Collaborative Environments in Web 2.0

October 26, 2010

It goes without saying that the ability to manage the information available within a company is essential to ensure competitiveness. However, according to analysts, today less than 40% of that information is ever put to good use. The lack of cooperation and participation among employees is in fact producing economic losses, generated by the failure to access and share the expertise that corporate users have about their own business, the competition, the customers and the market.

Collaborative Environments in Web 2.0 platforms could be the answer to many of those shortcomings, provided we can correctly asses the type of users, their motivations and other non-technical variables. In the online world, Facebook or Twitter are examples of applications that have managed to capitalize on the personal data of its users. Can those procedures be implemented into the corporate environment?

In order to implement a collaborative environment such as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, that we can use to manage a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects, first of all we need to evaluate the different user groups in our company and the ways in which they will most likely deal with changes arising from these new areas of collaboration. Today, the typical employee research pattern is based on just 3 clicks on a search engine. If the information required is not found quick, typically the employee will quickly turn to telephone or email. The concept of collaboration and negotiation skills is closely linked to interactions face to face.

In this sense Web 2.0 collaborative tools are real time savers. Some estimates put the costs of finding information within a company at about $ 14,000 per worker a year, and if we add to this figure the difficulty to find the right data, the additional cost may rise to 6 million annually for a company with 1,000 employees. With a collaborative structure reinforced by tags and folksonomies that categorize content and reflect the way of thinking of the company’s human assets more faithfully, those costs can be greatly reduced.

Experts estimate that on average workers waste at least 3 hours a week redoing existing enterprise content and that only 10% of corporate information is shared spontaneously. In order to succeed with a Web 2.0 venture is critical to capitalize on the content generated by the marketing or communication departments. In recent years, organizations have realized the value of having Web 2.0 tools to make better use of collective intelligence, enhance the overall experience of the organization and foster collaboration among its members to increase their productivity and motivation.

But any organization that chooses to incorporate Web 2.0 applications into the daily workflow in order to boost productivity and encourage participation, must always keep in mind that all those Web 2.0 tools that facilitate change and create collaborative spaces are only useful if the employees do make a proper use of them. We must empower and motivate knowledge workers to capitalize on their experience in a way that benefits the whole of the organization and its own objectives. Only then can we speak of Collaborative Environments and Enterprise 2.0.