The Collaboration Effect: The Second Wave of the Internet

September 24, 2008 - 0 Comments

Post by Alan S. Cohen, Vice President, Enterprise & Mid-Market Solutions“œA human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space.” — Albert Einstein, 1954Last week we experienced one of the most tumultuous rides in the world financial markets in quite some time. The interconnectedness of the world equity markets -already roiling from the year-plus credit crunch -demonstrates, viscerally, how deeply ingrained the first wave of the Internet, the wave that connected every computer to every other computer, is in the software of economics and finance. Information, much of it unfiltered but transmitted at awesome speed, created tremendous gyrations that caused companies long considered rock-solid institutions to teeter, and, in some cases, to fall. All of this occurred on a wave of Ethernet and fiber strung together from every financial capital to the next, worldwide. Countless investors swept the emotional gamut as hundreds of billions of dollars of equity were wiped out and then regained in days, even hours.The uplifting (though certainly not final) conclusion to last week’s financial turmoil was a human network effect: the collaboration between various elected and appointed government agencies alongside private industry to hammer out a rapid but powerful solution to the credit crisis. It took people with skills, knowledge and the desire to work together. The proposal Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke presented is a manifestation of what we believe will be the second wave of the Internet: collaboration.Collaboration posits such a powerful business concept because it puts people and context back into decision-making. While the first wave of the Internet allowed connectivity and trading algorithms to move trillions of dollars daily on a global basis, it fell short on solutions where insight and awareness were required. Today we see collaboration as a transcendent strategy for business, crossing boundaries of location, time, language, and corporate or government structures. Powerful, multi-modal, cross-company collaboration solutions that unleash innovation and productivity are the heart of what we call the”collaboration effect.” It is a profoundly simple concept: put people back into the center of communications and decision-making, even if they are not members of the same work-team or company, or don’t even work on the same continent.As business becomes increasingly digital, work is more of an activity than a physical place; thus the physical workplace must become a virtual”workspace.” Successful workspaces must not only support replication of business processes and communications, but actually allow them to morph or go away. In the world of collaboration, two people should be able to innovate, to create more value by working together than working apart (1+1=3). However, the dramatic side of collaboration is when old work processes actually go away (1-1=3) while productivity and innovation rise.The collaboration portfolio we are introducing today, built on the foundation of a rich, intelligent network, offers a new way to work within and across company boundaries, digitally providing the context and body language of working together without the necessity of travel. Our collaboration offerings were engineered with both business productivity and innovation foremost, but have the added benefit of lowering the carbon footprint of businesses.Collaboration is the critical next step in the Internet journey as we move from a global culture of transactions to one of interactions. We have learned that Web 2.0, the desire to build community, is manifested in business as collaborationCollaboration is important for the rapid globalization of innovation and trade: not only for developed nations to sell to developing nations, but for the rapid importing of new business processes and products from emerging markets. The best ideas, we are learning, can come from anyone, anywhere.If we are going to support global growth and prosperity, we need innovative tools that do not, in Tom Friedman’s terms, make the world”hot, flat and crowded.”Collaboration is important for the future sustainability of our planet, as we demonstrated with Vice President Gore six months ago. As we know, moving past the current economic crisis will take more than resolving the status of financial instruments. For the IT industry to play its part, it is more than the physical network and computers that must support commerce. We believe that technologies such as Unified Communications, Web 2.0, and Video orchestrated together can play a key role in supporting the new need for global collaboration, while adding speed, removing carbon emissions, and saving money. What could be better? Check out the Collaboration, Web 2.0: Past as Prologue post to further discuss the Cisco collaboration portfolio.

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