The definition of collaboration can vary depending on who you talk to, how critical it is to their organization, and other considerations. I propose a broad by simple definition:
Collaboration is the act of people working together to reach a common goal. The common denominator is that people are at the center.
To support this idea, organizations have deployed a long list of collaboration technologies over the last 15 or so years, usually focusing on migrating from proprietary PBXs and legacy systems to standards-based, more open architectures. The results? Not as good as we hoped for. The cases where collaboration projects have made people and processes more productive are few and far between. Few executives and leaders would feel confident that their organization’s collaborative capabilities augment strategic growth and innovation initiatives in ways that make them more competitive in the market. Success always seems to be limited to certain groups or business units.
The potential benefits have kept collaboration a strategic topic for leadership teams despite the struggles to get it right. So why is it important and how can organizations use collaboration solutions to grow their business, enhance productivity, and increase innovation?
Ask yourself how important is for your organization to save money, reduce expenses, lower total cost of ownership, and attract and retain top talent.
What about the ability for your employees, customers, and business partners to collaborate anywhere, anytime, from any device, supporting the way they work today? Collaboration brings people, processes, and technology together to align and enhance the organizational culture.
Significant demographic and technological transitions happening right now may just change the way organizations look at collaboration. Some of these transitions include:
- Mobility: The proliferation of smartphones and tablets based on Android and the iPhone awareness is growing in amazing gains.
- Social media: Employees expect the same social software experiences at the workplace that they have in their personal lives.
- Video: Video is becoming the medium of choice globally the applications a video or growing as organizations utilize it more and more to communicate, elaborate, educate and secure or protect.
- Virtual IT and cloud computing: Organizations no longer have to own their IT assets to provide new applications and services or to scale. The cloud and virtualization now allow organizations to shift resources to more strategic projects.
- Younger talent entering the workforce: Having grown up with technology, new hires expect it to be available, easy to use, and responsive to their situations. This new generation of employees comes to the workforce with a new expectation about technology – it should be simple, it should just work!
Today we are facing arguably the most significant transitions, at least in collaboration, since the invention of the Internet. While the collaboration tools we have traditionally used, such as email and document sharing, are still important, they’re not comprehensive enough to deliver a truly integrated communications experience. Most organizations realize that and are aware of the value of collaboration but don’t have the core competency to deal with its complexity.
Achieving best-in-class levels of collaboration does not happen overnight, it is a process. A process that instead of focusing on the technology, should focus on the business outcomes and the user!
What does this strategy look like in execution? It is one that gives IT and Lines of Business a unique opportunity to empower employees to connect and work together anywhere, and reach new levels of productivity and innovation. As the range of technologies has continued to broaden, the focus has begun to move from delivering individual applications to creating integrated collaboration experiences across multiple devices. The challenge is to cost-effectively do this while providing scale, security, and accessibility. The goal is to:
- Expand beyond the desktop and combine mobility with superior visual collaboration across devices and applications.
- Collaborate beyond corporate boundaries with external partners, consultants, and customers.
- Mitigate risk by providing security and compliance capabilities that meet the highest standards.
- Integrate with existing investments using standards-based solutions and a converged data, voice, and video network.
- Provide cost-effective deployment, including cloud options that meet your needs while preserving a consistent user experience.
Throughout the years we have found that there is a common set of journeys that organizations take to implement collaboration tools. These paths typically fall into five categories: standardization, integration, return on investment, business model transformation, and the dynamic network organization.
Wherever your organization is on their journey to collaboration, they key to success is to focus on the desired business outcomes and the user, and create a roadmap that defines the types of services and products that can provide the greatest return on investment, increase productivity, improve business processes, gain competitive advantage, and help transform your organization.