ECCL examines future tools of business collaboration


Is the telephone conference still the first choice when it comes to handling considerable physical distance? Which opportunities provide the internet and new technologies? What influence does the increasing mobility have on collaboration? These are questions that were discussed at the creative camp on July 17th, 2013 in Mannheim, organized by the innovation agency MFG Baden-Württemberg in cooperation with the regional network of creative businesses Baden-Württemberg connected (bwcon). The combination of short presentations of two expert-speakers as well as a discussion with concerned practitioners resulted in valuable findings, which provide important content for the ECCL cluster manager trainings.

Future of collaboration
Informing the 40 participants about the future of collaboration, Jochen Günther, manager of the department Business Performance Management at the Frauenhofer Institute IAO, opened the creative camp with a key-note speech. He stressed the fact that the knowledge of the employees is now the true capital of companies, organizations or networks, which makes constant personal interaction (to preserve tacit knowledge) essential for their success. According to a study of the Frauenhofer IAO, communication amounts to over 50% of our working time. In order to foster productive collaboration it needs to be considered however that workspace, time and conditions undergo a new definition, where people expect more and flexible forms of working (home-office arrangements or desk-sharing, for example). At the same time, the more virtual tools are being used, the more a longing for personal contact is growing. Personal meetings and shared “real” time suddenly has new value and is being appreciated – even if it is only temporarily and rather by chance as, for example, at co-working spaces. Finally, Jochen Günther also addresses the challenges in leadership over-distance that are caused by the changes in location and point in time of working.

Practice case
Following that, a practice case on social collaboration was presented by Simon Hilsdorf, national web manager at ABB AG. Implementing social networking, crowd sourcing, wikis, and blogging as new collaboration tools in the company, he learned that the best tools do not work without constant communication guidance and a thorough change in communication culture at work. According to Hildorfs experience, tools of social online collaboration in particular still highly depend on the acceptance of the users, which is influenced by a company’s or organizations culture, its traditions, or the background of its people.
All participants welcomed at the end of both presentations the opportunity to ask questions to the speakers as well as to discuss their current challenges and share experiences.

More info on the creative camp (in German):