In a Shrinking World, Technology Spurs Collaboration and Innovation

60611 globe spanning technology - In a Shrinking World, Technology Spurs Collaboration and Innovation

Collaboration has gone global and high tech. Businesses can now choose from 1D, 2D, and 3D collaborative tools. 

But which is right for the project you have at hand?  Do you want a simple event scheduling resource—such as Meeting Wizard—or do you want employees to have 3D avatars who meet in a customized digital environment? 

What spurs the innovation we need, as companies and as a global society? 

I personally discovered Second Life in the fall of 2010 and thought I was really on top of things. In fact, IBM has used Second Life for years to support collaboration and innovation among its international divisions, drastically reducing travel and site maintenance costs.  

This is a major change in the way we envision what “face-to-face” collaboration looks like, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

New technological models of collaboration allow regular people can now get their innovations directly into the hands of organizations looking for solutions. Sites, like InnoCentive, offer a unique challenge-driven innovation approach that leverages open innovation  and crowdsourcing to help organizations solve problems. 

Businesses, government entities and non-profit organizations post their challenge or need to the site and offer a monetary reward for the delivery of a solution. Jane Doe provides the requested solution, receives the reward and opportunities to develop a business model based on her innovative propensities, not to mention unprecedented access to potential end users.  The solution to the clean-up of the Alaskan Exxon Valdez oil spill was found through this process.  Founder Alf Bingham suggests that this process produces a diversity of thought about the problem that can often make the solution unique.

As the world shrinks and the global talent base expands, companies once known for  insularity are tapping into talent pools comprised of billions of minds. In so doing, they are sourcing the globe for products and technologies, leveraging the wealth of talents and ideas found there.  The approach has been so successful that “proudly found elsewhere” has been adopted as an employee mantra at Proctor and Gamble with employees being rewarded not only for their own ideas but also for those they bring in from outside of the organization.  According to Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, authors of Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World, “Companies will need to be ambidextrous: building on core capabilities internally, while acquiring the greatest, most complementary ideas externally.”  To put it simply, when an organization learns collaborate with a global talent pool, the world becomes its innovation generator. 

Read other posts by Jan Spencer

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