Collaboration is dead, long live collaboration...

Over the last couple of years I have been confronted with the need for virtual meetings and international collaboration from various angles in my professional life:

  • As a user it made my life more efficient, gave me a better work-life-balance. It allowed me to get more work into a week, with better results and less hassle.
  • As a travel agent I understood its value in the perspective of cost control, duty-of-care for employees, risk management and the environmental impact of travel.
  • With GVN, a videoconferencing service provider, I realized how cumbersome it was to use the badly managed videoconferencing boxes and how face-to-face interaction brought along a whole set of sharing interactions which do not tend to fit in the traditional VC solutions.

You would assume that based on all of these benefits, virtual collaboration would be a hot topic for any organization. However, if you look at the top 10 concerns of IT departments, collaboration only ranks as number 10. Clearly collaboration is dead!

So what are the top priorities of IT? Based on the same research IT is mainly focusing on:

  • Improving business alignment: To make sure international parts of the company can synch up and speak the same language. IT is looking at tools to make sure that decisions taken actually get executed in a consisted way around the globe.
  • Enabling business agility: Building an IT infrastructure that allows decision makers to be more flexible in their actions. Finding a solution that increases the number of inflection points and reduces the amount of time spent on each single step in the process so decisions can be taken faster.
  • Process and cost control: Making sure that the taken decisions can be measured and monitored; and the most efficient ways to do so are available to the company.

So how do you get all of this done? Through collaboration!

All of this, together with my experience at Prysm, has thought me that collaboration is NOT the goal, it is the means to an end. Collaboration is the solution to achieve some critical business objectives.

  • It is not about the box, it is about what the box can do for you.
  • It is about the solution it offers to your problem and it is the value of that solution that creates your return

If a car manufacturer can reduce its time-to-market 1 month faster, or a pharmaceutical company can really understand its global customer needs to design its drug, we are talking millions of euros of return. But if your only goal it to buy the box, if acquiring collaboration is your goal, you might gain a few hundred dollars in procurement negotiation, but miss out on the full potential that your business so desperately needs.

Don't work for collaboration, let collaboration work for you.