Virtual Workplace Communication
Cons or Disadvantages of Using DIVA in Amazon.com
Amazon.com has one of the most diverse business models of any e-commerce retailer today, including their fastest growing business unit, Amazon Web Services (AWS) which is revolutionizing cloud computing. Amazon’s depth of expertise in online retailing, recommendation engines that present customers books, products and subscriptions that align with their specific needs of customers is unmatched. The nature of Amazon.com and its many businesses is virtual and global, which makes the need for supporting a virtual workforce communications strategy and platform essential for their success. Amazon.com needs to pay attention to the downside or cons of virtual workforce communication and collaboration to succeed.
Cons of Virtual Workforce Collaboration at Amazon.com
The first significant disadvantage is that virtual communication and collaboration tools often become a crutch that employees rely on instead of regularly traveling to visit regional offices or headquarters. There are a myriad of empirical studies showing the value of supplementing virtual work arrangements with regular in-person meetings to reinforce empathy and understanding (Steir, 2007). For trust to emerge in a virtual team, there needs to be as many face-to-face meetings as possible, with a visit to corporate headquarters by remote workers every 30 days being highly recommended. The DIVA groupware communication and collaboration tool creates a highly unified, easily configurable and customizable work environment (Sohlenkamp, Chwelos, 1994). This application or tool is so easily configured and used many remote or virtual workers will use the platform and its value to rationalize and explain that they don’t need to travel back to corporate as often. As a result, trust and communication will suffer due to a lack of frequent enough communication in person, which is often the case in virtual work teams (Steir, 2007).
Second, the limits of the DIVA system will quickly be met if the virtual work teams continue to grow beyond the U.S. And encompass international boundaries. The lack of cultural customization in the DIVA platform is significant and will lead to confusion s Amazon attempts to scale across diverse cultures. This will lead to a lack of trust between operating units in countries, and may slow business growth. Virtual work teams, across various cultures, thrive on periodic in-person social events where the person behind the voice on a conference call or words in an e-mail become real. To gain a true cross-cultural advantage from virtual teams, there needs to be applications and software specifically designed to reflect regional and cultural requirements (Steir, 2007). At present, DIVA lacks this ability to align with the nuances of global cultures (Sohlenkamp, Chwelos, 1994).
Third and most significant is the continual maintenance of the DIVA platform itself and the need for continually adding new features to keep the application aligned with and supporting Amazon’s workplace requirements. DIVA appears to be based on open source software which further complicates its maintenance (Sohlenkamp, Chwelos, 1994). This will be a significant cost for the IT department at Amazon.com which has an exceptional level of expertise already. Amazon.com would be better served by creating regional offices that are supported by a far more robust communication and collaboration tool including telepresence technology where employees can work in person and through advanced technologies that show how antiquated DIVA is in 2014.
Sohlenkamp, M., & Chwelos, G. (1994, October). Integrating communication, cooperation, and awareness: the DIVA virtual office environment. In Proceedings of the 1994 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work (pp. 331-343). ACM. Retrieved from: http://pdf.aminer.org/000/121/938/integrating_communication_cooperation_and_awareness_the_diva_virtual_office_environment.pdf
Steir, R. (2007). The on-demand virtual advisory team: A new consulting paradigm?. Global Business & Organizational Excellence, 26(2), 37-46. doi:10.1002/joe.20131
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