Even the best collaborative solution sold today doesn’t include the most important piece of the collaboration puzzle. Regardless of how whiz-bang and forward thinking the software is, once deployed you may still be missing a major component necessary for effective collaborative efforts. While the ability to contact people and collaborate is important to increasing efficiencies within an enterprise, it is not enough!
I assert the most important piece of the effective collaborative effort is your ability to know who in your organization to get in touch with. Quickly and efficiently contacting ten of the wrong people in a ten-way information sharing extravaganza can result in a large waste of time if the solution you are seeking remains in the dark. Knowing who we should collaborate with in large organizations may make a difference how soon a company is ready to introduce a new drug to the market, whether or not expert testimony is surfaced in time for a case or how quickly we catch the criminal. Global re-creation of the wheel can stop now!
Millions of dollars are spent every year on enterprise-class collaborative applications that do not provide an enterprise approach to surfacing the people who matter within an organization. Today’s systems rely on manual processes such as tagging documents or filling out profiles, this approach will collapse every time in a large enterprise environment. It seems that we, as more evolved knowledge managers, need the right tool for the job; call it an “Expertise Engine.” Let’s invest in a true solution rather than just more hardware. Let’s spend more effort finding the right person and worry less about how we contact them. I’m not advocating that we give up all the progress we have made to more effectively communicate than ever possible before. I am not giving up my ability to video chat around the planet and talk with a colleague on an iPad in a London cab as he rides down Piccadilly Circus. I just want to know that when I do, I am actually collaborating with the most knowledgeable people in my organization on the topic at hand.
In order for a solution to effectively “know” who is best qualified to assist you on a project, it must have an understanding of at least two pieces of the equation: 1) The nature of your collaborative need and, 2) An accurate, fresh, (read dynamic) understanding of the individual body of work for each person within the universe of potential collaborative partners. These requirements knock out all solutions that require manual updating of profiles, tagging of documents or anything else that is not involved in the day to day tasks required to complete of the aforementioned universe’s job. No matter the size of the carrot or stick, manual input just doesn’t happen.
What today’s savvy collaborators need to make their investment in communications hardware and software is automated expertise discovery. Solutions that don’t require the users to do anything other than their job will give you accurate, fresh and relevant recommendations simply by the nature of their processes. Automated expertise location frees the KW from manual tasks and allows them to spend time working on their mission. Knowing who to collaborate with frees up not only your time by targeting the right person or team, but also the other people within the organization who might have been wrongly contacted in an effort to find the right people and often brought into unnecessary meetings.
Now you have knowledge of the most important piece of the collaborative puzzle. The solutions are out there and vendors are waiting to collaborate with you on how to address your needs.