Over the next several weeks, Cisco is presenting a series of blogs on collaboration trends that we are seeing in the enterprise. Below is my contribution to these observations:
On the surface, improving “collaboration” sounds like a fairly straight-forward strategy: “provide the means for people to coordinate and share information while working together to attain business results that exceed current practices”. To support this goal, organizations have deployed a long list of tools over the years. The results? Mixed. Organizations can cite many examples where collaboration projects have made people and processes more productive. Yet, if you ask leadership teams, I imagine few would feel confident that their organization’s collaborative capabilities augment strategic growth and innovation initiatives in ways that makes them more competitive in the market.
After 15+ years of deploying more and more tools, we need to ask ourselves – why haven’t organizations realized the level of breakthrough collaboration necessary for them to excel – or in some cases, survive? It’s not that the industry has not had any “wins” with collaboration strategies but success always seems to be stubbornly limited to certain groups or business units. Improving collaboration, it seems, has become an “intractable opportunity”. As it turns out, collaboration is a more complex and enduring journey than we originally thought. However, breakthrough levels of collaboration are often crucial to bring about business transformation. The potential benefits, despite its mixed track record, have kept “collaboration” a strategic topic for leadership teams despite our struggles to get it right.
Having been an IT industry analyst (i.e., Gartner, Burton Group, and Meta Group) since 1996, I’ve worked with hundreds of organizations on how to best approach collaboration. (Continue reading this post on the Cisco Collaboration blog where I list several trends impacting collaboration strategies.)