Technologies and collaboration

At our staff meeting (face to face) yesterday we were discussing collaborative technologies and how we could use them, and which ones to use, to improve our collective productivity and effectiveness. We're a small number of people but work on different client sites, and on very different projects. So using technologies to stay in touch, share ideas, develop white papers collaboratively, and so on makes good sense in theory.

One of the emails I subscribed to from McKinsey Quarterly dropped into my mailbox just as I was mulling this over. Its topic 'Using Technology to Improve Collaboration' was about just the issues we'd been discussing. The authors suggest a method for determining which technologies to match with which type of interactions:

1) Classify workers by their workflow profile – the daily activities they do to perform their job and identify their types of interactions
2) Select the technologies that support their interactions by:
• understanding the specific requirements of interactive tasks
• identifying which tasks create disproportionate value for the organization
• determining the types of inefficiencies and wasted efforts that bog down many interactions

Reading the article I began to wonder various things:
• How easy it is to categorize interactions (although the article makes a stab at this)
• How much the technology has to match the user skill and interest in using it
• Whether the cost investment in the technology is worth the enhanced productivity (assuming it is enhanced)
• Whether designing an organization around the types of interactions that workers had in the workflow process would result in a more productive and successful organization than one designed around tasks in the workflow.

None of this led me back to what collaborative technologies we should be using in our company but the article offers useful paths for investigation on this.

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