Business Interactions and Genuine Collaboration in a Digital Age

It is clear that organizations have a wealth of information and talent. The problem used to be getting enough information and access, now it’s being able to make sense of it all. This perceived filter failure is actually the inability to intelligently manage and reuse this volume of content in a meaningful way, on both a human (think social and mobility) and a systems level (think analytics, IoT, Cloud). Individuals seem to be unable to synthesize and understand the vast amounts of information being generated by an organization.

Meaning and Value

Any number of quantitative and qualitative measurements can be applied in an attempt to understand meaning and value. But unless these measurements are tied to specific reasonable business goals, business will be unable to articulate the success derived from all the digital initiatives and truly understand the why. As a result, business connections tend to remain fragmented and sub-optimized for the environment they are intended to be used in. It is clear that today this is one of the key challenges in the engagement with well-informed customers.

When pools of knowledge, analyzed data, automated business processes and relations develop in isolation, in the end, the entire organization suffers. These fragmented ‘solutions’ grow apart and remain expensive to maintain.  As these systems and solutions evolve in isolation, not only do they miss the chance to solve existing problems, they on themselves create new ones as well. The resulting silo-organization means that communication channels of any dialog never become a meaningful discussion in an interconnected ecosystem, but just remain disconnected streams of noise. This is valid both in the customer interactions but also in the internal organization.

When internal interactions aren’t interconnected, the increased customer communication, required by the new market, results in disparate threads of dialog, instead of a holistic, meaningful conversation with measurable and actionable results. Furthermore, the sheer amount of information a business engagement can create, makes it difficult for the teams as they exist today to discern signal from the aforementioned noise.

Legacy systems

New trends (currently social, mobility, analytics and cloud), no matter how revolutionary, must still overcome the limitations of the past before becoming fully adopted. In organizations, legacy systems and platforms, cultural elements, and governance requirements all work to limit the willingness to experiment and innovate but that shouldn’t be blocking.

True collaboration and long-term results means that everyone benefits when relationships with the customer, the partners, the delivery units, the different in-country organizations and the interactions are viewed as an ecosystem of related collaborators rather than competing interests.

Increased connectivity allows better management and coordination of distributed teams, whether in the country, in the sub-region, in the region or around the globe.  Even the most participation-minded workforce must overcome legacy structures to take advantage of an interconnected approach. It can no longer be focussed on a strategy that has managers focus on maximize near-sighted goals that are only very loosely connected to the greater business objectives.

A new business eco-system

The current business eco-system often unfolds as a tension-filled competitive environment. For example, different departments often interact with the same customer, prospect, or partner, pursuing disconnected corporate goals. Most strategies boil these interactions down into simple us-versus-them relationships which prevent genuine collaboration and dampen long-term system-improving results. Internal and external collaboration should therefore move from predefined relationships with a strict perimeter to a dynamic network of partners, interconnected nodes and the subsequent information flows.

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