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Definition

collaboration

Collaboration is a joint effort of multiple individuals or work groups to accomplish a task or project. Within an organization, collaboration typically involves the ability of two or more people to view and contribute to documents or other content over a network.

In the enterprise, the ability to collaborate and communicate is increasingly becoming essential to business applications. Enterprise collaboration may encompass the use of a collaboration platformenterprise social networking tools, a corporate intranet and the public Internet. 

Cloud collaboration allows employees to work together on documents and other data types that are stored off-premises and outside of the company firewall. Employees use a cloud-based platform to share, edit and work together on projects. Cloud collaboration enables two or more people to work on a project at once.

Collaboration may be asynchronous, in which case those collaborating are not necessarily communicating and working together at the same time. Synchronous collaboration, known as real-time collaboration, involves collaborative partners working together simultaneously and in communication as they work.

Enterprise mobility (the ability to work from various locations and communicate through notebookstablets and smartphones) is also quickly becoming something that both employers and employees take for granted. People work from home, while traveling and from other sites inside and outside of business hours, and they expect to be able to collaborate with coworkers from whatever device they are using. mobile collaboration requires device-agnostic platforms and applications to support them.

Contextual collaboration involves embedding business applications, such as word processors, enterprise instant messaging (EIM), shared calendars and other software into a unified user interface that uses presence technology to enhance collaboration. That approach allows people to communicate and instantly share any resources at their disposal from within any of the applications. The purpose is to make online collaboration as simple and intuitive as working with people in the same room, while enabling that capacity between people anywhere in the world.

Collaborative CRM is an approach to customer relationship management (CRM) in which the various departments of a company, such as sales, technical support, and marketing, share any information they collect from interactions with customers. The goal is to improve the customer experience and foster loyalty.

Collaborative BI (collaborative business intelligence) integrates BI software with collaboration tools, including social and Web 2.0 technologies, to support improved data-driven decision making.

Beyond the business world, collaborative consumption is a new approach to consumer access of goods and services based on an interdependent peer-to-peer model. The collaborative model is one in which consumers are much more frequently producers or providers as well, albeit on a small scale, and individuals cooperate to serve the needs of a given community. Examples of collaborative consumption include cooperatives, the sharing economy, the barter system and the gift economy.

In this TED talk, Howard Reingold discusses the coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action:

This was last updated in February 2016

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