Collabor8: 8 principles for successful collaboration

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What is Collaboration?

Collaboration can be defined as the process whereby people work together. Traditionally this also meant being together, at the same time and place. Now, with new technology, connectivity and the ‘death of distance’, collaboration is being redefined as the experience of people working together, sharing ideas, data and analysis to develop collective solutions. What has changed is that people no longer need to sit together in the same space to undertake collaborative work.

This report sets out to look at the rise of collaborative work. It will look at both synchronous and asynchronous working, and review the benefits being derived from early adopters of collaborative spaces. It looks at the drivers of change, from technology and work process, to demographics and sustainability, and defines a set of eight features or principles for the future of collaboration. Inter and Intra Company Collaboration

There are two types of collaboration – ‘intra’ and ‘inter‘ company. The most common area so far has been intra company collaboration where people that work for the same employer work together on projects, co-locating in the same facility or connecting across distance so that distributed teams and specialists can work together without travelling the globe.

Now, inter company collaboration will become paramount, where people from different companies need to connect and work together. Connecting people across different geographies, technology and security systems will create its challenges. But it is this area that will see dramatic growth as people increasingly demand collaboration with customers, suppliers and partners.

Emerging Technology

In response, a range of new technologies and solutions are on the horizon. From high definition video conferencing to unified communications and collaboration (UCC) software, a host of developments will accelerate the ability to collaborate successfully. New standards such as XMPP will allow inter- company networks - buddy lists and presence to be shared and used seamlessly, so that distributed teams across many organisations can in effect become seamless, working and communicating together.

One of the key ingredients in collaborative space is the ability for people to use ‘augmented technology’ so that collaboration feels like an extension of the natural use of pen and paper. ‘Haptics’ – the use of touch – will have a profound impact on people’s ability to use new collaboration tools as interaction and manipulation of data becomes more intuitive and natural.

In the future we predict the rise of ‘smart surfaces’ from interactive screens and displays to digital wallpaper and immersive space. These advanced technologies will be used alongside complementary technology such as high definition video conferencing, mobile technology and cloud based services. People will collaborate in highly capital intensive, technology rich rooms but also ‘on the pause’ as they connect from a variety of destinations from hotel room to the home.

Early Adopters

Companies such as BT, Cundall, Ernst & Young and O2 have already adopted new technology in specially conceived environments to achieve new work process and innovation. And while the impetus for today’s generations in the workplace may be speed, travel and sustainability, the next generation still at school or college has been brought up with synchronous experiences learnt through social networking, instant messaging and real time presence. They have all been taught with interactive whiteboards in their classrooms, and use mobile technology as a natural extension of their personas. As they enter the workforce in the next 10 years, a natural migration to collaboration and collaborative work will take place.

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