Thursday, March 22, 2012

Collaboration, mobility and a whole lot more - posting for the CIO Collaboration Network

I’m pleased to be joining this community, which appropriately is focused on the power of collaboration. This has become a powerful word in the communications lexicon lately, and on a basic level, my writing here is part of a broader collaborative effort to provide some objective thought leadership around the topic.

This is my first post in support of the CIO Collaboration Network initiative sponsored by Avaya, and some housekeeping is in order. First off, you won’t see me talking much here about Avaya or their specific offerings. For that matter, I won’t be citing other vendors in the collaboration space either. I’m here to talk about the trends I see that pertain to collaboration; some enrich or enable collaboration, while other trends benefit the other way by virtue of association.

Second, this is not new for me, and is totally in my comfort zone. For those who follow me, you’ll know I post in other places under similar conditions with sponsors. I’ve been doing this long enough, and know how to keep my analysis objective, and vendor-neutral. Finally, for this particular initiative, most of my posts will be here on my blog, but I’ll also be submitting posts that will run solely on the CIO Collaboration Network. The setting doesn’t matter, though, and my analysis will always be independent.

I should add that I'm in good company here, as colleagues Dave Michels and Art Rosenberg will both be regular contributors. Furthermore, Dave serves as the Community Manager here, so along with his posts, he'll be vetting my writing to make sure it's on-target for this audience.

With that out of the way, I’m going to start with the big topic of mobility, which will be explored over the next few posts. For collaboration to be truly effective, the tools need to be accessible where the people are. Up until recently, that wasn’t much of a problem in the workplace since most employees were desk-bound. When you needed to reach someone, a call to their desk phone would do the job, and failing that, an email would get them engaged to work with you.

Mobility has completely changed the dynamics of where we work, and after adding broadband to that, everything else changes, namely how we work and when we work. Not only are employees spending less time at their desks, but they’re spending less time in the office, and increasingly working from remote locations. Without mobile broadband, these trends would not be welcome developments for businesses.

The value of collaboration continues to increase, and never before has the need to share knowledge and expertise been greater. With globalization, business becomes more complex and we live in a world of specialization. Knowledge generalists remain valuable, but very few people have enough broad expertise to help a business grow on their own. This is where collaboration becomes a strategic differentiator, as businesses can perform at a higher level by pooling the expertise of specialists to work on tasks with a common goal.

In that context, mobility is a key driver for collaboration, since specialized knowledge or expertise will not readily be found at a workstation. Not only does mobility allow you to find people when you need them - wherever they are - but it also helps the collaboration process move faster. This is another key factor as the speed of doing business keeps accelerating, and by extension, agility becomes a source of competitive advantage.

So, how should enterprises leverage mobility to collaborate more effectively? I’ll explore this over the next few posts, but let’s start in an unexpected place – our home life. As much as mobility is becoming a lifeline at work, its impact is even greater for personal use, especially among Millennials. The “consumerization of IT” is very real, and employees are increasingly asking IT why they cannot deploy the applications they use back at home here in the office. This is particularly true with mobility, which is where most of the energy from application developers is focused.

The explosion of applications for smartphones and tablets has given consumers many options for collaborating on a personal or social level. These needs may not be as complex as the workplace, but that’s beside the point. Consumer-friendly mobile applications are easy to access and easy to use, and as a matter of course, we’re collaborating without really thinking about it. This may be a user-defined form of collaboration, but the process is no different than in the workplace. In these settings, people are sharing content, using multimodal communication, and reaching consensus around a common goal.

This sure sounds like workplace collaboration to me, and the good news is that consumer-based collaboration helps get people familiar and comfortable with using these tools in the office. I think of this as an unintended consequence, and it’s certainly a benefit so long as IT can make workplace collaboration as easy to do as at home. Not only does this help employees collaborate in the office, but when adding mobility to the equation, they can do this anyplace, anytime. In that regard, mobility and consumerization have an additive effect to collaboration that’s pretty hard to beat, and if IT isn’t thinking along these lines, they should be.

This post sponsored by the CIO Collaboration Network and Avaya

1 comment:

Enterprise CIO Forum:Applications said...

wow nice blog post
I should add that I'm in good company here, as colleagues Dave Michels and Art Rosenberg will both be regular contributors. Furthermore, Dave serves as the Community Manager here, so along with his posts, he'll be vetting my writing to make sure it's on-target for this audience thanks for nice information....