With today’s news that oil has reached $135 a barrel – a 100% increase in a 12 month period – it’s clear that there are some serious economic challenges ahead. A liter of unleaded in the UK today at 114 pence ($2.25) is equal to $8.50 a gallon in the US. This is not a uniquely American issue.
We may be reaching (or have reached) a tipping point in our global economy – oil is a vital component in the computer or device you are reading this on, as well as the fuel in your vehicle or the airplane you may be about to get on.
There has been much talk about informal ground up adoption of enterprise 2.0 by business units, but today’s economic realities may well push international technology collaboration applications to center stage in the enterprise.
VOIP, video conferencing, virtual environments (Second Life style business spaces) and Enterprise 2.0 technologies are likely to be future business saviors for those seeking competitive advantage, as well as helping companies run lean by offering a significant ROI.
Trudging shoeless through security lines for early morning flights is about to get more expensive financially as well as burning more and more valuable time; rapidly maturing online technologies are going to appear significantly more attractive going forward.
Interaction with colleagues is as critical as ever and nothing replaces face to face interaction, but the quality of remote communication, information sharing and workflow is reaching critical mass in terms of competitive advantage in some markets. Travel cost savings are attractive: combining these with greater efficiency makes adopting collaboration technology a no brainer.
However, I would argue that ad hoc adoption of technology without careful planning and integration into existing personnel and partner hierarchies won’t scale longer term. While specific problems may be solved by rapid adoption of appropriate light weight technologies, true collaboration should be the core of the enterprise and not just at the extremities.
Many of today’s various experimental grass roots adoptions, combined with some confusion of utility with social network software (Facebook, ‘super poking’ etc) have created an understandable lack of clarity at an executive level. At this stage there are no clear frameworks or patterns: specific business problems require carefully crafted solutions.
At the other end of the spectrum Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and IBM will continue to thrive but lack the fleet footed ability of the enterprise collaboration solutions.
Those entities who organize workflow intelligently around combining enterprise collaboration with their legacy enterprise class systems will thrive. Federation of applications can also work well, but multiple grassroots silos are likely to be a major management headache on many levels in the future.
Coherent strategic and tactical planning will pay huge dividends in a future world where every penny will count even more than it does today…