In their book – The only Sustainable Advantage Edge, John Hagel III and John Seely Brown talk of deepening the distinctive internal capabilities and mobilizing the resources of other specialized companies through collaboration to build new capabilities and capacity. They also talk of the need to accelerate learning across the broad network of the enterprise through use of new generation technology.
As the businesses becomes more complex, collaboration becomes increasingly critical to success. Not everything can be done inside the enterprise. Companies now have to look outside to reshape their strategies in order to build flexibility, cut costs, gain access to new technologies and markets. In short, they must collaborate to even hold onto their competitive advantage.
Like wise, the challenging business environment of today, in which employees are tasked with doing more on a tighter budget, is pushing work increasingly towards hyperspecialization. In their Harvard Business Review article – The Age of Hyper Specialization, Malone, Laubacher et. al. talk of the work of the future being increasingly automized, with many workers doing pieces of what is today a single job. Collaboration then between individuals and groups become that much more significant to ‘stitch this work together’.
One of the key skills that would differentiate successful companies of tomorrow would be their ability to manage relationships, both inside and outside the enterprise. The new collaboration technologies can have a significant impact on this.
Collaboration technologies are also critical in building collective capacities in an environment where, a good part of what the workers and managers do at work on a given day comprises of handling exceptions and out of the ordinary situations. Here, the Collaboration Systems provide the overarching infrastructure to keep the wheels of an enterprise moving and as a means to work on making things better.