Virtual collaboration leverages corporate resources in previously unimagined ways to create competitive advantage by activating the organization’s intellectual capital for the first time.
There is a story told about a company that installed a new support system in their call center, and to encourage use, they awarded prizes to the most effective call handling. Much to their dismay the top prize went to a man named Jose who never once used the new system. Why? Because he had come from production and knew every facet of every product and could easily help customers with their problems without it. The second prize went to a woman who had only been with the company for a short time, and she also had not used the new system. How should she have done so well? The answer was simple: she sat next to Jose!
With virtual collaboration and the new cloud-based solutions, everyone can sit next to Jose. Virtual collaboration leverages tacit knowledge in previously unimagined ways, and the measurable value of it is now coming to be realized in corporate board rooms through the world in increasingly noticeable ways, much of its rapid growth happening over the past two years.
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For example, last year the Cloud Accounting Institute (CAI) conducted a national survey of financial and accounting professionals concerning their current and intended future use of cloud solutions (SaaS). The responses revealed that this past year has been a transitional one, with the number of respondents currently using cloud solutions increasing from 52% in 2012 to 75% in 2013.
In a 2013 Forbes global survey of 532 senior executives from companies with sales ranging from $250 million to over $20 billion, 64% of respondents say that cloud-based collaboration tools help businesses execute faster than would be possible otherwise. This can shorten time to market, quicken product upgrade cycles, and lead to faster responses to competitive challenges. The figure increases to 82% among business leaders (CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, CFOs, vice presidents). “The ability to collaborate in the cloud is becoming a key driver of competitive advantage,” says Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer of Forbes Media. “Leading companies are doing more to foster cloud-based collaboration.” The benefits of cloud-based collaboration, Rogers continues, include “greater efficiency, organizational dexterity, and innovation,” to name only a few.
In addition, Forbes found that the virtual collaboration in the cloud enhances collaboration across time zones and functional boundaries. Almost 90% of the corporate leaders said that capabilities enabled by cloud-based solutions represent a true breakthrough in collaboration in areas such as communication, product and service delivery, information sharing, tapping knowledge resources, and group problem solving. The same percentage report that cloud-based collaboration has the potential to improve business processes, including marketing, sales and technical support. And an even higher percentage point out that cloud collaboration spurs innovation, which they describe as “an almost unavoidable consequence of providing more executives and workers with new and more effective ways of sharing information, enabling business model innovation and new service delivery options with more people both within and without their organizations.”
While the value of productive collaboration to the enterprise is unquestionable, time and distance have been significant barriers to the widespread use of collaboration at the global workplace. Now, with the advent of efficient cloud-based tools and enhanced security standards and methods, there is nothing standing in the way of the release of the innovation within the invention; the model for innovation and new service delivery options with more people both within and outside our organizations is there and the tools to achieve it are currently available.
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About the Author
Jonathon Levy is Co-founder of LeveragePoint. Previously, Jonathon served as Senior Learning Strategist at The Monitor Group for five years, and before that was Vice President for Online Learning for Harvard Business School’s Publishing corporation. Jonathon is a thought leader and “eWorking” expert, best known for innovative user-centric online solutions for activating and embedding methods at scale for the lagest companies and best universities in the world. He is responsible for developing a new generation of online products that integrate learning with doing, currently used by thousands of professionals from Fortune 50 companies.