Post by Nick Earle, senior vice president of Cisco Services, European MarketsA few weeks ago, I sat down with five CIOs of leading German companies. All from different industries with drastically different business challenges, but all intent on one thing, help me drive down costs — today!There is not a single enterprise at the moment which isn’t examining every aspect of its operations to see where improvements can be made. While cutting operating costs is a primary objective for many businesses today—in my opinion—the key to success in the face of a challenging market is about equally driving efficiency and embracing innovation that can meet the needs of customers over the long-term. Developments in technology means that CIOs also have a huge opportunity to radically change the way their businesses are managed and can innovate for years to come.Take social networking and collaborative technologies as an example. They are enabling enterprises to harness information, ideas and establish new business models from outside the company—breaking down the traditional barriers to resources. While we’re used to swapping documents with colleagues at work, emailing customers and business partners, this is limited collaboration with a formal structure. In the new world, 80% of all the communication will take place outside of company boundaries. It’s about tracking down and connecting with people and partners who share the same interests and goals, and striking up rich data, voice and video communications. Businesses today are using social networking technologies to transform into ‘borderless’ organizations able to harness collective efforts and wisdom of broader communities and partnerships to achieve goals such as: • Creating new business models • Accelerating decisions • Increasing productivity and innovation • Reducing environmental impact • Strengthening relationships with customersHowever, technology is only part of the solution to becoming a collaborative enterprise. Business processes and technology need to be closely integrated and management and employees need to embrace a new way of working if enterprises are to effectively use their IT infrastructure as platform to capture new opportunities and improve efficiency.Working with Accenture, we are forming a new business group to help chart the course from strategy to architecture to implementation for customers looking to transform their businesses. Initially we’ll be focusing on collaboration, but our long-term aim is to help customers capture new opportunities where the network can help improve business processes and drive. More information on our agreement can be found at: http://newsroom.cisco.comCisco and Accenture talk a great deal about the need to integrate business processes with technology in order to become more collaborative enterprises. In your opinion, what is the biggest leap companies will need to make in order to better integrate collaborative technologies with business processes?