Collaboration will become more people-centric in 2011

Collaboration will become more people-centric in 2011

Summary: Ignore enterprise social at your own peril, blogs Rob Koplowitz.


For a number of years now, Forrester has used the following definition for Web 2.0:

A set of technologies and applications that enable efficient interaction among people, content and data in support of collectively fostering new businesses, technology offerings, and social structures.

For many Content and Collaboration Professionals (C&C Pros), the first half of this definition looks very familiar. Providing knowledge worker with better access to information and co-workers along with communication tools has been the primary goal since collaboration tools began to seriously penetrate the enterprise 20 years ago.

Now the second half of the definition "in support of collectively fostering new businesses, technology offerings and social structures" is a bit different. This maps to some potentially broad and strategic organizational goals.  This is at the core Enterprise Social Media. And Enterprise Social is here. Smart C&C Pros have already begun to take a leadership position in guiding their organization down this path that could be game changer, albeit one that is fraught with challenges.

Here's the challenge: As collaboration moves from being document-centric to more people-centric, the rules change. "Need to know" becomes "need to share". This can be scary, particularly for folks in HR that are concerned with privacy, legal folks that are thinking of intellectual capital, compliance, and the list goes on. Let's not even bring up the word WikiLeaks for heaven's sake. You get the picture.

Now, the real challenge; All that said, for many organizations, it's far worse to hide your head in the sand. The organizations that embrace a new way of working will in fact, foster new businesses, technology offerings and social structures. And if your competitors are doing that, you can ignore it at your own peril. And you know what? If you don't provide the capabilities to your workers, they may well go and provision it for themselves. And that might well be a whole different kind of trouble.

The good news is that a whole bunch of organizations ranging from defense contractors to pharmaceuticals to government agencies and one and on (all highly regulated and with a lot to lose) are well along the way to figuring out the right balance that can drive organizational benefit and still protect organizational data. Key considerations for 2011 include:

  • Establish the business value to your organization. Look for areas in your business where access to information, expertise and community wisdom will drive measurable value. Think innovation, think better customer support, think better design, anywhere where knowledge workers are driving key business initiatives with sub-optimal information and expertise. C&C Pros will need to work more deeply with business leaders than you may be used to to get this done.
  • Embrace the risk. Go meet with HR, legal, compliance, etc. and begin to develop policies that will safeguard the organization and still drive broad information sharing that fuels people-centric collaboration. Two things to keep in mind: Your organization probably "protects" a whole lot more information than it needs to. And, there is risk avoidance in transparency. It might be a lot riskier to be using tools like email and file servers which can hide "smoking guns" until the worst possible moment.
  • Prepare for a new role. C&C Pros will sit at the center of driving change in their organization. This will meet working across organizational boundaries in ways that will be challenging and rewarding.

Topics: Collaboration, CXO, Enterprise Software, Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Collaboration will become more people-centric in 2011

    Clearly I'm responding to your title. But, to be fair, if a title succeeds because it gets people to read, then it fails when people don't.

    So, I haven't read.

    If collaboration yesterday wasn't and today isn't people-centric, what was and is it centered on?

    Reminds me. Microsoft hasn't talked about the people-ready business in a while. I hope we haven't backslid to those dark days of 2003 when a customer would walk in the door and we would panic. "But, you're a person! We weren't prepared for that!"
  • RE: Collaboration will become more people-centric in 2011

    Whilst not providing anything new to the debate of e2.0, this article nicely wraps the issue of 'risk' as being a key driver in business decision-making when contemplating a more social stance. So is the risk simply 'of what IT, HR and Communicators don't know, or is it the risk of 'investing' in a new, more dynamic social infrastructure when they think there's an IT solution in place that can achieve the same thing. Into 2011, education and aoption are going to be the key drivers of social software and social business, since we alreqdy have some fantastic solutions out there with which to change business culture. So the risk is to individuals having to change their behaviours, not to business in terms of value and ROI.
    • RE: Collaboration will become more people-centric in 2011


      I agree, the e2.0 is more issue of organizational behavioral rather, than technology issue. For an organization to benefit and see ROI from e2.0 it need to invest in changing the culture as part of the overall change.
  • RE: Collaboration will become more people-centric in 2011

    The risk list is interesting. I will try it on several people in my organization. A problem that I am experiencing is that the key stakeholders are technology illiterate. They know, how to use email and Word. Everything new, is falling under "it is not secure." Thanks for the list, I will keep you updated how it worked.
  • RE: Collaboration will become more people-centric in 2011

    I think not only it is people centric, but also process centric <a href=''>collaboration</a>