Without technology, building a network is difficult. Which is why hierarchical organizations are so prevalent – they require a much smaller transactional cost (time and effort) for building relationships. In a 1937 paper entitled The Nature of the Firm, economist and Nobel Prize winner Ronald Coase identified this strength of the hierarchical organization over a distributed network, pointing out that this model better supported the traditional model for obtaining and supporting partners and customers. However, with modern collaboration technology this old model has been flipped on its head, unlocking information silos created by these legacy hierarchical models within the enterprise.
Coase’s studies provide some interesting insights that can be applied to today’s enterprise, and the idea of “unlocking silos” through the use of collaboration platforms and the innovation-minded business practices they enable. When organizations collaborate within the traditional hierarchical model, content owners often become information gatekeepers, simultaneously providing and controlling access to information, entertainment, communication, or other intellectual property.
Collaboration platforms have the ability to break down these information barriers, where sharing of content and crowd sourcing ideas can solve problems or tasks at a lower cost (sometimes free) than any business could perform through the hierarchical model.
Most end users (information workers) generally see the value of these platforms, and the benefits they receive almost immediately. Not surprisingly, the most active consumer websites on the internet are social collaboration platforms, helping people connect, communicate, and share. But they are also the most powerful sites for social activism — in other words, when people come together to share content and ideas, that activity is usually followed by action.
As any project manager will attest, one of the most difficult aspects of any new initiative is getting people on board and supportive of a change, whether it is the launch of a new software application or a new HR program. People seem to coalesce around sharing platforms rather than organized, hierarchical efforts that require a lot of effort to take collective action. The same ideas shared through collaboration platforms take very little human capital to get something started. You never know what suggestions may inspire action from a sharing platform, but a collective action has a specific – and predictable – outcome if the people are there to support it.
Unlocking information silos within the enterprise does not happen overnight. There is still a major collaboration disconnect within many companies today who do not have the will or the ability to fix these hierarchy issues — despite their employees demand for them. As a result, employees are increasingly finding their way onto public and consumer-based websites and platforms as a way to increase their productivity and break down their internal information silos. Whether or not these solutions are supported by internal IT, employees will find a way to use the tools and platforms that enable them to get their work done. The quicker companies can see this trend and take part in it, the sooner they will begin to recognize the innovation and intellectual property that is currently going untapped, or, worse yet, leaking out into the wild.
At Beezy, we understand the collaboration needs of the end user — but we also recognize the security, compliance, and management concerns of the enterprise. Our solutions provide the best of both worlds by giving employees the collaborative tools they need to be more productive, but within a platform that IT can trust. Beezy was built on SharePoint, for Sharepoint. Our award-winning user experience and cutting-edge features can help teams connect, communicate, and collaborate — unlocking those information silos.
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