I've been out of clever -- and even cheesy -- ways to talk about why collaboration is essential to business for a long time now. You don't need the fluff anyway-- the benefits of working together are becoming crystal clear, especially as 2010 winds down. Here are just a few last minute notables of 2010, as well as a look into 2011.

Does Collaboration Really Impact Business Performance?

The answer is yes, yes it does. For all you visual folks out there, Jacob Morgan of Chess Media Group dug up a few reports from Frost & Sullivan that show the impact of collaboration on business performance. In 2006, it was already apparent that profitability, innovation and customer satisfaction were on the up:

impact collab 1.gif

The study was conducted again in 2009 and yielded similar results, even though the consulting firm took a different approach. The second time around, organizations were ranked as either basic, intermediate or advanced with regards to collaboration:


 Of course, that doesn’t mean you can just slap on a social solution and expect to see the kind of results you want. Morgan notes other factors that come into play, such as organization size, here.

On the other hand, it’s hard not to get excited about the effects of social business software--especially when it’s even better than we think it is. “It's clear that collaboration has a strong impact on overall business performance. However, I believe that impact is underscored in both reports as Enterprise 2.0 tools/software were omitted from the reports,” noted Morgan. “I think the results would have been even more positive had they been included.” 

The Social Web in 2011 and Beyond

The impact collaboration has had on our lives is so massive, in fact, that it’s blurring lines between worlds (long gone are days when leaving work meant being done with work, for example). It is therefore more important now that ever before to consider how we can successfully guide our lives into an age of total information awareness and connectivity. Entrepreneurs, you are key.

Thankfully, business leaders and thought leaders like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and John Doerr have been more than happy to share their thoughts and advice. At the recent announcement of the sFund -- a US$ 250 million dollar initiative for the social Web -- these bigwigs, along with Mark Pincus and Bing Gordon, took the stage and very clearly stated what they were looking for (better customer service, better travel apps, companies that are inherently social), how to bring it, and what they think is going to be hot in the near future. Get the details here.

The Enterprise in 2011: We are Disruption

Deb Lavoy says our ability to predict the future is getting worse by the day, and our work cycle has collapsed-- in a good way. Learning has become doing, and therefore our expectations have risen and we’ve eliminated linear progress:

We're no longer talking about technology transforming business, but the transformative power of people and collaboration. In other words, the status and contribution of people in the enterprise is improving. That should lead to good things like more usable technology, more collegial environments and more meaningful work.

Point is, we’re the stars of the show. We are making things happen rather than depending on superiors. Doesn’t it feel good to be able to say that?

The Best is Still in the Pipeline

Collaboration has become a catalyst, there’s no doubt about it. The pressure, however, comes from being smart enough to recognize a turning point in society without totally freaking out.

In a recent interview with Andrew Keen of TechCrunch, March Davis of Microsoft wasn’t shy about airing our new-found responsibilities. “The great opportunity and challenge of our time is what it means to have a digital society and a digital economy,” he said. “What does it mean to be a person, to have data, to create property, to work and play and live and love in a world where the web, the world and people are connected all the time? That is the world we’re creating...we have real decisions to make about what that world’s going to look like.”

Hmmm... designing a new world. That’s scary. Terrifying, even. But will it also be exciting and, ultimately, better.