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Enterprise Collaboration: Reaping the Benefits of the Mid-Office

The desire to optimize business practices and improve operational efficiencies is no new phenomenon. Business and information technology initiatives have long attempted to bring about positive change for the entire business. These initiatives tend to focus exclusively on one of two places: either on the transactional databases and enterprise systems of the back office or on the front office where workers interact with customers and business partners with desktop software and Web applications geared towards enhancing personal productivity.

The myopic focus of these advances almost wholly ignores the importance of the mid-office. What’s more, those few executives who do focus on this vital portion of the enterprise typically view on-demand collaboration for the mid-office as nothing more than a means of keeping track of a snarl of unrelated tasks and deadlines. This ignores the reality that enterprise collaboration and work management is about driving value for the business from end to end.

Although enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management systems have grown in popularity over the past few years, collaborative business software can provide better business results and insights into operational processes. To clarify, the hodge-podge of scheduling, resource management, project management and portfolio management applications that have proliferated to the point of near ubiquity are insufficient.

Properly applied, these tools have the ability to unlock valuable troves of intellectual property and knowledge that had been sequestered in mid-office business processes. Proper application requires highly flexible and adaptable customization and ultimately provides the enterprise with new insights into organizational and business efficiencies. This frontier represents a profound competitive advantage just waiting to be tapped.

Part One: The Front Office

The myriad bells and whistles of the front office are geared towards the creation of information. Employees in the front office deal in the currency of documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, e-mail messages, audio and video files and other forms of unstructured data. This deluge accumulates on computers, servers, flash drives, and CDs across the enterprise and – with the proliferation of laptops and other facilitators for employees to work remotely – outside of the enterprise itself. This fosters chaos.


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