Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cutting costs by improving internal collaboration

As I have previously announced, Henrik and I are developing a seminar called "Enterprise 2.0 - for easier collaboration and knowledge exchange" on a theme that we call "Maximizing the value of information in tough times" (the seminar will be in Swedish, but the presentation in English). The seminar will focus on how to cut back on costs by improving information management and collaboration with the use of social software and other Web 2.0 principles and technologies. Here are some recent writings that sort of sets the tone for this seminar:

Gartner’s Mark McDonald said in a recent interview that the coming year will be a rocky one for CIOs, with a lot of pressure to demonstrate that technology projects are delivering lots and lots of ROI.  If ROI is non-existent or too low, the technology is out — along with the CIO that approved it.

However, Web 2.0 technologies and methlodologies will remain above this carnage — because they often cost little to implement, and because they foster new means of collaboration at a time when it’s greatly needed.

The collaboration made possible through Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 tools and techniques may help keep companies growing through a soft economy.

Here are some excepts directly from the article with the interview:
“Investments in BI and CRM and ERP were viewed as investments, and fairly significant capital expenditures. Companies are doing web 2.0 things almost as a straight operating expense.

That's true, he added, whether companies apply Web 2.0 tools internally to foster collaboration, or externally to attract new customers and retain existing ones. McDonald advised against favoring one approach over the other. The deteriorating economy does not mean that any aspect of social computing, which Gartner cited as a top emerging trend in 2008, should be placed on the back burner
With the coming of the credit crunch and the global recession, hype won't pay the bills. That's why the next wave of Web 2.0 will be using collaboration to help businesses do more with less.

During good times, businesses are willing to gamble on stories and buzzwords, but during bad times, the focus returns solidly to cutting costs. That's what collaboration can do.

Gil Yehuda of Forrester Research writes, "In the current economic climate, Forrester believes collaboration tools can save enterprises operation costs by getting people and processes together quickly and efficiently."

Early adopters of collaboration tools are already seeing significant savings. Deloitte Digital, for example, was able to reduce by 90 percent the time required to edit new business plans by switching from the traditional method of e-mailing Microsoft Word documents as file attachments to collaborating within a wiki environment. And the benefits included improved results as well, according to Peter Williams, CEO of Deloitte Digital: "We spent more time developing and thinking about the plan, rather than running around like headless chickens dealing with the last-minute mayhem of Word documents with track changes everywhere. The wiki made it really easy. And because it was easy, we were more able to involve people.
In essence, it is time now to grab the low-hanging fruit that exists in most organization. Since the required investments in technology are fairly low, more effort can be put on what is most important - changing people's attitudes and improving ways of working. 

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