To contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus after the Chinese New Year, local governments in China forced enterprises to delay their back-to-work dates and encouraged them to adopt remote working. This, in turn, gave a direct and significant boost to the domestic enterprise collaboration market. Almost overnight, Alibaba’s DingTalk, WeChat Work, and Tencent Meeting appeared among the top 10 apps in both the Apple and Android app stores. WeLink, the first solution that Huawei took from internal tool to software-as-a-service (SaaS), acquired 15,000 new enterprise customers in a single day.
This dramatic market expansion created major growth-related pain points for vendors. Soaring demand disrupted DingTalk’s and Tencent Meeting’s quality of service. DingTalk had to add 20,000 cloud servers to support the traffic; Tencent Meeting teams worked day and night to guarantee service scalability.
Suffice it to say that, on the enterprise side, the journey to enabling remote work was no walk in the park. Companies discovered that:
- Employees expected onboarding to be more intuitive. Many employees across China found themselves using videoconferencing or enterprise collaboration (EC) tools for work for the first time. They assumed it would be like using FaceTime but encountered a number of issues, including a lack of device interoperability, poor desktop-sharing experiences, and difficulties adjusting audio devices. Overwhelmed customer service teams on the vendor side couldn’t respond to the questions of so many new users: Multiple vendors claimed that their inquiry volumes increased by an order of magnitude during that period.
- Users are skeptical about document security. Our research shows that active users, who rely heavily on sending documents for collaboration, are concerned about the risks inherent to sharing documents online. Although SaaS providers have demonstrated the security of their cloud storage offerings with encrypted networks and permission control systems, customers are still unsure of how safe their documents and personal information are when using EC tools.
- Broad-based usage will require more planning. Enterprises are currently piloting EC tools solely for remote working at home. A true EC strategy must consider many scenarios in all categories: home, office, and on site. Routine collaboration of sales, HR, and finance departments will also require integrating customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), business process management (BPM), and office automation platforms. As enterprises resume normal business activity, they will notice that an effective EC strategy needs to align the business and technology objectives and coordinate work streams across cross-functional teams. Current pilots are only part of the holistic adoption assessments needed.
In spite of the many challenges, Forrester expects that Chinese organizations will increasingly consider enterprise collaboration tools to support more remote scenarios. To succeed, tech and business leaders will have to advocate for management support, cultural change, and adoption strategies for EC instead of simply defining a SaaS roadmap. The Forrester report “How To Create A Knockout Enterprise Collaboration Strategic Plan” can get you started. And if you’d like to discuss your company’s EC strategy, feel free to reach out to me directly or set up an inquiry by emailing email@example.com.