Despite having spent most of a weekend stood in mud, rain and thunderstorms at the Glastonbury festival, I’ve spent time since happily reflecting on some of the amazing collaboration between performers over the three days. Aside from the various bands, whose members (presumably) work closely together all the time to perfect their sound, there were some fairly unlikely partnerships on display too. Dolly Parton and Richie Sambora from Bon Jovi rocking to “Lay Your Hands on Me” for example. Or Ed Sheeran and Rudimental ripping it up in the middle of an electrical storm.
These combinations got me to thinking about how businesses with very different skill sets and competencies frequently come together to collaborate. For small to midsized businesses the ability to collaborate effectively with partners, suppliers and customers is often critical to success.
Many organizations collaborate specifically to accelerate growth and innovation. According to the Plante Moran 2013 Innovation Survey of 4,225 business leaders, 94% of respondents felt that Innovation was important to sustainability and growth. And three quarters felt that collaborating would increase their chances of success with innovation, with the majority open to sharing financial risk and reward.
As I wrapped up my monthly forecast call last week, it struck me just how drastically work has changed in the last decade. It was 10 p.m. and I was in my hotel room in Macau, face-to-face with sales team leads in Singapore, the U.K., Switzerland, and the U.S., over video. Ten years ago, mobile phones were just phones, and for many, the office was where you met with co-workers and got your work done.
Today we’re mobile. Our workforce is globally distributed. Deadlines are shorter than ever. We need to make decisions faster. With multiple generations in the workforce, we must accommodate a wide range of behaviors, outlooks, expectations, and work styles. To stay competitive, we need to look beyond commute distance to find the best talent.
I’ve said before that embedding collaboration technology into workplace design is critical to the success of any workplace transformation effort. Our activity-based work spaces must give employees secure, seamless access to the information they need to get their jobs done. But this must also extend beyond the walls of our offices so we can collaborate no matter where we are – at home, at a customer site, inflight at 30,000 feet, or in a hotel room in Macau.
In business, clear and rapid communication is always important, but it’s most important in healthcare, where saving minutes or even seconds can make all the difference. A growing number of healthcare organizations are adopting video conferencing to improve communications both internally and with patients. The potential benefits are huge.
Internal video conferencing and telepresence technology can help healthcare organizations better manage rapidly escalating costs, accelerate innovation, deliver high-quality care, and maximize the use of skilled resources. Doctor-patient videoconferencing has the potential to broaden access to healthcare, add convenience, and lower costs, according to a recent InformationWeek article examining the results of its 2013 Healthcare IT Priorities survey. (The survey found that 28% of respondents are already using some form of doctor-patient video communication.)
Collaboration is an inherently social concept. It’s about people and connection. It’s about communicating, working together, interacting to meet goals, accomplishing tasks, innovating, and creating. Just as people have unique personalities, so do the ways they collaborate for business, whether 1:1 or in groups, in structured meetings or hallway conversations, sitting at desks or on park benches, in real-time conversations or long-term interactions.
As technology evolves and geography becomes less relevant to connecting with others, the options for how we collaborate multiply. And multiply again. But technology itself is an enabler of collaboration, the value is in the connections that people make – with each other, information, and ideas.
Finding ways to improve the connections between people and the information they need to share is critical to improving business. From our perspective we want the technology to disappear; providing the ability for people to interact in the ways they interact best, wherever they are.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”―Helen Keller
We see great value in providing social solutions to our customers. Bringing together social networking with communications technology provides people with the means to collaborate and gives them flexibility to do the best work they can. Like Helen Keller, we believe people working together can achieve extraordinary things. We believe the same is true of companies.
Increasingly, organizations are looking for ways to integrate social solutions into their collaboration tools and business processes. Throughout the past decade, Cisco has continued to weave social into the fabric of our own collaboration portfolio. At the same time, we continuously looked for opportunities to collaborate with other companies to integrate new technologies and improve what we can offer our customers – bringing the best of the best together to provide our customers with the ideal solution to fit their business needs.