Collaboration is a big buzz word these days. What does Collaboration really mean?

Collaboration is fundamentally about people working together, both in real-time and asynchronously. Wikipedia defines it as “a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals.” Simply defined but much harder to achieve!

What makes collaboration new and innovative?

Does collaboration mean that all parties involved in a project can share documents on the cloud? Imagine the AV consultant, integrator, architect, GC, and owner, all working on the documentation and drawings simultaneously on the cloud. The result: fewer change orders, faster revisions and approvals, with more projects completed in less time.

Does collaboration mean that because of new, open source productivity software customers and integrators can expedite time-lines and sign-offs?

Take the example of drawings that typically must be carried to the customer site for markups and approvals. If these CAD documents were accessible by all parties on the cloud, conflicts in schedules and calendars could be avoided. One master set of drawings viewed, modified and approved by all parties, anytime, anywhere. Microsoft’s Visio 2010 and AutoCADWS are two examples where major players have pushed their drawing software into the cloud and out onto remote devices for easy, collaborative access. ​Microsoft’s SharePoint 2010 makes it easier for people to work together, setting up Web sites to share information with others, manage documents from start to finish, and publish reports to help everyone make better decisions.

Does collaboration offer a customer an advantage?

One thought might be that a “collaborative integrator” would offer an even more highly trained team of specialists, available to clients 7/24/365. Remote access from a client’s desktop, smartphone or other mobile device to an integrator’s team of technical experts would offer the peace of mind that a problem can be handled anytime/anywhere.

Another advantage might be direct and open access to the integrator’s own VTC systems, as an additional support and service tool?

Does collaboration mean that the client has greater access to training, experts and new technologies being offered by manufacturers through the collaborative integrator?

For example, Extron may be offering certification and/or training on its Configurable Control Systems regionally or at one of its global training centers. The collaborative integrator is well positioned to facilitate these offerings. Major companies like Cisco are branding products, offering services, dedicating web real estate and funding resources in the area of collaboration. Cisco Collaboration, one of several “Communities of Practice,” recently posted a report from its Collaboration Consortium. In that summary Cisco and its partners included a “Best Practices” section outlining six simple steps to follow to help escalate collaboration. This checklist serves both clients and integrators with a credible guideline in establishing a relationship based on collaboration.

Collaboration is evolving as a positive new development, opening doors, unlocking stifling old methods of doing business and bringing the best of the best in the unified communication integration field to the forefront. Customers will gain a huge advantage seeking out collaborative integrators. Systems designed, installed, and supported by these forward thinkers will last longer with fewer failures. Client confidence will grow due to much faster response and much easier access to the ever-growing knowledge base.

Collaboration means different things to different people.

How would YOU define collaboration?

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