Can you deploy collaboration software out of the box?

Mark Gilbert from Gartner spoke at the Gartner BI summit in Sydney recently. He said that firms shouldn’t deploy collaboration software “out of the box” – I disagree, but I disagree because I’m being pedantic, although I think it is important to be so given this is a Gartner person speaking.

Overall, I think Michael is right to be pedantic. What I’m not clear from Gilbert’s statement is that when he talks about the need to adapt collaboration (and social software), is he talking about actual developed customisations or customisations achieved through configuration and user-generated information architecture.

However, Gilbert also mentions SharePoint – and that does complicate things, because of the way I typically see SharePoint deployed, which is with little thought. If we read “out of the box” SharePoint to mean, you’ve just finished installing the software, switched it on, and announced job done then I can understand why Gilbert might be concerned.

Does this argument hold for enterprise social computing tools? It depends. Architecturally speaking, other “pure” tools of this type (by which I mean, are designed to be or have specific heritage in social software) typically have a greater resilience for dealing with organic and emergent usage. However, I would also encourage people to design for adoption anyway, remaining open to exploring customisation through both development and configuration based on user’s and business needs.

Bringing me back to the beginning… you can *sometimes* deploy out of the box. But even while that might be the end of your technical activities, its only the start of the project.

BTW You can come and debate this with Michael and I at the Intranets2011 conference, where we are both presenting.

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