Collaboration in the workplace has changed tremendously and is still evolving at a rapid pace.
Thousands of years ago people communicated face-to-face and by drawing on cave-walls. Over the years there has been a progression to letters, memos, telephone calls, telex, faxes and during the last +/-20 years email and applications on mobile devices (including SMS and MSN Messenger).
A lot of business people are now also using newer technologies to collaborate. For example, public access solutions such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype and LinkedIn allow for communication between people. There are also similar ‘enterprise social network’ solutions for corporate communication such as Sametime, Yammer and Chatter. Blogs, websites and wikis are also tools that can enable two-way communication between people.
At another level of communication lie applications such as OneNote and EverNote which aid collaboration of thought within ‘live’ documents, rather than simple text based systems.
Noting the many modes of collaboration available, some companies prevent access to some of these applications, whilst others actively encourage their use as a way to improve collaboration. One frustration, amongst many, is that there is no easy discovery, retrieval and audit trail to the conversation, particularly if several of the above methods have been used within a single conversation – which is probably the norm.
Communication within a single company is relatively basic. Communication gets a whole lot more interesting (and complicated) when there are multiple stakeholders on projects and they are representing multiple companies. How do we then share information, data, ideas, concerns, decisions and collaborate in general? Do we then revert back to sending letters, making telephone calls or drawing on cave-walls?