Another blog? On collaboration? No this is not a mistake. Welcome to the Collaboration Blog at the Gilbane Group. I’ll be focusing on business collaboration – the techniques, tools, and technologies that you and I use in our work-a-day worlds to share information online.
Along the way I’m probably going to spend some time talking about “social computing” – the new buzz word for sharing information online which IBM is adding to its latest marketing campaign. And inevitably I’ll touching on MOSS and VISTA—the Microsoft juggernaut that includes Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS), the rewrite of Windows for the 21st century (VISTA), and the other Office 2007 applications. And then there are the neat new tools and applications coming down the pike, from innovative start-ups and established vendors alike.
More is at stake than this year’s marketing hype. Let’s put the discussion in context.
Collaboration is one of those old ideas about the future of technology, going back more than thirty years to the dawn of networked computers. (Yes once upon a time, not so many years ago, even email was new and revolutionary.) Many of us in the industry, developing products in those pre-Internet days, talked a lot about the “three C’s” – communication, coordination, and collaboration. We had this crazy idea that once we could connect electronically with one another, we could easily communicate and share information. Then eventually we would ascend to the nirvana of collaboration, and be able to work together with our colleagues to achieve common goals.
Yes, the easy communication and the information sharing certainly has happened. Yet there’s still a lot of overhead when we try to work closely with one another, at a distance. Along the way we’re finding that our colleagues are no longer our co-workers and employees in the same company–and that our actions and activities routinely span time zones and organizational boundaries. In fact, many of us now work as independent agents within a distributed (and networked) extended enterprise, in ways that would astound – and perhaps delight — our fathers and mothers.
I don’t think anybody will dispute the fact that the Internet changes how we work – and how we play. Yet making good use of our endless capabilities to communicate and share information is another matter. We still need to figure out how we can best collaborate with one another to achieve meaningful outcomes—particularly when we have the benefits (and the challenges) of working in a distributed fashion over the Web. Going forward, I hope to have more to say about the business impacts of collaboration, and why some collaborative computing environments are going to be more successful than others.