Driving Business Value with Enterprise Collaboration – Part 1: The Changing Workforce

Many companies are currently examining how collaboration, and more specifically social networking within the enterprise, can increase productivity.  There are many reasons why – globalization, new ways of working within and outside of your company, emerging Web 2.0 technologies, and the shifting demographics of the workforce to name a few.

In this article, I am going to focus on the changing workforce.  An article entitled, “The Next Revolution in Interactions” from the McKinsey Quarterly 2005 November Number 4, examined the rise of the tacit workforce.

The premise of the article is simple – the way we work is changing and it has a dramatic impact on performance.  We are becoming a workforce that is more and more focused on tacit interactions, rather than transformational or transactional interactions.  The workforce now consists of people who largely or wholly spend their time interacting.

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Driving Business Value with Enterprise Collaboration – The Series Overview

In this 4-part series I will be focusing on a strategic implementation of enterprise-wide internal collaboration to support the corporate strategy and top business priorities.  This entails a top-down approach to collaboration.  I will not be dealing with ad-hoc collaboration solutions (which can provide a lot of value) in this series.  In order to embark on an enterprise-wide collaboration initiative, we need to look at the following components:

  • Examine how the changing workforce is a driver for enterprise-wide collaboration
  • Understand the business value of collaboration (how can it help our company)
  • Set the direction for enterprise-wide collaboration (how we align employees)
  • Utilize a collaboration framework to manage and measure collaboration (how we implement collaboration)

In the first article I will look at the outside forces affecting companies.  I will:

  • Examine the typical business drivers for enterprise-wide collaboration, and focus on how the workforce is changing
  • Explain why collaboration tools play a critical role in improving the productivity of your most important employees, and
  • Discuss how Web 2.0 technologies provide new capabilities to improve the productivity of your employees

In the second article I will examine how collaboration can help companies.  I will:

  • Define collaboration
  • Discuss how collaboration adds value to the business
  • Point out the different types of collaboration
  • Identify how to achieve strategic benefits with enterprise-wide collaboration, and
  • Provide a tool to help you identify where your company stands in the life-cycle of collaboration

In part three of the series, I will look at aligning employees.  I will:

  • Look at what it takes to set the direction for enterprise-wide collaboration
  • Walk through how to properly align your collaboration vision with the business vision and strategy
  • Showcase a way to identify where collaboration will have the biggest ROI
  • Examine how to set collaboration priorities to properly align people’s activities, and
  • Speak to the power of adopting an evolutionary collaboration strategy

Finally, in the last article, I will look at implementing enterprise-wide collaboration.  I will:

  • Look at implementing a collaboration framework to manage and measure collaboration
  • Explore what it takes from a people and culture perspective, a process and governance perspective, and finally a technology perspective

These articles will pull content from many different sources, so I hope it acts as a concise reference for you to speak about collaboration in terms of a way to add value to your business.  As always, please feel free to post a comment, or share the article with colleagues of yours if you find it valuable.  Your feedback is always appreciated.

Crossing the Collaboration Chasm

In a series of articles I wrote entitled, A Process to Showcase SharePoint’s Value to Your Organization (Part 1,2,3), I walked through the process of easily displaying the different business processes that SharePoint supports in your organization. The whole intent of the process is to get visibility with management to show how SharePoint has been used to support the business.

This is needed because in most organizations SharePoint is introduced via a bottom-up approach, largely driven by early adopters, without a direct connection to the corporate strategy. This type of ad-hoc utilization leads to fast adoption rates at the lower levels of an organization (people that are closest to the business processes of the company) but not much visibility with the executives – because there is no connection with the corporate strategy and the top priorities of the company.

Eventually, SharePoint’s growth gets management’s attention when they realize there is a lot of mission critical information residing in the system. Then attention is usually focused around how best to control the application (governance) to ensure data can be recovered in a timely manner.

I think the majority of companies are missing a terrific opportunity when they reach this stage. They should turn their focus to determining how the company can better leverage collaboration to drive business value.