Collaboration is now an enterprise-wide phenomenon, one that crosses organizational silos and boundaries. But what explains collaboration’s expanding impact?
“It stems from social technologies in the workforce, converting companies from a ‘need to know’ environment to a ‘need to share’ culture that promotes an open collaboration approach where sharing is the norm and information control is at the discretion of the individual,” argues Rob Koplowitz, a principal analyst at Forrester Research. “This shift toward increased collaboration is apparent, even as enterprises emerge from the economic downturn.”
He cites research showing that 65% of organizations now support “Web 2.0” technology for internal or external collaboration and communication purposes.
Koplowitz contends that enterprises are embracing collaborative technology to gain a competitive advantage in the post-downturn environment. They are intent on grabbing market share and driving up profitability and think that collaborative technologies can help them meet these objectives.
The entrance of the “Millennials” in the workforce is recognized as a key factor in this movement. They are expected to bring a new digital fluency to their jobs, creating new ways to engage in productive work.
“They wield social and real-time communication tools to influence their peers and the world around them, helping to amplify the conversations employees have every day,” he says. “This is great news for firms looking to enhance their innovation strategies. As firms move toward greater levels of sharing as part of embracing the changing workforce and the wide availability of social software platforms designed for business, the drive for innovation within the organization starts to naturally occur.”
Forrester defines Web 2.0 as “a set of technologies and applications that enable efficient interaction among people, content, and data in support of collectively fostering new businesses, technology offerings, and social structures.” It believes these technologies will help to drive innovation when these collaboration-focused programs are:
- Visible: Well publicized and transparent to workers, enabling them to ask questions, share ideas, and discover what others are doing.
- Respectful: Recognizing and promoting different perspectives and open, ongoing dialogue.
- Inclusive: Capable of breaking down organizational and cultural barriers including time differences.
Further gains will be made as these collaborative approaches extend beyond the immediate enterprise to encompass vendors, partners, and customers. “But most importantly, social tools promote open collaboration that encourages the sharing of ideas which might not have been possible without them,” Koplowitz writes. “This approach can set the innovation pipeline process in motion.”