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***Editor's Note: Join ebizQ for this month's special roundtable on Web 2.0 and SOA.

Integrated collaboration: ideal or reality?



As “collaboration” increasingly becomes a necessary buzzword in every vendor offering, MWD analyst Angela Ashenden looks at the market for collaboration software, and highlights the key issues for organizations looking to implement a collaborative working environment.

Why is collaboration such a hot topic for business?

The need for a collaborative working environment

During the difficult economic conditions in the first half of this decade, many businesses were forced to put all of their effort into streamlining their businesses, finding ways to reduce costs, and to limit their exposure to the economic downturn. However, over the last couple of years, there has been a marked change in organizations’ perspective: while the tight budgets and limited headcounts remain, the focus has shifted towards driving innovation, flexibility and business development, with the goal of strengthening and rejuvenating their businesses. Harnessing the expertise and capabilities of their people by enabling more effective collaboration is seen as a key enabler to achieving this goal.

What does collaboration mean in a business setting?

Collaboration is the act of people working together to achieve a common goal, with shared responsibility, and where all benefit.

In an organizational setting, implementing collaboration is as much about changing ways of working and organizational structures as it is about implementing technology. A technology rollout is only a small part of a collaboration implementation; there are many non-technical issues that demand a far greater investment.

For collaboration to work effectively, traditional hierarchical organizational structures – where managers are relied upon to make all the decisions – must be displaced in order to enable people to take responsibility for their own contribution as part of a team. Collaboration is all about leveraging people’s skills, experience and knowledge, and therefore direct communication across the organization is a vital component.

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