Collaborative Capabilities

A new imperative for information workers

The way many experts see it, collaboration is no longer one of those touchy-feely, nice-to-have corporate concepts. It’s an absolute must-have for survival and growth.

Collaboration is a business strategy

“Collaboration is a business strategy—a way to improve the productivity of people and teams and accelerate the flow of information through the company,” Forrester Research analysts Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler write in “Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, Transform Your Business” (Harvard Business Press, 2010).

And it’s a safe bet that collaboration will continue to grow in importance, especially for information workers (or, in Forrester’s shorthand, “iWorkers”) such as those involved in dynamic case management (DCM).

In the big picture

In the big picture, the global economy is already evolving from its historical industrial base to a new model based on largely on collaboration, according to consultant Don Tapscott, mostly recently co-author, with Anthony D. Williams, of “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything” (Portfolio, 2008) and “Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World” (Portfolio, 2010).

Collaborative Model

That collaborative model is, of course, primarily due to the Internet, which not only allows people in widely dispersed locations to work together in new ways and at unprecedented levels, but does so at dramatically reduced costs. Increasingly, collaboration even occurs beyond traditional organizational boundaries—for instance, when employees in one company reach out to their counterparts in another. As Tapscott has put it: “The world can be your HR department.”

Drives new types—and new heights

That, in turn, drives new types—and new heights—of innovative capability, experts say. Science writer Steven Berlin Johnson has succinctly summed up the relationship between collaboration and innovation this way: “Chance favors the connected mind.”

Meanwhile, the same shift is revolutionizing organizations right down to their foundations—even to the level of long-established definitions. “This is changing the whole nature of ‘what is a corporation?’” Tapscott has said. “Every organization, every firm, needs to figure out a strategy on how to embrace this new phenomenon.”


Not surprisingly, social networking is also skyrocketing in importance for improving employees’ ability to collaborate not just with each other, but with customers as well. In forecasting its top 10 trends for the current year and beyond, Forrester predicted that social approaches and technologies would continue to “infiltrate” both internal and customer-facing processes.


All those factors are dramatically reshaping the case management landscape. For one thing, they’ve helped reveal plenty of new applications and opportunities for the approach.