Thoughts on Corporate Collaboration Tools

The key approach to collaboration tools is to treat them like Pen and Paper. They are like Conference Rooms. They are like the telephones. Each of these tools do not have a whole lot of restrictions placed on them in the office environment. A collaboration tool is only as useful as it is used. To put barriers to use in place only reduces the number of people who are going to use them.

Take any given population of people and you will only have a certain number of people who are willing to participate in a conversation. Out of those people there will be only a small number that are willing to start a conversation. If you put barriers in the way of individuals you will reduce this number.

What is the value proposition associated with collaboration tools? Office workers generate knowledge by taking data and experience; they make a decision, and create an artifact. A successful employee will create an artifact that has a greater value than the initial data plus the cost of paying the employee to transform that data. You can increase the value of this artifact via communication. This additional value proposition is proportional to the number of people in creator’s audience who can consume the artifacts.

With this in mind, you can start to calculate the value of a collaboration tool. Once this is base lined you can then evaluate the individuals involved in this knowledge creation process and evaluate the additional value they provide by transforming data.

An example of this is found in a study from IBM. They were able to show that there is a relationship between the number of individuals in employee’s address book and the amount of revenue they generated for the company. This additional revenue was ~$950 per person annually. So with this in mind, the question is: What are the tools you are using to allow people to grow their network and what tools are you using to allow them collaborate.

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