In an article published today by Legal IT Insider, I talk in depth about the evolution of collaboration in the workplace, which is no longer constrained to the times and places we are “at work”. In the past 16 years I’ve seen many approaches and finally I think some mature thinking is being brought to bear on the subject.
The oldest collaboration tool we’re all familiar with is email. A lot of collaboration solutions try to be either a replacement for email or a complement to it. Some of the most successful replacement models sprung up in the social media space and that has often driven workplace thinking: The Facebook for the enterprise goal. The complementary approaches typically bring profile, presence and IM into an email-like environment. Both approaches share the same weakness. They provide a place, portal or application where you go to “do” collaboration. The realisation I have come to is that the most successful collaboration software actually fits into the existing ways people work and provides additional methods for them to share information that are right for that content at that time.
This means that collaboration needs to happen across existing systems and inside established workflows. A document may need to change collaboration context multiple times during the active part of its life. At any moment I may need to email it securely from within a file sharing application. I may need to invoke a collaborative editing workflow from a shared file or from a file stored in a DMS. I may need to share internally or publish to a trusted cloud provider for external sharing. I may need to provide and host a secure file sharing environment or deal room on demand. If I am going to stay productive, my key value adding applications also need to be available in these environments. Especially those that support my skills and help me serve my clients in the way they expect. Collaboration is a landscape not a system or a process.
You can read the full article at www.legaltechnology.com. I welcome your thoughts and personal collaboration experiences.