With all the hubbub surrounding collaboration these days, and what seems like a vendor a week coming out with new online collaboration software, we began to ask ourselves:

  • Why collaborate in the first place?
  • What is collaboration in the age of the Internet, in the face of highly dispersed teams, and what factors make it effective?
  • How are traditional collaboration technologies like email contributing to the problem instead of the solution?

Collaboration is central to the way we work, deliver services, and innovate. It generally refers to groups of individuals or organizations working together to address problems and to deliver outcomes that are not easily or efficiently achieved by working solo.

The animal we call ‘collaboration’

Organizations are naturally attracted to collaborative relationships, and so are marketers, who always seem to be on the hook for launching major campaigns that directly link to the bottom line. Collaboration can pay off by combining everyone’s efforts and expertise to produce benefits greater than those achieved through individuals. And this can result in less duplication and overlap, increased efficiency and effectiveness, the ability to solve complex problems, and getting projects done on time.

But collaboration is not always as simple as it seems. It requires a bit of structure and a high level or organization. Sometimes you may find yourself assigning one person the permission to review information, while restricting another from seeing it.

There are also those individuals who feel intimidated by widespread visibility of their work. True collaboration requires dense, interdependent connections and a high-level of trust. Although the risks are high, so can be the rewards.

When traditional technologies no longer suffice

When it comes to the collaboration technologies we use most today, many, quite frankly, hold us back. Emailing documents back and forth can lead to costly errors, delays, and miscommunications. Then there’s the proliferation of devices and mediums—smartphones, Facebook, and so on—that can make multitasking across media about the only thing that gets done in a day. If you’re not careful, the tactical details of collaboration can quickly get out of kilter with the value they deliver to productivity.

Marketers, in particular, are often deluged by multiple simultaneous, disconnected mediums of collaboration and technologies. They are in charge of creating volumes of content and communicating to multiple agencies, which are responsible for multiple tasks. Meanwhile, marketers may be juggling meetings, text messages, and responses to questions posted on social media sites. Things can go awry fairly quickly without proper collaboration, including missing content deadlines, sending the wrong version of a file to a printing service, correcting expensive mistakes, or missing the messaging mark—you know, the one the CEO was dead-set on.

Learn how to collaborate intelligently

There are collaboration solutions that promote pervasive internal relationships while stretching across extended teams. They combine much of the functionality of email, document-sharing, messaging, tasks, and other collaboration capabilities –all in one useful cloud-based workspace that cuts down chatter about document versions and communication clutter.

Want to dive into why successful collaboration is often so difficult and what kind of skills and behaviors are needed to get the job done. Also, discover the history of collaboration technologies (some of it may surprise you) and practical advice for using collaboration to increase accountability and deliver projects on time –and maybe even under budget.

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