Collaboration in the enterprise comes in many forms, but no trends have shaped the market more than social media and mobile technology. The ongoing convergence of smartphones, always-on connectivity and ubiquitous social media lifts collaboration to new heights.
While effective corporate collaboration is a worthy goal, it's often too ambiguous. Business managers and consultants are eager to talk about collaboration, but many of them simply check the collaboration boxes on their to-do lists and move on to the next task. Collaboration can, of course, be an effective means to accomplish a task, or it can be an ongoing objective, as long as it's done the right way. Even with a plethora of tools optimized for mobile devices and designed to simplify and utilize the popular attributes of social media, collaboration has to begin with the right strategy.
"You need to have a strategy to figure out, 'What is our goal, what are we trying to achieve, what are we trying to be?,' and align that with the broader learning, talent and collaboration strategies where these types of tools would have a big impact," according to Nisha Sharma, managing director at Accenture Mobility.
"It's not just about using a tool, it's about integrating those tools and embedding them into your core business processes," Sharma says. "And one of the goals of mobile is to transform those business processes."
Sharma says mobility isn't about using a mobile device just for the sake of using a smartphone or tablet; instead, it's about transforming the way you work, via mobile tools.
"If an enterprise doesn't really incorporate this into their work, then sometimes those tools become more of a burden than a useful tool," Sharma says. "That's why it's important to integrate these tools into your work so that it just becomes nature, rather than 'Oh, I have to go here and do this additional task.'"
Mobile Helps Realize Collaboration's Full Potential
Collaboration is ultimately about focusing on a specific task and fulfilling associated responsibilities in cheaper and more efficient ways. Collaboration is also a buzzword and can mean different things to different people.
"Don't just look at these collaboration tools as about chatting and sharing... it goes way beyond that," Sharma says.
Today's collaboration tools can be used for a variety of additional purposes, according to Sharma, including the following:
Structured learning and performance support, such as remote IT access to help employees resolve issues
Interacting with colleagues conference calls, screen sharing and virtual whiteboard sessions
Real-time collaboration, such as the use of wearables among technicians working in the field
Forrester Research Senior Analyst TJ Keitt says businesses generally make better decisions when they're based on conversations or discussions between many people. "Mobile devices open up participation, because they allow those who aren't sitting at a computer to join the dialogue," Keitt says.
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