Let’s face it; very few great new ideas happen with a lightning bolt moment of genius. Seldom does one person have all the answers. More often, it takes a wide range of contributions to create breakthrough concepts. That is why collaboration is so essential for innovation in business today – it’s the combined power of many brains.
This is where a smart intranet can help. It does not take the place of human interaction — but what it does is to remove obstacles so that collaboration process becomes quicker and more efficient. A 2013 global survey by Chess Media Group found 86 per cent of employees think that intranets have made them more productive.
For example, instead of endless forwarded emails that waste time and effort, a collaboration platform enables access to information when it is necessary in real time, but does not clog up inboxes. Here are some more reasons why collaboration software could be the difference between innovation and stagnation.
Avoid the silo mentality
The problem with only communicating with people within your own department is that everybody tends to think in the same way. Consequently, silos form where co-workers reinforce commonly held ideas, creating an echo chamber. It’s vital to connect with people with different skills and perspectives to avoid this creativity-killing groupthink. An online network creates a flatter, less hierarchical organisation where employees from diverse backgrounds can find and communicate with each other, thereby enabling collaboration. The larger the company, the more valuable the intranet becomes, because employees separate divisions don’t meet around the watercooler.
The overlap of new fields
The advent of digital technology has created many new disciplines. In the intersections between these new sciences and traditional business subjects, lies the possibility of great innovation. All organisations have to embrace the new digital landscape to survive, but for original ideas to arise, interaction between these divergent fields is necessary. Not only can this lead to fresh ideas, but can be a learning experience for all parties involved. For instance, relatively new fields of computer science such as cloud computing and metadata have a bearing on marketing and customer service. For cross-pollination to occur, experts in these fields first have to find each other.
Synchronous and asynchronous collaboration
Collaboration happens in a number of ways and a smart intranet can support all of them. Synchronous collaboration happens in real time, such as brainstorming sessions with participants bouncing ideas off each other. A platform that allows for group chat or video conferences will facilitate this process, especially when employees are not all in the same location. In the case of asynchronous collaboration, the process happens in steps, at different times. Here it’s important that previous information is easily accessible, so that the next contributor can make further inputs. One could argue that email already does this, but in a time-wasting and inefficient way.
Collaboration and innovation go hand in hand. In an era where everyone’s time is at a premium, it makes sense to make collaboration as efficient as possible – one more way in which intranets are just too useful to ignore.
Baltatzis, G., Ormrod, D., & Grainger, N. (2008). Social networking tools for internal communication in large organisations: Benefits and barriers. Aisel.aisnet.org/acis2008/86. Retrieved 2 October 2015, from http://aisel.aisnet.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1052&context=acis2008
Cilliers, F., & Greyvenstein, H. (2012). The impact of silo mentality on team identity: An organisational case study. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 38(2). Retrieved 2 October 2015, from http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v38i2.993
Morgan, J., & Chan, C. (2013). The future of work. Retrieved 2 October 2015, from https://l1.osdimg.com/online/dam/pdf/en/resources/wp/Chess-Media-Group_Citrix_Report_Future-of-Work-white-paper.pdf
Strohmeyer, R. Social Collaboration and the Asynchronous Workplace. PCWorld. Retrieved 2 October 2015, from http://www.pcworld.com/article/252110/social_collaboration_and_the_asynchronous_workplace.html