Cisco Blogs

5 Predictions for the Future of Collaboration – #4

- April 23, 2009 - 7 Comments

Here is my fourth prediction regarding the future of collaboration.Prediction #1.Prediction #2.Prediction #3.Prediction #5.Prediction 4: Organizations without boundaries will drive the next wave of productivityThis prediction is rooted in the fact that business processes must extend beyond corporate firewalls. That means they must encompass people outside the company as readily as they do people inside the four walls. Consider Procter & Gamble, which put a public stake in the ground that over 50% of their products are created or impacted by crowd-sourcing. In many ways, the manufacturing industry has led the charge in driving inter-company collaboration ― operating seamlessly with partners, suppliers and customers. Now, other industries are poised to do the same, and it will result in tremendous value on all levels: operational, product/service, business model. Ultimately we’re going to progress even further — from inter-company collaboration to the boundaryless organization. At that point, ANYONE that is relevant can be included in your business processes via a trusted inter-company network. In this long-term vision, the expertise and content you need will proactively find you, instead of the onus being on you to find them.

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. I agree but I think that you need to remove ALL boundaries (ie cultural in addition to organizational) if you want to facilitate innovation further.

  2. When I read your post, Padmasree, I thought of Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat"" re: boundaryless organizations. Probably not exactly what you were thinking of, but the example of how UPS had the idea to start servicing Toshiba computers right next to their Kentucky hub. Or how medical diagoses could be outsourced, with the doctors working around the globe to deliver information around the clock.But inter-company trusted collaboration.... An interesting idea, but again, as Jose says, getting companies to relax on their IP will be the trick. Again, unless we're talking about more open types of collaboration.Corporations seem to me to be just too profit driven - not even yearly anymore, but quarterly - to open themselves to ""competitive collaboration"". I'd love to see it otherwise, and would be thrilled to be a part of it. I wonder what that world would work like."

  3. Jose, Security used to be a challenge (it still is in some cases). But with technology advances like SaaS, companies can now collaborate on a common platform with feeder channels back into their respective companies. Companies like e2Open, Siterra have been providing platforms like this for a long time for different verticals.

  4. Security is and will continue to be the challenge for this. Smaller organizations recognize that they must accept this risk to stay alive and compete in the global business market. They readily outsource at each end of their value chains to extend their brand and raise their ability to generate profits. Large organizations often have a harder time accepting the power or cross-business collaboration, and will cancel business relationships if they feel threatened by a partner's growth or believe that they can better control their brand/message with internal resources.As knowledge worker populations start to shrink in the developed economies in the 2010's to 2020's, enterprises should discover the benefits of cross-firm partnerships based on trust and need driven by the lack of knowledge resources. perhaps the first place this will be apparent will be in the nonprofit and government sectors, where organization policies are already highly focused on serving public constituencies and much of the added value of the orgn already comes from outside contractors and allied governmental orgns and NGO's.

  5. I agree with this notion completely. Multi Enterprise Collaboration will the become the norm in days to come where companies forge seamless collaborative environments and work towards common goals and value generation across the value chain.

  6. How true! I am personally convinced that those companies that can combine prediction #3 and #4 are those that can come out of this economic downturn as winners. With operational excellence being a must, collaboration with customers can indeed steer innovation where it is most needed. The technology is there, but I think the mentality will have to change a bit to implement the boundaryless organization.What a fascinating future you paint!

  7. Very interesting prediction. I'm very fascinated by this one and would love to be there to see how it comes to pass.