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New enterprise collaboration technologies can systematically lead to better decisions and higher productivity—if companies follow three strategies that get beyond talk to changing how people work.
GE Aviation, CEMEX Alternative Fuels and Unilever are seeing measurable benefits from social collaboration platforms, crowdsourcing and other new collaboration technologies. But other organizations are finding employees use them to spread “nice to know” information, but not necessarily to increase productivity by sharing “need to know” information or improving business processes.
The report identifies practices, approaches and case studies among committed-to-collaboration companies from which others can learn.
See the related article, published in The Wall Street Journal, “Three Steps that Take Collaboration from Talking to Doing."
Company leaders who want to achieve the large gains in productivity, decision making and innovation from the new social enterprise collaboration technologies should follow these three strategies:
Embed collaborative technologies into business processesExecutives should establish clear objectives—specific tasks and processes to improve, specific gains sought—for using collaboration technologies. Only then can they address which technologies to apply and how to embed them in processes in ways that feel seamless.
Shape collaborative behavior through technologyTake advantage of the new tools—such as social network analysis tools and workstream analytics—to understand how the workforce already is collaborating and identify effective and ineffective practices. Then use techniques and technologies like gamification that encourage the desired behavior.
Rethink the universe of talentConsider the new options for sourcing and using talent provided by collaborative technology. Companies already use these technologies to hand off simple, well-defined tasks. Soon they will be used to source more complex kinds of knowledge work.
Moving from collaborative talk to collaborative work will require organizational changes, especially in management and human resources practices.
Organizations will need to give employees the time to collaborate and create incentives to help others.
Managers must be prepared for employee expectations of greater transparency and that these technologies open new channels to express frustration.
More and more workforce teams will be a mix of long-term members, short-term assignees and external contractors. Collaborative technology will make it possible for this mix of talent to come together and work together.
Mary Hamilton is a managing director with Accenture Technology Labs. She is based in San Jose.
Alex Kass is a senior manager with Accenture Technology Labs. He is based in San Jose.
Allan E. Alter is a research fellow with the Accenture Institute for High Performance. He is based in Boston.
Ryan T. Coffey is a former senior research associate with the Accenture Institute for High Performance.
October 16, 2013
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