Looking in the future of collaboration for greater customer loyalty & increased profitability


Share on LinkedIn

It is useless to say that for most of us, CEM & Customer Relationship practitioners, collaborating with our customers falls into common sense. However, it doesn’t stop the fact that we face numerous examples & situations where decisions are taken regardless of customer’s expectations, points of view and so on.

By launching the Future of the Collaborative enterprise project with Thierry De Baillon, in December 2011, we aimed at opening a breach in the “business as usual” of Enterprise 2.0, Collaborative initiatives & related subjects. Too much talking, very little walking. Most of us know that it is easier to state it than to make it happen. Nevertheless if it wasn’t for true belief in the cause, and by the various successes, or failures, achieved in our projects, we wouldn’t be interviewing people around the world to see if there are common valuable & actionable traits for collaboration, or if it just another placeholder to hide an empty shell designed to take some money from companies lacking imagination to renew themselves.

By now there are several conclusions that have drawn our attention in the first round of 50 interviews. First, we identify a gap between people who promote, people who prove the worthiness of setting a collaboration-friendly environment, and the various stakeholders that have no immediate interest in allowing sustainable profit sources to grow. This time is not taken & setting up the practices to reinvent business continuously so that resilience becomes a key attribute of an existing business. This is the same distance

The people who live collaboration may not be asking for it… Yes indeed, why should one collaborate, if he doesn’t feel the true value both for him/her and the company? which means that if you as a leader, middle manager or project manager aim at creating a well-established culture of collaboration you must always make sure that you can align it with your existing structure & collaborators, be certain that everyone’s goals are identified to meet yours and that when you get someone onboard you are sure that he/she fits your culture. Zappos are very good at that, the upcoming interview with Zack Ware will insist on this cultural readiness.

Among the obvious lessons that the interviews outline and which you must have encountered at least once or twice, but are worth being reminded:
• Make your culture collaboration-ready, not an easy one when we’ve been educated in the “keep info to keep/gain power”… be a hub not a closed box,
• Set clear goals & objectives to why one should favor collaboration – educate & explain, people are not that stupid
• Align structure, team & individual goals and make sure that everyone gets his/her share
• Do not force people in sharing if you don’t play the game,
• Let information flow easily across the organization, create the opportunities & let the crowd find its way of doing it
• Privilege informal meetings & In Real Life interactions both between employees and with your customers,
• Highly reward collective successes & sharing behaviors, let it be seen & known,
• There is no such thing as “it’s always been like this, it’ll never change”… well if people believe this, it’s either because you didn’t put enough energy or that you do believe it too,
• Software & IT are not the keys to collaboration, just enablers to accelerate & ease knowledge sharing,
• Customers are your new suppliers and partners to a bright future, open-up, let them become part of your teams & make them happy about it.

I could have come with many other lessons, but I need to keep some for the road and let’s admit it, the best are in the videos available on www.thefutureofcollaboration.com . However the frontier between customers & companies has never been so hard to trace. What’s interesting is that ourselves both as customers & professionals see the shift in the paradigm; a true change that is not only a trendy topic but a deep cultural shift in business as we see it.

Making it happen for the long run is another challenge that I’m sure we are all willing to uphold. The Future of the Collaborative Enterprise is in our collective capacity to convey this valuable vision that working hand in hand with customers, partners, competitors & shareholders is the way to long lasting success. Several business models demonstrate that deep collaboration with customers in product development & other key business areas are rewarded by increased profitability & customer loyalty. These are facts, not concepts. Promoting intelligently the practices is the next step we are all working on.

If you want to see the videos and read the transcripts of more ground breaking perspectives come & engage with the thinkers on www.thefutureofcollaboration.com. Your point of view counts & for sure your ideas are worth being shared!

Frederic Gilbert
Frederic works as a business consultant and international project manager in the field of Customer Experience, Service Innovation, 3D Printing & Fab Labs. He is a PhD Candidate at the University of Paris Sorbonne since 2014. His research covers fields such as Innovation Management, Fab Labs, Practices & Design Thinking.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here