Collaboration: Overlooked and Underestimated

Managing the Changing IT Landscape: Collaboration as Competitive Advantage

Collaboration just might be the next big thing. But is it getting the attention it deserves?

According to a recent article from, people are changing the way they work—and it’s having a profound impact on IT strategies and budgets in 2013. Research conducted by business advisory firm CEB (formerly Corporate Executive Board) explored the IT implications of collaboration on productivity—and the results might surprise you.

The first big reveal? According to Andrew Horne, U.K.-based managing director at CEB, “People know that work is becoming more collaborative, but the surprise is that 50 percent of successful performance now depends on this—where 10 years ago 80 percent of the outcome of any task would have been down to the individual. It is the magnitude of the shift that we didn’t expect.”

In other words, productivity depends on it

What’s more, process-automation efforts of the past are no longer enough. To improve productivity, companies must think more about customization. Instead of creating highly customized (yet rigid) ERP and CRM solutions, there is a need for standards-based, cross-enterprise tools that can be customized in areas where you gain the most value—focusing on the way that employees actually perform tasks, where they perform them, how they service customers, etc. Think of what a physician can do with a portable, touch-enabled solution. And while sales managers will always need a CRM solution, they need access to it on the right mobile device.

I saw this in action last week while discussing the benefits and use cases of tablets, laptops, and new two-in-one Ultrabook™ devices with professional educators and healthcare administrators. These environments have an abundance of applications for enhancing productivity, quality care, and student learning. The goal is to connect educators with students, students with students, and healthcare workers to their peers and their patients. The concept of enhancing interpersonal engagement through and with technology proved to be the theme of the week.

Although this might seem intuitive, companies on average are spending only one-third of their IT budgets on the right mobile solutions—and according to Horne, anything less is too little. “Those pushing hardest for improvements are allocating two-thirds of all IT spending to the tools that are really capable of transforming the way users work,” he says. Any solution that gives knowledge workers what they need to share ideas and easily locate people and information has become critical.

How Intel is transforming collaboration

Another wake-up call is that the CEB research revealed a disconnect between IT decision makers and how end users actually get work done. Intel has worked actively to solve this challenge. To gain more from social computing and boost collaboration, Intel IT conducted research on the employee base by partnering with several groups across the business, including Human Resources, IT employee communications, and Human Factors Engineering. The goal was to understand how different business groups collaborate and communicate—and figure out exactly where the problems lie.

One component to this was a crowdsourcing exercise designed to collect feedback from new employees. Questions were centered around known collaboration issues—speed of innovation, barriers to working together, etc. And the results were quite interesting: 44 percent of the feedback related to organizational barriers and 45 percent to technology. Just 7 percent identified people, and only 4 percent cited environment or physical workspace. For more, check out the white paper by Intel IT, “Evolving Social Computing and Collaboration in the Enterprise”.

Again, it becomes clear that there needs to be a balance of three perspectives: technology, business needs, and the requirements of individual employees.

Do the research findings surprise you? Have you noticed the growing role of collaboration in your organization?

#Consumerization #Collaboration #Productivity