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Annekathrin Hase By Annekathrin Hase • December 8, 2016

We own Chat! but we Won’t Pay for It

[When Chat Owners and Budget Holders aren’t the same] 
We explored ownership challenges and the emergence of a new breed of chat owners ie. The Chief Collaboration Officer, in our last blog. Now we are looking at another challenge and how it can be addressed.


“Chat is owned by our department but we are still waiting for the budget”

So ownership and budget holders differ? Now this is a completely different can of worms. Is it a good thing? A hindrance?

42% of Line-of-Business are paying for team messaging apps, compared with 33% of IT groups. Both numbers are up slightly from previous years. Additionally, 25% of enterprises are unsure or evaluating who should pay for the apps. (UC tech-buying power shifting from IT to lines of business)

So what does it mean for people being owners of a system but potentially not being the ones writing the annual renewal cheques? Here are some ways to look at it:

The good:

  • Control Mechanism

Teams (especially on the business side) are quick to adopt digital tools. Especially those that are consumer-esque: quick to install, easy to share - without much hassle. Unfortunately, those tools, more often than not, are not in compliance with corporate security or governance requirements. Having the budget holders ask difficult questions around adoption and user needs can act as a benchmark and control mechanism for the tools in use within an organisation -  a good thing. (Useful reading >> Five Ways How Shadow IT Puts Your Business At Risk)

  • Get People Involved

The team owning Chat is clearly bought in. Having budget holders involved that sit in other areas of the firm, automatically gives chat & messaging a broader reach. The more people know about it, use it and ask questions, the better. Adoption should be an easier task.

The bad:

  • Success – Means different things to different people

What does success look like to the ones providing the budget versus those who own the roll-out, implementation and day-to-day management? Are owners concerned with adoption rates? Is it mitigating the risk of data breaches and leaked documents? Is productivity the key driver? If the latter, many a consulting and analyst house is trying to attach a monetary figure to the effectiveness of chat – required by those providing the money to justify the investment. Success criteria may vary and can lead to conflict between the parties.

The ugly:

  • Owners need Empowerment

Having the responsibility of ownership and the actual budget sit in different departments can cause roadblocks and delays. Chat owners may want to push ahead with chat functionality or features to improve specific metrics yet can be held back my unavailable funds. (may it be due to unwillingness of the donor or unavailability). This in turn is demoralising for the owning department as well as causing unnecessary disruption to current chat users and loss of productivity which could otherwise have been avoided. A lack of empowerment can ultimately lead to failure of the messaging initiative even though the implementation and adoption may well be impeccable. This ties in with accountability as well. Can chat owners be accountable if they don’t have the complete control or empowerment?

Whichever situation you find yourself in, there is no easy answer. Clearly triggered by a situation where ownership isn’t clearly defined, a lack of budget commitment and availability naturally goes hand in hand. Having budget set aside for digital innovation is a must but putting it into the hand of those who own the tools and are responsible for them delivering business value (whether that is IT or the LOB) seems a much more reasonable approach.

Useful reading:

>> Read Part One of our Deries: Why no one wants to own Chat?

>> 9 Steps to Ensure Adoption of Your Messaging Tool

>> The Rise of the CCO - Chief Collaboration Officer