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FreePint BlogThe connected enterprise: Understanding collaboration

Thursday, 26th July 2012 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By John DiGilio


Workers are increasingly expecting -- and expected to -- collaborate through tools that connect them to each other easily, seamlessly and without regard to organisational hierarchy. The tools that support this kind of collaboration improve constantly. For them to be effective rather than chaotic, however, they need to be implemented thoughtfully, with close attention to user behaviour and needs, organisational culture, and overall business objectives.


From coworking to crowdsourcing, collaboration in its many forms and degrees continues to shape and, in some senses, even redefine the way we work.  The old adage of two heads being better than one has given way to the even grander concept of something taking a whole village.  Technologies and ways of providing service and results that bring together the best of our efforts and talents are guiding the information industry towards its future.

The last few years have only magnified a trend that we have come to know all too well.  Librarians and information professionals have been increasingly called upon to deliver more work, of higher quality, more quickly than ever before while their budgets, physical holdings, and operational footprints continue to shrink.  This has been the trend and it shows few signs of abating.  Rising to the challenge, we have proven our value and versatility in ways creative and cooperative.  Collaboration continues to help us overcome the cutbacks.

This report presents power and possibilities that collaboration offers from a number of different viewpoints.  The authors selected represent a variety of backgrounds.  What they share is the same commitment to leveraging and aggregating the skills and knowledge of colleagues well beyond their four walls in delivering the best service possible.  Each has taken a new and cooperative approach and triumphed to one degree or another.  Shining examples of the very spirit of collaboration, they have offered us the benefit of their experiences in articles that follow.

In his article on using social tools to manage information flow, Stuart Barr approaches the onslaught of networking technologies with curiosity and courage.  Where many continue to fear the chaos social networking can cause, he sees the collaborative benefits these new tools of communication can bring to our organisations.

Crowdsourcing is a trend that is both too hot and too powerful to ignore in a world that is more connected than ever.  In his article on tapping collective intelligence, Andrew Rieder shows us how to harness social media to help us brainstorm new projects and initiatives.  Underscoring his assertion, he is keen to remind us of the importance of building real online relationships.

Connie Crosby takes us on an engaging and encompassing tour of some of the major players in this realm of collaborative technology.  Her survey of tools is focused on resources that can enhance your enterprise system and bring out its full potential for fostering cooperation.  From innovation to project management, her choices have the collaborative spectrum well covered.

As noted above, innovation can benefit greatly from collaborative efforts and ingenuity.  Joanna Ptolomey and Lauren Currie show us this is especially true when it comes to crafting library services.  Their feature on using co-design to create services that truly meet the needs of the people who will use them is proof that collaboration can, perhaps must, lead the way to ensuring the vitality and viability of our work and workplaces.

The future success of our libraries and the services we provide is closely tied to the synergies we develop with one another and the people we ultimately strive to serve. 

The longevity of our field depends on purposeful, powerful collaboration.  It is a concept on which this industry is founded, and which continues to prove itself not only integral but generative.

This is the opening editorial for the FreePint Report: Enterprise Collaboration. FreePint Subscribers can login to view, download and share the report with colleagues.

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John DiGilio is the National Manager of Research Services for Reed Smith, LLP. He has over 15 years of large law firm library and legal information vendor experience. John has proudly been affiliated with such industry standouts as Thomson Reuters, where he served as a Librarian Relations Manager, and K&L Gates, where he was the Firmwide Legal and Business Research Librarian/ Instructor for many years. He is the Past-Chair of SLA's Legal Division and a 2012 candidate for SLA Treasurer. John manages the popular On Firmer Ground and iBraryGuy blogs.

More articles by John DiGilio »

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