Technology can help companies adapt to today's fast-changing landscape, butdigital strategist Oscar Berg says firms also must develop a "communicationculture" throughout the organization.

Berg, who works with the Avega Group, a consultancy in Malmö, Sweden, discussed the need for greatercollaboration during a one-hour CMSWire webinar last week. He explained why businesses should change, how they can change and the technologiesthat can help them.

Why? Because factors including new consumer behaviors and  rising globalcompetition are making business unpredictable."This means organizations can't do long, detailed planning. Instead theyhave to be prepared for change, to quickly adapt to new conditions andsituation," he said. "This is quite a challenge."

Promoting Natural Collaboration

For smaller, more nimble companies, fast changes come more naturally, like asailboat turning in the wind. For large corporations, it's more like turning anocean liner. Both large and small organizations are becoming more dependent on creative, self-directedworkers. Gone are the carved-in-stone processes designed to boostefficiencies a generation ago.

"That's a challenge, given that most companies are structured to workwith predictable routines to maximize efficiency," Berg noted. Notsurprisingly, as companies struggle to evolve, employee morale is eroding,frustrated workers are leaving the workforce and it's getting harder to recruitand retain the right people.

The key to achieve this change, he said, is to embrace collaborativestrategies and tools that reduce the constraints on employees,making it possible for them to engage with anyone at any location at any time.That creates agile work groups that can act quickly, even inside the largestcompanies.

"Collaboration happens more naturally, more freely in smallorganizations," he said. In a large, distributed organization,collaboration rarely happens beyond the borders of groups, departments or geographic  locations "because these have turned into silos."

Learning Opportunities

The Collaboration Pyramid

To illustrate the situation, Berg has created what he calls the CollaborationPyramid. At the top are "team collaboration" tactics: team formation,coordination and action. Below that are the low visibility "socialcollaboration" tactics that are essential to success in today's economy --things like sharing knowledge, connecting with others and participating insolutions. The latter group is extremely hard to develop in far-flungorganizations where more than half the employees may work remotely.

"As soon as people are located more than 50 feet apart, the likelihoodthat people will meet and have these conversations drops dramatically, and sodoes the likelihood collaboration activities will happen," said Berg.

Technologies can help to reconnect those people, essentially neutralizingmany of the disadvantages created by distance. "The basis here is toconnect creative, talented and self-propelled people with each other, to connectthem with a shared purpose, and to connect them with the knowledge andinformation they want and need."


This requires developing the aforementioned "communicationculture," with buy-in from senior executives, managers and knowledgeworkers throughout the organizations. Both tools and a can-do mindset arerequired.

How can you calculate the return on investment on socialtechnologies and social business initiatives? "One way is to measure frequentlyoccurring tasks that rely on these capabilities and then to estimate theincreased efficiency and effectiveness at the task level if these capabilitiesare improved," Berg said. "If we aren't able to change the communication culture in ourorganizations, people will eventually abandon the tools wegive them or at best they will use them in the way they used their oldtools."