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Every Employee is Now a Buyer of Collaboration Software

Posted by on August 7, 2013

image.axd_Remember when the traditional model of selling software to a company meant that you had to go through either IT or a business unit leader?  Yep, those days are over.  Thanks to cloud based solutions every employee is now a potential buyer of collaboration software. This has been an ongoing shift over the past few years but only recently am I seeing a very strong push in this direction from employees who are not satisfied with the software solutions that their companies are providing.  I think the tipping point has finally been reached.

This shift is mainly happening because of three things:

Low cost

From anywhere between $3-$12 a month you can be up and running with the most up to date and powerful piece of collaboration software that exists today.  Some companies even allow you to get access to their full-featured products at no cost at all.  This means that for the price of daily latte you can have an entire team connected to each other and to the information they need to get their jobs done, anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

Low barrier to entry

Thanks to cloud based solutions, deploying software within organizations today isn’t that much more complicated then setting up a Twitter account, Facebook page, or buying something from Amazon.  No IT or manager approval necessary.  Just imagine how hectic your life would be if every time you wanted to buy something online you needed to get approval from your boss or from IT, yet that’s exactly how our companies are set-up today.

Employee dissatisfaction

Many employees today are just not happy with the approaches and technologies that their companies are pursuing.  Today inside of most companies it’s hard to find people and information, share ideas, connect with others, collaborate or communicate, and build any type of community.  Meanwhile it’s easy to do all of these things on social platforms that we use in our every-day personal lives.  The disconnect between the two is massive.

Vendors in the collaboration and future of work space really need to pay attention to this as it opens up a lot of opportunities for them.  As mentioned above vendors no longer need to focus just on just selling to a primary “decision maker.”  Now I’m not saying that they need to abandon this approach altogether I’m saying that they also need to focus on the every day employee.  There are a few things vendors can do to capitalize on this shift.


Instead of focusing the benefit and the value on the organization as a whole (or on a specific buyer), vendors need to adapt their messaging as if they were marketing to individuals instead of to just corporations.  If any employee is a potential buyer then any employee needs to understand the value and benefit of the product.


This is a huge area.  Vendors needs to consistently be educating employees not just decision makers.  Employees need to understand how the world of work is changing, what they need to do to adapt, and how they can actually adapt.  Some vendors do a fantastic job of educating their customers and prospects but many do not.  Education can mean webinars, whitepapers, blog posts, insightful articles shared through social channels, and speaking at conferences.  The more employees know the better.  In my opinion education is one of the best forms of marketing.

Vendors need to change their strategy to shift away from the traditional mentality of just selling to a decision maker.  I’ve spoken with and worked with many companies where the “decision maker” goes with a certain product because it’s what the employees want and are oftentimes already using.

Every employee today is a potential buyer of enterprise collaboration software.




  • Most employees today do not like companies tracking their time at work. But professionally it has to be done in the companies interest and some tools like Employee Management Software helps a great deal to monitor and analyse employee time appropriately

  • While consumerization of IT is a trend that affects collaboration solutions the most, I wouldn’t go as far as saying every employee is a potential buyer. Maybe that holds true for small-medium companies but there are a number of areas where a more structured approach is needed when deciding for a collaboration product or solution. Things like security of communications, privacy of content shared, access to the platform, resiliency and scalability come to mind when thinking of a company-wide solution. And there is where is see the danger of letting employees choosing tools by themselves. You can end up (in big enterprises) in an amalgam of silos or ships-in-the-night, where each group or business division is truly collaboration, but only with themselves.

    Having said that, I do agree that we sometimes forget to sell collaboration to end-users and that showing the value to them could have a great impact. We sometimes expect companies to do that evangelism work but it’s true we should help and do as much as possible from our (the vendor) side.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jacob!

    Would you care to elaborate on “Some companies even allow you to get access to their full-featured products at no cost at all”. I found only one (Bitrix24) and while it’s good, it’s business oriented and I need mine for a church. Would you be kind enough to write a post that would list all free tools or at least those vendors to give free licenses to nonprofits?

  • Mike

    Hey Jacob,

    I totally agree with you. More and more individuals are switching to project management tools, for the main reason of simplifying their work as much. One tool that I would like to recommend here is proofhub. Also available for a lifetime free plan, it is a great tool indeed: