JP Rangaswami's Supernova 2007 presentation was my highlight. I listened to the software initiatives he described, including BT's partnership with open source wiki provider TiddlyWiki. I wondered how did JP talk an estabished telecom company into these innovative initiatives, and how will these steps translate into British pounds?
A year on BT is a proud sponsor of a television special series, "Collaboration", hosted by Donny Deutsch on CNBC. I don't know what audience BT is targeting (given the 8pm U.S. ET Sunday time slot), but you can find video excerpts on the CNBC site revealing the interesting array of presenters the program taps.
Sunday night's episode titled "Profiting from Collaboration" included:
i. Ted Leonsis, (who lead AOL's Greenhouse program that created the Motley Fool and IVillage brands) talking about his long tail independent film venture, SnagFilms.
ii. NetFlix CEO, Reed Hastings, addressing questions about NetFlix high stake, million dollar challenge, to enhance their movie recommendation algorithm, Cinematch. NetFlix is engaging outside talent in it's search for a 10% performance improvement. Hastings indicated some 25,000 people have joined the chase. Competition leaders are listed on the Leader Board. The current leader shows a 9.44% improvement.
It seems everywhere I look there is a story promoting the value of collaboration. Via Twitter Andrew McAfee mentioned the November 2008 HBR article "John Chambers Sees the Future" that comes with a video explaining his "collaborative business model". The Fall MIT Sloan Review offers "An Inside View of IBM's 'Innovation Jam'". Ziff Davis is promoting through Baseline, CIO Insight and eWeek it's "Enterprise 2008 Collaboration Survey" that finds "collaboration tools.. are among the most important technologies for 2008".
Does the BT sponsored "Collaboration" program on CNBC indicate a tipping point from awareness to adoption of collaboration as business performance essential in a global world?
No doubt, from a technology adoption perspective, collaboration tools are everywhere from enterprise wide platforms (Lotus, Sharepoint and JIVE) through grassroots use of wikis and blogs. Individually employees are connecting beyond enterprise walls on consumer social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter. But is the collaboration the technologies enable creating maximal value for the enterprises that are paying the bills?
I cannot help but raise the question, surrounded as we are by a global financial crisis that represents a massive failure in collaboration. While technology enabled global trading in credit default swaps, responsibility for the failures lies with humans and management. Stories abound of the problems from lack of AIG headquarters oversight of the UK trading unit that wrote risky instruments against the corporate balance sheet, to Greenspan’s choosing belief in open market models that had served him well for 40 years over carefully prepared advice from regulatory authorities about the risks involved.
No doubt collaboration technologies have arrived. However, as the financial crisis unfortunately makes abundantly clear, effective use demands thoughtful participation by all individuals in organizations and clear headed leadership to maximize the potential.
~ Jenny Ambrozek