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What’s driving collaboration?

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Thanks, folks, for your responses to last week's collaboration poll. Jolly interesting reading it made too. It puts the lie to all these people who claim social tagging tools and microblogging are taking over the business world. They're not.

But then, five years ago, you could have said that blogging and wikis wouldn't penetrate the enterprise. But they have, and continue to do so.

So what the heck is going on? And, more importantly, do we have any clues about the direction the good ship collaboration is taking? Answers aplenty came from the survey.

Let's step back from the tools and examine the drivers for encouraging greater collaboration in the work environment. Accelerating work, retaining knowledge and improving innovation and creativity are the top three reasons to introduce this stuff, by quite a wide margin:

Fig1

But when it comes to what’s happening today, organisations are supporting ‘minimising travel’ and ‘accelerating work’ very well, followed by 'retaining knowledge' and 'improving innovation and creativity'. You’ll note that the highest scoring 'very well' represents just under twenty percent of the responses. You could say that serious collaboration is still a bit of a minority sport:

Fig2

In terms of the tools used to achieve the above results, real-time and asynchronous 'dialogue' tools all scored over 50 percent. We're talking here about wikis, web conferencing, screen-sharing/whiteboarding, instant messaging and VoIP. (Blogging came next, if you're interested, at 38 percent.) At the bottom of the heap were things like freeform tagging and social bookmarking. We are, it would seem, still essentially selfish.

Statistics are all very well, and they generally point to some enthusiasm for taking up collaborative software. However there always has to be one, doesn't there? This person, from an educational establishment in mainland Europe confessed, "The above does not fit well in my organisation. Knowledge retention, innovation/creativity and satisfaction are not considered by management." He or she added, "We don't have time to collaborate much, even though we try."

Tragic, isn’t it? We'll send the therapist round.

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