Dynamic collaboration across enterprise and inter-enterprise boundaries represents “the new normal.” Organizations are now challenged to work closely with suppliers, partners and contractors to deliver their offerings in today’s high velocity markets.
“Web 2.0 tools such as video portals, podcasts, blogs, wikis, and discussion forums are changing the way in which information is created, published, managed, and consumed,” according to a recent report from Cisco. “Technology advances and the need to work outside of normal business hours and locations foster an increasingly mobile and distributed workforce. A flood of new devices and applications is entering the corporate IT environment as employees elect to merge consumer-based tools with standardized communications.”
As organizations grapple with global value chains, information overload, and more mobile workforces, they are challenged to embrace and integrate new collaboration capabilities.
“As the number of intra- and intercompany stakeholders increases, the number of collaborative tools and communication formats increases,” states the report. “In other words, the scope of collaboration must be broadened. It must combine document- and text-centric collaboration — such as email messaging, instant messaging (IM), team workspaces, and conferencing — with voice, video, and context to fully support the needs of the business.”
Cisco contends that enterprises will need to recognize several key principles as they implement collaboration technology and infrastructure in the coming years. Among them:
· An interoperable, open architecture: As collaboration increasingly occurs across organizations and with people on the move, it is no longer a given that IT can control the devices and applications used in collaborative sessions. Today’s environment requires an interoperable, open architecture that allows for any device or application to use a core set of collaborative services.
· Secure inter-company collaboration: Organizations will increasingly move from collaboration within functions to intra-company collaboration to inter-company collaboration. In this environment, securely enabling collaboration with partners, suppliers, and customers as if they were behind the firewall is fundamental.
· Flexible deployment models: IT requires the flexibility to adjust to a dynamically changing business and technology environment. Enterprise and IT architects do not make decisions in the context of on-premises versus on-demand, but seek to couple the robustness, security, and performance of the enterprise network with the openness and flexibility of collaboration through the cloud.
Strategic planners in IT need to ensure they construct a core foundation that supports a rapidly evolving set of applications — one that also optimizes the various media types that comprise today’s collaborative experience. They’ll need an open architecture that secures collaboration and supports multiple approaches to deployment.