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Collaboration: dream or nightmare?

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Wave after wave of collaboration software keep crashing on our organisational shores. but with the latest wave of social networking software, should we run for higher ground?

Many people like to collaborate: they enjoy the process and their organisation might benefit from the results. But, historically, this collaboration has been more or less on their own terms.

Following earlier initiatives like groupware and computer supported collaborative work (CSCW), we have the altogether more widespread and more seditious social networking. This started outside the traditional computer environment and gained huge popularity among those who enjoyed socialising and generalised spouting off. Blogs, wikis, instant messaging, social groups, profile pages, tagging, sharing - you name it, millions wanted to be part of it. It was fun.

No surprise then that enterprises started to take an interest. Especially among folk with 'knowledge' in their job titles. They've known for years that the real knowledge in an organisation lies between people's ears. And it was a bugger to get out. With social software, they realised that people would give this stuff up willingly. We've even heard HR departments complain that LinkedIn contains more useful background information on staff than their own expensively maintained records.

But does everyone welcome this new collaborative software? Isn't it easier to get rumbled and to give up your power when you're expected to share so freely?

And what about IT's role? Does it just let users access their favourite hosted services or insist on implementing a collaboration offering from one of the major vendors?

So much for the staff and IT, what about the organisation? Does it see collaboration software bringing genuine benefits or is it just a waste of everyone's time?

We don't know. But we bet you have some thoughts. We'd love to hear from you.

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