Collaboration Is the Key to
by Stephen Wellman
IDON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I AM TIRED OF this recession. While the leading macro-economic
indicators suggest that the worst is behind us, most
businesses are still stuck in the bunker mentality of cost-cutting and waiting for the turnaround to ;nally materialize. But if we, as technology stakeholders, don’t get busy,
the turnaround may take a lot longer than any of us wants.
While this may be a dangerous time to ponder new
IT strategies, I argue that it is far more dangerous to sit
around in cost-cutting mode with no plan for
growth. When the recovery materializes, you
will face a host of new pressures that will force
you to grow fast and grow cheap. If you don’t
have technologies already implemented with a
sound vision for how these technologies will
help the business grow, you could ;nd yourself
unable to respond quickly and cost-effectively
to new business opportunities.
Which technology should you consider to support that
growth strategy? There are several that hold great promise
as a catalyst for an economic turnaround, including green
IT, cloud computing and virtualization. None of these
solutions, in my opinion, has the potential to help spur an
economic uptick faster than collaboration.
What do we mean when we talk about collaboration?
Collaboration encompasses a number of legacy technologies, including instant messaging, presence, IP telephony,
Web conferencing and ;le sharing. But it goes much further than these systems ever did.
Collaboration also includes online project management; business intelligence; applications such as Google
Docs, which let multiple users work on the same ;le in
real time, either in groups or alone; and new platforms
designed speci;cally to tie all these systems together.
Increasingly, it also includes the ability to interconnect
disparate consumer technologies—such as Google, AOL
IM or Microsoft Of;ce—with enterprise platforms and
Of course, making collaboration work is tricky. Most
of these products were never designed to work together.
And even more dif;cult is the challenge facing IT ex-
ecutives who must de;ne what the goals of any serious
collaboration deployment should be. In short, when most
IT execs look at collaboration, they scratch their heads and
wonder: What is the ultimate reward?
I think collaboration—let me clarify that by saying
I’m referring to smart collaboration that actually makes
all these disparate and legacy technologies work together
in a user-friendly fashion—holds the promise to help
enterprises cut costs, rede;ne their business processes,
and create new ways of sharing information and devel-
The key to collaboration is simple in
theory but difficult in execution: The sum
of these disparate systems is far greater than
the parts. Tie all these technologies together
correctly, and the promise for ROI is great.
Botch the job—or, even worse, just leave
these systems as they currently exist in your
enterprise—and you risk losing out on new
efficiencies and potentially falling behind your com-
petitors when the recovery kicks in.
The great news about collaboration is that many
of these technologies are already being used by most
employees. The bad news is that most enterprises have
no strategy for making this technology work more
effectively and securely for their businesses.
Do you want to cut telecom costs? Reduce software
license fees? Consolidate the number of software products
you manage? Are your line-of-business heads telling you
they need to cut travel costs? Are they looking for ways to
better leverage their investments in IT?
Collaboration holds the key to unlocking most of
these tough, pressing questions. If you take the time to
craft a smart, comprehensive collaboration strategy and
then implement the technologies that are right for your
organization, you will realize cost savings and also help
your business managers create more ef;cient business
In a tough economy, who doesn’t want that?
Stephen Wellman is Editor in Chief of Smarter Technology and
Director of Community & Content with Ziff Davis Enterprise. You
can reach him at email@example.com.