CMO Impact
Leading Digital Transformation

Collaboration Has Changed, And It’s Time to Adapt or Fall Behind

Jay Muelhoefer
March 16, 2017

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There’s a revolution underway that’s having a profound impact on the way people collaborate, build business relationships and get things done. Companies need to adapt if we want to survive and thrive.

First, a little context. Historians identify three industrial revolutions over the past few centuries, powered by steam engines, electricity and – most recently – by computers and software. Many observers believe we’re now experiencing a fourth one. Although it comes with many labels – the cloud, mobility, the Internet of things, etc. – I call it the interconnectedness of everything, creating a world in which traditional boundaries that previously limited the ability of people to engage and collaborate no longer apply. This revolution is happening now. Consider the following evidence:

Teams are more dispersed than ever, but also more unified.

Throughout history, people worked on projects together, in person, but that rarely happens now. Today, the project leader might be based at home, managing agencies and consultants who come onsite periodically and work from their own office or on the road the rest of the time. They may interact with people working at headquarters who handle daily logistics of the business. Other players participate as the project unfolds, such as partners, suppliers, vendors and customers. However, projects still get completed, and often more efficiently since participants are not limited by standard work hours and dedicated locations in order to work productively.

More people are contractors or self-employed than ever before.

These people have specialized expertise and companies have decided (or the individuals themselves may have decided) that it doesn’t make sense for them to be full-time employees. Instead, companies pull them in at the right time, for as long as they’re needed. When their roles are done, these specialists move on to their next gigs (some might work on multiple projects simultaneously). This is especially true in a marketing group in which punctual projects may require branding, video or programming expertise that are not part of ongoing operations and do not require full-time assistance.

Teams are far more dynamic.

Now companies bring in visionaries and strategists at the beginning of a project to determine if an idea is sound and to lay the groundwork. We then bring in other people (creative, project managers, etc.) in the middle of the process to bring the project to life, and still others at the end to make sure it’s done right.

The individuals have more power than ever.

Today, people bring IT into their personal lives and geek-out everything from their home theater to their HVAC systems. With this new expectation of interconnectedness in our personal lives, employees, customers and partners assume the same level of connectivity in everything they do. If we as a company can’t provide the right infrastructure to facilitate maximum productivity, the best talent will find a company that can.

Now for the Opposing Forces.

These trends are having a dramatic impact on the way people work together and conduct business with others. Marketers are struggling to adapt, and we’re often uncertain how to proceed. How do we achieve the huge benefits of transforming external interactions in a digital world, while meeting the needs of information security and regulatory compliance? For long-established, and especially for heavily regulated, organizations this balancing act can be difficult to navigate.

Part of the problem is that we’ve spent the past 20 years building physical and digital boundaries, driven by notions of risk prevention and compliance. We’ve built barriers around our information – assuming that if data is kept on-premises, that it’s more secure. However, to properly leverage the value of information, it needs to be put to use and shared outside the organization. The irony is that we’ve made it harder to move information to where its greatest value can be realized.

But when sensitive information goes beyond the physical walls of an organization, how do we keep it secure while allowing team members to use it?

IT Security, and the company as a whole doesn’t want marketers to use consumer tools for business, but rather business tools that offer appropriate controls built in. The key to finding the right balance is to combine the ubiquity, speed and simplicity of email and FTP, but provide security that those mediums cannot. Otherwise, marketers will find a way to go around the system (if they aren’t doing it already). Enterprises also don’t necessarily have an ongoing, trusted relationship with the agencies and other third parties they need to share information with. We can’t just let them do whatever they want with it – and what happens to that information when the relationship ends? 

Many marketing teams want to take advantage of opportunities created by new forms of digital collaboration, but struggle to find a balanced solution that satisfies the needs of all parties – the organization, employees, contractors, partners, etc.

Making Secure Collaboration Work for Marketers.

In this next industrial revolution, organizations and marketing teams will transform their digital engagement, enabling new, powerful forms of collaboration while protecting sensitive marketing information as it’s shared with employees, agencies, contractors, partners and other stakeholders. Here are a few examples:

  • Vendor management
  • Campaign planning
  • Sales enablement
  • Marketing content management
  • Digital asset transfer
  • Budget management
  • Translation management

These are just a few areas crying out for digital transformation, and that’s why many marketing departments and organizations turn to companies like Intralinks for help. Their secure collaboration solutions are transforming the way people collaborate and work as a team, so teams can reap the benefits of this new revolution.

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