Over the past two decades, the Internet has triggered a tectonic shift in the concept of networking — one that has redefined how companies market and sell products. More recently, social media, mobile, and cloud have fundamentally changed the concept of collaboration, enabling businesses, employees, customers, and partners to continuously interact with each other to create innovative new products and services and enhance existing ones. Rising customer expectations and faster product life cycles are forcing companies to adapt to a new style of business: “the collaborative economy.” My new report outlines the core dynamics of the collaborative economy and the implications for CIOs and their business partners:

  • Collaboration is much more than unified communications. It’s not sufficient for the CIO to roll out a unified communications solution; technology solutions alone do not change business processes or support employees’ changing collaborative behavior — let alone alter business models. A modern collaboration strategy requires CIOs to make organizational adjustments in addition to technology planning.
  • Collaboration is becoming part of the corporate strategy. A modern collaboration platform is the foundation for better innovation, faster processes, and greater employee satisfaction, which lead to happier customers and new revenue opportunities. We believe that modern collaboration is part of competitive advantage — and leading CIOs must support it as part of their group strategy.
  • Collaboration will change business culture. The collaborative economy requires major cultural and organizational transformation. Flat hierarchies, social collaboration at work, interactive customer engagement, and employee empowerment will be cornerstones of the business culture. Companies looking to innovate will also have to extend their collaboration frameworks beyond their four walls.

Collaboration not only connects customers, partners, and employees in the context of a single issue or incident; it can also be a massive driver of innovative new products, stronger business growth, and ultimately even improved social welfare. As a result, companies, industries, and entire economies that used to operate in silos will have to open themselves up and embrace the collaborative economy.

The ability of business and technology management leaders to transform the culture of their organizations will be essential for success in the collaborative economy. At the same time, CIOs in particular need to be aware that this is not about technology innovation alone; it’s also about setting up a modern collaboration infrastructure, new rules of engagement, and a governance structure built on a close working relationship with business leaders and outside partners.